We are currently staying with our son and his family in Artarmon, a suburb of Sydney. We try to get over here from Murray Bridge where we live at least once and preferably twice a year. While we are visiting I take every opportunity to do any incidental birding. There are significant differences in the range of bird species present here in Sydney when compared to at home.
On the last two Saturdays, we have had the opportunity to accompany our grandson to watch him play soccer. The photo above was taken with my phone at yesterday’s match. It was held on some pitches in Chatswood West, near the Lane Cove River. The match was a little uneven with my grandson’s team winning 10-0. He scored a goal, hit both upright posts and did a creditable job as the goalkeeper for the second half.
While I managed to mostly keep my eyes on the game from my folding chair, I was aware of some bird activity nearby. There were plenty of Noisy Miners nearby, their constant calling forming a backdrop to the noise of the game. My concentration on the game was tested on occasion when numerous raucous Sulphur-crested Cockatoos came wheeling overhead, landing in the trees surrounding the pitches.
After the game my wife and I found a comfortable garden seat near the playground adjacent to the soccer fields. This area was surrounded by many trees and bushes. While we sat there we were entertained by two Rainbow Lorikeets working at a hollow in a branch of a nearby tree. Within a few minutes a small flock of about 5 or 6 Sulphur-crested Cockatoos came into the same tree, squawking very noisily. The lorikeets vacated the hollow, their protesting screeches making the cockatoos know that they were far from happy. Several of the cockatoos inspected the hollow before leaving it. The hollow would have been too small for the much larger birds.
Other birds seen in the vicinity include:
- Australian Magpie
- Magpie Lark
- Common Myna
- Laughing Kookaburra
- Welcome Swallow
Now for the sad news.
I forgot to take my camera. The above photo was taken with my phone, but taking bird photos requires a much better camera setup than that. Had I remembered to bring my normal camera from home I would have managed to get some great shots of both the lorikeets and the cockatoos. The cockatoos had their yellow crests up on display for much of the time that we observed them. As well as those two species displaying for us, we also had a Laughing Kookaburra flying down to the lawn just in front of us to gobble up a tasty morsel for lunch.
For a moment, I thought I would be able to use my wife’s camera which was in the car. On opening up here camera bag, we found that the batteries were flat, including the spare set. Sigh. We will just have to return there while we are still here. In the meantime, I have included several photos of cockatoos and lorikeets taken elsewhere.
Many of the mallee trees in our scrub at the back of our house are fully in flower at the moment. The above photo shows one of them totally covered in blooms. Standing nearby one can easily smell the nectar coming form the flowers.
The resident honeyeaters love the flowers and yesterday we had a flock of about 20 Purple-crowned Lorikeets feeding on them as well. I have found that this is not an easy species to photograph. They are usually seen streaking across the garden at a great speed, or else feeding in the thickest topmost foliage of a tall tree. I was therefore pleased to get these shots early Christmas morning.
This afternoon my wife and I accompanied our 19 month old grandson and our son on a visit to Chatswood on the Sydney North Shore area. The Chatswood CBD is an easy twenty minute walk from his home. We found a good spot to have a delicious lunch and later did some shopping.
It was dark when we left on the homeward walk. My attention was drawn to an extremely noisy group of birds calling just outside the doors of one of the shopping precincts. In three medium sized street trees there must have been several hundred birds, all calling raucously as they settled down to roost. In the little light coming from the shops I was able to determine that they were Rainbow Lorikeets. I can’t ever recall seeing so many together in such a small area.
Earlier on when heading for Chatswood we saw two Rainbow Lorikeets feeding near the footpath. I regretted not having my camera with me. I would have got some excellent shots. You’ll have to put up with photos taken elsewhere some time ago.
I was almost arrested this morning.
Let me explain. We went for our normal early morning walk down the road along one side of our property. Part of this walk takes us past the external fence of the local prison complex. We think nothing of it every morning.
Along this stretch we had excellent views of about five Purple-crowned Lorikeets feeding on the flowers of the local mallee trees known as Eucalyptus porosa It’s a shrubby form of gum tree and quite common in this area. The photo above shows the flowers.
The lorikeets were quite unconcerned with our presence. In fact, I was able to watch one feeding at head height about a metre in front of me. It would have made an excellent photo with the first rays of morning sunlight highlighting the colours.
I was both pleased – and annoyed. No camera! And I do not yet have a photo of this species. Usually they are high up in the foliage feeding – or streaking across the tree tops at speed. Here was the ultimate photo opportunity – and no camera.
Ten minutes later we were home. I grabbed the camera and hopped in the car and drove to the same spot. Of course, Murphy’s Law – they’d flown off. All I managed was several shots of the trees and flowers. Then it all turned pear shape. Remember – this was right next to the boundary fence of the prison.
My actions immediately attracted the attention of the ‘boundary rider’ on his quad bike. Over recent months the prison has had a spate of people on the outside throwing tennis balls filled with drugs over the fence RIGHT WHERE I WAS STANDING! Talk about being a bit stupid. I had some quick explaining to do. He immediately reassured me that I certainly didn’t look like a drug supplier.
Whew! Talk about birding being a dangerous hobby!
Anyway – all’s weel that ends well! Except that I still don’t have a photo of that species!
Maybe next time!
Australia has many colourful parrots, cockatoos and lorikeets. We frequently have small flocks on Rainbow Lorikeets and Purple-crowned Lorikeets screaming overhead and speed, their screeching can be heard for hundreds of metres.
From time to time they will land in one of our trees and feed awhile. They are notoriously hard to photograph. Their habit of often feeding in the outer foliage makes it a challenge. Despite that I have managed a few good shots over recent years.
Ricki Coughlan has written about three kinds of lorikeets in her part of the world. Her article Lorikeet Explosion has some excellent photos of lorikeets (including one of mine used with permission). She also discusses the feeding habits and preferences of lorikeets.