It is quite a common sight to see small flocks of Australian Wood Ducks in many places around Australia where they occur. Sometimes they even gather in loose flocks of many dozens – even hundreds. They are often seen grazing on grasslands, ovals, lawned areas in parklands and along water courses, lakes and wetlands.
The group shown in today’s photos were seen near a watercourse in the Mt Annan Botanic Gardens in the Sydney suburb of Campbelltown. It appears to be a family group with the mother leading the way and all the offspring following. The gardens see many hundreds of visitors daily, so these birds – even the younger one – were not all concerned by our presence. I’ve experienced that lack of timidity in this species when visiting other parks and gardens. It certainly makes photography much easier when the birds hang around – almost as if they are posing deliberately for my camera!
One of the more delightful sightings during our recent visit to the Mt Annan Botanic Gardens in Sydney was this male Eastern (Common) Koel. This is one species I’ve often heard on my visits to family in Sydney – but rarely seen. It’s quite common around suburban Sydney – it is just that it has eluded my binoculars on most occasions – and all previous sightings I didn’t have my camera at the ready. This time was different. It sat calling for a minute or two in full view of my camera, and while it is not quite in focus, it is better than no photo at all.
Eastern Koels are found down the eastern seaboard of Australia and across the north coast. Like the cuckoos, it lays its eggs in the nest of other birds. Its name comes from the loud, echoing “ko-ell” call it makes, over and over.
On our recent visit to the Mt Annan Botanic Gardens in Sydney we went on a drive along one of the roads through the gardens. At one point we passed a small lake or dam and as we drove along I saw a few birds on the water. I stopped, backed up a little and walked across to near the bank, despite the light drizzle.
The Australasian Grebe shown in today’s photos came swimming towards me, obviously not at all concerned about my presence. I guess that with so many visitors to the area every day, they are used to humans being around quite close. Normally this species is quite timid, diving under water at any approach to the water.
Interestingly, this individual bird is in full breeding plumage, but I was unable to locate a nest.
Where has the time gone?
I was just getting over Christmas and then WHAM! New Year hits us and now I find that a week – a whole week – of 2014 has gone by without me wishing all my readers a Happy New Year.
Someone please slow down the clock – or add another month or two to the calendar. I need an extra few weeks/months in every year to get done the things I plan to do.
Many years ago I had a Calvin & Hobbes cartoon pinned up near my desk at work. The caption read: “God put me on Earth to achieve a certain number of things. Right now I’m so far behind I am going to live forever.” I feel that way right now – and have frequently felt it over recent years.
So with no further ado, let me wish all of my readers a HAPPY NEW YEAR.
One of the hindrances to not sharing anything new here recently has been the peaceful passing of my mother-in-law. It has meant a flurry of activity, including a rushed trip home from Sydney where I’d hoped to have been out birding a little more. Mum’s funeral was a celebration of the great things about her – not the hardships and ill health of recent years. It was also a time of gathering together family and friends to remember the good times with much laughter.
What about the birds?
I’d better get around to telling you about the birds I’ve seen recently. One species I longed to see in my son’s garden in Artarmon was a King Parrot. Even my 5 year old grandson can identify that one because it is a frequent visitor to the garden. Sadly none made an appearance while I was playing with the children during our three week stay.
On a brighter note I did see about 4 Australian King Parrots during our day-long visit to Mt Annan Botanic Gardens at Campbelltown in the south of great Sydney. The light conditions were poor – very overcast – when I tried to photograph them, and the photo below is the best of a poor lot. At least you can see that it is, indeed, a male King Parrot.
The photo at the top of this page is one of my favourites and was taken in one of the walk-through aviaries at Adelaide Zoo here in South Australia.