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!
While we were driving through the Australian Botanic Gardens Mt Annan just before Christmas last year, we came across a small flock of Red-rumped Parrots feeding on the roadside grass. As far as I can remember, I haven’t observed this species in the Sydney region before. All that means is that I haven’t been looking in the right places and haven’t been out birding enough in Sydney. Perhaps I play with the grandchildren too much every time we go there to visit. No – never!
In this small flock I managed to get photos of a male (above) and a female (below). The male is showing the red rump (hence its name) and the female is plainer in colours.
On my recent visit to the Australian Botanic Garden Mt Annan in the south east of greater Sydney, I was immediately drawn to the wet fern gully just south of the Visitor Centre. One of my favourite birds, the Rufous Fantail, had been sighted there only a few days before. I hadn’t seen this species for over a decade, mainly because I don’t go birding in the right places, or at the right time. One can only hope.
I could hear birds all around. Most were being very noisy – but also very secretive. Some calls I was not familiar with, being from a different part of Australia. Eventually a solitary Red-whiskered Bulbul showed itself briefly. Not in ideal light conditions, nor close enough for a good photo, but long enough for several shots. The one above is the best of them. Next time, perhaps. Oh, the joys of bird photography. (You can see a better photo I took some time ago here.)
Still, I had much more luck with the flowering Eucalypt tree shown below. At least flowers tend to be in sun – and they generally stand still, though I have known a few flowers which were hard to shoot because of the wild wind.
On our recent trip to visit family in Sydney we were determined to visit the Australian Botanic Gardens Mt Annan at Campbelltown in the south eastern part of greater Sydney. In recent visits to our son it has never worked out to take a day trip to these gardens. In fact, our last – and only visit – was in April 2000. Our memories of that visit were getting very hazy, though I do remember seeing Double-barred finches there – my one and only sighting of this species.
The Australian Botanic Gardens Mt Annan are part of the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and are run by the same Trust. The gardens are 416 hectares in size and include hills, fern gullies and creeks, and lakes. One section even boasts a decent mountain bike track. About 4000 Australian plants are on display in these gardens. Unfortunately, very few were flowering at the time of our visit. We could only imagine what it would look like in the spring. (Note to self: organise a visit in spring!)
Despite the lack of flowers I was still pleased to record about 40 bird species during our stay. One of them was a shy Superb Fairy-wren shown above. He was skulking around in the undergrowth in the fern gully, just where the light was too poor for photos. His brief appearance in a lighter spot was not quite long enough for a good photo.
Below I’ve shown one of the plants in flower on show during our visit.
I will write more about the birds I saw in coming days.