It has been a year of great weather contrasts this year in South Australia, and in other parts of the country too. At various times it has been freezing cold, fiery hot, bucketing with rain, wild storms and everything in between. We have also had the occasional beautiful day as well. Our state has had terrible bushfires, devastating floods, power blackouts from storms, crop damage due to large hail and silently creeping frosts.
Now we are about to feel the full force of summer weather. Christmas Day tomorrow promises temperatures in the low 40s (40C = 104F). In fact. our capital city Adelaide is forecast to be the hottest capital city in the world on Christmas Day. Still, at this time of the year, we expect some days in the 40s and many days in the 30s.
Heat and birds
The heat can adversely affect our birdlife here in Australia. One of the best things people can do in these hot conditions is to put out clean water for the birds. I have several birdbaths dedicated to the birds in our garden. A constant stream of birds come to have a bath or a drink on hot days. Even on mild days, the bowls are very popular.
Place the bird bath in a shady location near to a tree or bush. This can help protect the smaller species from birds of prey; it gives them a place to escape. It can be on the ground but is better if it is elevated a little. This will give the birds a clear view of any approaching cats.
Try to remember to clean the bird bath regularly, and during our hot weather this summer, top it up every day.
I have found over many years that having a bird bath near a window makes it easy to get good photographs of the birds while they are drinking or bathing. My wife and I find it very relaxing sitting in a cool room on a hot day, watching the parade of birds coming to drink.
- Time for a bath – a list of birds and animals we have observed at our bird baths
- The importance of bird baths – another article about bird baths
It has been a while since I last featured other birding blogs here on my site. With all the writing I do, and other pressing responsibilities that life hurls at me from time to time, I don’t get nearly enough time to read many other sites about birds.
I hope to correct that oversight in coming weeks. Today I am going to feature two contrasting yet wonderful blogs, one about wildlife in general and the other specifically about birds and as a bonus, an article about bird photography.
Naturally South Australia features the ‘fascinating wild places and animals that define South Australia.’ Written and photographed by South Australian teacher and author Barry Silkstone, this blog highlights many of the things I love about my state. Of course he features many bird photos on a regular basis, and as a bonus you get photos of our animals as well. As a further bonus he writes about and photographs many of the places that make South Australia such a wonderful holiday destination, as well as a great place to live.
On the other hand Lirra Lirra: the magical mystery of birds is something else again. The author features only birds with photographs of the highest quality. Just the few featured on one recent post about Fairy-wrens made me almost weep for joy and total admiration – no, I am in awe. This site sent me scurrying to first check my bank balance, and then some camera shop sites. I thought some of my photos were rather good – until I saw this site. I really need to upgrade my camera equipment. Seriously upgrade. Sigh.
And while I am on the topic of bird photography, a few days ago I came across this article called 10 Tips for Photographing Birds. It includes some great ideas and hints on taking great shots of our wonderful birdlife.
Good birding – happy photography.
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.
Over recent days I have shared some of the photos of birds seen during our recent hot spells of weather. Our bird baths are popular with the resident bird population and we can observe anything up to a dozen species in a ten minute period. Bird Bath Central can get both busy – and noisy.
One of the quieter species to come for a drink would have to be the Singing Honeyeater. They come individually – and occasionally in twos and threes – and never make a great fuss. certainly not like the gregarious New Holland Honeyeaters. I have observed that they tend to come when no other birds are around. The much larger Red Wattlebirds and Australian Magpies are the usual dominant birds, bossing the other species away.
And then we get those interesting birds like that not shown in the photo below. Sometimes the birds are just too quick for my camera. I must make a collection of photos of rocks, twigs, branches and fence posts showing where a bird has just been – but escaped before the shutter was released.
It is my habit to go for a walk every day. In reality, it is a habit more on the wish-list than in reality. I need to do it for general fitness, well being and just plain sanity. Sitting at a keyboard writing all day is not the smooth path to a healthy life. But I try.
A wonderful bonus to getting out for a walk is seeing numerous birds as I walk. Sometimes I even take some note paper with and jot down what I see. Very rarely do I take a camera with me which is a pity. I’ve missed some wonderful photos that way.
Take this evening, for example. The call of the locally common Red-rumped Parrot is quite distinctive. I heard them coming. Lots of them. Next thing about 30 flew low overhead, some of them alighting in the top branches of nearby tree in full, late afternoon sunlight. Would have made a lovely photo. Never mind; some other day – perhaps.
In the meantime, my readers will have to make do with two photos I prepared earlier.