This morning I did a small load of washing. I actually enjoy doing this because it gets me outside and away from the computer for a while. It also has the benefit of getting me outside where the birds are, and with my eyes cast skywards I often see birds that I might have missed – like the time I saw a Peregrine Falcon overhead in the last moments of a very fast stoop. Awesome.
It also has the benefit of being able to hear more birds and I enjoy listening to all of their calls and trying to identify them without looking. This is a good way of honing one’s identifiction skills. After over 30 years of living on our little patch of mallee scrub here in Murray Bridge, I have become accustomed to our bird life and immediately notice something different calling. That’s what happened this morning.
I had just finished hanging out the washing when I heard a bird calling loudly. Two Sulphur-crested Cockatoos had flown in and landed in our of our pine trees. I had enough time to grab the binoculars and see that they were testing out some of the cones on one of the trees. Obviously the cones where not to their taste or not ready for eating because they flew off again a minute later. I didn’t get a photo so the one above was taken some years ago in Adelaide.
This was a significant sighting for the birds in our garden. I think my memory is correct – this is only the second time in over 30 years I have recorded this species in our garden. They are not usually seen here in Murray Bridge (80km east of Adelaide) though they are very common in the Adelaide region and throughout the Adelaide Hills zone. This is despite there being plenty of suitable feeding spots and nesting hollows, especially along the River Murray. I think I heard one screeching as it flew overhead a few days ago, but I was in the foggy early morning sleep zone. I initially thought it was a Little Corella, but now I am not so sure.
Perhaps these were some scouts looking for new places to live.
Over recent days I have been sharing some photos of some of the birds seen on a recent visit to Lane Cove National Park. Today it’s the turn of several Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.
One of the birds flew in and settled on our picnic table within minutes of us starting lunch (see photo below). When it didn’t get any handouts from us, it flew over to join another few birds feeding on a clematis bush in full flower.
I love taking photos of this species, one which is widespread across much of eastern Australia. On the other hand, I realise that not all people share my love of this species. In numbers they can be a pest species. They can easily cause havoc on trees, stripping the leaves off branches. People who own houses with plenty of timber in the structure have experienced the destructive nature of these birds.
During my visit to Pinnaroo last week I saw a sign pointing to a public aviary. It turned out to be adjacent the caravan park and consisted of one large aviary (shown in the photo above) plus three or four smaller ones. Surrounding these aviaries was a large enclosure with some Emus and a Black Swan in residence. The larger aviary contained a variety of Australian parrots and a Peaceful Dove.
A sign on the front of the cage says: “Be careful: we may bite.” (Click the image to enlarge.)
The one I’d be most careful of was the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. He immediately came to the wire in front of me to check me out and to inspect my camera – or was it to pose for a photo? I certainly wouldn’t like to get my finger in his beak!
I had trouble taking photos through the wire mesh, and wherever I tried to focus on the birds through it, the cockatoo came and posed front and centre. I guess he figured that he was the star of the show. Of course he had been taught to speak the usual phrases and greeted me with a cheery “Hello Cocky” as I was getting out of the car. He then proceeded to use his full vocabulary like “Dance, Cocky, dance” and other phrases.
I was sitting outside yesterday morning doing some reading. (Oh the joys of retirement.)
I was suddenly aware of an unusual bird call. After having lived for over 25 years in the same house one’s ears become attuned to what bird calls are normal for this area and anything unusual immediately gets my attention.
I walked warily around the corner of the house to find two Sulphur-crested Cockatoos in the large mallee tree next to our garage. This cockatoo is a common bird in many parts of Australia, but this was the first time I’d seen this species in our garden. After so many years I don’t often get the chance to add a new species to my garden list.
After I managed several photos they decided they’d posed enough for me and flew off to the eucalyptus trees in our neighbour’s front yard. Later in the morning I heard them squawking raucously as they flew off.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are very common in the Adelaide Hills and the Adelaide metropolitan area but I’ve never recorded them here in Murray Bridge. The nearest I’ve seen them is in Strathalbyn, about a half hour drive SW of here.