On many occasions here I have written about some of the birds I have seen and photographed while on visits to family in Sydney. One of our favourite places to visit while in Sydney is the Lane Cove National Park, just a short distance west of Chatswood in the northern suburbs, and only a ten-minute drive from my son’s home.
When we visit we usually take a picnic lunch, or if only going in the afternoon, we certainly take the makings for afternoon tea, including a few biscuits, or some fruit. We like to set up our folding chairs and make a cuppa, in a spot where we can see the river, as well as a good view of the trees. Such spots usually provide us with good birding as well.
If you stay in this park for a few hours or visit frequently, the chances of seeing a good range of local and visiting birds are very high. This park protects a large section of remnant scrubland. While there are roads and tracks through the park, as well as clearly defined picnic areas with barbeques, picnic tables and other public facilities, the vegetation left preserved gives the visitor a good impression of the natural environment as it existed before settlement in the late 1790s.
On this particular visit last October, my wife and I had a few hours leave from looking after our grandchildren. We set up our chairs in a good position and proceeded to eat our lunch. We had hardly started eating our sandwiches when we were robbed. Not only were the Laughing Kookaburras cheeky, so were the resident Australian Brush Turkeys, shown in the photos in this post.
Two of them came mooching around while we were having a post-lunch cuppa. They were obviously on the take and came up within a few centimetres of where we sat. We don’t feed birds that are supposedly wild. These individuals were behaving like they often get handouts of human food. Once they realised that we were not going to comply with their wishes, they skulked off elsewhere. They probably tried the same trick on other people enjoying a picnic.
Earlier this week my wife and I took a short three-hour break from being with our grandchildren and family here in Sydney. We enjoy visiting Lane Cove National Park just north of the CBD. It is also the closest park to where our son lives, being only a ten-minute drive away.
We packed our lunch, a thermos, some fruit and my camera and binoculars. Can’t forget the binoculars – it’s only happened to me once in all my many years of birding. I also forgot my camera that day, but despite these drawbacks, I still managed some great birding.
After deciding on a spot to set up our folding chairs overlooking the river, we had a late morning cuppa. We were immediately joined by a Crimson Rosella and an Eastern Rosella perched in the tree above us. I scrambled for the camera, but they flew off before I managed to get the camera ready.
A few minutes later our peaceful relaxation was disturbed by the raucous calls of a small flock of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos flying overhead. I then noticed one of them perched at the entrance of a large hollow in a nearby gum tree. Every few seconds he would screech noisily, raising his wings as he called. Something was annoying him – not sure what.
Within a few minutes, we were joined in our picnic by several Pied Currawongs. They eyed off our mugs and bags looking for something to gobble up. They were not successful. Neither were the Laughing Kookaburras which also joined the party.
Earlier, as we pulled into the car park, I noticed a walking trail leading off up the hill. I remember walking that trail with other family members one Christmas some years ago on another visit. I checked my bird database; it was December 2008. It was time to investigate this track once again. Ignoring the hip and leg pain caused by the intervening years, I steadily climbed the track until I had a good view of the river below.
Numerous small brown birds chirped away in the vegetation, but none posed long enough for photos – and not even long enough for good views through my binoculars. Most of them were undoubtedly Brown Thornbills, a species I have seen here a few times before. The only other good sighting was a very brief view of a solitary Red-browed Finch. Never mind – I managed a few good photos of some flowers and a lovely butterfly. I left by butterfly book home so I can’t identify it.
As we were leaving, I drove slowly through the park to the exit gate. This took us quite close to the Lane Cove river at times. Not far from the gate I was suddenly aware of a male Australian Wood Duck heading aggressively towards our car as we passed by, head down, neck stretched out and I think he was hissing. He looked quite fierce for a few seconds. Pity I didn’t get this on my camera. This reminded me of another incident on the other side of the river a few days earlier. Another male Australian Wood Duck hissed at me in a similar fashion. I understood completely; he was guarding the female and three juveniles feeding nearby.
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