White-browed Woodswallow at our bird bath
I must admit that I really enjoy seeing any of the six Australian species of woodswallows. On the downside, we only can expect to see three of those six species in our garden. To see the remaining three species I would have to travel several hundred kilometres to the north.
In fact, we only have fleeting visits from any of the woodswallows which occur in our area. They might hang around for a few minutes and then they are gone again. On most occasions I only see them swooping around high in the sky, presumably catching flying insects. On one special occasion two species flew in together and settled briefly – but long enough for photos.
Several weeks ago on one of the very hot days we are experiencing here in South Australia a solitary White-browed Woodswallow came to visit one of our bird baths – as recorded in the photos shown today. It was my wife who spotted it first and she was quite surprised; I don’t think that she had seen one up as close as this one. Because it was very thirsty it stayed around for quite a few minutes, long enough for me to take a good number of photos. At one stage it was not afraid to share the water with an Australian Magpie Lark (see below), a much larger species.
Two kinds of Woodswallows
I have to admit that I enjoy doing the clothes washing. It gets me outside in the sunshine and fresh air. except when it is raining and blowing a gale. On those occasions I usually hang the washing on clothes horses on the back veranda.
The main reason I enjoy doing the washing is to do a spot of birding while hanging the clothes on the clothes line, or when getting in the clothes once they have dried. Last Saturday was a beautiful spring day here in South Australia. we’ve had some foul windy weather this spring some it was a pleasure to get out in the beautiful sunshine.
As I was taking the dry clothes off the line and flock of about 20 birds flew overhead, circled high above our garden and then swooped down and settled on several trees – all only a few metres from where I stood. I immediately identified them as woodswallows, but to my excitement, there were actually two different species. Forgetting all about the clothes I raced inside, fired up my camera and started taking photos.
The flock was made up of about 10 Masked Woodswallows and 10 White-browed Woodswallows, both great species to see at any time. The last time I saw either species here was in the year 2000. The White-browed I hadn’t recorded in our garden since the early 1990s.
I took quite a few photos, the best are shown here. After a stay of about 10 minutes they all flew off together. Later I read online of several other sightings of these two species in various places around the state. They sure get around.
I love seeing woodswallows here at home and anywhere on my travels. All the various species present in Australia have a distinctive call that attracts my attention skywards. More often than not I hear them overhead before I see them. In many cases they are so high up to be almost invisible. At other times the flock – which can number from a dozen or so up to the hundreds – can be soaring just a few metres overhead. When a few individuals settle on some handy nearby dead branch I can sometimes get a few photos of these beautiful birds.
On a recent visit to Adelaide Zoo I was able to get up quite close to several White-browed Woodswallows in one of their aviaries. Despite the wire netting I was still able to get a reasonable few photos of them, albeit a little fuzzy.
White-browed Woodswallows can be found throughout Australia (except Cape York and Tasmania) but can be seasonal in their movements. Large flocks can form and move quickly from one area to another, sometimes in response to drought or rainfall.