Make room for me
We have many different species come to visit our bird baths. They come either for a drink or for a bath – sometimes both. Many of these species are quite small, such as the thornbills and pardalotes. At the other end of the scale where size is considered would have to be the Little Ravens, Grey Currawongs and of course, the White-winged Choughs, featured in today’s photos.
This series of photos was taken during our recent heat wave in South Australia. Our capital city Adelaide saw a 117 year record broken: 13 days over 40C over the summer, previously 11 days. Here in Murray Bridge we certainly have more than that. During hot weather the birds flock to the water throughout the day. Refilling the baths is a daily task.
The White-winged Choughs all seem to crowd onto the one bird bath, each wanting a piece of the action. It is quite comical to witness the jostling and arguing over the prime positions. Sensible birds take up a position on one of the other bird baths nearby.
White-winged Choughs at the bird bath
We’ve been having some really long spells of hot weather recently, right up to the last few days when autumn should be gently sneaking in, along with cooler, more mellow days.
During the hot weather I like to keep up the water supply to our various bird baths in our garden. Most of the birds appreciate to fresh water and come for a drink, or a bath and often both. It is not unusual to have a parade of ten or a dozen different species attend the water source in a ten minute period. It can become a busy, noisy airport at times.
When I choose to write or read in our sun room with a good view of several bird baths, I will often have the camera at the ready. The passing procession of birds is a wonderful distraction, but it is times like this that I also get some excellent photos, like those of two White-winged Choughs last week. With the camera on 20x zoom, their bright glowing red eyes take on quite an evil look.
- Time for a bath – a long list of species, both birds and animals, using our bird baths
This post was updated on 20th September 2015.
Yesterday I was asked to drive from Murray Bridge to Pinnaroo via Karoonda in the Murray mallee region of South Australia. A local courier company needed some parcels urgently delivered in the morning and I was available. I used to do relief driving for this company.
I enjoy doing driving jobs like this because it gets me out of my office and away from my computer for some fresh air. It also enables me to look at the birds along the way. After I’d delivered all the parcels I took a leisurely pace on the way home, stopping a number of times to actually get out and stretch my legs and do some birding.
One of the things that impressed me on the outward journey was the number of White-winged Choughs in the region. It seemed that I was seeing a flock every kilometre or so along the way. It is my guess that this species tends to be found along the country roads in this region for several reasons.
- The roadside vegetation allows foraging opportunities for the birds, more so than many of the open farm paddocks nearby.
- The roadside vegetation provides excellent nesting sites in the many trees lining the route.
- The rain run-off from the roads gathers in puddles and gutters long enough for the birds to build their mud nests.
At the point where I stopped for lunch on a dirt side road I found a family of choughs, some of them posing for my camera nicely (see photo above).
First birds for 2010
I was a little slow off the mark this morning. And it wasn’t because of overindulgent celebrations the night before.
These days I’m just happy to see in a new morning when I wake; seeing in a New Year means staying up to some ridiculous hour of the night!
I managed to emerge from the cocoon of sleep eventually. I showered, shaved and prepared to have breakfast. As I was getting the daily newspaper from the driveway I realised that it was indeed a New Year.
Mmmm… what was the first bird I saw this morning? Nothing sprang to mind.
My musing was rudely interrupted by a great kerfuffle in the orchard. Aha – my first birds for 2010 were four Australian Magpies and 14 White-winged Choughs having a right royal barney under a pear tree. (Despite the recently departed Christmas season there was NOT a partridge in the pear tree, but we did see two turtledoves later in the morning.)
The resident magpies were objecting quite vociferously to the Gang of Fourteen (the White-winged Choughs) feeding on THEIR PATCH. The racket thoroughly disturbed the peacefulness of this lovely new year.
After a few minutes of conflict in Bird World War, the choughs flew off in a huff.
Peace on Earth and goodwill between birds.
HAPPY NEW YEAR and HAPPY BIRDING in 2010.
White-winged Choughs feeding young
Over recent weeks the flock of White-winged Choughs that frequently visit our garden have been largely absent. A few days ago I found out why.
They’ve been nesting somewhere nearby – but far away enough not to attract my attention. Now every time they pass through looking for a feed (and disturbing the Australian Magpies into the bargain) they have several young ones to feed, their begging calls making sure they aren’t forgotten.