Monday, 31 December 2012

Mistletoe bird

This male was on the base of the mountain this morning. Such a pretty bird.

And then there was one

Our family returned after a some days away for Christmas to find just one swanling at the pond. 

Who knows what happened. Maybe the stronger swanlings fledged and this one was left behind for now. The swanlings are the right age for fledging, just, according to my ancient but trusty Reader's Digest bird book. They'd been skimming across the pond for a few weeks and testing their wings a lot.

Alternatively the remaining parent, we think the mother, took fright after the loss of her partner, and moved the strongest swanlings on. There are many waterways close by that are safer than here.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Black Swan

One of the parent swans died a few days ago. Its body is floating in the pond near the reeds. The other swans swim close from time to time and take a look like they know it should be with them.

I can't think of any good reason for a swan to die in the prime of its life and I suspect it choked on plastic. My husband thinks a wound from a dog. It's all speculation of course and we'll never know. It's sad to think that these swans will not return here year after year. 

All the work of the parent swans is paying off for the swanlings, as they are very strong at four months, and are now learning to fly. As I approached the pond this morning, I witnessed a flight demonstration. The remaining parent leapt out of a nearby tree and flapped noisily across the pond. It then made a huge amount of 'YEAH told ya I am the greatest' swan noises to impress all in the vicinity. It was pretty cool. I hope I see more of that.

A very fuzzed out swan pic but beautiful none the less.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Nankeen Night Heron

My children assure me that NOTHING ever happens at the local pond. That opinion is possibly not shared by the two Night Herons that flew over this morning, and caused the greatest disturbance since, let's see, the Canberra Show.

There I am, new camera in hand for five minutes at most, quietly snapping one or two patient swanlings, when suddenly the sky is alive with menacing magpies and what seemed liked dozens of other bogan birds, giving raucous chase to a pair of Night Herons. There was no way the bush birds would allow the herons to land and even the birds in the water got worked up

My photograph is fairly ordinary but I'm posting it in case they never re-appear. Next time I will try to remember that the new camera has a viewfinder. That might help. Working out my new camera will be a steep learning curve. Expect a lot of photographs of magpies to follow.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Superb Parrot

Walking the beat this morning I was lucky to come across a non usual suspect parrot, happily feeding on grass seed. As many Canberrans have recently sighted Superb Parrots, it was not too hard to figure this one out. Unfortunately this superb Superb did not find me nearly as captivating as I found it, immediately outmaneuvering me in the direction of old growth eucalyptus, with this photo the only evidence.

It's a stunning parrot huh?

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Feeding time at the zoo

The five swanlings continue to thrive. At 3 - 3/1/2 months old they are about 2/3 the size of their parents. The feed on this occasion consisted of handfuls of clover which satisfied the swanlings, though the parents were on the lookout for Bakers Delight treats.

And some bonus pictures.


Sunday, 25 November 2012

Baillon's Crake

Pretty exciting to have a Baillon's Crake show up at the local pond! I've never seen one before today. The pictures are from this morning. The crake was still loitering in the same patch in the late afternoon when I walked by again. It's chosen a fairly public reed bed right now, next to swan feeding centrale. I hope it finds a quieter section of reeds and decides to stick around.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Swanling in the grass

Swanlings at three months spend a lot of time sitting at the edge of the reeds. Their camouflage is a real advantage at this age, while they are still vulnerable.

Australian White Ibis

The local pond provides an opportune port of call for many birds passing through this area. This morning three ibis popped in for a while. They are really quite cute in the wild. The white ibis that live in city parks will snitch your sushi 'n fries, without a second glance. Consider yourself warned.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Passer Domesticus

What kind of person brings a House Sparrow all the way to Australia in the 1860s? That's late in terms of settlement. Europeans had been headed here for about 80 years by then so it wasn't as if sending sparrows was a high priority. And sparrows couldn't have stowed away like rats and cockroaches. Someone had to keep them alive for months, aboard a ship. Someone really cared. Someone really wanted sparrows in Australia. And clearly that someone hadn't factored all the fab birds already here, that make for way better birdwatching. What kind of thinking is this?

Much to the embarrassment of my husband, I photographed this sparrow at the Farmers Markets on the weekend and decided the local Farmers Markets are now within my Majura Range. It's a destination I walk to regularly so why not? Chatting to the cherry sellers I asked about their season. Light, they said, because  of rain. What about native birds attacking the crop? I asked casually. Yes big problem. We can't do anything about them, and sparrows too.


Reference for dating entry of sparrows to Oz,

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Corellas in the mist..

It's not safe to go jogging in my neighbourhood without a camera. There is always something to see. Fortunately for me, my camera is tiny enough to carry. Unfortunately for bird photography, my camera has reached its limits. Increasingly I am finding myself right bird-time, right bird-place, wrong bird-camera, athough the low light this morning didn't help. I am looking into a camera solution but that's another story.

So these Little Corellas added some x factor to the morning. What a great sight, to look up and see so many. And so calm! The last corellas I saw were edgy. 

Anyhow the plot thickens. Just a few minutes earlier I'd seen what I thought was a flock of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. I assumed they were cockatoos because we have plenty around here
and from below they looked like cockatoos and also because they sounded like cockatoos, (if slightly less corrosive) and also because I was attempting to jog and wasn't imagining corellas. In retrospect I'm wondering if that flock were actually corellas and these are some of them.

This is a washed out photograph (it was misty y'know!) but I'm posting it to show how filthy this corella is. I'll be betting a farmer somewhere in the Murray Darling Basin is mad as a hatter at these birds.


Little Black Cormorant

This morning was the the first time I've noticed a Little Black Cormorant at the pond. It's amazing how many birds take turns to sit on that chunk of tree. The designer who came up with the idea of tossing old trees into ponds, really knows what birds like.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

Walking home by the pond the other afternoon, I was excited to see a second long-necked turtle, smaller than the one I have previously posted about.

When lo, the turtle I've seen previously also emerged from the murky depths.

Two turtles was too close for comfort for the black ducks. It was time to find a less cramped location.

Just how do these turtles find the pond?

Monday, 12 November 2012

Willie Wagtail

I can't believe it's taken this long to see a Willie Wagtail in my area. I honestly expected to see them everywhere. However a pair were out and about on the weekend. Sure there are plenty of Willie Wagtails in other parts of Canberra, so what's going on here?
Willie Wagtail

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Juvenile birds

One of the great things about walking around right now is all the juvenile birds out exploring their world. This post is dedicated to LOL, not exactly a juvenile herself... but definitely young at heart! Her Aussie spring birthday just passed. Happy birthday.

Juvenile Red Wattlebird
Juvenile Welcome Swallow

These swallows fledged over the weekend. For weeks I been seeing Welcome Swallows taking food into the big cement pipe that feeds the pond. Highly inaccessible for humans, I never saw their nest, but today - several new mini swallows!

Juvenile Currawong

Fledgeling chough

If you read my post yesterday about White-winged Choughs you might recognise this bird. Yesterday nestling, today fledgeling! Although it seems the big trip to the ground tuckered this one out.

These fledgeling/juvenile birds are very relaxed. It's the mature birds who are wary of potential dangers. Certainly the mature choughs were eager to get this one on its feet rapidly. You can see one of them, in the next picture with its wings spread, urging the young one into action. I'm guessing the mature bird is trying to appear ferocious and ward off predators, but maybe there's another reason for this performance.

It's definitely Gang-gang season

This morning about eight Gang-gangs flew overhead on Mount Majura, stopping briefly on a very old gum tree. I'm pretty sure this is a juvenile male. 

One of the nice birding surprises recently has been discovering Gang-gangs close to home. Later in the day I also saw another pair at Lyneham wetlands, high in a tree, screeching the place down - well it was the male making the racket, but that is not strictly in my Majura birding area. I just love the Gang-gang calling/screeching (as well as other black cockatoos), always reminding me how ancient Australia is.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Swan promenade

At approximately 3 months of age the swanlings still stay close to each other and both parents when they are out of the water.

And just after this photo was taken, a massive dog walked past. Papa swan has hackles raised or whatever the swan equivalent is. He looks truly impressive. I backed away at that point, lemme tell you.

And now for a brief swanling update: How cool are these wings? Yes I'd flap them too if especially if I'd only just grown them in the last three weeks.

And here's a view of the feather development from the front. Click the picture to see the larger view.


White-winged Choughs revisited

The bird photographer often finds themselves the subject of the gaze of birds (aka human/bird staring competition) and those who approach birds should also be prepared to be approached by birds. Even if it is a bit scary! This morning these choughs (pictured) raced along the wooden post towards me and I was convinced they were about to clamber onto me. They were Really close. I was the one to back away. 

This group of choughs live next to the grounds of a primary school. From what happened this morning, I think they've learnt that people (or school students at least) are potential sources of sandwich etc and it being Saturday, no school, they were overdue for morning tea. Once they figured out I brought no offerings, they wandered off.

This is the same group of choughs who featured in my October post, and I saw the same bird with the malaligned and grossly long beak again today, so it is surviving adequately.

This time I was able to see that just one bird was affected this way. 

And if you are interested, here's the nest, complete with one bubba chough, that I affectionately refer to as a 'choughling', and one mature chough delivering an insect. I'm not sure how many of the choughs feed the nestling, but they give the appearance of a high staff ratio for childcare arrangements.