In recent years conservationists have realised the importance of maintaining ‘Bird Corridors’ to allow birds to safely and continually move between habitats to find their food sources. In some areas of our state birding groups are actually replanting bare paddocks with trees to connect habitats to facilitate easy transition, especially for threatened species, cut off by man’s over-clearing of land. Click on photos to enlarge them.
It has always concerned me how the early settlers cut down almost every tree in a paddock and placed a herd of cattle in it, which eventually kill the remaining unprotected trees, leaving the cattle exposed to the heat of the Australian summer sun, almost lying on top of each other to get what shade remains. Why the above photos you ask? The essentials for a good bird corridor be it bird or other wildlife are water and vegetation (including trees, bushes and food plants). Most birds are insectivorous, even the carnivores, but insects also need vegetation to survive. Honeyeaters may only find nectar in particular habitats at particular times of the year, and they may need to migrate to better feeding areas throughout the year.
These Magpies are resident territorial birds which do not migrate, and can be found usually in the same area each day, searching for food. They will nest usually in the same tree each year, and the extended family will assist in the upbringing of the chicks. Many if the immature birds in Australia are brown or mottled (for protective purposes to hide them from predators) and often resemble the female of the species ( to protect her as she nests and cares for the young). The more colorful male features usually appear as the young male becomes mature enough to breed.
If you are becoming an avid birder, I urge you to discover the ‘bird corridors’ in your own area, for it is here that you will be blessed with seeing the greatest variety of birds at any one time. I found one such corridor of about thirty meters wide on path by the Hacking River at Audley, in The Royal National Park, where many different species passed through within the short time I was there. I just wanted to stay there, but I had to leave to go to work that afternoon. It was a wonderful gift from God to experience on this occasion. On previous occasions in this same area I had experienced similar blessings of different unexpected species of birds, moving through the blooming wildflowers along the rivers edge. I was in pursuit of the Azure Kingfisher, and to my delight found him where a friend had suggested, but it was down in an inaccessible area by the river, so I had to shoot my lens between some heavy bush to catch these images of a very shy, but very beautiful little bird, which is always difficult to photograph. He also is a resident.
Just then in the bush beside the path I heard the above sounds, the male was about twenty feet away from the female, as they kept checking where each was in relation to the other. The male Eastern Whipbird initiates the whip sound and the female follows immediately with the ‘chip, chip’ sound.
Again to my delight after much waiting and peering into the thick bush I was rewarded with the above photos. I always feel twice blessed when I actually catch the bird making the sound as I did in the second photo. this is a difficult bird to photograph, and very shy of humans, having frustrated many birders like myself. This bird will do a daily circuit which will include this area, as it is a territorial bird, and one of the purposes of its call is to warn other whipbirds that this territory is taken, and off limits to others of their specie.
Suddenly the trees became alive with the sound of the beautiful Golden Whistler. I always love to hear and see this bird. I knew there were both male and female, as I could here them calling to each other in a similar way to the Whipbird, but constantly without ceasing. I was surrounded in birdsong, other birds flew in at the same time, what we call a ‘Mixed Feeding Flock’ (MFF) where groups of birds of differing species fly together and feed together in the morning sun. This is more common among the small insectivorous birds, as they move from tree to tree calling to each other in the excitement of the journey they share together. They were mostly in the canopy, so I concentrated on the Whistlers of which I could actually see and photograph both male and female calling to each other.
My Bird of the Week – The Golden Whistler
The Golden Whistler is found mainly in the eastern states of Australia and Tasmania. It is also found in the southern regions of Western and South Australia. You usually hear the bird before you see it as it sings throughout the day. It is almost identical to the Mangrove Whistler in appearance, but the Mangrove Whistler is only found on the northern coast of Australia. It is sometimes confused with the Rufous Whistler’s call, as the birds sometimes sound and look similar in thick bush. The male is distinctly different in colour to the female (see above photos) and the immatures resemble the female and have a more brownish rufous appearance. There song is more prevalent in the spring months, when it breeds.
Above are some of the birds in the feeding flock. It is always a delight to see the Rufous Fantail fanning its tail, however, it never stays still long enough to catch a clear photo.
Yes, it would not be complete without the appearance of the very curious Eastern Yellow Robin, which I have posted from this very place in recent years. This bird is a delight to photograph as it poses for you.
Just then as the Golden Whistlers passed by, to my excitement a beautiful Sacred Kingfisher landed in front of me, and then dived to the ground grabbing a worm and then back to the branch where it proceeded to kill and eat it. Right in front of me!
This bird, a riverside resident gave me some of the best Sacred Kingfisher photos ever, he was soooo beautiful, I was so thankful to God for being in this ‘Bird Corridor’ on this day.
To top off the morning one of the birds I saw was a lifer, the Long-billed Scrubwren. This was a bird I did not expect to see, but it was there feeding with the others, but very elusive,as these were the best shots I could get. This little fellow has a longer slender beak different from the small beak of the white-browed Scrubwren.
As I made my way back to my car I could hear birds feeding in a fig tree near the car, and they were female and immature Satin Bowerbirds. The mature female has more of an olive back, rather than the brown of the immature. I could not see the male anywhere, though I have seen him on previous occasions. Again it can be difficult to tell the sexes of these birds as they all look like females. The dark satin appearance and white beak of the mature male will not appear until the fifth and sixth years of life. The mature males are far more elusive to photograph than the juveniles and females.
On the river itself are the water lilies and the waterbirds which are always found here, such as this Purple Swamphen which can walk on the lily pads. As I leave this beautiful place I started meditating on the following thoughts from the following photo…