As we come to the third part in our Birds of Oakley Park Reserve series, and the final week before the Oatley West Community Festival, one starts to realize the variety and diversity of birds and bird habitat in this important bird corridor in southern Sydney. There are many more birds that I have not included as yet, since the ones featured here are the winter birds, and many of the summer migrants will start returning in spring. One exciting and often unexpected find when walking the park is the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo.
These beautiful birds are usually heard before they are seen. Even when they are not making any audible sounds, one can usually hear the munching of seed cones and hear the falling debris as they break open the seed pods of our native Casuarina and Banksia trees. I found this small flock in a part of the park I had not seen them in before. Click on photo to enlarge it.
The male is easily distinguished from the female with its profound pink eye ring as seen above.
As with most of Australia’s Parrots, Lorikeets and Cockatoos they mate and pair for life. It was interesting on this day that the usually very present Sulphur-crested Cockatoo were quite absent from this usually noisy place where they would be nesting. We found them grazing at the other end of the park. This is because the Yellow-tails and Sulphur-cresteds compete for food, and the larger and more organised (militarized) Yellow-tails have been seen to drive the Sulphur-cresteds away. I actually featured footage of this in a recent post on Cook Park Reserve.
The reason I visited this part of the park was to see if the Southern Boobook was visible in his nesting hole. My youngest birder blog follower had shown me this spot some weeks before, and the Boobook was not present on many visits. However on this occasion he was. This is an owl species which hunts small animals and birds at night, and is seen here resting after a night out. See how increasing the ISO on my camera has allowed us to view inside his home.
This resident of the park, funny enough resides in a large angophora costata which hosts nesting holes for several Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and Rainbow Lorikeet, of which their young may become future food for the Boobook. The Cockatoo are always on watch of their nest, as the Kookaburras often do the rounds looking for unguarded nesting holes.
This is the top of this very large tree. As you can see at least two Cockatoo nesting holes are visible and are being carefully guarded by both parents and extended family members. Notice the Sulphur crests being raised on some of the cockies, this is ward off intruders.
Having considered these larger birds, one of Australia’s smallest and most beautiful little birds the Spotted Pardalote lives and breeds in Oatley Park. Sadly this bird is nationally in decline. It is a bird seldom seen by walkers in the park.
It spends most of its day up in the canopy of tall eucalypt trees where when viewed from the ground looks like a leaf, as it is the same shape and size as a gum leaf. However, this bird nests at night in a tunnel it has forged in a soil embankment.
As you can see when we lighten up the above photo the bird looks very like a leaf and quite unspectacular from below. You can understand how difficult it can be to get a good photo of this little bird.
However from above they are beautifully patterned with coloured dots.
Above we see the male Spotted Pardalote foraging for its favourite food, psyllids, and the sugary exudates from leaves and psyllids. They also eat other insects. He finds these on the underside of the leaf, so you can see his little body is intelligently designed for it to forage in this way. This bird spends much of its day upside down.
Nearby, this young male Superb Fairy-wren is in the very early stages of morphing to adult plumage.
He will eventually look like this by the end of summer.
My Bird of the Week – The Striated Heron
The Striated Heron, previously known as the Mangrove Heron, because it is found often among mangroves, which makes sense to me, since my wife and I struggle to find any striations on it to warrant the new name. This bird is found in Oatley Park in Lime Kiln Bay on the mud flats at low tide, and this one was found in the mudflats of the ponds area, There are two races (subspecies) the above race macrorhynchus is found along the east coast of Australia from north to south.
The race stagnatilis is found along the north western coat of Australia in WA and NT. This phot was taken in the mangroves of Roebuck Bay near Broome.