Spring brings change, with breeding and the promise of new beginnings for soon to emerge life forms, that will cement the relationship and activate commitment in bird pairs, in a similar way to humans. The above male Superb Fairy-wren is morphing into his breeding plumage, in anticipation of mating with surrounding females. After possibly breeding with several on heat females he will eventually transition into a faithful husband and father. Eventually he will resemble the male in full breeding plumage below, also shown with the female who shows now plumage change.
As we add the final part to our NSW western bird tour we will focus on the Fairy-wren, as it appeared so many times in so many places on out journey. I will share some footage we took will visiting a zoo. Interesting enough, we visit this zoo mainly to see the wild birds, and more interesting is the fact that this zoo has no caged bird exhibits at all. We purely look for the birds in the trees and parks within the zoo grounds and often find many interesting avian wonders.
These birds like many small birds appear to have a much faster world than ours being able to think, see and hear better and faster than us. They can solve problems faster and sometimes better than we can. Their brains may be smaller but they are jam packed with many more neurons and for many their brains are actually larger in proportion to their body size. Notice the accuracy of this bird’s about turn.
Another amazing small bird, one of our smallest, usually makes its nest by tunneling into earthen embankments. We discovered a Striated Pardolote family which had used sandstone holes inside caves in the Pilliga NP. These caves were used by our native inhabitants for shelter in past generations. This small insectivorous bird has a rapid flight and amazing sense of accuracy when it flies to its nesting hole. It is difficult to get a perfect shot die to their speed.
Here the pair rest in a tree nearby as they watch us watch their nesting hole. These birds suffer much at the hands of larger more aggressive Honeyeaters because they not only eat Lerps as Honeyeaters do, they eat the larvae as well, which makes a large part of its diet. Many birds have Many Honeyeaters have learned to extract the Lerps without eating the larvae so as to produce more, and birds such as Miners and Wattlebird do not like this. at the hands of other birds as well as having their nests destroyed because they sometimes choose mounds of earth that construction men have created and moving and transporting. Is it any wonder they and the Spotted cousin are on the decline.
Here are some shots of other Striates we saw a few days later. The last bird below is immature and paler, lacking the adult markings. Both male and female look similar.
Another small and smart looking bird we always see in the same spot each time we visit the zoo is this Sacred Kingfisher, our most common south eastern variety. Many of these birds are currently nesting inside arboreal termite nests, as do Kookaburras, the largest species of Kingfisher.
One large Honeyeater we always love to see out west which was present in large numbers around the zoo and constantly calling was the Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater. There were many flowering eucalypts around the animal pens for these birds to feed from, and they were showing feeding aggression to other birds.
The Rainbow Lorikeet were also enjoying the blossom.
Also walking about the zoo was this Yellow-billed Spoonbill, another inland bird we seldom see. A freshwater wader found in small numbers and usually alone unless breeding, as this one alone enjoying the Hypo’s pond.
We hit the jackpot with Woodswallows as we were leaving the Pilliga, through burnt out areas. It was encouraging to see these hardy insectivorous birds come back to nest there regardless. We saw the Dusky, Black-faced and White-browed Woodswallow, all living in the same area. Notice the last photo where the male is displaying ready to find a female to mate with. These birds are notorious at this time for this. Notice his cloaca is quite deliberately exposed as he calls for attention, indicating to any females on heat he is ready for action.
Another small insectivorous western bird was the Yellow-rumped Thornbill. It also jumps along quickly similar to the Fairy-wren. Listen to the background call of the female Magpie in the video clip as she mimics the call of the Friarbird, an unusual finding, which means she was probably raised with these birds being nearby, as most Magpie behaviour is learnt and Magpies, like many Australian birds, can mimic.
Before we came to our last stop off town Orange we found this immature Eastern Crimson Rosella sitting by its nesting hole as many young birds do. They return to the nest for security until they are mature. You will notice the difference between it and the parent below. The blochiness as it gradually gains its beautiful bright mature plumage loosing its protective green.
You may wonder why we have a saying in Australia ” You silly Galah !” which is used to caution people acting like larrikins and tripping themselves up or others because of their mischief. Here’s an example of this bird in action, and it has no other Galah in sight to show off to. These grain eating birds are in flocks of hundreds our west gluttons for eating spilled wheat from the side of the road. Silly, because when a car comes along, they have eaten too much and cannot lift off the road in time and you know what comes next… yes feathers everywhere.
Finally, we made a special visit to Forbes to check out a wetland the Parkes Visitor Centre (a place also where my book is sold) guide recommended to us to check out. This was a highlight, to view several special birds, even if all of these photos were taken from a distance. The wetland lake was full due to recent drought breaking rains. The main town feature was this artform of a Goanna, which stands stark out in the middle of nowhere..
What we did see were a family of Pink-eared Duck with several ducklings in toe. Many Grey Teal are also present breeding, one of Australia’s most numerous waterbirds, particularly in northern Queensland. What I did not realize until viewing my photos at home was that I had captured in the photos a lone male breeding Blue-billed Duck, a rare find and a bird we were disappointed we had not seen while there. You will need to click on each photo to view it. These were unexpected blessings which we would have missed without the tip-off, as we were not aware of these wetlands.
Both a pair of White-bellied Sea-Eagle and a lone Peregrine Falcon sat resting on dead tree tops in the swamp. Wetlands are always a good place to find raptors since waterbirds are very exposed and easy takes for marauding swooping bird eaters, especially with their young. This is one good reason they are granted large clutches, for their specie survival, as some loss will always be imminent.
Lastly, by the water was this very noisy songbird the Rufous Songlark that would not stay still long enough for me to click the shutter. It seemed to see my lens as a threat every time I pointed it, it would move. I did manage these shots while it briefly rested. Boy it could sing. I think it was nesting nearby and trying to divert me.
It was a most enjoyable road-trip and we were blessed that we were able to do it during Covid while restrictions were still in place, as many are still. The fact that we lacked both international and interstate tourists meant places were less crowded.
Thank you for touring with us, we do hope you enjoyed the ride and the rest of the week !
Also, bear in mind that with many who are or have recently been in lock-down for an extended period, your Vitamin D levels may have become quite low and a supplement may be needed for a short time, as this vitamin is essential for Calcium absorption.
Also, don’t forget the perfect Christmas and Thanksgiving present for all ages is my book “What Birds Teach Us” as it encourages an appreciative, thankful and joyous attitude throughout. Yes the book is available here online for both Australian and overseas residents. Many from various countries have purchased it and have shared how it blessed them.
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