One of the most enjoyable parts of my trip to Denmark was seeing a red-eared firetail. That’s partly because they’re so pretty, but also because I’d never heard of one before. They’re quite unusual, but I saw a pair come through the woodland most days that I was there.
Isn’t he beautiful? Fortunately, a neighbour put out a bird bath which they liked to visit which made them much easier to see. They weren’t particularly shy, and would come reasonably close as long as I stood absolutely still.
Here he is again but with his partner. It’s a type of finch so they have the finch family beak that’s ideal for eating seeds. Several times I watched them feeding on the dried seed heads of the plants in the woodland, but I’ve no idea what the plants were called.
They’re only found in the far southwest of WA, so if you want to see one you’ll have to visit a fairly specific area. There are two other types of firetail who are found over in the south east, so hopefully I’ll get to see them too at in the future.
My recent trip to Denmark wasn’t as far afield as you might imagine, as it’s on the south coast of Western Australia, not the European one. I stayed in a cabin on built stilts, on the side of a hill, in woodland, so from one side of the house the view was directly into the tree tops. There was a bird feeder on the balcony and we had lots of visitors to it, including some surprises. The rosella (above) was one of them. It’s the first time I’ve seen them since we moved here and there was a whole family who were regular visitors.
The rosella wasn’t the only first for us. This babbler was one of a group of about 7 who came noisily through the woods
This red-winged fairy-wren and his family was another regular visitor. I have to say he looks just the same as several other fairy-wrens (blue-breasted, variegated, lovely) and I’m only guessing red-winged because of our location.
Another frequent visitor to the bird table was this lovely bronzewing. There were quite a few of them and they were easily chased off the feeders by the gallahs, so they quite often fed on the forest floor beneath, picking up the seeds that the other birds were dropping.
These honey-eaters were also new to me – white-naped honey-eaters.
The most common visitors to the feeder, and the whole of the balcony, were the gallahs. At one point we had 22 gallahs on there, all queuing up for a feed. In the woods I found the reason they were so hungry. This one had been eating for at least 3. The parents seemed to be feeding, then regurgitating food for their very noisy chicks. You can just see one peeping out of the nest hole.
Osprey Getting a Birds Eye View
I haven’t posted for a few weeks because I haven’t been out very much, because of the rubbish weather. It’s good for the region because it had been so dry for so long, and the birds don’t care, but I like the big blue sky and hope we get better weather soon.
The good news is that I see the ospreys regularly now, so I’m hoping that in a month or so they might nest again nearby. The one above was less than a kilometre from the marina, on a fishing trip.
While I was trying to get a photo of the osprey, the fairy-wrens very kindly came to me. The male’s breeding plumage is almost complete, but not quite.
I went to Yanchep National Park and the splendid Fairy-Wren was also putting on a show.
The water birds were out in force, including this spoonbill. The spoonbill didn’t appear to be making a nest, but didn’t seem to want to give up his stick either.
It’s always a treat to see ducklings, and this mother had 15 tiny ducklings to care for. I don’t know when they’d hatched but it must have been very recently.
The shelducks seemed happy to make the most of the break in the rain to sit and sun themselves on the rocks.
The pelican also seems to be happy to get the sun on his back for a while. It’s raining again at the moment, fingers crossed for some sunshine and dry days next week.
The butcherbird is one of the 4 very common black and white birds here. It’s not the biggest, or the smallest, or the noisiest so it’s very easily overlooked. But I don’t think it should be. It’s a lovely bird who is relatively friendly with people. Watch it though, it will guard its nest just like the magpie and the magpie-lark.
This one lives nearby and regularly visits. In this series of pictures he’s eating an olive.
Shake the olive off the twig
Grab Olive and Squeeze
Shake and Squeeze
Flamenco Dance to finish
According to my friend Wiki, it’s called a butcherbird because of its habit of hanging its catch in a crevice or fork in a tree to eat it, or to store it for later. So I’m glad it brought an olive to my garden then and not a lizard.
In the Woods
Every so often I realise that its ages since I’ve seen any ‘new’ birds that I haven’t seen before, and I think that it’s inevitable as time goes on that seeing new birds will become less frequent. Then I see several new birds in a short time and realise just how many I’ve never seen. So here’s an update on several new sightings from a very short time. The elegant parrot above was one of a pair that I came across in Franklin Park (a tiny reserve) in Wanneroo. They were quite shy and it was quite hard to get a clear picture at that distance.
I’ve wanted to see a red-capped robin since I came across one in my book. I wrongly assumed that they would be as common and as friendly as a British robin, but not so. He was just as pretty though and let me follow him for a few minutes.
This little bird of prey was quite happy to sit still while I took pictures, maybe because he was so high up. He was in another tiny reserve called Caporn Park in Wanneroo. He’s another one that I’ve seen pictures of before, and I saw in a bird of prey display, but I’ve never seen in the wild before.
I’ve seen one of these, a black-faced cuckoo-shrike, before. I even have some photos of them, but they have always stayed so far away that the photos are poor, so I’ve never had one that was fit to post on here. This one was also in Caporn Park and also happy to be photographed. It was one of a pair who moved between trees around us for at least 10 minutes before we left.
- Black-fronted Dotterel
I went walking at Yanchep and saw 16 of these pretty little birds by the edge of the lake. I had to look them up when I got home. When I zoomed in close on the photos of the birds on the lake I found they were a different type of dotterel – they were red-kneed dotterels. And while I was taking pictures, a spoonbill dropped in for lunch.
Red-Kneed Dotterels at Yanchep Lake
Isn’t she pretty? Until this week I don’t think I’d ever seen a woodswallow. To be honest, I’d never heard of one. It’s not a page that I’ve noticed in my book before. When we first saw them, at a distance, we wondered if they might be some sort of shrike. Up close, it was obvious that I’d have to look it up when I got home.
Woodswallows on a grasstree spike
At this point I’d nomally hope to share an interesting fact gleaned from wiki. The only interesting wiki fact is that the entry for the black-faced woodswallow is less than 2 lines long. So I seem to know as much now as their expert author.
There were probably about 20 of them, feeding mainly on the seed spikes of the grasstrees. When a bird found a ripe spike, several others would come and join it.
Having been here for 18 months, it’s not so often now that I see a bird that I haven’t seen before, so this was great. And seeing so many of them at once, and so close up, made it even better.
‘It’s comfy here and I’m not shifting’
Sometimes it’s easy to overlook more common birds, but you can’t always overlook a magpie. They have ways of grabbing your attention.
Their most extreme way is dive bombing when they have chicks (it’s usually the males). They’re very protective and will swoop at anyone walking by. They’re even more aggressive to anyone in a hat or helmet – cyclists beware! Occasionally they’ll actually peck at the eyes, neck or face.
At the moment they are past the dive bombing stage, but are very noisy. Not noisy at the levels of the ravens, but still noisy. And they are visiting every day in groups of 5 – 10. They redeem themselves by being surprisingly tuneful.
Looking for left overs
Balconies are sometimes a likely place to find a snack. They might also visit you at a picnic table or BBQ.
They don’t always make very laid back neighbours either. They often squawk while they are chasing or being chased by other birds. Outside the house it’s usually the magpie-larks or ravens that they argue with, but last week they were ganging up on one of the young ospreys. He came to hunt at the marina but, each time he came to the bit at the end of our road, he was shooed away by a gang of rowdy magpies. I don’t mind them visiting, but I don’t want them chasing off the osprey.
Australian Bustard – Bush-Turkey
Bush-turkey – anyone for a barbie?
The bustard has been high on my list of birds I’d like to see in Oz ever since I discovered it lived here (confession – I’d always thought it was an African bird).
Looking and Listening as he crosses the road
I got to see this one on my trip up to Exmouth. I hoped to see one there, but came across this one quite by chance and not where I was expecting it. It was very early in the morning, and it was just strolling down the middle of the road.
It’s nick-name is bush-turkey (not to be mistaken with a brush-turkey) and I think it’s neck looks pretty turkey-like in this picture. It’s another Australian bird which is perfect for cartoons (like pelicans, emus and penguins). It really isn’t a perfect design for flying.
- Bustard in flight
The bustard is protected from hunting now, except for the aborigines who are still able to hunt and eat them as it’s part of their culture. It features in their ‘Dreamtime’ stories and sometimes in their dreamtime artwork. Sadly, bustards don’t live in the area where I live so I’ll have to wait until another holiday to see one again.
The Willie Wagtails have chicks again. After their success a couple of months ago, the Willie Wagtails decided they could fit in another brood this season and we now have another pair of chicks flitting round the garden.
There was a lot of this.
Willie Wagtail Chicks
And very soon, this.
Given their habit of sitting on the wall waiting for a feed, I’d have thought that by now they would have become lunch for either a cat, or ‘our’ lizard. He lives between this wall and next door’s garage. He often sits on the wall and a newly fledged chick would have made a tasty snack. I think the chicks a past the danger period now as they are good flyers and quite quick off the mark.
After all that work I think the parents deserve a rest until next spring.
Male Rainbow Bee-Eater
It’s time for an update and this week I was going to share good news and bad news. It’s now renamed Good News and Good News.
Wagtail Chicks Feeding
Let’s start with some good news. The Willie Wagtails who nested outside our house successfully raised 2 chicks who are now announcing themselves noisily in the street every morning. This is also great news for the dog who was divebombed every time he went for a walk or for a wee. For the past few months he’s been harassed by magpies, magpie-larks, wattle-birds and wagtails almost every time he’s been for a walk. Now that the chicks have all left their nests he can walk in peace!
Empty Osprey Nest
This is how this section was going to read: Next I have to share some sad news. Not long after I last posted about the ospreys, I went to take some pictures and see if the eggs had hatched. All I found was an abandoned nest. There had been a really bad storm just beforehand. I can only speculate that it might have been the strong winds that did the damage. Worse news still, I haven’t seen either of the adults since. Hopefully they’re fine and I’ll see them soon along the coast.
The great news is that I have now seen the ospreys, mum on the nest and dad perching nearby. Hopefully they’ve laid a new clutch of eggs and soon I’ll be able to get those long awaited shots of some chicks.
This pair of straw-necked ibis have been spending time at Lake Joondalup. I’m not sure whether they bred this year, but I was really pleased to get this shot of them. The little specks around them aren’t from a dirty lens – they’re tiny flies! They were surrounded.
Pair of Rainbow Bee-Eaters
I was out walking recently and came across this pair of rainbow bee-eaters. Yet another colourful surprise. They’re fantastic. Very colourful in flight but way too fast for me to get a picture. It’s the first time I’d ever seen one so I was really pleased that they both opted to rest at the same time.
My last picture to post is of a young pacific gull. I don’t think it’s this year’s chick, more likely a couple of years old. It hangs out with a flock of ordinary seagulls though and not with other pacific gulls. He looks very out of place next to them since they are bright white and also only half the size. I’m growing quite fond of him as he regularly turns up on the beach when I go to watch the sunset. So here it is, on the beach, just before sunset .
Immature Pacific Gull