Honey-eaters

White-cheeked Honeyeater

White-cheeked Honeyeater

Honeyeaters featured on my Top 10 Classic Australian Birds because there are just so many of them. Many in numbers and also in different types – pages and pages of them in my Bird Guide.

Honey-Eater Feeding

Honey-Eater Feeding

 

The white-cheeked honey-eater is the one I see most frequently, with several pairs living in my local park.  They are very territorial and I know where I’m likely to see each male perching to sing.

 

Singing Honey-Eater

Singing Honey-Eater

 

This singing honey-eater recently appeared in the garden ready for breeding season.  He (I think) sings beautifully from the pomegranite tree and then chases off another singing honey-eater ( also male I think), before returning for another tune.  I’m hoping his partner might nest in the front garden soon.

Honey-Eater feeding

Honey-Eater feeding

Top 10 Australian Birds Revisited

It’s been a while now since I wrote my post about my Top 10 Australian Birds, picked because they are closely associated with Australia rather than because of their rarity.  So, how many have I seen, how often do I see them and whereabouts?

Grazing Galah

Grazing Galah

Galah

It’s hard to describe quite how many I see, a bit like pigeons in the middle of London.  On their own, in pairs, in huge flocks.  In the park, on sports fields or at the shopping centre, I always see galahs, and they usually manage to make me smile.  Very bright and cheerful, cheeky birds.

Kookaburra with a grub

Kookaburra with a grub

 

Kookaburra

I see and hear a kookaburra maybe every few weeks.  Usually in one of the parks near a lake.  And often in the gum tree, just like the song said it would.  It’s laugh is fantastic to hear.

 

Emu in a field

Emu in a field

Emu

I’ve seen several emus, and they’ve all been away from home in slightly less built up areas or in the middle of no-where.  They seem quite happy to be photographed but I’m careful not to get too close in case one decides it might like to kick me.  Definitely keeping a clear distance.  They really are huge.  If we see one I still insist that we park the car so I can get out and have a closer look – the novelty hasn’t warn off yet.

 

Bowerbird.  You may have noticed, no picture yet. I haven’t seen a bowerbird yet, but I hadn’t really expected to.  The good news is though that I’ve found out that they do live in WA and possibly only a couple of hours away from where I live, so seeing one isn’t completely impossible.

Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow Lorikeet

 

Rainbow Lorikeet

Possibly the most colourful bird I see and they always make me smile.  I see them most days in parks, on housing estates or by the road.  However, I have mixed feelings since discovering that they aren’t native to this area and can be a major pest and do a great deal of damage.  They are also squeezing out native birds.  Sadly similar problems occur in most countries now and similar dilemmas are faced regarding their control with no easy answer.

Black Swan

Black Swan

 

Black Swan

Beautiful, graceful and rather fiesty – be warned, especially around cygnets!  I can see them just about anywhere where there’s a lake.  There must be at least 25 pairs on Lake Joondalup now, many raising their families.

Pelican

Pelican

Pelican

It took me a while to see these, and even longer to get a good photo, but I’ve seen quite a few now.  There are some areas where I can guarantee to see them (eg massive colony near Penguin Island) and other places, such as nearby lakes, where they are occasional visitors.  I still compare them to their cartoon counterparts though as they are so comical.

Little Penguin - Photo courtesy of Dave Shaw

Little Penguin – Photo courtesy of Dave Shaw

 

Penguin

Cute, cute, cute.  Not surprisingly, the best place to see one is Penguin Island.  During moulting they can be seen all over the island as they can’t swim while they are waiting for their new feathers to grow.  During the rest of the year, they can be seen in the visitor centre on the island.  They have several penguins, like the one opposite, who would not be able to fend for themselves in the wild.  Some have been rescued when injured, some were hand raised orphans.  Sometimes the rescue penguins breed there and the young go to other zoos or wildlife parks.

Red-Winged Fairy-Wren

Red-Winged Fairy-Wren

Fairy Wren

I saw plenty of these in the first six months here, but they all looked the same to me.  Not just males and females, but the different types of fairy-wren too.  It wasn’t until breeding season that they really came into their own, with all the males putting on a spectacular show.  I’ve seen all 4 local variations over the past couple of months and it’s been a real treat.  I wonder how much longer they’ll keep their fantastic colours for, before they all look the same again.

White-Cheeked Honey-Eater

White-Cheeked Honey-Eater

Honeyeater

The honey-eater made it onto my original list because of the number of different sorts that you can see here.  I’ve seen several different ones, but this is probably the one I see most often.  Their are several pairs of white-cheeked honey-eaters in my local park who I see most days.  It didn’t take long to learn which trees I would see them singing in.  I now have a new honeyeater who has arrived in my garden and likes to perch in the pomegranite tree.  I was surprised to find that I hadn’t already written a post on them, so I feel one is imminent.  They certainly warrant one.

 

Kookaburra

Kookaburra with lunch

Kookaburra with lunch

Pair of Kookaburras

Pair of Kookaburras

 

As a blog about Australian birds, you’d really have thought that there would have been a post on a kookaburra by now. It featured in my Top 10 Classic Australian Birds and is one of the best known Australian birds around the world. However, I couldn’t get good enough photos to do it justice. It was always obscured by a twig, or grainy due to the dark, or blurred because it decided to shake at the wrong moment. Well, his time has now come. Mainly thanks to a pair of them at Lake Joondalup.

 

 

Laughing

Laughing

 

I  hear their signature ‘laugh’, more often than I see them.  It sounds a bit like excited monkeys shouting to each other in the trees. Since they’re in the kingfisher family they prefer to be near water, although you can find them in gardens or in the bush. Lizards and small snakes are more likely to be lunch than fishes though.

Fantail trying to steal lunch

Fantail trying to steal lunch

 

 

 

This kookaburra almost had lunch stolen from its beak by a brave and opportunistic fantail.
 

 

 

Staring contest

Staring contest

 

 

 

I was challenged to a staring contest – and I didn’t win.
 

 

 

 

Sitting in tree

Sitting in tree


 

The Australian Sea Lion – No, It’s Not a Bird

The Australian Sea Lion becomes the first non-bird wildlife to make it onto my bird-flavoured blog, largely because we recently had a visit from this one.

Sea Lion - not a bird

Australian Sea Lion

My husband and eldest son went out in the kayaks when it chose to join them.  They didn’t get a photo of it when it was right next to their paddles as they were concentrating on not being tipped out if it knocked into them.  It was just curious though, and was happy to swim round them for a couple of minutes.  Then they watched it as it went off hunting.  To their surprise, it brought back its next catch (a small octopus), apparently just to show it off to them.

When they returned it was my turn to go out and, luckily, the sea lion was still there, so I was able to see it too.  In fact, it stayed on this stretch of coast for 2 days.

Sea Lion at Seal Island

Sea Lion at Seal Island

The first time I saw one was on a trip to Seal Island from Penguin Island, south of Perth.  There’s a breeding colony there. We watched one jump out of the water and over the bow of a passing kayak.  They’re quite playful animals and can be quite like playful dogs at times.  Last time I visited Seal Island I watched one playing with a stick and chasing seagulls.

 

Sea Lions and Australian Birds

Sea Lions and Birds on Seal Island

 

 

You can see just how many birds they have to share the island with.  There’s a breeding colony of pelicans there, pied cormorants, little penguins, ospreys, terns and seagulls.

 

 

Sadly, there are estimated to be just 11,000 – 15,000 Australian sea lions left in the wild, and they are only found off the South West coast of Australia.  Hopefully their numbers may increase with the protection they now receive and also the protection of the fish stock in the region.

 

Australian Sea Lions at Seal Island

Australian Sea Lions at Seal Island

Top 10 Australian Birds

My Top 10 Classic Australian Birds

  1. Galah
  2. Kookaburra
  3. Emu
  4. Bowerbird
  5. Rainbow Lorikeet
  6. Black Swan
  7. Pelican
  8. Penguin
  9. Fairy Wren
  10. Honeyeater

So this is my Top 10 list of classic Australian Birds and, hopefully, I’ll eventually get to see them all.  I’ve chosen birds that I closely associate with Australia, and so will many other people.  It isn’t in any order in particular, and there are several birds (such as the lyrebird or the zebra finch) that could easily have made it onto the list, if only there was space.

Galah at Joondalup Lake

Galah

 

1  The Galah.  Very common, very easy to see and a classic Australian bird.  Gregarious, loud and amusing, and they always make me smile.

 

 

 

2  Like many people, I can remember singing ‘Kookaburra’ in junior school and learning about his laugh, so I’ve always associated him with Australia.  His ‘laughing’ is fantastic to hear.

Emu Face

Emu

 

 

3  Rod Hull.  Need I say more.

 

 

 

4  One of my favourite David Attenborough documentaries was on bowerbirds and their amazing ‘bowers’, so I associated them with Australia long before I came here.  Much less common and much harder to see than many of the birds on the list, but hopefully one day I will get to see one.

Lorikeet in tree

 

5  The rainbow Lorikeet is surely one of the most colourful birds on the planet.  Like the Galah, it is confident, easy to spot and never fails to make me smile.

 

6  Many people from the UK will have seen black swans there, but they make it onto the list partly because they are the only swans in Australia, and partly because they are the state symbol for Western Australia.

7  The Pelican.  We all seem to know what one looks like even if we’ve never seen one in the wild.  The reason pelicans so often feature in cartoons is that they look so comical.  So wouldn’t it be great to see one in its ‘home’.

Little Penguin

Little Penguin

 

8  I’ve always wanted to see wild penguins but I also hate the cold.  Imagine my delight in finding that I can see them in sunshine and 30 degrees C – who’d have thought it?  And they also live just one hour’s drive from me so I don’t even have to go on a plane to see them.

 

 

9  To be honest, before I arrived here, I hadn’t actually heard of the fairy wren.  It turns out that it is very dear to the Australians’ hearts.  It features in people’s homes on ornaments and on mugs etc much as a robin or a blue tit would in Britain.  Very pretty and very Australian.

10  Until I came out here, honeyeater was just a name of an Australian bird.  It wasn’t until I looked it up in my bird book that I discovered just how many different honeyeaters there are.  They almost warrant a separate book.  So I wonder how many types I’ll be able to see.

 

Pelicans Flying

Pelicans Flying