Tag Archives: Melbourne

Canberra’s Backyard Bird Count

Summer in the suburbs, a young Kookaburra on his maiden flight, resting on one of the Eucalyptus trees in our street.

Birdlife Australia has a wonderful program called Birds in the Backyard. 

It is a research, education and conservation program that was developed through concern that we are gradually losing small native birds from  parks and gardens, through rapid expansion of cities, suburbs and towns.

The Silver-eye in a neighbour’s garden..

An Eastern Spinebill, visits every autumn for the flowers of the pineapple sage.

One week of the year is set aside for the Aussie Backyard Bird Count. During this week, individuals can participate in collecting data by recording the birds we see, in twenty minute periods.

Birds can be recorded in our own backyard, a local park, a main street of a town, a beach, or a patch of forest….anywhere in Australia.

The Wattle bird, feeding on the nectar from a Bottlebrush bush.

In 2018 Australians counted 2.7 million birds including 30 000 Rainbow Lorikeets.

The rise of Rainbow Lorikeets shows how the Aussie backyard has changed from the traditional European-style cottage gardens, to more native gardens.

Lorikeets are nectar-loving birds and like to forage on the flowers of Eucalypts, Bottle-brushes and Grevillias to harvest nectar and pollen.

There are still many pretty cottage plants and gardens in the suburb, mixed with native street trees.

My daughter and her family live in an inner city suburb in Melbourne. (Melbourne is the second biggest city in Australia.) It is a rapidly changing suburb from the original workers cottages to townhouses for a younger generation.

One constant in the suburb is the street trees. The streets we walk down regularly are lined with Bottle brushes and Eucalypts. It is a pleasure to walk to the coffee shop, and look at the gardens and the bird-laden trees and shrubs along the way.

Melbourne is well known for warm and inviting coffee shops too.

Grafted Red Flowering Eucalyptus trees

At Christmas time we noticed some of the street trees were decorated by local residents and children, and the flowers could out do any Christmas decorations!

In the same suburb of Melbourne, the park and playing fields are lined with palm trees. I don’t know the history of these trees, but the Rainbow Lorikeets are feeding and  nesting in them too, which show how adaptable they are. Lorikeets, are, unfortunately very bossy birds, and tend to dominate other species of birds.

The data collected from the Aussie Backyard Bird Count records the three top birds counted in every state in Australia that year.

The the top three birds counted in Canberra and surrounds (Australian Capital Territory) were……..The Australian Magpie

The Magpies enjoying a summer bath in our garden.

The second most recorded bird was the Crimson Rosella.

The Crimson Rosella enjoying some Pineapple Sage in our garden..

and the third was the  Pied Currawong.

The currawong is a handsome looking bird, and flies into the garden with the precision of a jet pilot. Whip smart, he knows where to find water, and also little birds nesting in trees.  Once the currawong arrives in the garden, the little birds disappear.

The bird count can make everyone feel a bit territorial and competitive about our favourite birds…

I’ve heard the New South Wales magpies have slightly different colour markings to our Magpies in Canberra, and are more striking….

and here is a New South Wales Magpie…and she is putting on the Ritz…

Whereas our Magpies, looking a bit scruffy, are pulling plants out of the garden,

However, the very young Canberra Magpie in the photo below began her early life in the courtyards of Parliament House,  and is entertaining all the visitors with her beautiful birdsong. So she is a celebrity from day one!

I’ve used this photo frequently, but it is hard to resist this cute little Magpie, her warbling to be heard through the courtyards of Parliament House.

At the end of the Backyard Bird Count week, we can vote for our favourite of the 50 most popular birds in Australia. (an impossible task of course)

This year I have voted  for the Eastern Spinebill. This tiny little bird, with a mighty strong call, can be heard every autumn in our  garden. He comes to the Peppermint Sage plant in our backyard regularly every year (in the uncertain natural world, this is a comfort).  He competes with the bossy Wattlebird for food, and stands his ground. This is the Lion-heart of little birds.

The Eastern Spinebill (c) Ian Wilson 2015 www.birdlife.org

In and around Canberra this spring there have been an abundance of smaller native birds which are unusual to Canberra (to me anyway). On my Canberra Wildlife Photography Facebook page, I have seen photos of Leaden Flycatchers, Rainbow Bee-Eaters, Sacred Kingfisher and a Rufus Songlark. Perhaps the drought is moving these birds closer to Canberra for the water and relatively easy food sources. They are very welcome.

I hope you have some sunshine, rain, plants and birds, where ever you are in the world. The joys of life!

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonga Wetlands…. water, birds, and nature’s own bluegrass band of frogs

Wonga Wetlands is a ecosystem of lagoons and billabongs, and is home to a variety of wildlife and River Red Gums. (a type of Eucalyptus tree)

The name Wonga means Cormorant in the local indigenous Wiradjuri language.

These wetlands cover around 80 hectares on the Murray River floodplains, near the city of Albury.

I have included a map showing Canberra in relation to Sydney and Melbourne, the two biggest cities in Australia.  Albury is about midpoint between Canberra and Melbourne.

We stopped off in Albury on our way down to Melbourne to visit our little granddaughter, and the Wonga Wetlands are on the outskirts of the town.

These  lagoons are being gently restored after many years of farming and grazing using reclaimed water from the Murray River.

It is an area that is now being developed  to conserve and protect the habitat, and the native flora and fauna.

It wasn’t that easy to photograph birds on the move in this wetland environment, so I have added a photo here of a  Cormorant taken along the bank of Lake Burley Griffin …to show this fine bird at close range.

The photo below shows an elegant  Egret and behind the Egret is a Cormorant, much smaller than the one from Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra.

How very well camouflaged they are in their true environment.

I wished I had a long range lens to capture the wild life on this dead gum tree…

Fortunately Paul took this great photo (below) of the Pelican and two black Darters looking on.

There is another Pelican nesting the branch below….one wonders how dead branches on dead trees stays steady, especially when the Pelican lands…

 

Paul’s second great shot was of this magnificent bird below, the Royal Spoonbill… close up you can see its eye, and the amazing white feathers flowing back from his head. I’ve read that the male Spoonbill develops a lush crest of white feathers during mating season.

We both spent a long time trying to photograph him as he put his amazing bill into the water, and skimmed along the edges of the lagoon, scooping up food to eat. ..but all our subsequent photos of this bird were blurry.

The White necked Heron

The ducks and swans seem to cruise happily through the thick algae.

 

Near this pool of water….

was a sign about the frogs…

There was very little sight or sound of these interestingly named frogs, but I did find some information from the website Backyard Buddies.

Pobblebonk Frog  (or Banjo Frog) are found in Eastern Australia, in ponds and lakes. Like nature’s own bluegrass band once the Banjo Frogs get going you’d swear you were hearing musical instruments….rather than a small frog looking for a mate.

When one frog starts to call, others will join in….a single bonk, or plonk sounds like a string of banjos being plucked.

Pobblebonk Frog: Photo from Museum Victoria

The Peron’s Tree (Maniacal Cackle) Frog is a tiny, and cute looking frog, but a very noisy creature. He sounds just like a jackhammer getting started when the mating season begins. Sometimes a Peron’s Tree frog gets into a drain pipe and calls, and there his call can reverberate and sound like the call of ten frogs, perhaps this is where the second name ”Maniacal Cackle” comes from …..

The Peron’s Tree Frog (Maniacal Cackle Frog): Photo from the Museum Victoria

The Eastern, or Common froglet must feel very ordinary next to these two!

Australia is the driest continent in the world, and we never take water for granted, so it is wonderful to see this wetland, full of water, wildlife and frogs!

I hope you are enjoying your green spaces, where ever you are in the world…

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey  All Rights Reserved.