Spotted Pardalotes (Pardalotus punctatus) or Diamond Birds are about the size of the Eurasian Wren I described earlier, but whereas the wren is plain brown, pert-tailed and sharp beaked, the pardalote has showy patterning, an almost invisible tail and a rounded beak. The wren sings well too, while the pardalote gives a frequent monotonous 2 or 3 note call (they are also called Headache Birds!) The wren builds a neat little tree-nest whilst the pardalote digs a burrow.
Or maybe that last isn’t absolutely true. After seeing what looked like a mobile jewel case fly down to a hollowed and burnt tree, I went nearer to investigate:
I had originally put these photos aside, thinking they weren’t quite close or sharp enough. However I changed my mind this week, when I received an email from BirdLife Australia nominating the Black-shouldered Kite as their bird of the month.
My photos were taken last month when I went with a couple of friends to Cape Solander. Walking south from the lookout, I saw a white bird in the distance inland that didn’t look like a gull. I took a few photos in the hope that there might be enough detail to identify the bird later.
I haven’t yet planted out this year’s strawberry runners—I still have to prepare the bed!—but strawberry flowers can be dangerous places for small creatures. My recent post about Lacewings included a photo of a larva laden with trophies of past victims searching a strawberry flower for its next meal.
I saw this little bee fly checking out another strawberry flower for lurking predators.
“Plenty of pollen, looks safe… I’ll go closer”
I recently saw another Powerful Owl, this time in Centennial Park, and the contrast with the one I saw last year was interesting. While the first owl was in peaceful woodland and quite relaxed, this one was in a park with a lot going on, and was perceptibly more alert and watchful. First, it kept looking towards the café where people were having coffee:
I have mixed feelings about Sulphur-crested Cockatoos (Cacatua gelerita). I rarely photograph them because they’re so common, not only in the wild, but also as pets and in zoos. Around Sydney they’re as ubiquitous as rats, noisy as buzz-saws, and destructive as borers. However, they are also intelligent, lively and entertaining, and can be attractive in their quieter moments. Such was the pair I saw recently in Lane Cove River National Park.
My last post began with the friarbird catching something that looked like an adult lacewing. This reminded me that I had some earlier photos of lacewings (Chrysopidae), such as this one of a typical adult green lacewing.
Just behind the tiny Uniting Church at Glen Alice in the Capertee valley is a patch of trees, mostly eucalypts. Here, a Little Friarbird (Philomen citreogularis), with its distinctive blue patches below its eyes, flies in to check for insects. It quickly spots something and pounces.
Heron Number One was awake early, with neatly sleeked feathers. It seemed aware that it was nearing high tide, because it ignored a nearby gull and headed straight into the stormwater outlet in Ball’s Head Bay. It must have known that the tidal peak reaching the drain would allow fish inside to search for food.
After staying in several garden-free English B&Bs, it was delightful to arrive at Mimosa Lodge in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, where there was a half-acre of garden AND sunshine. I could hear a number of birds as we pulled in. However, when I went outside after unpacking, I discovered that much of the wildlife activity was coming from insects in the flower bed next to the breakfast terrace, and in the nearby flowering trees.
The first thing I noticed was the darker coloration of many of the honey bees. I concluded that these must be British Black Bees (Apis mellifera mellifera).
Last Tuesday I went to an excellent talk on Powerful Owls, by Dr Beth Mott and Ronwyn North. I remembered afterwards that I’d not posted anything about my own owl sighting last year.
I had been walking along a path in a neighbouring suburb where I’d been told to watch out for an owl. A little way along I noticed a woman with a camera (who later turned out to be Ronwyn North!) intently observing something. I didn’t want to spook whatever it was, so I approached slowly. A Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) was in the trees. A long-held ambition of mine had just been realised.