I hadn’t been for a walk westwards from our house for a while, so I set out on Wednesday not expecting much. Turns out I saw quite a lot. First, was this young Australian Magpie (Cracticus tibicen) with a centipede in its beak. I sighted it near the bowling club, but it ignored me, being busy warbling at its parents and getting warbled back. Magpie warbling has a lovely liquid sound, so I listened until it was interrupted by other birds.
The interruption was the cheerful squawking of several Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus moluccanus) in the adjacent palm tree. Typically bold and acrobatic, this one was hanging upside down to graze the palm flowers and not much concerned at my approach.
Further up the road, a flock of the rainbows’ smaller cousins, Musk Lorikeets (Glossopsitta concinna) were much less bold. They stayed high in the tree - a eucalypt with pink flowers—and were careful to keep a branch between us. These two photos were the best I could do. Musk lorikeets are vagrants, following the seasonal blossoms, and are often in our area around this time of year. This flock was my first sighting of the season, however. Judging by its colour, this individual was a young bird.
A bit further on, I saw a bird of prey high overhead. A passing couple saw me pointing the camera and asked if I was photographing clouds! When I said no, it was a raptor, the man asked what kind, and I had to say that I didn’t know. (In-flight identification of raptors isn’t easy, as their underwing markings can be lost against the glare of the sky, and I’m not very familiar with the silhouettes.) However, I was able to identify it from the photos later. At first, when I brightened the images back home, and was able to see the heavy barring pattern on the wings and body, I thought it was a Peregrine Falcon, and said so in my first posting of this entry.
However I had some doubts, and checked further - including against my earlier photos of a peregrine at Malabar - I am now sure that was wrong. I now think it is a Brown Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus). That in turn made me review some distant shots that I took nearby last year, of a similar bird largely hidden by branches that I had tentatively identified as a peregrine. I'm now confident that bird was also a brown goshawk, possibly the same one.
I then went on to the end of the road at the BP Site lookout where I heard a bird commotion several hundred metres away. At first I couldn’t see much, but then several ravens flew out of a tree. I missed them, but heard a familiar “chuck-chuck” and saw three King Parrots (Alisterus scapularis) fly past.
Then I looked back at the tree and realised there was still something in it, grey in colour like a channel-bill cuckoo, but seemingly too big. So I followed my usual script of photo first, ID later. As soon as I started taking pictures, the bird flew away in a flash of white wings reminiscent of a barn owl, but it didn’t seem right for that either. So once more, I had to wait to view the images at home, this time with a bird book handy. It was clearly a Grey Goshawk (Accipiter novaehollandiae), something I have never seen in this area before.
So just over half an hour after starting out in an area where I rarely see one raptor, I had seen two! Bringing my eyes down to earth, I spotted this Eastern Water Dragon (Intellagama lesueurii lesueurii) on the path below the lookout. I managed to sidle past without stampeding it to get to the waterside.
Amongst the birds on Berry’s Bay was this White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae), quietly ruffling its feathers while perched on its vantage point above an oil containment boom:
Perched on the boom below the heron was this juvenile Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae), with an older gull coldly ignoring its pleas for food and other largesse. A little further along the same boom a Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius) preened, and then spread its wings to dry.
Away from the water, a Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis) was keeping low in the grass, possibly as a precaution against the return of the peregrine falcon.
The dove was the last bird I photographed, but on the way back past the railway cutting I saw a familiar shape scurrying between Guinea flowers – this Teddy-Bear Bee (Amegilla bombiformis).
North Sydney – my home suburb – holds Sydney’s second largest CBD. However its parks and bushland areas, and those of neighbouring councils such as Willoughby, host a surprising variety of native flora and fauna. These bush areas are maintained by dedicated council staff, often working with local resident volunteers.