The weather has been pretty changeable lately, but over a week ago, I took my chances and went for an afternoon walk. The clouds were beginning to gather after a fine clear day, and looking up, I couldn’t see many birds.
Looking down, however, I could see lots of winter wildflowers. One was this Spider Grevillea (Grevillea speciosa):
A couple of weeks ago when I was wren-watching on the cliffs above Coogee beach, I noticed a Nankeen Kestrel perched further along just below the cliff-top. Before I could move closer, three people clambered over the safety fence above, and the bird took fright and flew off.
I consoled myself with the thought that I already had some decent photos from a few years ago. They were taken at Pearl Beach, and featured this kestrel:
Last weekend I was in Boorowa, about 330 km SE of Sydney, in a group walking a patch of river red gums on the edge of Castles Creek. There was a high wind, such that the eucalyptus leaves were flying horizontally, not hanging vertically as they usually do. We noticed what seemed to be a very wind-blown bird of prey high up in a tree on the other side of the creek:
It was too small to be a peregrine falcon, but as we approached we recognised it as a dejected-looking Australian Hobby or Little Falcon.
A couple of weeks ago, on a coastal walk, I saw a Nankeen Kestrel being swooped by what I thought at first was an Australian Magpie but turned out to be a Magpie-Lark (Grallina cyanoleuca) or Peewee. At the time, I put up a few photos, and these are more from that same walk.
I first noticed the kestrel in the distance over Coogee beach. It came closer and was almost overhead as it passed us.
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 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:
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.
Recently I was walking past the Shore school basketball courts when my attention was caught by a particularly shrill chorus of noisy miner abuse occurring in a small tree. I investigated, and as I moved around the tree, a small owl gradually became visible behind the noisy miners. It was a Southern Boobook owl (Ninox boobook).
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 Chiltern track at Ingleside runs from Chiltern Road down through Kuringai Chase to McCarr’s Creek Road. It’s not very long – about 1.7 kms – but is a “hot spot” for birds in the honeyeater family, which includes wattlebirds and spinebills.
I was there last weekend at the suggestion of Liz Powell, Habitat Restoration Officer at Willoughby Council, on a “Discovering Honeyeaters” walk led by Judy Christie. There were about 20 others in the group of assorted ages and experience. I’m not usually a fan of group birdwatching, but this one seemed to work well. In particular, some of the younger members had very sharp eyes, enabling them to point out birds the rest of us might have missed.
At the beginning of the track there were several Little Wattlebirds (Anthochaera chrysoptera) making their usual level of noise. At first I ignored them, as I already had good photos of this bird. However one in particular seemed to want to be photographed, and so I eventually obliged: