After several weeks of successive Antarctic weather “blobs”, the weather seems finally to have turned. This last week we’ve have several cloudless days, with 22°C on Friday and 25°C today, making it an absolute delight to go for walks.
Yesterday, my Waverton walk began with a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo screeching overhead as it flew towards the city.
Three weeks ago I posted several photos of Brush Turkeys on nests. Three days later, I put this photo on my Facebook Page, showing the male watching his hen of the day digging hard, with both turkeys completely unfazed by the schoolchildren walking past.
But my recent focus has been on another turkey, the late starter in the Australian Catholic University. Four weeks ago he didn’t have a nest, but some rapid sweeping of the soil and leaf litter around his chosen site soon gave him a respectable mound. Not long afterwards, he began to attract a few females. The first one I saw was about 7 a.m. July 30th:
Ever since the first COVID lockdown, I’ve noticed a greater number of people walking my usual paths around North Sydney, often with a dog in tow. There’s also been a corresponding decrease in the number of birds—apart from those birds who don’t mind human proximity, such as Brush Turkeys! So as last Friday was forecast to be the last sunny day before a period of wet weather, I decided to go somewhere I hadn’t been to for a while – the Chiltern Trail at Ingleside. Bird-wise, it wasn’t a great success – a bit early in the season perhaps - but it was still a very pleasant visit.
Walking down the track, I heard Spotted Pardalotes (Pardalotus punctatus) calling from the surrounding trees, and eventually I saw a male low down on some bracken.
With an East Coast Low sitting over the Tasman Sea, last week’s weather was pretty cold, wet, and windy. I didn’t venture out much, but on Thursday when I was walking past North Sydney Demonstration School I came across this male turkey working on his nest :
Last week I wrote about the Variegated Fairy-wren as being Sydney’s “other wren”, the wren that it was “other” to being the more common Superb Fairy-wren.
When I heard that there might be more Variegated Fairy-wrens at north Coogee beach, I went there to have a look. Instead, I saw several Superb Fairy-wrens (Malurus cyaneus), starting with this male in his breeding plumage:
The others with him included another male, but this one was in non-breeding (eclipse) plumage.
I’ve always had a soft spot for wrens, perhaps because my wife is called Jenny. I even did a post about an English wren here. But the Jenny-wrens are British birds, and our Sydney equivalents are the fairy-wrens. Most Sydneysiders have seen the little brown females skittering through the undergrowth in local bush reserves, often accompanied by a male in his black and electric blue breeding dress. Usually, these are Superb Fairy-wrens.
The Variegated Fairy-wrens (Malurus lamberti) are shyer and less common than their Superb cousins, so I was pleased to be able to photograph this Variegated male in his breeding plumage earlier this week.
Since COVID-19 isolation began, more and more people are walking in the areas I usually visit, often with dogs in tow. One result is that the birdlife is also practising isolation from human-infested areas! I was pleased therefore when a small bird put his (size 24) foot down on a tree trunk close to me in Lane Cove National Park this week:
Two weeks ago I posted photos of Topknot pigeons, including some in a fig-tree at Jerrara Dam near Kiama. On that same walk at the Dam, I saw this female Bowerbird perched near another fig-tree. The light was good, allowing her remarkable eye colouring to show clearly.
These pigeons have been the bane of my life lately—I could never get close to one even though they flap round regularly in Sydney in summer—but I find them fascinating: they look so exotically eccentric. A topknot pigeon is a conventional grey pigeon except that it has a red beak and eyes, and a forward grey crest like a bulbous forehead as well as a trailing red/brown ponytail crest. Here’s what one looks like:
Small brown birds aren’t always easy to identify. Here’s one I saw on 29th February.
When I first saw it, it was in long grass below a thick bush. It had seen me too: