Recently my wife and I went to a violin & piano concert featuring Vaughan Williams “Lark Ascending”. In his introduction to the piece, the violinist said he had researched the (British) Lark, and decided it was a “boring little bird”. A few days later, I saw something very similar to Vaughan Williams’ Lark strolling down a Waverton footpath. It wasn’t a Lark, though. It was an Australian Pipit (Anthus australis).
When walking in Ball’s Head Reserve recently, I stopped beside a small stone pool fed by a tap. A Brush Turkey had just arrived for a drink.
Almost immediately, a Pied Currawong flew into the bush behind the pool to wait for its turn.
If you’re near a thick patch of scrub in this part of the world, you often hear a series of buzzing calls. The calls are followed by little darting movements, and if you keep still, you may see the source - a White-browed Scrubwren (Sericornis frontalis).
The scrubwren is one of the less noticed birds. They’re quite small (not much more than 10g) and frequently have a frowning look about them. This was the first one I ever got a decent photo of:
I recently mistook a peewee for a magpie, reminding me to be more careful about identifying pied (black and white) birds! Talking of which, when is a wagtail not a wagtail? Answer - when it’s a Willie Wagtail, which is a fantail and not a wagtail. But what happens when the Willie Wagtail you’re watching is not a fantail either? Well…
It all began when this Willie Wagtail kindly allowed me to take its picture:
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:
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.