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:
Walking through Badangi Reserve, I spotted a greyish bird on a low branch. It immediately flew up into the canopy and I was able to get a quick shot.
Although its head was in deep shade, I could see clearly its white underside with dark streaking, and this made me think it was either an Oriole or a Figbird. The insect in its beak suggested an oriole, but both species take insects. The bird then flew to a more open spot:
A déjà vu moment for me at the Randwick Environmental Centre! Four months ago I saw a Willie Wagtail and a Restless Flycatcher there and this week I saw another Willie Wagtail and Flycatcher darting about. At first, I thought they might be the exact same birds, but then I realised that the flycatcher was smaller, about the size of a spinebill, and that it wasn’t quite so glossily black.
It perched briefly near me while it scanned the area above:
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.