I sometimes wonder if readers think the only things we do are bird related. While that's not true this week's highlights certainly won't dispel the notion. On Monday morning we visited the local wetland after receiving a couple of tips from a friend. We spent more than an hour outside the bird hide peering in via the viewing windows at a Welcome Swallow nest (we didn't want to disturb the parents as they fed their brood and they seemed unwilling to enter when we were actually inside the bird hide). At first glance the nest appeared empty but as soon as the parents appeared four tiny heads popped up and four wide open gapes appeared ready for whatever morsels the parents had on offer. We learnt a lot from our careful lengthy observations. Another highlight was the two Pied Stilt young plus a raft of Paradise Shelduck ducklings - they seem to be very cautious, keeping away from people and they certainly zip speedily away if they feel you get too close. Very amusing to watch.
|The young Pied Stilts are lower right. The other three shots are the Welcome Swallow family.|
Monday afternoon saw us paying a quick visit to the reserve where we observed cygnets for many weeks earlier this year. The highlight of this visit was undoubtedly the two families of Australian Coots. Miss 12 was fascinated by the way the adults fed the young - in all the waterbirds we've observed so far the young just feed themselves and the male black swan would often snatch food from his offspring. So seeing the Coot parents taking food to their babies, carefully dunking the bread in the water as they went was rather sweet. In one family we observed the chicks were slightly older than the other and they were feeding themselves but the parents would still take them some as well. We also spotted our old swan parents with their new family -currently they have five cygnets, so they are surviving better than the lot earlier in the year.
The local ornithology group's monthly meeting, with a talk on birding in Kenya, was held on Monday evening. The talk inspired dreams and musings on some day being able to travel overseas to see more exotic birds for ourselves. It also led to us making some new friends and contacts.
On Tuesday we had planned a trip to a small forest area about an hour out of town. But on Monday night we were introduced to an older birder who invited us to join her and some others on a visit to an estuary instead. She knew we were looking at scopes and would have two with her that we could try out, plus she is very experienced (the first person in the country to officially sight one species of migratory wader- articles published in scientific journals as a result) so we changed our plans! We had a great day, learnt heaps about birding, identification and scopes and even saw a new species to add to our lists!
Wednesday was a quieter day bird wise . Some books were read, the bird bath and feeder were topped up and observed and an article was written for the ornithology group newsletter.
Thursday was a day of high excitement since, accompanied by our experienced friend, we went and purchased a spotting scope of our own. It's an early birthday present and Miss 12 is very excited by how it will improve her birding experience. In the afternoon she spent plenty of time getting familiar with it. She also researched and wrote a blog post for her online bird class.
Friday morning was the day we watched the class. Lyrebirds were the focus this week. In the afternoon she spent some time planning the journey for our short trip away. The route itself is straight down the main highway but she is planning the diversions that will provide us the best chance of observing some birds she wants to see! We also watched a home made DVD were were lent of local birding experiences. It was great to "see" some birds we have yet to see for ourselves in the locations we are likely to find them.
All in all a good variety of bird-related learning this week - with hopefully more to come over the weekend.