5 Jan 2023

Christmas in Australia

We unexpectedly found ourselves travelling to Australia just before Christmas to help our daughter and her family after she'd had a traumatic and dramatic brain injury. Thankfully she's making a good recovery and there aren't expected to be any long term problems - apart from not being able to drive for 6 months. And heres me thinking the taxi of mum and dad had been banished forever! 

The good news is theres an abundance of birdlife where they now live and I've taken to walking a small bushland reserve near the house daily as my new temporary local patch. Theres also a good local Facebook group giving updates of birds seen locally in other birding spots and I'm making sure all my sightings are being submitted via eBird for the local breeding atlas.

Arriving the day before Christmas Eve (my wife had already been here two weeks!) meant I was jet-lagged and getting ready for the 'big day' meant I couldn't go much further than the garden. But what a garden  - a creek flows through the bottom which is full of frogs and small fish. These in turn attract a variety of birds to come and hunt or just to drink. Its the middle of the summer here and even the birds suffer with the heat.

One of the morning treats is waking up to the sound of the male Rufous Whistler who's taken up residence in the garden. Parts of the song are very reminiscent of our Nightingale.

The male is  really beautiful looking bird butI struggled to get a clear photo until I tried 'pishing' at which point it flew straight over my head and then flew back again before landing in view.

Another common bird is the Red-browed Finch. A family party of these come down to the creek to drink most days and sitting quietly in the shade of an ornamental pear allows good views.

Superb Fairy Wrens are another common species here and every garden seems to have its own family group. They're extremely active and never stay still. The males have gorgeous iridescent plumage with an electric blue that seems unreal.

The creek has also been attracting a White-faced Heron and an Australian White Ibis. The latter is a much maligned bird due to it s scavenging habits. Colloquially known as 'Bin Chicken' or 'Tip Turkey" they're a common sight scavenging in urban environments. There's a pair nesting a few hundred metres away that have three well grown chicks in their nest and they come to catch frogs that they carry back to the raucous young. We can hear them from here!

Of course one of the most famous aspects of the Australian avifauna is their abundance of parrot species. Here is no exception and we regularly have Eastern Rosella, 'Yellow' Rosella (the yellow sub species of crimson Rosella, Galah's, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Corela's either flying over or visiting the garden. The nearby town of Albury also has a spectacular evening roost of Rainbow Lorikeets! 

Yellow Rosella

Eastern Rosella

Rainbow Lorikeets

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