Cowtown

I went for a walk late this afternoon, up into the hills behind our home. Cows are left to graze in certain parts of the nature reserve, to help keep the grass under control. While I only had my phone camera with me, the coincidence of cow and sunset was impossible to resist.

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Big Bird Bath

It was lovely today to see one of the parental currawongs enjoying the bird bath at the front of our house.

The babies are getting big – I just haven’t managed any shots of them, but will keep trying.

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Of butterflies and paper daisies

Just a few shots from a stroll by the Murrumbidgee River. Both the yellow paper daisies and the butterflies (Australian Painted Lady, especially) were out in force.

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Stormy Canberra

In recent days Canberra, like many other parts of Australia, has been hit by large and sometimes damaging thunderstorms. Canberra’s hilly terrain, flanked by mountains, adds to the drama of these events.

Luckily, Canberra is shielded from river flooding, but the storms certainly added to our waterways. As an example, Yarralumla Creek normally runs as not much more than a trickle. For much of its length it is now concrete lined and serves as part of the stormwater system. On Saturday, it was anything but a trickle.

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Birds of a Red Hill Morning

The other morning – as in, seriously morning just as the sun was rising – I found myself on the top of Red Hill. Red Hill is in central Canberra and has a lookout affording wonderful views all over the city and surrounds The view over Parliament House across the Lake to the War Memorial and Mt Ainslie is a particular treat and an ideal way to appreciate this planned and essentially purpose-built city.

Red Hill also has a very healthy collection of bird life. Here is a sample of the birds I was able to photograph over a 37 minute period early on Saturday morning.

The Australian Magpie – a common bird but with a beautiful song and a friendly nature (well, aside from the brief period during spring when all the males become hell-bent on protecting their nests and viciously swooping anyone who passes near them).

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A less expected sight was a group of Satin Bowerbirds, flitting through the low bushes and calling with the most wonderful array of sounds. I only saw females (with darker beaks) and immature birds (both male and female juveniles are very similar to adult females, but with lighter beaks). None of the glossy blue-black males were to be seen this morning.

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Little needs to be said of the sheer beauty of Crimson Rosellas.

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A highlight of the morning was seeing my first Spotted Pardalote. Apparently these gorgeous little birds are quite common, but I’ve not seen one before (as far as I know – from a distance they could be mistaken for one of many little birds that flit among the branches). This is a lousy shot as I only got a glimpse of it, but I’m claiming it as my first Pardalote photo anyway.

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This, I am reasonably sure, is a Jacky Winter. Or a female Superb Fairywren. Or something very similar. Little Brown Birds are tricky sometimes.

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This one I am really not sure of.

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However, this is definitely a Silvereye. An out of focus Silvereye, but a Silvereye all the same.

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This Grey Fantail was very busy tossing itself from one branch to another, fanning its tail for all to see (maybe not ‘all’, but certainly any potential partners in the area).

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Red Hill is topped by a scenic cafe/restaurant. With the early morning sun hitting the windows around its base, an Australian Raven took great offence at the identical Australian Raven that had somehow founds its way inside (or not…).

Eventually the Raven decided all this squabbling was just a little uncouth, and with a final stern word to its nemesis, it strode off to deal with more pressing matters of the day.

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New Life Among the Currawongs

Over the last few weeks we’ve noticed a pair of Pied Currawongs (Strepera graculina) hanging around the house. Currawongs are far from unusual around here, but these birds had obviously developed some attachment to the place. While I suspected their purpose, it was revealed when we noticed one of them on the verandah railing, very energetically tearing apart the Tibetan prayer flags. Nesting material was being gathered.

The next day I spotted the nest, in the fork of a low gum tree branch at the end of our driveway. Not the most protected spot, perhaps but it gives the birds easy flight routes around the neighbourhood as they go about their business of collecting goodies to feed the babies.

Here mum sits on the nest, minding the little ones. This was a very hot day, hence the open beak – the bird equivalent of panting.

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In this shot, the orange mouth of one chick can just be seen, directly in front of mum.

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Of course, a critical part of the rearing process is collecting lots of lovely spiders and bugs for the little ones to eat.

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Then of course, mum and dad must work together to feed those hungry, gaping mouths.

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These shots were taken a few days ago. Yesterday for the first time I heard the chicks squawking for food and could see their little heads poking up over the edge of the nest. I hope to be able to get more photos to document their growth over coming weeks.

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Red-rumped

Red-rumped Parrots in the late afternoon light, Jerrabomberra Wetlands, Australian Capital Territory.

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