My Love Affair With Birds: Part One

I have always loved birds, ever since my childhood, when Mum used to take us along to meetings of the local birdwatching group in Hobart. We also used to go on many picnics, furthering my fledgling interest in birds, as well as having our own home menagerie of peacocks, pheasants, guinea fowl, quail, ducks and chickens.

I was so fortunate when I married that my husband was also a keen ornithologist, having grown up on a farm bordering Lamington National Park in subtropical South-East Queensland. His uncle and aunts next door had a huge aviary, full of Satin Bowerbirds, a Major Mitchell cockatoo, galahs and corellas, the latter two neither local at the time, as well as a mixture of local parrots and little ground doves, who used to follow visiting children’s trailing fingers along the netting fence. When Ross was out mustering cattle on the steeply wooded slopes, he would often come upon a group of Glossy Black Cockatoos, quietly nibbling away at she-oak nuts.

We are both keen bushwalkers and are never without a pair of binoculars (Ross) and a camera with a good zoom lens (me)- until recently that is!!! We have had so many wonderful bird watching experiences together and as a family over the years, including the following:

1994 Overseas trip with our young family to the United Kingdom and France.

Highlights included:

Peter Scott’s Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge on the River Severn: https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/slimbridge/.

Photos below in order are: Mandarin Duck; European Goldeneyes; a pair of European Eiders with a Hooded Merganser on the right; and a trio of Hawaiian Nene Geese.BlogLoveBirds50%Image (856) - CopyBlogLoveBirds75%Image (856)BlogLoveBirds50%Image (855) - CopyBlogLoveBirds75%Image (855)Bird Hides and Wildlife Parks in England and Edinburgh, where we saw our first woodpecker and capercaillie (below);BlogLoveBirds50%Image (857)Staying at the Fair Isle Bird Observatory (http://www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk/), where we netted and banded birds and sat with puffins on the cliffs every evening. The other photos are of a Common Sandpiper and a falcon with Nick, the Deputy Warden of the Bird Observatory at the time; as well as daughter Jenny with puffins on the cliff.

Blog Whentheking20%Reszd2015-09-04 10.15.07Visiting the Bonxies of Hermaness and the cliff bird city of the Isle of Noss, Shetlands;BlogLoveBirds50%Image (859)BlogLoveBirds50%Image (879) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (866) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (860)For the boat trip to the island, we all had to wear hats in case we accidentally became targets, so our four year old had to wear this puffin cap!

BlogLoveBirds50%Image (880) - Copy

Gerald Durrell’s Rare and Endangered Wildlife Trust on  Jersey: https://www.durrell.org/ and https://www.durrell.org/wildlife/visit/; Below in order: Chilean Flamingoes; Red-Breasted Geese; a Crowned Crane from South and East Africa; a Pink Pigeon from Mauritius; and a Palawan Pheasant from the Philippines.BlogLoveBirds50%Image (875) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (869) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (868) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (871) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (872) - CopyThe flamingos of Étang du Fangassier in the Camargue, where I disgraced myself by commandeering the lookout telescope, which I mistakenly thought was public property, to the bewilderment of the French owners, who declared in response, ‘C’est bizarre!’BlogLoveBirds50%Image (863)BlogLoveBirds75%Image (874) - Copy1996 New Zealand :

Our introduction to a totally different set of birds, many adapted to years of isolation and many now threatened with extinction with the introduction of humans and feral animals. While it was far too late to meet Alice in Wonderland’s dodo, we did see kakapos, kakas, keas, kiwis , wekas, tuis and takahes, as well as many coastal birds. We visited:

Lake Te Anau Bird Sanctuary, South Island, where we saw kakas (mountain parrot), an Antipodes Island parrot; a kereru (NZ wood pigeon), takahes (like a giant swamp hen) and wekas; Here are photos of a kaka and a kereru.

BlogLoveBirds50%Image (864)BlogLoveBirds50%Image (877) - CopyAs well as the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre (http://www.pukaha.org.nz/), just north of Masterton in the far south of the North Island, where they were saving highly endangered birds from extinction like the Chatham Island Robin. We saw Saddlebacks (first photo below), tuis ( a type of honeyeater), wekas (second photo below), kakas, red-capped parrots and takahes.BlogLoveBirds50%Image (863) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (862)1999 Lord Howe Island.

This World Heritage listed island off the east coast of Australia also has some very special birds, which have also experienced struggles to survive like the Lord Howe Island Wood Hen (photo below), as well as many regional variations in bird species from being isolated on an island for many years. For example, the currawong has a different call and the silver eye a different eye ring to their Australian cousins on the mainland.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (128)For my 40th birthday, we climbed to the top of Mt Gower, where we called Providence Petrels out of the sky to land at our feet and be picked up and cuddled! We also saw Red-tailed Tropic Birds wheeling in the skies above Malabar Hill and Emerald Doves and Wood Hens foraging on the forest floor.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (127)Armidale Years (1994-2003)

While the family was growing up, we explored and camped in a huge number of local National Parks, where we saw many birds eg Red-Rumped Parrots in our home garden; Peregrine Falcons at Kings Plains National Park; Turquoise Parrots en route to Kwiambal National Park; the Flame Robins, who visited Dangars Gorge every Winter (first photo below) and the delightful Eastern Spinebills, who revelled in the flowering heath of Wrights Lookout at New England National Park.Image (857) - Copy - CopyRoss ran guided natural history tours from the New England tableland, via the escarpment rainforests, right down to the sea at Coffs Harbour. Waterfall Way Tours introduced many guests in our self-contained cottages (Creekside Cottages), as well as Country Link visitors to the wonderful diversity of environments and bird life in our region. Here is a photo of a Red-Rumped Parrot.BlogCockatoo50%march 2 193Dorrigo Years (2003-2008)

Ross’s tour guiding experience also stood him in good stead for working as a National Park Discovery Ranger out of the World Heritage Dorrigo National Park Visitor Centre. Living on a bush block on the Dorrigo escarpment bordered by Bellinger River National Park, the link between Dorrigo National Park and New England National Park, we saw many beautiful rainforest birds on our property, including resident Wonga Pigeons (first photo below), Superb Lyrebirds, Eastern Whipbirds, Golden Whistlers (second photo below), Paradise Riflebirds, Satin and Regent Bowerbirds, Catbirds, King Parrots (third photo below) and Scrub Turkeys, who used to cadge at picnic tables at the visitor centre.BlogLoveBirds50%DSCF6508BlogLoveBirds50%Image (846)BlogLoveBirds30%DSCF4895BlogLoveBirds30%DSCF26972008 Australia Trip

After selling our farm at Dorrigo, we spent a whole six months camping and exploring our wonderful country. Here were some of the birding highlights, details of which I will elaborate in future bird posts:

Huge flocks of wild budgerigars (first photo) and cockatiels (second photo) wheeling in the outback (Mungindi and Longreach) and hot pink galahs drinking on the banks of the Thomson River.BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2834BlogLoveBirds30%DSCF7043Townsville Bird Common: Jabiru, Comb-Crested Jacanas, Magpie Geese, Whistling Ducks, brolgas, pelicans and egrets (first photo) and Sacred Kingfishers (second photo);BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0037BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0042Dunk Island: In order, Beach Stone Curlews, Orange-Footed Scrubfowl and Sunbirds;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0886BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0857BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0841Cairns: Crocodile Farm: Rose-Crowned Fruit Doves and Cassowaries;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_1450BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_1373Daintree River Cruise: Little Kingfisher (photo below); Azure Kingfisher; and Great Billed Heron;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_1466Laura: Rainbow Bee Eaters; Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos ; Golden-Shouldered Parrots (first photo); Wedge-tailed Eagles (second photo); and Red-Winged Parrots (third photo).BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5951BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_1935BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_1903Iron Range National Park and Portland Roads: Yellow-Bellied Sunbirds; Magnificent Riflebirds; Frilled Monarchs; Northern Brush Turkeys; Eclectus Parrots (first photo is a male); Shining Flycatchers (second photo); Double Eyed Fig parrots (third and fourth photos); and Large-Billed Gerygone;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2486BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2523BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2568BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2569Rest of Cape York: Brown Falcons, Nankeen Night Herons and Striated Herons; Yellow Honeyeaters and White-throated Honeyeaters;  Palm Cockatoos; Red-Winged Parrots; Stone Curlews; Bustards (first photo); Sarus Cranes (secondphoto); Great Bowerbirds (third photo) and their bowers (fourth photo); and Northern Scrub Turkeys (fifth photo). BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_4119BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6688BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2912BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_1853BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_3491Lakefield National Park: Brolgas grazing and dancing (first photo); Green Pygmy Geese (second photo); Comb Crested Jacanas (third photo); Burdekin Ducks (Whiteheaded Shelduck); Magpie Geese feeding in the lotus lagoons (fourth photo); Azure, Forest and Sacred Kingfishers (fifth photo) and Blue-Winged Kookaburra; Golden-Headed Cisticola; White-bellied Sea Eagles and Ospreys surveying overhead; Black-Fronted Dotterels (sixth photo) at Hann Crossing and pelicans soaring high over the Nifold Plains;BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5500BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5540BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5513BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5494BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5563BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5641Lotus Bird Lodge: a quiet Black-backed Butcherbird and a baby hand-reared Red-Winged Parrot on the verandah; Comb-Crested Jacanas (also known as Lotus Birds, after whom the bird lodge is named); a family of Papuan Frogmouths (photo below); and over 200 species of wading, migratory and resident wetland and grassland birds;BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5787BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5801Abattoir Swamp Bird Hide: First photo below: Red-Backed Fairy Wren; and Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge, Julatten, 1.5 hours north-west of Cairns: Over 350 species of birds, including 13 Wet Tropics endemic species. We saw Noisy Pittas (second photo below) and Emerald Doves here.BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6752BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6770Atherton Tablelands: Victoria Riflebird and Golden-Whistlers, Lake Eacham; Hasties Swamp Bird Hide: Huge flocks of Magpie Geese (first photo), Whistling Ducks (second photo) and grebes;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_8851BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_8596Mission Beach: Cassowary sighting on the Dreaming Trail!BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_9228

Tyto Wetlands, near Ingham : Crimson Finches (photo below); Whistling Ducks; Green Pygmy Geese; Great Egret and Peaceful Doves;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0179Artesian Bore at Burketown: Sarus Cranes (first photo); Jabirus (second photo), Royal Spoonbills; Richard’s Pippit; Snipes and plenty of ducks;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2270BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2335Katherine: Red Goshawks;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_3564

Kakadu National Park: Yellow Water: Magpie Geese, Burdekin Ducks, Azure Kingfishers, Green Pygmy Geese; Rainbow Bee-Eaters (first photo); Whistling Ducks (second photo); Great Egret (third photo) and other egrets and ibis; and Darters (fourth photo); and Mamukala Wetlands and Bird Hide: Whistling Ducks, Black Ducks, Darters, Pied and Black Cormorants, Magpie Geese, and Lemon-Bellied Flycatcher;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_4818BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5789BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5643BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5595Mary River: Huge flocks of Little Corellas, preyed on by Whistling Kites (first photo); Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos; Collared Rainbow Lorikeets (the northern race); and Forest Kingfishers and Blue-Winged Kookaburras (second photo).BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5898BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_4351Corroboree, Bird and Annaburroo Billabongs and Leaning Tree Lagoon: Lots of similar Northern Territory birdlife, including a jabiru with three babies (one in photo below);BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6026Fogg Conservation Dam: A wonderful birdwatching site, just east of Darwin; Photos below in order: a pair of Straw-Necked Ibis; Burdekin Ducks; Green Pygmy Goose; and an Australasian Darter.BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6042BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6090BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6101BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6100Ord River trip: Jabirus (now known as Black-Necked Storks) and Magpie Geese;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_8209BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_7772Parry’s Lagoon, another birding mecca; Photos below in order: Parry’s Lagoon; Huge flotillas of pelicans; a Pied Hero ; and a Comb-Crested Jacana.BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_8367BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_8397BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_8344BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_8360Mornington Wilderness Lodge, Gibb River Road, WA : The highlight was definitely sighting the first Gouldian Finch family of the season (first photo), though we also saw Purple Crowned Wrens; Bustards; Long-Tailed and Scarlet Finches; Button Quails;  Partridge Pigeons (second photo) and Crested Pigeons (third photo).BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0468BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_9310BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0404Broome Bird Observatory: Double Barred Finches, Brown Honeyeaters, Great Bowerbirds and plenty of shorebirds; and further south, Deep Creek, Dampier Peninsula: Star Finches (first photo); and Ningaloo Reef: Emus (second photo).BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_1517BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_1732Skipjack Point, Francois Peron National Park (first photo): The entire beach was lined with huge flocks of Pied Cormorants (second photo), Crested Terns, Boobies and Pelicans. We also saw rare Thick-Billed Grass Wrens running across the road in and a Crimson Chat (third photo).BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2431BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2465BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2255South-West Western Australia: Rock Parrots (first photo); Ringneck Parrots (second photo); Splendid Fairy-Wrens (third and fourth photos);  Common Bronzewings (fifth photo) and Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos (sixth photo).BlogCockatoo25%IMG_4087BlogCockatoo25%IMG_6556BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6163BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5193BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_3840BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5596Ongerup, Western Australia: Mallee Fowl CentreBlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6020Bucket Birdwatching List

Our 2008 circumnavigation of Australia certainly was the trip of a lifetime and it was wonderful to see so many of our beautiful Australian birds in the wild, but we still have a few places we would like to visit, including:

A Desert Trip out to Broken Hill and Menindee Lakes to see the parrots;

Lake Eyre in wet season;

A bird tour of Papua New Guinea, especially to see the amazing Birds of Paradise; and an exploration of the Wallace Line, which divides the Asian birds from the Australian contingent.

Candelo  2015 – Present

Meantime, we are loving the prolific birdlife in Candelo, which have featured in former seasonal posts, as well as those of the surrounding mountain forests, farmland, national parks and coast. The noisy Little Corellas amass in huge flocks at this time of year, just prior to heading off, though we have yet to discover their destination!BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 21.14.56 We have a wonderful local birdwatching group, which has published two books, as well as three documented bird routes, about which I will write in a future post.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (509)

Other great bird-related venues include the fabulous On the Perch; Potoroo Palace; and  Panboola, the Pambula Bird Sanctuary (photo below), where we saw a Gang Gang flock, grazing on the hawthorne berries.BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_2645It is great to see our youngest daughter, Caroline, following in our footsteps with our mutual love of birds! She has always loved them and has hand-reared budgies and cockatiels, as well as nursed enormous sick, though still feisty, roosters back to health with syringes of herbal concoctions. We were never allowed to get rid of any baby roosters and when we first moved to our bush block at Dorrigo, we had no chook pen and only a series of wire shelters to house our chooks and six roosters! One day, we watched a wedge-tailed eagle descending with the free range roosters in his sights and very foolishly and instinctively chased it away. Even though it may have been an effective way to reduce numbers, we would have had a challenge explaining why her roosters were dropped from the sky!!!BlogLoveBirds50%Image (865) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (864) - CopyShe is now studying a zoology degree, initially through Deakin University, Geelong, where she had some wonderful fieldwork opportunities from measuring fairy penguins for moulting studies; catching flighty red-capped dotterels; and making flycatcher nests to determine the effect of their practice of coating their nests in ultraviolet-light-emitting spiders webs. Now that she lives over here on the coast, she hopes to continue her studies through distance education with University of New England, as well as volunteering with Mogo Zoo and Potoroo Palace. There is also a wonderful postgraduate course in ornithology with Charles Sturt University, which may have future potential!BlogLoveBirds50%Image (846) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (862) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (844) - CopyBlogLoveBirds30%DSCF2277My love of birds has even translate itself into two embroidered cushions: our local birds, including many rainforest species, for Ross!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-03 13.31.41

And seabirds for my Mum, including a sea eagle, pelican, silver gull, blackwinged stilt, pied oystercatcher, hooded and double banded plovers, a cormorant on a lichen-encrusted rock made of French knots and even a fairy prion in flight, the only bird photo that came from a bird book (!).Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-07-12 11.50.33I really loved making them, even though there is a fair bit of poetic licence with their rendition!

On Thursday, I will try to explain the reasons behind my love of birds!

11 thoughts on “My Love Affair With Birds: Part One

  1. What a great array of birds you have seen. Truly inspiring. I must admit that when I started my blog, I truly had no idea that I would have the opportunity to talk to (through leaving comments) a large number of people with similar interests. I love birds too, and they provide inspiration for my mosaic art. I’m working on a very tricky black-shouldered kite at the moment, which is a gift for my son. He has taught me everything I know about birds. My son is currently studying environmental science but because he learns best in the field, he finds the uni study a real chore. It may take him 10 years to finish his degree. In the meantime, he is often out bird-watching and orchid hunting.

    I love your embroidery. Just beautiful. They must have taken you a long time to sew. Artistic licence is absolutely necessary. I engage in a fair bit of that myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments! I love your mosaics too! I have done a little bit, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but nothing as advanced as your beautiful Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo! Also loved your pelican! I had a similar problem to your lack of pink tiles with my sea eagle, where I had no grey threads at the time and had to use purple for the wings, a classic case of artistic licence, but I felt it was quite a suitable substitution, given the regal air of eagles! So pleased that you are a fellow birdlover. You should recognise many of the birds in the posts this year! My husband studied environmental science at Griffith University back in the late 70s (amazing how accurate the climate change predictions were back then!) All the Best for 2018 and Happy Bird Watching! xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I recognised many. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dotterel in the flesh before, but I’ve seen two recent photos and it is now on my mosaicing to-do list. And maybe the darter too! Truly magnificent.
        Embroidery and mosaics are not like painting so you definitely have to improvise with the colours.
        Yes, the lack of urgency to address climate change and native species extinction is all very depressing. I know my young man finds it so, but if we don’t stand up for our ecosystem, who else will. At least, that is what I tell him.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Dotterels are such cute little birds and I agree with you about the darters. Their patterning would look so great in mosaics! And yes, while birds have advanced far beyond the dinosaur era, unfortunately our politics here in Australia have not and decisions are still heavily influenced by vested interests in the coal industry!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. They certainly are! I look forward to seeing some German birds in your future posts, though I do appreciate the difficulty of getting a good image of them on your mobile phone! On our New Year camping trip, we watched a dedicated Sacred Kingfisher, constantly feeding her babies in a tree hollow high up in a tall gum tree. She must have returned to the nest at least every 3 to 5 minutes from 6 am to 7 pm, so I had plenty of opportunity for photographing this beautiful little blue bird. Unfortunately, I have not yet purchased my replacement camera, so you can imagine my frustration, especially when my mobile phone really only yielded one halfway decent photo and even then, it was far too small an image! I am so looking forward to that new zoom lens!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The kingfisher sounds amazing! I can’t say I’ve done much German bird watching yet, but if I do, I’ll be sure to send you a photo 🙂 I can imagine it will feel pretty good getting that zoom lens – it is hard to get closeups unless you can sneak up on the animals without scaring them away! Xox

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