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Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Random Memories of Australia - Part 8

      I hope you will enjoy getting to know a few more Australian birds; it has been fun for me looking through the pictures and selecting them. I think there might be one more episode (maybe two) but that's for later.
     As before, the birds are not in taxonomic sequence; they are in fact in no order at all!

White-browed Scrubwren (Sericornis frontalis)

     One might be forgiven for thinking that all of Australia's birds are brightly coloured and standouts in a crowd, but some are almost the equivalent of the little brown jobs of my part of the world. White-browed Scrubwren would fit into that category.


     It was common in New South Wales and Victoria, and we delighted in its company, hopping along the ground, chattering noisily.


     It is quick to scold intruders, including snakes, its size belying its feistiness.


     We encountered it in various habitats, including gardens, forest undergrowth and scrubby woodlands.


     Based on our observation it seemed to have great success fossicking for insects on the ground.

Green Catbird (Ailuroedus crassirostris)

     I have only one reasonable picture of this species, but it is such an interesting bird I was loath to omit it on that account.


     The only place we encountered it was in Royal National Park in Sydney, NSW in an area named Fig Tree Flats, very appropriate since this species is known to favour fruit, especially figs. The association with figs (Moraceae) dates back to the pioneering visit of John Gould (1840-8), and recent systematic studies have emphasized it.
     It is a bowerbird that does not build a bower, and it is said that its catlike call cannot be mistaken for anything else. As far as I recall, we did not hear it!
    During courtship the male is extremely attentive to the female and feeds her with impressive regularity. She begs constantly and this interaction seems to substitute for the bower of other species, such as Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) found in the same area. Figs are mainly fed but during pre-laying fruit is supplemented by insects and their larvae. 
     Suggestions that birds maintain courts decorated with leaves for courtship remain unconvincing, and is unsupported by solid evidence.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis)

     Fan-tailed Cuckoo is an obligate brood parasite that is a year-round resident in the areas where it occurs, enabling it to take advantage of various species with different egg dates.


     It typically favours host species such as thornbills, fairy-wrens and scrubwrens.
     Food consists mainly of insects, especially hairy caterpillars as is common with other cuckoos, beetles, cockroaches, diptera larvae, flying moths, wasps, ants and spiders. It forages mainly in the foliage but when feeding on the ground will also take earthworms.


     It is proficient at hawking flying insects.


     We were fortunate to see this species in both NSW and Victoria.

Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides)

     It was hard to miss this bird. We saw it every day in New South Wales and Victoria.


     It is sleek, black, with prominent throat-hackle feathers, and like all corvids exceedingly intelligent.


     It is ubiquitous in almost any habitat and has exploited commensalism with humans to a fine degree. It is quick to take advantage of carrion and road kill is quickly cleaned up by ravens. 


     I do not recall it being especially vocal but its call is quite mournful and has been likened to a crying child.
     It builds a substantial nest of sticks, lined with animal hair, fibrous bark and wool, placed either in a tall dead tree or on top of a pylon or similar structure.


     As you will see in the pictures above it has a prominent and noticeable white eye.

Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa)

     This species is very common and was seen in all three states we visited whenever we were in suitable habitat, which included ponds, dams, rivers, creeks and wetlands.


     It feeds on aquatic vegetation, but in urban areas it becomes tame and people feed it bread. (Plea to people who love ducks, well-intentioned all - do not feed them bread. Cracked corn is inexpensive and far better for them).



     Groups gather in parks and other public places, knowing that a free meal is almost bound to follow.


     Pacific Blacks Ducks have a wonderfully iridescent speculum, which positively glows when struck by sunlight.


     It commanded our admiration every time we saw it.

Hardhead (Aythya australis)

     It is an odd name for a duck, but as far as I can determine the etymology is unclear.

 
     Hardhead was not nearly as common as Pacific Black Duck, and is the only duck found in the region in the genus Aytha, allying it with ducks familiar to us like Greater Scaup (Aythya marilis), Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis), and so on. Not surprisingly then, given this affiliation, it generally frequents wetlands with deep water providing abundant bottom-dwelling food. At times huge rafts of a thousand or more congregate in suitable feeding areas.

     The male has a white eye, the female a brown eye.

Pair

     Surprisingly little is known of the life cycle of this species. Pairs seem to be solitary breeders, nesting in thick vegetation, mostly over water.


     It is widespread throughout the continent, but rare in Tasmania. We saw this species on two occasions in NSW, only once in Victoria, and not at all in Tasmania. 

     If there is a benefit to having to endure COVID restrictions it surely must be that we have the time and the inclination to mine our photographic archives, and reliving some of my Australian experiences has given me a great deal of pleasure.
     It is my hope that you have enjoyed them too.


62 comments:

  1. I am really enjoying these posts-loved the ducks

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  2. They are truly gorgeous, the Pacific black ducks are stunning!

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  3. The great amount of good records that you have achieved in Australia never ceases to amaze me, all captured in very beautiful images. It is a pleasure to see them all and in turn meet most of the species, to which is added the texts you have written.
    I am short on time, I am barely being able to publish these days, I will already be enjoying your blog more in detail
    A hug

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  4. I knew that first little bird was a wren. Wonderful they look alike, the world around.

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  5. The raven particularly stands out.

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  6. Of those featured today my favourite is our bearded raven. We are often lucky enough to be visited by a family group and I feel incredibly privileged. I AM incredibly privileged.

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    1. Very special! They almost certainly come to know you as an individual and feel safe around you. It is, as you say an incredible privilege.

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  7. Hello David,
    It´s great for us that you have such a wonderful amount of photo´s of birds I will never going to see in real.They are beautiful to see.
    Have a wonderful day
    Marijke

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  8. A birder friend calls birds like the scrub wrens LBBs - little brown birds. There are a lot of LLBs around here, mostly moving too fast to identify unfortunately. Back on your previous post little Lily does look a contented child. Being part of her life obviously gives you much joy and I can see why.

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  9. The one who sits in the branch that goes to the sky eatw a beautiful specimen.

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  10. Never heard of the Hardhead before reading your post. The white eye is a standout feature.

    You mention the LBJ that often go unnoticed especially by non birders, subtle markings on them are what usually are appreciated by birders.

    I have a thing for black and white birds, often Antwrens or Antbirds of South America.

    Great informative post 👍

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    1. Marsh Tyrants and Water Tyrants are very striking too.

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  11. What an amazing post... the birds are wonderful. Some of them never seen before. Thank you for sharing.

    Happy MosaicMonday

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  12. Beaucoup d'oiseaux que je ne connaissais pas. C'est étonnant les yeux blancs du canard.
    Bonne journée

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  13. Beautiful photos from Australia, David. Yesterday I saw a raven, Corvus corax on my way home. They are so beautiful with their black feathers. The ducks you show are very pretty too.

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  14. I remember when I moved to Australia thinking that I could hear babies cry all the time, but they were in fact ravens :) They are such clever birds.

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  15. And the australian bird paradise continue ...
    Fantail Cuckoo seems very special to me. And the Australian Raven is also so beautiful with its black feathers.

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  16. Hi David.

    What a beautiful Duck and Birds pass by.
    The Green Cat Bird is beautiful and so is the Fan-tailed Cuckoo.

    Beautiful pictures.

    Greetings from Patricia.

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  17. Another fine selection of bird photos. I've never really understood the taxonomic order anyway, as it seems to be slightly different in every guide book I've ever owned.

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  18. My favorites are the black raven, and the black
    Pacific ducks with their iridiscent speculum. Perhaps it's the black/dark color that makes them noticeable.

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  19. Hari OM
    Thumbs up from me! YAM xx

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  20. Wonderful to see all these different species David.
    I certainly enjoyed it.
    Greetings Tinie

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  21. David,

    Miriam does such a fabulous job photographing the birds. The pacific black duck is stunning. I saved the image so I can try to sketch it at some point. Thanks for sharing and joining the TAD. Have a blessed day!

    Curious as a Cathy

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  22. The fan-tailed cuckoo is quite impressive. I love seeing these birds!

    A hopeful note: Neighborhood ditch walkers have been posting red winged blackbirds on our neighborhood Facebook page. I've yet to see one but it's a sure sign of spring!

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    1. We had our first in our backyard yesterday, Jeanie.

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  23. The green bird always amazes me. The cuckoo has an interesting tail. Love the duck, quickly becoming my favourite birds.

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  24. This is a wonderful selection of birds. You did a good job capturing the black birds that are so difficult to photograph clearly. The raven with its white irises is so striking, as is their call. It would be nice to see a few of those in place of the many crows in my neck-of-the-woods.

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  25. Wonderful this Birds!!!!
    Greeting Elke

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  26. Between you and Elephant's Child I see so many wonderful Australian birds. On a recent fiction Amazon Prime movie made in Australia I watched and watched for birds and did not see a one. I was very sad.

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  27. So many beautiful birds, and always fascinating to see the similarities and differences to our varieties. Have a great day, take care, hugs, Valerie

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  28. Wow theses photos are simply magnificent. Birds seem to make people happy and these certainly do. Have a great day today.

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  29. Querido David es estupendo que nos muestres tus archivos porque merece la pena, lo que vemos es espectacular. Son aves preciosas. Tu comentario como siempre un gran trabajo. Un enorme abrazo para ti y para Miriam.

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  30. Otro bello y precioso reportaje de tus correrías amigo David. Me han fascinado todas las especies, pero el cuervo negro con ese brillo lo encuentro genial. Imagino que también poseerán la inteligencia que les caracteriza a todos los de su especie.
    Un magnifico reportaje que te sirve como recuerdo y rememorar algunos viajes. Cuando contemplamos algo pasado nos damos cuenta de lo rápido que pasa el tiempo.
    Un fuerte abrazo querido amigo y compadre David.

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  31. A wonderful series continues. Beautiful images, David and thanks for sharing.

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  32. A somewhat monochrome but, nevertheless, fascinating post, David. That Australian Raven seems to have similarities with our (Western) Jackdaw. Did you know that the Jackdaw was originally known just as 'Daw', the 'jack' being added later?

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    1. The next one will have a little mor colour, Richard.

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  33. Well then, these birds need to come to order!

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  34. It is fun seeing these birds but it makes me sad that when we visited all I had was a Brownie Box camera!! Nigel has a better camera but all he ever took were buildings then!! Hope all is well, Diane

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  35. I am enjoying every posting! Absolutely! :)

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  36. Lovely images of our birds. Interesting to see your image of the Catbird. We constantly hear him calling when we are walking in our rainforest. His call so very similar to a cat. We have never managed to spot one. In fact it is rare to see ant bird other than fleetingly. We are of course in constant movement. I often get left behind if I try to locate a call. This week however, we saw 3 lyrebirds, quietly scratching through the leaf litter.

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    1. Yes, hiking and birding are two different pastimes, Helen. Glad you are enjoying seeing "your" birds on my blog.

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  37. I'm really enjoying your Australian series ...
    Thank you.

    All the best Jan

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  38. Buenas noches querido amigo!
    all birds have their extraordinary peculiarities,
    i still can't understand how
    they can be so cute,
    but the raven is the most impressive ...
    it has a halo... it seems to me: Mr. LaMort
    jajaja XD
    Muchos besos y abrazos, feliz noche *ੈ✩‧₊˚*ੈ✩‧₊˚

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  39. Nature It means so much to many, beautiful photographs all captured with a very keen eye for detail. Along with the water everyone is so calming to see. Thank you so much for sharing, makes me want to go out with sketch book and paints.
    Happy TAD Tracey.

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  40. The header is fabulous!
    I have enjoyed this post. I have missed quite a few... I will remedy that very soon.

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  41. Fantástico reportaje australiano, me ha encantado. Me has alegrado la tarde, gracias por compartir David. Un abrazo desde el norte de España.

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  42. Very interesting the birds you show us, which for me that I haven´t visited Australia are totally unknown. Greetings from the Basque country David

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  43. Hello David,
    Another great post, beautiful captures of these Australian birds. The Green Catbird is amazing and one of my favorites this post. Lovely series of photos. Have a happy weekend!

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  44. I am delighted with your photos and of course your posts:)

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  45. Hello David, again you show us some amazing birds from Australia, The Australian Raven is great, such a smart bird. Than the Green catbird I find so beautyful that couleur green is so spectacular and the little white stripes as accent on the feathers is stunning. Thank you for sharing.
    Take care and warm regards,
    Roos

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  46. É tão bom fazer amigos!
    E saber que estes apreciam o seu talentoso trabalho!
    Parabéns!
    Um doce abracinho!
    Megy Maia🌺💜🌺

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  47. Se me había escapado está entrada, ya la vi y me ha encantado. Abrazos.

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  48. Hi David – Scrubwrens … wonderful descriptive name … must be delightful to see. Love the Green Catbird – fascinating bird to see and read about. Cuckoos are quite extraordinary – taking advantage of life in general. Excellent photos of the Raven by Miriam - as are all her other photos: thank you.
    I know – don’t feed the birds bread … but our seagulls are happy to snatch our sandwiches! Specula – really do positively glow at times …
    Your Hardhead duck – interesting to read about.
    Thanks David – lovely photos and notes you’ve given us on your Australian memories … all the best - Hilary

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  49. Hello David,:=) Just when I think you can't possibly have more birds to share, you keep on surprising me with incredible images of Australian birds. They are all beautiful, even the less colourful ones.:=)

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  50. Hi David,
    People are experiencing restrictions in very different ways, strongly depending upon their personal situation. It has influenced me of course, but not in a way that disturbed my life a lot.
    It must have been a peculiar feeling to look one moment at pictures of a trip to Australia and at another moment looking through a window and seeing Canada in a winter outfit with a lot of snow. I can imagine you liked it a lot to look back. In a way you made your trip again.
    Greetings, Kees

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  51. On another continent, even a sparrow, a cuckoo or a rook are different, exotic! You had a nice, productive trip!

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  52. I've been enjoying your Australian bird series posts. I'll never get to that wonderful country, so it's nice to live vicariously through your posts of your trip(s) there.

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  53. Hi David! :) Your birds are beautiful, I love that Catbird, what lovely plummage! The Australian Raven is a beauty, I love the shiny black! You take such lovely photos and what awesome memories you have of your trip to Australia. :)

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