Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Nature of birds in winter

This week has seen the continuation of winter (of course). A rich and varied pallette of weather, from cold and dry and sunny, to cold and wet and windy. Whatever the weather, the birds still need to keep on doing their thing.

On a cold clear day, earlier this week, there was a Superb Fairy Wren, (Malurus cyaneus) male in "eclipse plumage", sitting outside my study window. These birds which look like the female, differ by having the distinctive blue tail feathers of the male, and dark eyes and beak, not the reddish brown colours of the female Wren.

The "Blue Wrens" (to use the more popular name) are often seen busily scurring amongst the shrubbery looking for insects. But this little fellow was happily sunning himself for a few moments, before ducking off in his usual busy manner.

Its call may be heard if you download the MP3 file from this site (item no: 36).

Another bird which is commonly seen around Robertson in winter (well, all year, actually) is the Lewin's Honeyeater (Meliphaga lewinii). For a true Honeyeater, (by which I mean not a Wattlebird), this is a large Honeyeater.

It has the distinctive yellow ear patch, a yellow "gape" (mouth marking) at the edge of the beak.

This bird is quite common in Robertson, but it likes to be in the heavy shrubbery. Consequently, it is more often heard than seen.

The ABC site linked here below will allow** you to download a file which will play the call of this bird for you. It has a rapid and repeated piping call.

** Note: the links to the bird calls on the ABC's site require you to have, or to install "Real Player" , which is available for downloading from that site. If you do not wish to proceed with that process, I can understand. It is not necessary to listen to these calls, if that process is troublesome for you.

For a Honeyeater, this bird is distinctive in that a large part of its diet is made up of fruit and berries. It is also fond of certain flowers in my garden, for their nectar.

However, this bird was hanging around in the Ink Bush (Phytolacca sp) for the purpose of gathering the ripe "inky" berries, which it loves.
Other birds which are commonly seen and heard in winter, are the Bowerbirds, which come out into the paddocks to feed on insects (specifically in winter).
Crimson Rosellas are common, but often difficult to photograph, unless one has a bird feeding table.
Wonga Pigeons and the Eastern Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceus) (image visible at this site) are still around, but very hard to photograph. The Whipbird's distinctive call may also be downloaded from the ABC's site here.

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