juvenile grey butcherbird

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This is a very healthy young Grey Butcherbird, a common bird through out most of Australia. When adult the brown feathers will be replaced by black and the the washed olive chest feathers by white ones. This bird was devouring a dragonfly with gusto, smashing it onto the top of a broken branch, impaling its victims being one of its tricks. I spotted it amoung the gnarled banksia and tea trees that grown along the top of North Head, Manly, one of the promontories that mark the entrance to Sydney Harbour. Its such a spectacular spot with the views of the harbour and the city skyline in the distance, that I always head there on my visits down south to see family.

PS. Hello to my old WordPress friends /followers. I miss participating in this forum on a daily basis but alas I have been plagued with technical difficulties with WordPress over the last several months …driving me away in frustration. As these difficulties only happen on WordPress I think it may be a mix of the constant changes WordPress favours and changes with my internet server. I hope to overcome these problems eventually but in the meantime thanks for still following me and keep those posts coming :D.




Sydney’s pied currawong

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The currawongs are amoung my favourite birds, this yellow eyed beauty was enjoying his perch in a she-oak whose branches overlooked one of the numerous small bays that fringe Sydney Harbour, one of the most spectacular harbours in the world.

The view from the currawong's tree includes a distant view of the city of Sydney.
The view from the currawong’s tree includes a distant view of the city of Sydney.

The Pied Currawong is a common nomad in Australia’s east. They breed in isolation but will join flocks of up to 100 in winter, though I have never seen such a sight. To see them en masse sounds a bit too much like being inside Hitchcock’s movie the Birds! The currawongs have a strong, loud gong-like call that I find melodious, interspersed with whistling ‘oo-oooooo’.

red wattlebird

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P1160149Wattlebirds are amoung the largest honeyeaters, named for the little bit of skin around ears… not apparent on all types. This Red Wattlebird was spotted on a walk at Long Reef, in Sydney, an extinct volcano that is now a public reserve with headland walking tracks populated with banksia, she oaks and native grasses. There is a well known golf course on top which is quite a spectacular location to swing a few balls (makes a nice green photo background). The Red Wattlebird sits around mid-range at 31-39 cms. Early explorers in Australia documented they didn’t like the honeyeaters song, being so different to the more familiar sweeter sounding song birds of the Northern Hemisphere, but I adore their long melodious chuckles and interesting sounds.

nankeen kestral

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A lucky shot - in the right place at the right time.
A lucky shot – in the right place at the right time.

One of the Falcons, the Nankeen Kestral can be found across the entire Australian mainland as well as Tasmania. It’s a small falcon that uses rapid wing beats to soar on flat wings while fanning its tail feathers while looking for prey. They eat other birds, mice, reptiles and flying insects like dragonflies. I was on a visit to Sydney and had walked up to the top of Long Reef, a coastal promontory on Sydney’s northern beaches (once a volcano), when this Kestral blew up the cliff face in front and hovered above me. I only managed a couple of quick shots before it moved on.

the reef, at dawn

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Long Reef, Sydney Australia at dawn.
Long Reef, Sydney Australia at dawn.

I was down in Sydney town a couple of weeks ago… a seven hour drive down south from my usual abode … staying in an old house that belongs to my family. The house was originally a four room ‘holiday’ home with an outside loo, and while it has grown somewhat over the last seventy years, much of the original remains. From the deck, or ‘verandah’ to some, the view looks north-east towards a large promontory that juts into the Pacific Ocean surrounded by extensive reefs, an extinct volcano where I wandered as a child, picking up fossils as easily as one normally picks up shells. Over the years the trees have grown and a new house has gone up next door, yet even they could not damper the beauty of the early morning sky just before the sun came up, a fitting tribute to the molten heat of a once active and fiery volcano.