Wednesday 31 May 2017

Wild Bird Wednesday 253 - Grey-crowned Babbler

This week, I have gone back to the pictures I took during my trip to the Northern Territory at the end of 2016.

On the last but one night of the trip we stayed at Pine Creek - a town with a population of less than 700, that still manages to be the fourth largest town on the main road from Darwin to Alice Springs. In the Northern Territory the town are (generally) small and the distances (inevitably) large.

It comes as a bit of a shock to realise that the sports oval in Pine Creek is a bit of a birding hot spot.  There was at least one other group of birders there at the same time as us - we must have made up about 2% of the towns population that night!

One of the birds we had come to see was the Grey-crowned Babbler (Pomatostomus temporalis).  This is a species in rapid decline in SE Australia - so it was great to encounter a group of the almost as soon as we walked on to the sports oval.  These birds often move around in groups - which accounts for one of their other common names - Happy Family.  While I can find no evidence to support this claim, I like to think that the frequent contact calls that these bird make may have something to do with them being called Babblers.  As far as I can tell, these bird are of the sub-species rubeculus - with the rufous breast and the location being the main reasons for this identification.

As ever, to join in with WBW just click on the blue button below the thumbnails.  SM

Tuesday 30 May 2017


I was not really able to spend much time away from crowds when I was in India - half a days birding just outside of Delhi was a quiet as it got - and there were still people about!

These are some of the people who caught my eye as I was wandering about just being amazed at the energy of the place.

You can find more shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Wild Bird Wednesday 252 - Pink-eared Duck

WBW returns to Australia this week, with the Pink-eared Duck (Malacorhynchus membranaceus).  This is a wonderful little duck that is widespread throughout much of Australia, although it is absent from parts of the dry interior, far north Queensland and Tasmania.

This duck is 'monotypic', which means it is the only species in its genus. While you can see how the duck got its name in these pictures, they were taken while I was having some of the best views of this species I have ever had.  Normally I see these ducks at a greater distance, and in that situation the 'pink ear' is not really visible.  In the past this duck was referred to as the 'zebra duck' - and at long range this actually makes a lot of sense

You can also see from the pictures that this duck has a rather strange shaped bill.  The shape of the bill is formed by two fleshy flaps that hang down at the front and side - this feature is referenced in both parts of the scientific name.  These flaps (and associated whiskers) allow this duck to filter feed.

All of these pictures were taken this weekend when I visited a new (for me) hide at Edithvale Wetalnds, which is about 1/2 an hour from my house.  I will be going there again.

When I was there, I discovered an important thing:  if you do not want to look like a complete idiot in public, make sure that the lens hood of your lens does not fall out of the hide window and scare away the ducks!

As ever, to join in with WBW click the blue button below the thumbnails.  SM

Tuesday 23 May 2017

Beneath your feet

Sometimes it does pay to look down and see what is beneath your feet - these three pictures were taken in India (I was there a few months ago) and suggest to me that we should not always be obsessed with look at the great and the grand.

The Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri are remarkable places, and history shoes that they were built at the behest of remarkable men.  But sometimes little scrap of ordinariness comes though, were the great mass of people leave a little sign saying "You may be big and powerful, but we are here too".

I dont really know what these scratchings on the stone floors mean, but I suspect that they were made by people more like me than the great and the grand they directed the larger projects.

You can find more shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Wild Bird Wednesday 251 - Oriental Magpie Robin

Still in India this week and still at Sultanpur National Park.  This week's bird is an Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis).

I good if a little distant views of this rather wonderful little bird - apart from the fact that it was feeding near the floor, this bird reminded me of Pied Flycatchers - and a little research showed that they were in the same family.

This is a common and widespread bird in India - and I take this individual to be a female as it is not as glossy blue/black as the males seem to be.  I have just found out that this bird is 'one of India's finest songsters', so its a bit of a shame I did not hear it sing.

I can't help myself when a bird has a name like this - because it is neither a robin or magpie!

As ever, to join in with WBW click the blue button below the thumbnails.  SM

Tuesday 16 May 2017

Seven for a Secret

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told.

I learnt the rhyme above as a kid - it's about counting Magpies, and the consequence of seeing them.  I tend to recall them being a solitary bird, which may say something about the state of mind of who ever invented this rhyme.

On Sunday I went for a bit of wander in my local parks looking for anything to photograph.  I found a very loose group of seven magpies, they were all feeding on the grass and generally looking under fallen leaves.

These may not be the magpies that the rhyme was written about, but I couldn't help but think about the secret that they were keeping.

You can find more shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Wednesday 10 May 2017

Wild Bird Wednesday 250 (!) - Common Hawk-cuckoo

We are still in India and still at the Sultanpur National Park for the 250th edition of Wild Bird Wednesday.

And I am still too busy for a long post!  Anyway.........

These birds are Common Hawk-cuckoos (Hierococcyx varius).  This species is also known as the 'Brain Fever' bird - as its call sounds like the words brain fever, repeated over and over again!

Like most cuckoos these birds are brood parasites, often laying their eggs in the nests of Babblers.  This species has evolved to minic sparrowhawk-like birds of prey in flight, which often causes smaller birds to panic and start alarm calling when the cuckoo passes.  Maybe this helps the cuckoo locate nests to lay it's eggs in.

This birds are about 34cm long and can be seen over much of India.

As ever, you can join in with WBW by clicking the blue button that will appear at the bottom of the page.  Cheers  SM

Tuesday 9 May 2017


Sunday was, to use a sporting cliche, a game of two halves.

The morning was spent in fruitless searching for Powerful Owls, although I did find a rather nice tree.  The afternoon was a family trip to the football, where we found a bird that was not a Powerful Owl, watched the sunset light up the clouds and then kicked a football on the hallowed turf of the MCG.

The not Powerful Owls won the game - which was good for me - and even better for them as their season has been a disaster to this point!  The victory was followed by pizza and red-wine.

A rather fine day I must say!

You can find more shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday.