Wednesday 28 December 2022

Wild Bird Wednesday 544 - Flame Robin

Post 3 in my Robins of Victoria Series. 

So, lets end WBW for 2022 with a rather splendid and colourful bird - the Flame Robin (Petroica phoenicea). The Flame Robin is a small passerine bird native to Australia. It is a moderately common resident of the coolest parts of south-eastern Australia, including Tasmania.  However, its population is declining so all is not completely well with this species.  I suspect that habitat lose and fragmentation are the usual suspects in this decline.

This species is similar to the Scarlet Robin, but the Flame Robin has a smaller white patch over its beak, and the red on the chest extends higher into the next.

This is a female.

Well, the next WBW will be in 2023.  To join in this one click on the button below.  I hope everyone is well, warm (or cool, depending on location) and that we can keep put little community ticking along for another year.  All the best.  SM

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Wednesday 21 December 2022

Wild Bird Wednesday 543 - Red-Capped Robin

Post 2 in my Robins of Victoria Series. 

The Red-capped Robin (Petroica goodenovii) is found in the drier areas of Australia, mainly south of the Tropics. Like all Australian Robins it is not closely related to either European or American robins, but shares a common name with them because of its bright red colour.

The Red-capped Robin is smaller than many of the other robins in Australia, but make up for its small size with its wonderful colours.  It is common in some areas, but can be hard to find unless you are in the correct habitat.  These birds were all seen in the Terrick Terrick National Park, which is 225 km north west of Melbourne.  It is not an area I have visited very often - a situation that I hope to change in the coming year.

I think there is sort of 'Christmas Feel' to this bird - even if we are now getting our first week of worm weather here.

2022 has been a strange year for me - and at times I have found it very hard to visit other people's blog, and equally hard to know what do say when I do visit.  I think you may have noticed.  So, as I head to 550 consecutive weeks of WBW I hope I can 'get out more' and visit you all.  Please keep commenting, as I really appreciate the contact with the blogging / birding world.

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas, and I see you on the other side.

As ever, to join in with WBW click the link below.  SM

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Wednesday 14 December 2022

Wild Bird Wednesday 542 - Rose Robin

The Rose Robin (Petroica rosea) is one of nine species of robins that are fund in the state of Victoria.  A week or so ago I was lucky enough to go on an organised tour, the aim of which was to find all of these nine species.

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing the species we found.  It seems an appropriate set of birds to pick as we move towards Christmas.

All Australian robin are members of the family Petroicidae and are not closely related to the European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) who's similar red colouring is almost certainly responsible for the comma name.

The Rose Robin is found in south-eastern Australia from south-east Queensland, along coast and inland to western slopes of Great Dividing Range in New South Wales and south into Victoria. It prefers wet forest and rainforest habitats (which is where I saw this one) during spring and summer, moving into drier, more open habitats during autumn and winter.

As you can see, this bird is eating a substantial spider.  A classic Australian image I think! 

This is a reasonably small bird, doing interesting things a reasonable way up a tree - so I would click on the images so that they become larger!  SM

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Wednesday 7 December 2022

Wild Bird Wednesday 541 - Australian Owlet-Nightjar

The Australian Owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles cristatus) is the smallest of the nocturnal birds found in Australia.  I was lucky enough to go on a night-walk nr. Bendigo in central Victoria last week and we found at least three of these birds.  We went back to the same area the next morning and found a bird roosting in a hollow branch.

The scientific name means 'bristly goatsucker' - with the bristly coming from the bristly feathers above the beak, and the 'goatsucker' from the old belief that birds like this used to suckle goats!

I has a number of other, older, common names including The Moth Owl, which may be more about its size (about 22 cm) than its diet.

This species is found all over Australia and is considered common. I suspect that its nocturnal ways make it seem much less common than it actually is. 

The bird on the branch was the first we saw, and the other two pictures show a bird 'looking out' from a nest box.

These pictures were taken in the day light the next day.

The daylight pictures look much better when enlarged - so click away!

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Wednesday 30 November 2022

Wild Bird Wednesday 540 - Australian Magpie

The Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) is probably one of the most visible birds in my neighbourhood.  The are large, distinctively coloured and spend a lot of time feeding on the grass strips called "Nature Strips" that run along the sides of our roads.  If the truth be told, these strips are not very natural at all, being mainly just a mono-culture of grass.  But the Magpies seems to find plenty of food in them.

The Australian Magpie is more closely related to butcher birds than crows, but you can how it got its name.

These birds (I think there are two individuals in the pictures) seem to enjoy hanging around on some of the gassy areas just outside our local sports centre.

I could watch these birds all day.

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Wednesday 23 November 2022

Wild Bird Wednesday 539 - Lord Howe Woodhen

I mentioned the Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallus sylvestris) in last week's post, so I thought I would share some pictures of this species.

Lord Howe Island is about 780 km northeast of Sydney, in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand.  As with many isolated islands it has a number of endemic species, and as with many other island endemics extinction in the modern age is a bit of a problem.

The Woodhen population on LHI fell to about 30 birds at one stage, but has now recovered to over 200.  In recent years many of the birds were removed from the island as a huge rat baiting program took place.  The rat eradication seems to have been (more or less) successful and the birds have been returned.

Although it is isolated (and expensive) if you ever get the chance to go to LHI, take it: its a wonderful place.

It's remarkable to think that about 1% of the worlds population of these birds are in these pictures!

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Wednesday 16 November 2022

Wild Bird Wednesday 538 - Weka

The Weka (Gallirallus australis) is an endemic, flightless rail from New Zealand.  The bird is about 50cm long and weighs in between 700 and 1000g - in other words it's about the same size as a small chicken.

Those of you with good memories may recall that I posted some images of Woodhen from Lord Howe Island in the past. Woodhen and Weka are in the same genus and have both become flightless.  I say 'become' because both species of birds are found on remote (ish) island and it's sure that the ancestors of these birds did not swim to these islands!

These pictures are of two different birds and I suspect that they are examples of two of the four 'types' found in NZ.  The first bird seems to be one of the 'buff' forms - its does seem rather more 'ginger' than the darker bird, which may be the 'western' form.

In any case the first bird was very inquisitive and walked up to and past us without much bother.  I would have liked to get a bit lower for some of the shots of that bird, but we were half way though a walk and things were a little damp underfoot!  It's why I normally wear (or carry) a coat of some form!

This is the second bird.

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