I am fascinated by the birds over here. I don’t think of myself as a bird watcher but as a child I absorbed the contents of my ‘Observer’s book of birds’ (and carefully ticked off in pencil the ones I had seen). In my Cornish garden in England I see the usual British garden birds, sometimes being excited by a less frequent Jay or a Redwing.
Here in Tasmania, only the sparrows and blackbirds look familiar. The wrens are capped in iridescent blue and referred to as ‘Superb Fairy Wrens’; the magpies don’t wear the formal attire of the British magpie but are patched in black and white and they sing beautifully; the robins can be scarlet or pink; swans are black with red bills.
And there are wild parrots! Galahs, Rosellas and Cockatoos. Yesterday I paused on a bike ride to watch some yellow-tailed black cockatoos, high in a pine tree, where they strip the pine cones for seeds.
The Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle is an endangered species. But we recently saw a group of three in a tree at the roadside, close to home.
I thought it might be unusual to see three together, but I read that ‘Wedge-tailed Eagles may hunt singly, in pairs or in larger groups. Working together, a group of eagles can attack and kill animals as large as adult kangaroos.’ (What?!!)
Being happily unaware of that stuff about large kangaroos, we stopped the car and I climbed out to get a closer look. My daughter handed me her phone (down to 7% battery power) and I managed to record the sighting before the phone died and these magnificent birds flew away.
We’ve also been bird-watching at home. Each day I fill the bird baths and the garden birds hold splash parties in them. It is interesting to see that bath time is species-specific. A flock of fairy wrens will give way to a flock of fantails, silver-eyes or sparrows. The honey-eaters come singly or in pairs.
I stalk them with my phone or camera, and the kookaburra laughs heartily from his treetop perch at my attempts to capture anything more than a blur of feathers. My sister had more success with her zoom lens.
Silver eyes. Photo credit: Amanda
Fantail. Photo credit: Amanda
This morning I was charmed by a honey-eater singing in the crab apple tree outside my bedroom window. As I crept slowly towards the window with my phone, he joined in the game of hide and seek, flitting in and out of the branches, then flying around the corner of the house to tweet at me through another window. This was a very smart and cheeky bird.
And the kookaburra laughed his socks off again from his new position on the telegraph pole.
Honey eater playing peekaboo