Sulphur Crested Cockatoos up close

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Over recent days I have been sharing some photos of some of the birds seen on a recent visit to Lane Cove National Park. Today it’s the turn of several Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.

One of the birds flew in and settled on our picnic table within minutes of us starting lunch (see photo below). When it didn’t get any handouts from us, it flew over to join another few birds feeding on a clematis bush in full flower.

I love taking photos of this species, one which is widespread across much of eastern Australia. On the other hand, I realise that not all people share my love of this species. In numbers they can be a pest species. They can easily cause havoc on trees, stripping the leaves off branches. People who own houses with plenty of timber in the structure have experienced the destructive nature of these birds.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Further reading:

The beautiful Eastern Rosella

Eastern Rosella, Lane Cove National Park

Eastern Rosella, Lane Cove National Park

Earlier this year my wife and I had a day visit to the Lane Cove National Park. We were visiting our family for a few weeks and on this occasion we were free from grandparent duties.

Lane Cove National Park near Chatswood north of the Sydney CBD and is only about 15 minutes drive from my son’s home, so visiting is quite convenient. We went on a weekday, so there were only a few people around. Lunch time walkers, runners and cyclists made up the majority of visitors to the park.

As we were about to eat our lunch I noticed an Eastern Rosella fly in to a nearby tree. I steadily walked to within camera range and managed several good photos. Every time I see this species I marvel at the wonderful combination of colours.

Eastern Rosellas are quite common in the eastern parts of Australia. They are also present in the south east of South Australia and were introduced to the Adelaide region. We occasionally see one in our garden at Murray Bridge. It keeps company with the local Mallee Ringneck parrots. I’m not sure if this is a cage escapee or a case of their range steadily expanding.

Whatever the reason, we always enjoy seeing “our” rosella.

Eastern Rosella, Lane Cove National Park

Eastern Rosella, Lane Cove National Park

A pleasant welcome

I meant to write about this last night but somehow became distracted by a movie. We are currently staying with our daughter in Clare in the mid-north of South Australia. Last night she showed us an interesting movie, one we hadn’t seen before, and the evening went without an update here.

We arrived here two evenings ago after appointments in Mt Barker on the way. Our daughter had dinner ready for us when we arrived, so I left the unpacking of the car until later. As I braved the frosty air I noticed the moon rising over the nearby hills; one of those crisp, clear winter evenings so common in the Clare Valley – except that it is now early spring. Oh well.

As I unloaded the car a Willie Wagtail called from a nearby garden, a common enough sound on moonlit nights. A few minutes later the Willie Wagtail’s call was accompanied by the distinctive “boo-book” call of the Southern Boobook Owl. It was probably calling from one of the larger eucalyptus trees in a nearby reserve.

It was too cold – and I was too tired – to track it down to get a photo, so I’ve used one taken some time ago in our own garden.

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Southern Boobook Owl

An uninvited lunch time visitor

Australian Magpie on our picnic table

Australian Magpie on our picnic table

On our last visit to Sydney to visit and look after our grandchildren we had a child-free day, so we took advantage of the lovely weather to visit Lane Cove National Park. This park is a wonderful natural environment along the Lane Cove River and is only a ten minute drive from my son’s home, and not much more to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

We drove through a section of the park we had never visited before, checking out the many picnic areas along the river. We eventually settled on a pleasant spot and set up on a nearby picnic table. It wasn’t long before several species of birds came to visit us, all in the hope of a free lunch. The boldest happened to be the Australian Magpie shown in today’s photos. The magpies in the Sydney area happen to be the Black-backed sub-species. Those we have at home – Murray Bridge which is 80km SE of Adelaide, South Australia – are the White-backed version. The Western Magpie is found in Western Australia, and there are many variations due to hybridisation on other parts of the country.

Although this bird was very bold due to being very used to human visitors to the park, we didn’t take pity on him and feed it any morsels which is a good thing; human food is generally not only unsuitable for our birds and animals, it can also be dangerous and even deadly to them. Please don’t feed the birds.

In the coming days I will show more close encounters with other species of birds during our visit to this lovely park.

Further reading:

Australian Magpie on our picnic table

Australian Magpie on our picnic table

Australian Black-backed Magpie on our picnic table

Australian Black-backed Magpie on our picnic table

Australian Magpie above our picnic table

Australian Magpie above our picnic table

 

Birds of the Parramatta River

Parramatta River ferry

Parramatta River ferry

While in Sydney earlier this year my wife and I took a day out from grandparent duties. One of the children was at school and the other at child care. We took the train into Circular Quay in the heart of Sydney Harbour. We had a short wait of about ten minutes for one of the ferries which operate up and down the Parramatta River, stopping at a dozen or more small jetties along the way and terminating near the heart of Parramatta CBD. We had done this trip some 35 years ago when our own children were little.

While I was more interested in watching and taking photos of the scenery along the way I also kept a watch out for any birds I could see. While I didn’t get a great list of species I really enjoyed the three hour return trip. To give me the best chance of getting good photos we stationed ourselves on the seats at the front of the ferry; sure- it was breezy at times but we had come prepared. The photo above shows another river ferry similar to the boat we were on. You will notice that it has the name “Dawn Frazer”. It was named after one of Australia’s most successful Olympic swimmers. On our cruise we passed the swimming pool where she trained. I believe that she still runs a hotel nearby.

Circular Quay in the heart of Sydney

Circular Quay in the heart of Sydney

As our ferry left Circular Quay (see photo above) the whole vista of Sydney’s CBD opened up for us. Leading up to this point I recorded Rock Doves everywhere, especially in the train stations and even in the underground stations. Around the ferry terminals were many Silver Gulls, Welcome Swallows and even a few Noisy Miners on the jetties, scrounging food dropped by passengers.

Silver Gull

Silver Gull

After only a few minutes in the ferry we passed under the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge (see below). It is always great to get a different perspective of this wonderful structure. Usually we cross over it in trains and occasionally by car. Opened in 1932 this bridge still serves the city wonderfully, although it is now assisted by several additional bridges to the west and the Harbour Tunnel under the water.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

The bridge is best viewed close up, usually from a boat, ferry or on foot via many access points around the harbour. One can – for a fee – join a Bridge Climb over the arch of the bridge. It’s only for the brave and not for those scared of heights, though to assure climbers they are secured tethered to the railing at all times. I haven’t done the climb and regret not doing it a few years ago when I was fitter and healthier. The view must be truly spectacular from up so high above the water.

Little Black Cormorant and a Pied Cormorant on the river

Little Black Cormorant and a Pied Cormorant on the river

After about an hour of cruising the harbour the ferry heads on up the Parramatta River, subject to favourable tidal conditions. As banks close in on the passage I had good views of the following birds:

  • Australian Pelican
  • Pied Cormorant
  • Little Pied Cormorant
  • Little Black Cormorant
  • White Ibis
  • Sacred Kingfisher
  • Australian Raven
  • Australian Magpie Lark
  • Welcome Swallow
  • Willie Wagtail
  • Common Myna
  • Grey Butcherbird
  • Rainbow Lorikeet
  • White-faced Heron
  • Pacific Black Duck
  • Variegated Fairy-wren
Little Pied Cormorant

Little Pied Cormorant

Finally, cruising on the river and on the harbour afforded me an excellent platform for observing the many wonderful and interesting buildings along the harbour. These include dirty industrial sites near Parramatta, magnificent apartment buildings, splendid old mansions – and an old and still very useful boat shed (see below).

Tourist hint:

If you are an Australian citizen with a Senior’s Card, Pension or Health Care card, ask for the special fare price when buying your ticket. Being over 60 years of age we both have Senior’s Cards. Instead of the normal fare of about $18 (Australian) each, our P.E.T. (Pensioner Excursion Ticket) cost us $2.50 each. This ticket enabled us to travel on any trains, buses, and ferries for the day.

And it was worth every cent.

Boat shed on Sydney Harbour

Boat shed on Sydney Harbour

Along the Parramatta River

Along the Parramatta River