The Bush Stone-Curlew

A wild Bush Stone-Curlew on the prowl.  On the Nocturnal Tour, outside at the Alice Springs Desert Park

The Bush Stone-Curlew (also known as the Bush Thick-Knee) is a beautiful and unusual Australian bird, with an equally unusual name.  This species is unusual in being largely nocturnal and ground-dwelling, and its plumage allows it to blend in thoroughly with the woodland leaf-litter on which it dwells.


Spring arrives early in The Alice

Zebra Finch (male) gathering nesting material, Alice Springs

Spring has definitely arrived early this year in Alice Springs.  Everywhere you look, native shrubs are in flower, the birds are building nests and the hills still have a greenish tinge after consistent rainfall all this year.  It is gorgeous.  We are even getting a few days now above 20 degrees, although the nights remain cool.  Who would be anywhere else?!


Owls and Nightjars

Barn Owl, Alice springs Desert Park

Owls and Nightjars are more common in the Australian bush than most of us realise.  Most are nocturnal – active at night – so we are largely unaware of their presence.  We may hear the hooting of an owl in the early hours of the morning, or see a dark shape fly silently overhead if we are outside at night, but otherwise we are unlikely to see them.



Golden-Backed honeyeater, Alice Springs Desert Park

If my memory serves me correctly, Australia has around 60 species of Honeyeater, native Miner and Spinebill.  And that’s not even counting the Wattlebirds and Friarbirds.  Needless to say, we have struggled with our identification of the many and varied Honeyeaters encountered during our adventures. We have both been heard to comment at times that “these Honeyeaters are doing my head in”.

To make the task more difficult, Honeyeaters are supercharged on a diet consisting mainly of nectar.  Like five year olds on too much red cordial, Honeyeaters don’t stay still for very long, making the task of identifying their species, or of taking a half decent photo, all the more challenging.


Birds of Prey

Wedge-Tailed Eagle

Birds of prey hold a special fascination for us humans, and Australia’s birds of prey are no exception.  We gaze in wonder at them as they soar high above the earth, effortlessly riding the wind thermals, searching the ground far below for food using their exceptional vision. 

In many cultures they symbolize spiritual attainment; their high soaring habit representing a capacity to rise above earthly concerns and to view issues from a dispassionate position, a place of wisdom.  We use the expression ‘eagle-eyed’ for people of keen vision and insight.


Australia’s Endangered Wildlife

The endangered Western Quoll, Alice Springs Desert Park.


Where do you start on a topic like this?  When Nirbeeja suggested this as a good theme for a new post, I must admit to feeling completely overwhelmed.   “Endangered wildlife” isn’t the theme for a post, it’s a lifetime’s work.  I soon realised that my initial reaction symbolised how we all feel about this issue – basically that it’s too big to deal with.  As a result we pretend it isn’t there and move on to something easier, or go see a movie, or eat some chocolate….or do whatever it is that we do to avoid reality.

Of course, if we all did that, many Australian species of marsupial, bird, reptile and amphibian, not to mention plants, would disappear in the blink of an eye.  In fact many already have, never to be seen again.  The delicate Lesser Bilby, once seen in the central desert regions, is gone.  Wiped out.  Extinct.  Call it what you like, it is now but a memory.  When you see a real, live Greater Bilby, its bigger and more robust cousin, although it too is a delicate, fragile creature under threat of extinction, you realise that the Lesser Bilby stood no chance at all against efficient feral predators and environmental degradation.  Unfortunately the Lesser Bilby isn’t alone.  As I wrote in the introduction to the earlier marsupials post on this site, Australia holds the unfortunate record for mammal extinctions in the modern world.  Let’s not add to that record if we can help it!


Recent photos – June 2010

Butterfly on Melaleuca blossom, Stuart Hwy, Alice Springs

Here are some (mostly) recent photos.  Where appropriate I’ve added them to other galleries on the site.  Hope you enjoy them!


Kookaburras, Kingfishers and Bee-eaters

Laughing Kookaburra, Big Brook campsite, near Pemberton WA


Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Merry, merry king of the bush is he,
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra,
Gay your life must be!



A pair of Black Faced Woodswallows - a tender moment!

The Woodswallows are not particularly well known birds, even though they are widespread across Australia.  They are skillful fliers, catching their insect prey on the wing. In the case of the Little Woodswallow, they are often seen soaring high above mountaintops or rocky outcrops to feed.  Many times during our travels they have been companions to us, of sorts, as we have taken in the view after a strenuous climb, and notice these little birds zooming around nearby.  Their clever aerobatics seem almost mocking of our clumsy, earthbound ways.


Channel-Billed Cuckoo

The fledgling Channel-Billed Cuckoo grows excited as its Crow 'parent' flies in to feed it.

Nirbeeja grew up on a ginger and produce farm in Buderim, in south-eastern Queensland.  It was an idyllic existence, in a beautiful part of our country before the area was over-developed.  During the stormy summer months she would often hear an unusual bird call, and was informed by her father that it was made by the Storm Bird, and heralded the coming rains.  She often heard the call but doesn’t recall seeing the bird.

She was therefore very excited to hear the same call here in Alice Springs, during our stormy weather last summer.  She was even more excited to see the bird making the call. At last!  After much consulting of our bird-books, she decided that the so-called Storm Bird was none other than the Channel-Billed Cuckoo.  Interestingly, the local Aboriginal people say that when the Channel-Billed Cuckoo is seen in this area, it means big rains are coming.  And they are right, for the Todd River has flowed three times this year after consistent heavy falls.