Australian Pigeons and Doves

Spinifex Pigeon, Mt Augustus, WA

At first glimpse, most of our native pigeons and doves are unspectacular.  They are not especially colourful or large, nor do they entertain us with beautiful songs.  Indeed, the songs of many of the pigeons and doves border on the mournful.  There is, however, a wonderful range of native pigeons and doves spread across the country.



 Black Necked Stork (Jabiru) Roebuck Bay WA

We all know plenty of waterbirds, don’t we?  Ducks, swans, seagulls………and those other ones.  In fact, the term waterbird is incredibly broad and somewhat misleading; after all, every bird needs water to survive. 


Australian Reptiles, large and small

Close-up of Long Nosed Dragon, Trephina Gorge NT

We began our journey with little appreciation of Australia’s reptiles. We knew the names of a few poisonous snakes, could probably recognise a Goanna, or a Frill-necked Lizard, and maybe one or two others, but that was about it  Oh, and we knew to avoid Crocodiles (see previous post).

Little did we realise that Australia has incredible herpetological riches.  At the latest count Australia was home to 864 species of reptile, though this number is constantly rising as new species are discovered.  We hope that environmental degradation doesn’t push the number downwards.



Taken in captivity, closeup of Saltwater croc at the Alice Springs Reptile Centre

Most of us have a fascination with crocodiles, probably because these prehistoric creatures have a tendency to eat people.    The stories of unsuspecting tourists and careless locals being taken by ‘Salties’ are enough to send a chill down your spine.  Saltwater crocodiles are known to observe their potential prey over many days, demonstrating cunning, patience and, something rarely acknowledged, a degree of intelligence.  They are said to observe the patterns of their would-be prey, such as the time of day they come to the waterhole in which the crocodile lurks, and other habits, such gathering water or drinking from particular spots along the bank. For example, if a camper wanders down to collect water from the waterhole at 7am daily, from the same spot, this will be duly noted!  All this information is gathered with the intent of making that violent explosion from the water all the more likely to secure their meal.   



What’s going on here?  We’re running a website called brolgahealingjourneys, and we don’t have any pictures of Brolgas on the site.  To tell the truth, we had a really frustrating time waiting to see our first Brolgas on our travels.  We had seen plenty of Brolgas on a previous trip, in 2002, to the Kimberley.  In fact, the huge flocks of Brolgas we saw at that time, on the shores of Lake Gregory, itself on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert, provided the inspiration for this website’s name. 

But this time around things were different. We commenced our travels in July 2007 and it wasn’t until late June 2009 that we had our first sighting.  It was with a mixture of excitement and blessed relief that we watched a small flock of Brolgas jump and dance on the far edge of a pond at Cape Keraudren, on the southern tip of Eighty Mile Beach in WA.  We too jumped and danced, to see Brolgas again.   The Brolgas were a long way off, the sun was in our eyes, we only  managed a few grainy photos and a short blurry video, but we didn’t care.  At long last we had seen some Brolgas!!

Brolgas seen from the Bluebush bird hide, Mornington Wilderness Sanctuary, Kimberley WA


Finches, Firetails & Mannikins

Zebra Finch, near Telegraph Station, Alice Springs NT

These small, energetic, chatty and often colourful birds seem to agree with the old adage of “safety in numbers”.  As you walk through the bush you are likely to hear their high pitched calls to one another well before you see their tiny forms darting from bush to bush.   Australia has many species of these mainly seed-eating birds.  We are yet to see many of them but neveretheless count ourselves as fortunate to have seen some.  We look forward to adding more sightings as we travel.


Recent photos – April 2010

Female Wallaroo, Todd river north of Alice Springs

I’ve added some photos taken over the past few days, mainly of wildlife around Alice Springs.  They’ve been added to the appropriate albums where relevant.
18 April.


Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo

Cockatoos -  large, colourful and often raucous birds, are found in their various guises across Australia. 

The beautiful Galah, the smallest of our Cockatoos, is found across the land.  It is such a common sight that its beauty is often taken for granted.  There is something quintessentially Australian about watching a flock of Galahs waddle around the grasslands searching for seed.   They provide quite a spectacle when they take to the wing, the sun lighting up the rich pink of their under-feathers.


Australian Marsupials

Eastern Grey Kangaroo joey, Hat Head National Park, NSW

Australia is home to more than 100 species of marsupial.  Some, such as the Kangaroo, are extremely well known, indeed even synonymous with Australia.  Others, such as the small, carnivorous Dunnarts and Kultarrs, are virtually unknown.  Modern Australia holds the unfortunate world record for mammal extinctions, with many small marsupials having disappeared since the arrival of White Man and his feral pests such as cats and foxes.  Nowadays, remnant colonies of other, endangered marsupials, such as the Rufous Hare Wallaby and the Greater Billby, thrive either only on isolated islands where there are no feral predators, or in specially constructed, feral proof breeding enclosures.  These ‘island’ sanctuaries give their species some hope of survival.



Splendid Fairy Wren, male, Northcliffe, WA

The Wrens, and the Fairy Wrens in particular, are among the most beautiful of all small Australian birds.  The male Fairy Wren is every bit the equal of its Robin counterpart in terms of its brilliant breeding plumage.

Perhaps the most stunning is the Splendid Fairy Wren, with its almost irridescant, electric blue breeding colours radiating out from the bushland.  The other species aren’t far behind, with the Superb Fairy Wren of the eastern seaboard, the Variegated and Red-Winged Fairy Wrens, and the Red Backed and White-Winged varieties, all providing a shock of colour to the scrublands they inhabit.  The females, with their brown and cream colouring, tend not to attract the eye as much as the males of their species, but nevertheless are very pretty little birds.