Woodswallows

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.

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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.

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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.

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Waterbirds

 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. 

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Brolgas

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

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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.

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Cockatoos

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.

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Wrens

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.

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Robins

Scarlet Robin, Crystal Springs campsite, D’Entrecasteaux National Park, WA

Australia is home to many delightful species of  Robin.  We have all heard of the ‘Robin Red-Breast’, but our Robins are in fact many and varied.  Yellow, red breasted and capped, white, scarlet, buff-sided and rose are but some of the colours and types to be found in different regions of Australia.  As with most bird species, it is the male who is the most striking and colourful.  The females are relatively drab little creatures but still pretty in their own way.

It is always exciting to see a flash of colour from a small passing bird, then realise it is a beautiful little Robin.  Robins tend to live in forests or open woodlands, their diet consisting of insects, and they are often seen perched sideways on a treetrunk as they watch and wait for insects in the leaf litter below, dropping on their unsuspecting prey. 

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Parrots

Budgerigar in nesting hollow, Todd River nth of Alice Springs NT

The many Parrot species found around Australia represent some of the most beautiful birds in the land.  In addition to their visual splendour, many also have a pure bell-like call.  Some, it should be added, have a raucous squawk instead.

We were often fortunate in Canberra to see King Parrots, Crimson Rosellas and Eastern Rosellas flying from tree to tree, wild and beautiful.  We were vaguely aware that there were other Parrot species to be found across Australia, but knew them only from books or cages.  One of the great pleasures of our travels has been to discover new species (at least for us) in the wild.

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