A Young birdwatcher

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onesimus's picture
A Young birdwatcher

I moved to Young just over two years ago after far too many years in Sydney. After all of those years confined to a flat it was exciting to have a house and a garden to play with.

In the first few months I ripped out most of the existing plants (apart from a few small native trees) and started to replace them with my own choices. Some of the progress has been illustrated on one of my blogs: http://onefile2.blogspot.com

The original plan was to have one area devoted to roses, another to veggies – and the rest to natives. Somehow this didn’t work entirely to plan. While I DO have parts of the garden devoted to these individual plant types, somehow larger areas ended up being planted with a combination of natives and exotics. One of my aims was to make the garden friendly to as many bird species as possible. I’ve been a bird lover since childhood when my dad had several aviaries and bred birds of various types.

Since arriving in Young I have kept a record of the birds I’ve seen from my house and garden. So far I have 25 on my list. My blog also has brief details of these observations. As an aid I record my sightings on a copy of the Cowra Bird Survey form that I picked up from the tourist office in nearby Cowra.

I would like to broaden my birding experience by making regular observations in other areas around town. Unfortunately, at the moment Young doesn’t have the resources made available in neighbouring Cowra and Grenfell – who both provide lists of birds and recommended birding sites around their towns. Being a newcomer I’m not familiar enough with the local area to know the most promising places to check out.

The differences in birdlife between here and Sydney are significant. In Sydney we had far too many Indian Mynahs – I’ve seen none around here. We also don’t get the rainbow lorikeets that were one of our main visitors to our city balcony.
Another surprising difference is the sparrow. I don’t ever recall seeing one near my place in Sydney but we have a small group regularly visiting us now.

The change of location has to some extent taken me out of my comfort-zone. I’m not so familiar with some of the birds I’ve seen and at times it’s been difficult to identify them. Fortunately I’ve been able to photograph a lot of the new ones – which has made it easier to find them in the field guides. However there have been a few that remain unidentified. My memory isn’t as reliable as a photograph and the image retained in my mind often matches birds that would be far from home if they were the ones I’d actually seen.

Shaunlee's picture

I know that out of your comfort zone feeling. Most of the birds here are new to me too. Another difficulty is my field guide is quite old and some of the names are not the same.
I am also having trouble identifying a few of the birds that visit. There are three different types of little brownie, grey birds that visit and I am not sure what they are and I am not a good enough photographer to capture them clearly. They are quick and shy.
There is a large tree in our house yard with galahs nesting in it but also kestrals and rosellas. It's a very busy place.

onesimus's picture

Hi Shaunlee,
At the moment I have two different field guides and I find having both is very helpful. Illustrations of the same bird by different illustrators can sometimes highlight different characteristics. But unless a bird has some unique distinctive feature, there are often too many similar birds in the books to pin a sighting down to one particular bird.
An easy one to identify was the blue faced honeyeater that I saw down the road in a Banksia tree.
More difficult was the bird with the light brown breast with dark speckles that I saw last week. There are a few similar birds in the field guides – but none of them from this area. The closest visual match was the song thrush, but that is only found in areas of Victoria. Another possibility was a female Pied Honey Eater but that is not listed in the local bird lists I have, even though the field guide maps show its territory is not too far away in western NSW.
The particular bird I saw remains a mystery because I can recall only a couple of features clearly. If only I had a camera – or even a note book at the time to help record a bit more information! With so little to work with it’s likely that I was looking up an entirely wrong type of bird. My initial impression was that I’d seen a honeyeater but afterwards I wasn’t so sure.

Some birds seem to know exactly when you’re about to take their photo. They stay still long enough to prepare the shot, but move just as you press the shutter release.
Many of my photos were blurry and very poor quality, but gave me enough information to help me identify a bird.

Most recently I had a few birds splashing around in a temporary bird bath that I set up. I zoomed in with the camera but due to their movement couldn’t get a clear view – especially when they puffed up their feathers after having a bath. However, when I saw the photos I could see that they were silvereyes.

At the moment silvereyes seem to be one of the most regular visitors to my garden. I suspect they are nesting in bushes behind my back fence.
My first encounter with them was when I was in my rose garden last autumn. A group of them flew from rose to rose only a metre away from me. I stayed there for a few minutes and they didn’t seem to take any notice of my presence.
For some reason they seem to like the roses (this helps me to justify planting some exotics instead of entirely native plants).
A couple of days ago, after watering the garden, I saw them rubbing against the wet rose leaves as if they were bathing in the foliage.

On the issue of photos, my avatar is a photo I took of a superb parrot from a back room window. There were three of them in the tree beside my back fence.

Shaunlee's picture

Hi onesimus,
Sounds like you have a great garden for birds. We are still working on ours. I got 40 more native trees and shrubs to put in this week. All our plants are still fairly small.
We have a bird that sits at the top of the wattle tree and sings and sings. I think it is a rufous songlark but still not 100% sure.
We have a few little birds around at the moment that are very similar and so very hard to definitely identify.
We rarely see silver eyes here, I think it is not bushy enough for them yet. We are surrounded by nearly bare paddocks and our block was a bare paddock three years ago.
I love the sound of sliver eyes in the roses. I have put in a few roses and now I can say it's for the silver eyes as well as their beauty.
My avatar is a photo of a flame robin I took last year in winter. It is a little blurry.

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