Last week I focused on the water birds this last week I’ve been walking the Avon Walk Trail looking at arboreal birds. There are more Laughing Kookaburras along the river than I can ever recall. They are not native to Western Australia and were introduced in 1912 in the hope that they’d significantly reduce the snake population. The scheme was a failure and the impact on the native bird species was huge. They have the ability to sit motionless in trees for very long periods of time watching for prey. They watch for smaller passerine birds repeatedly returning to nests and then take the chicks. They also ambush unsuspecting picnickers and will often steal sausages from a BBQ hot plate or sandwiches out of the hand of unwary. We had relatives from the UK over and were having a picnic with them when a large kookaburra relieved one of them of a piece of fruit cake. Although they are now considered a pest they are one of the iconic birds of the Australian bush and I do derive a lot of pleasure from seeing them.
For me one of the highlights of summer is the return of the Rainbow Bee Eaters. Their numbers in York were severely depleted a few years ago when the council obliterated their nesting area with a bull dozer. They nest underground in burrows and while they are here they breed. The work was done while they were raising their young so killed off two generations of birds. Last year we had a solitary female return and she looked a very sorry sight on her own crying out for a mate. This year we’ve had two breeding pairs who’ve hatched out chicks who have fledged – so hopefully we’ll have them back in larger numbers next summer. This morning I went down to where they nest and their burrows were empty and there were no birds flying around so they must have set off on their long journey north.
Another bird I have a soft spot for is the Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike. We have quite a few nesting at then of our street so they’re no particularly uncommon, but I prefer to photograph them sitting in trees as opposed to sitting on a power line. I think they are a rather handsome looking bird with their black face and grey body. It’s just as well they’re good looking as it makes up for their terrible call which sounds like cat that smokes 60 a day.
The last couple of shots are of the small boring birds people don’t take any notice of. In fact they are known as SBB or small brown birds by most bird watchers. I like watching them flit about in the tree canopy. The Western Thornbills follow clouds of insects and feed off of them. They can be seen in small groups or as part of a flock with other small birds. They’ll suddenly descend upon an area feeding in the low shrubs and then as quickly as they arrived they’ll leave.
The last bird is the Brown Honeyeater. Despite its plain looks and small size it is easily one of the best singers in the Western Australian bush. The volume produced is amazing considering it size.