Thursday, May 21, 2015

Brown Thornbill

Another Australian bird, which is also found in Tasmania- the Brown Thornbird ( Acanthiza pusilla ). This insectivorous bird has a melodious call and it was a pleasure watching it hunt for insects.
Could not observe the bird for long- since it disappeared after about 10 minutes. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Grey Teal

A small respite in my schedule gives me a chance to resume my posting of Australian birds. We all associate ducks with water- so when I spotted a duck high up on a tree, I was quite amused. Although I had seen many photographs of ducks on trees, I had never seen one in real life. Well this time it was the Grey Teal ( Anas gracilis ). Another mobile duck,(just like the wandering whistling duck posted earlier) that keeps migrating irregularly, between freshwater lakes- looking for abundant food supply. When it comes to food they are not at all fussy and can eat anything from dry land plants,to insects and their larvae. The bird generally breeds near inland waterways, and nests may be placed on the ground, in rabbit burrows or in tree hollows. Eggs are also laid on the bare floor of the nest site, which are then covered with down (feathers).

Monday, April 27, 2015

Black Swan

One of my favourite books in finance is Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s "The black swan", a term he popularized to mean "An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult to predict." The chance sighting of this pair of Black Swan ( Cygnus atratus , the scientific name means ‘a swan attired in black’, ) was something like a 'Black swan' event itself. A series of unplanned events, led my wife and me to a place called Hunter wetland center, where we spotted this pair.
We spent quite sometime, watching this graceful pair. Black swans are naturally found in in the wetlands of south western and eastern Australia and were hunted to near extinction in New Zealand, where they are successfully reintroduced now.  These birds are exclusively herbivores and feed on aquatic plants and algae. The swan is the state emblem of Western Australia and appears on the state flag.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Satin Bowerbird

When I started birding in Australia there were three birds that I wanted to see; Kookaburra, Satin Bowerbird and the Lyre bird. I have already posted about the Kookaburra, today is the turn of the Bowerbird. To my dismay, I did not sight a male Satin bowerbird ( Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) - but was quite delighted seeing a female. Bowerbirds themselves are quite drab looking birds, nothing eye catching about their appearance or colour. But what is quite fascinating, is what the male does to woo the female. The male builds an elaborate structure and decorates it with various artifacts- they could be anything raging from shells, petals, parrot feathers, berries to mirror pieces, ball pens, clips and other man made objects. They however prefer objects with blue colour or even the ones that shine. Once the structure ( called bower) is built the female inspects it and if she likes it mates with the builder. What the male has built is actually not a nest- but just a structure. The female now has to build her own nest and lay her eggs- while the male goes his merry ways.
I did not spot a bower in the wild, however I did see one in the Natural History museum at Sydney. The third photograph is from this place, and displays a bower with two stuffed birds. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Pacific Black Duck

The Pacific black duck (Anas superciliosa), featured today is  predominantly brown duck- the only black feathers it has are a thin stripe near its eyes. In New Zealand, they are called the grey ducks, again they hardly have any grey colour on them; who says taxonomists are predictable ? The bird is found throughout most of Australia, and the Pacific. Recreational hunting (Isn't this word Oxymoron?) of this duck is permitted in some Australian states. We had a lovely time with the sociable duck though.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wandering whistling duck

It was raining very heavily and going by their demeanor these Wandering Whistling ducks (Dendrocygna arcuata ) did not like the rain a bit.  They spent most of their time (we were there for a whole day) on a tree top rather than on water.
The are called whistling duck because  of the loud whistling calls and the whistling noise their wings make during flight. Wandering because, they keep migrating from permanent wetlands along the coast to ephemeral ones that are formed inland during wet weather.
These birds feed on aquatic vegetation, seeds, the bulbs of plants and other herbage, insects and small aquatic animals. Pairs mostly bond for life. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Australasian darter

Many birds that I spotted in Australia were very similar to the ones I see in India. Such similarity I noticed in this Australasian Darter (Anhinga novaehollandiae ). Also called the snake bird, because of its long neck- this bird is a wonderful swimmer, as it is a fisherbird. Unusually for a waterbird, the darter has very little oil to make its feather waterproof. Hence after a session of diving and fishing the bird has to dry itself with its wings open. The lack of oil actually aids the bird, in diving deep and competing with other water birds which have a much shallower dive. The bird is found throughout Australia's wetlands.