Bird Photography with marysejansenart
Taking part in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count
A storm is coming!
A thunderstorm is approaching fast so there is a lot of activity amongst the birds, particularly from the lorikeets! Small noisy groups are flying overhead at lightning speed, like only Rainbow Lorikeets can do!
When the lorikeets behave like that you know they are aware of the approaching weather and looking for cover. It’s like they are warning everybody with their loud screeches that a storm is coming. They certainly make me aware right now! When the sun is setting and they are getting ready to settle in their roosting trees for the night they display a similar behaviour.
Counting birds in my backyard
I’m in my backyard, taking part in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count. The rumbling is getting closer and the sky is darkening, other birds are getting restless too. I spot quite a few Welcome Swallows doing acrobatic loops and dives during their flight. A small group of Blue-faced Honey-eaters are chasing each other with their loud metallic voices. Meanwhile those lorikeets keep coming, loud and fast!
A lone Australian Magpie flies by and the resident Pied Currawong simply takes place on its regular branch in my Gum Tree. A Torresian Crow moanes softly while the Noisy Miners don’t seem to notice what is about to happen and continue their usual bickering. Of course our other permanent residents, the Spotted (Turtle) Doves find cover in our dense trees.
As soon as my timer hits 20 minutes, the storm hits full force! Thunder comes crashing down and it starts bucketing so it is time for myself to run for cover too!
Had I chosen the next 20 minutes to do my bird count I wouldn’t have seen much at all, as all the birds are in hiding now. Perhaps I would have seen a wet and lonely Currawong, or a soaked Noisy Miner sheltering on my verandah…
The Rainbow Lorikeet
The Rainbow Lorikeet is a medium-sized parrot with a bright blue head, a green back and an orange-red breast and yellow-green collar. Their beak is bright red. It’s one of Australia’s most popular and well known birds! No wonder as they are absolutely stunning with all their brightly coloured feathers! They are also very social and hang out chattering in groups. When in flight they screech loudly and they are very fast and agile.
They are common in all forest, heath and woodlands, always in search of blossoming trees and occur along northern and (south) eastern Australia (and also around Perth which is outside their natural range). They definitely are a common visitor of my backyard, particularly when plants and trees like Grevilleas, Bottle Brush and Gum Trees are flowering! They love the nectar and have a brush-tipped tongue with which they gather it from the flowers.
What is the Aussie Backyard Bird Count?
Last week, 18-24 October, was National Bird Week in Australia. Each year, during this week, Birdlife Australia organises the Aussie Backyard Bird Count week. Birdlife Australia is an independent conservation charity with the purpose to stop bird extinctions.
During the event, Australian residents are asked to take part in a 20 minute survey. This can literally be done in your backyard, but also in a local park or another outdoor space. You can do it as many times as you like during this week. You tally all the birds you see in that spot, species and numbers, during those 20 minutes. It’s fun and easy to do, there’s an app which is very easy to use. It’s an important citizen science project! It helps Birdlife Australia map the occurrence of common birds in the urban environment. Thanks to these data they get a good insight about the health of the environment!
Counting birds in the bush
I decide to do a second count. This time in a local bush land, with a view over the adjacent lake. Amazing is the difference in the types of birds you see in such a different habitat, even though geographically the two locations are very close to each other. In recent weeks I’ve been regularly seeing Collared Kingfishers as they are very active and nesting at the moment. I spot 3 of them during my survey.
The calls of the Noisy Friarbird and the Olive-backed Oriole quickly draw my attention. After a bit more time, the smaller, shier birds start showing themselves. Small groups of Red-browed Finches and White-throated Honey-eaters forage in the trees while chattering softly. A Rufous Whistler whistles proudly, probably trying to attract a female.
Then I hear the unmistakable call of a bird that is very special to me as it is depicted on my logo: the Scarlet Honey-eater! I follow my ears and finally I see the bright red coloured bird moving around high in the tree tops above me. Looking out over the water I can be sure to see Australian Pelicans. In this moment there are 5 of them, floating around majestically. To top it off I hear the carrying call of the Pheasant Coucal!
What an amazing list for only a 20 minute survey! Taking the time to stand still, be quiet and make an effort to pay attention can be extremely rewarding. So taking part in this event is a win-win situation, for Birdlife Australia as well as for the observer!
On the walk I just described I saw a lot of other interesting things apart from birds. I’ve created a video in which I feature some of the birds I saw as well as some of the other things. All photos and footage are from this single walk! See below for the descriptions.
Photo 1: Laughing Kookaburra
Photo 2: Noisy Friarbird on a nest
Photo 3: The blue berries of a Dianella (Flax Lily) plant
Photo 4: A square spider web
Photo 5: Flowers of Slender Bindweed (a native groundcover)
Photo 6: A wasp-like insect eating a white butterfly
Photo 7: Collared Kingfisher
Photo 8: Australian Pelican
If you are interested in purchasing ‘Rainbow Lorikeet perched on a Grevillea’ or would like to see what it looks like on the various products, please head to my shop.