The Bird Report

I stepped out of my car and my ears immediately pricked. The whistling kites were whistling nearby. I instinctively smiled. A good start to the day.

Yesterday morning I was back bird watching along the Condamine River at Henry Joppich Park. Usually I bird watch for 2 hours but I have to admit to only 80minutes due to needing to attend a workshop.

Auditory Familarity

I stepped out of my car and my ears immediately pricked. The whistling kites were whistling nearby. I instinctively smiled. A good start to the day. I grabbed my binoculars and camera and made the descent to the river. I could see ahead a mound on the path. A wallaby, a dog? Resting in a morning sunbeam perhaps? Unfortuantely not.

Every Moment has the Potential to Surprise

What I had found was a dorper cross lamb quite gone from the world. I feel it safe to presume the lamb had wandered from its mother the night before becoming irrevocably lost. Far from its mother’s warmth and it had died of hypothermia.

I moved around the lamb and continued on. I found a patch of sun beside the river and waited.

The Condamine River at Henry Joppich Park. Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature guide of South East Queensland.

Persona non Grata

Whistling kites circled overhead as willie-wagtails, cockatiels and galahs sought to push them onwards. The kites landed in a decaying tree and were joined by two crows. It was not unlike watching a society’s outcasts finding common ground over the fact that they are outcasts. They seemed at ease with eachother occassionally fluffing feathers but always watching their surrounds for prey. An oblivious pigeon flies to close, heads turn but before the kties can give chase, the pigeon is gone. A lucky escape.

Learning to Roll with It

I made the unwise choice of attempting to photograph the scene. My hands were removed from my ski gloves. Numbed from the icey air, my fingers fumbled with the tripod and camera. I moved slowly in fear of one inadvisable move might send the tripod into the river below. I had to concentrate to manipulate my cold-deadened fingers. Dials usually spin about ewith ease but not today. The camera was finally ready, I pressed the shutter to focus the lens… The kites took flight. I sighed, and took the photo of the one remaining crow.

Solitary crow sitting on dead branch.  Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature guide of South East Queensland.
I may be projecting but I felt mocked by this solitary crow

I decided to move further down the river and away from this contemptuous corvid.

Down stream were four pelicans. There is something about the pelican that warms my heart. The four circled eachother as they searched for fish or whatever may take their fancy. Dusky moorhens, pacific black ducks and Australian black ducks followed in their wake.

After receiving my fill of pelican antics my eyes turn to a dead tree across the river. I know a little pied cormorant frequents this tree and hoped to see it again. In its place there was an Australasian darter waving its characterstic elognated neck as its wings dried in the morning sun. Suddently, two black cormorants flew past followed by the little pied cormorant. Rather chuffed I sat and watched waiting for further guest appearances.

Here I ended my morning. Shorter than usual perhaps but fruitful nonetheless.

The Condamine River at Henry Joppich Park. Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature guide of South East Queensland.

Species List

I have now made available my bird watching data on eBird.

Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata)
Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa)
Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes)
Peaceful Dove (Geopelia placida)
Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa)
Australasian Darter (Anhinga novaehollandiae)
Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarbo melanoleucos)
Little Black Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris)
Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)
Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus)
Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla)
Little Corella (Cacatua sanguinea)
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)
Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus)
Australian King-Parrot (Alisterus scapularis)
Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius)
Red-rumped Parrot (Psephotus haematonotus)
Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus)
Purple-backed/Variegated Fairywren (Malurus assimilis/lamberti)
Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus)
Brown Honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta)
Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen)
Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys)
Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca)
Torresian Crow (Corvus orru)
Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena)
Fairy Martin (Petrochelidon ariel)
Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis)

Birding

Why I love to bird watch goes beyond what can be expressed in written form. It is many things intertwined that form my passion. It is staring at a tree for minutes on end and the sign of contentment as your eyes and brain finally click and you can see the tiny bird flitting through the leaves.

Why I love to bird watch goes beyond what can be expressed in written form. It is many things intertwined that form my passion. It is staring at a tree for minutes on end and the sigh of contentment as your eyes and brain finally click and you can see the tiny bird flitting through the leaves. It is hearing the slightest of rustles and knowing you are being watched by a little ball of feathers. It is understanding the behaviours of the birds to such a degree you can distinguish them from a peripheral glance at their flight pattern.

Pair of galahs flying into the sunset at Bladensburg National Park. Backlit mulga trees. Sunset very yellow, tint of pale blue sky still visible. Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature Guide of South East Queensland
Galahs (Eolophus roseicapilla) flying into the sunset at Bladensburg National Park

The overarching reason I love to bird watch is the knowledge it brings with it. This is not necessarily the more imperical knowledge essential to birding such as, ‘if the middle toe is one third more elongated it equals that bird rather than that bird’. It is the knowledge of a world hidden in plain sight.

Australian bustard somewhere in South West Queensland. Bustard walking over grass tussocks. Eucalyptus in the background. Very dry ground.  Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature guide of South East Queensland
For such a large bird, the Australian Bustard (Ardeotis australis) is remarkably able to go unseen

To simply sit, breathe and open your senses to the world to feel, not actively think, your surroundings. Subsconsciously reading the signs that you are nearing a bird and positioning yourself for it to flit across your path. Such a simple joy but it is pure.

Male Mulga parrot perched near its tree hollow nest at Bowra Sanctuary, QLD. Mulga parrot has aqua head and chest, red belly and yellow under tail. Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature guide of South East Queensland
Male Mulga Parrot (Psephotus varius) at Bowra Sanctuary

Bird watching in this manner does not require a list of rarities to be ticked. Although if a rarity does cross the path excitement is hardly containable. I am content and often rather excited, to meet familiar faces. Peaceful doves, white-winged choughs and brown honeyeaters may be regualrs but they are fascinating nonetheless.

Diamond dove perched on dead branch. Diamond dove identified by the flecks of white on the wings and red circle around eye. Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding a nature guide of South East Queensland.
Diamond Dove (Geopelia cuneata) perched on a dead branch somewhere in outback Queensland

There are worlds within worlds in front of our very eyes. The birds, frogs, bees, bats and all other manner of animal live their own lives usually distinct from that of a human. Occassionally our paths will cross and we can but hypothesise what it would be to live in their world.

Juvenile square tailed kite flying overhead at Wildash. It is backed by blue sky with wisps of white fluffy cloud in lower left corner. Photo by Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, a nature guiding service of South East Queensland
Juvenile square tailed kite (Lophoictinia isura) flying overhead at Wildash

If you would like to learn how to bird watch, refine your skills or join a group of like minded people, I bird watch every Friday from 7am in the Warwick area. Tomorrow (31/05/2019) I will be back at my usual spot on the Condamine River for the final time. One last chance to photograph those Azure Kingfishers! Bird Watching is currently free!