Last Thursday evening I ventured back into the ‘wild south west’ of The Cape at the ‘golden hour’ – the wind was calm and the temperature about 25 degrees – a stunning evening. The bird life was amazing – so frenetic that I did not know where to point the camera! Lots of small and medium birds everywhere feeding on all sorts of invertebrates. I returned Friday evening for the same walk at the same time but with a different weather pattern unfolding, and saw only one, yes one, small bird. Where did they all go? And do they know more about weather systems than the technically advanced BOM and know when to charge up and bunker down before the bad weather hits?
I thought I would go for a walk along the edge of the coastal bushland on the southern edge of The Cape a couple of days ago to see what was around … and I was not disappointed. Although the birdlife was quiet – we are in a transitional period at the moment – some interesting critters appeared. On the bird front, I did not see one Silvereye which were prolific over summer … they are migratory birds and have taken off, but there were lots of Grey Fantails about along with the Superb Fairy-wren!
“What a ‘bird brain’!” This is a saying that implies a person lacks intelligence or makes stupid decisions. How far from the truth can that be? Research has proven that some birds are highly intelligent, including such talents as mimicry, copied behaviour and problem solving.
Over the past few issues, I have focused on the invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and mammals that we are observing in our home gardens and how important the role of habitat structure and natural food is in attracting them into our evolving, diverse urban ecosystem. Over the past week, we continue to hear the sounds of amphibians, and have heard some delightful stories of wandering echidnas and roaming kangaroos among our gardens. I always have one ear cocked for the calls and songs of birds near our house – and have the camera ready to go. So, in this Issue, I am looking at what birds have been observed since mid-2019 and how we can attract more into our home gardens.
Last week I featured the appearance of Wedge-tailed Eagles, this week a Black-shouldered Kite has been busy in The Cape. A beautiful, reasonably common bird along this coast, this particular bird was using the tree stags, hovering over the creekline and wetlands to search for prey. And it was successful … with what appeared to be a Bush or Brown Rat.
I had some wonderful feedback on the last issue of Cape Chatter about the wetlands and the role they play in ‘our’ ecosystem here at The Cape along with an introduction into how all the different habitats work together. So, having been curtailed with the latest Covid lockdown, I have been ‘bumbling’ around the garden with the macro lens to see what is out and about. This issue, the focus is on the home garden habitat at The Cape, the role they play in ‘our’ local ecosystem and an example of what invertebrates have been observed in the short time since the first homes were built.
Tuesday 2nd February was World Wetlands Day, recognising the importance of these magnificent water bodies around the world and their importance, particularly the big ‘Ramsar’ wetlands, for migratory shorebirds, as vital breeding and feeding sites. Ramsar sites in Australia include the Coorong in South Australia, Eighty Mile beach in Broome and Moreton Bay in Queensland. With wetlands globally under increasing pressure from development, climate change and other threats, it is more important than ever to recognise the value of these unique ecosystems, big and small. So, this issue, the focus is on the wonderful small, constructed wetlands at The Cape, the important role they play in ‘our’ local ecosystem and what fauna and flora has been observed in the short time since they were built.
Well, well, well! I am at a bit of a loss at the moment. I am sad, but probably should be elated! It appears our Eastern Rosellas have left the nesting box placed in the most southern tree stag in the creek line. I am pretty sure if there were any fledglings, it occurred sometime on 24th January, the day after the last sighting of the adults feeding at the box. I am still seeing the adults and one other bird (possibly an offspring from last year) coming and going from the nearby coastal reserve but I am yet to see any juvenile birds in the nearby bush. The appearance of a pair of Black-shouldered Kite the other day brought two adult Rosellas to the top of some nearby Swamp Paperbark, alarmed, looking out, so I am taking that observation as there are juvenile bird(s) nearby. Read more about this event in the next few pages.
Before anyone tells me this is a just a load of “crap” – just let me explain!
Retirees (or anyone for that matter I guess) can get up to some weird and interesting stuff when its comes to hobbies and interests. I am currently reading a lovely book by well known Australian birder Sean Dooley called the The Big Twitch in which he reveals some of the more crazy and interesting antics some serious bird twitchers get up to – a great read if you are interested. (By the way, I do not consider myself a twitcher!). But I must admit, I was a little amused and bemused when I saw fellow resident Graeme McAlpine out with his portable vacuum and brush n’ pan collecting the excretement of our common corvid, the Little Raven. Read on to find out why.
Well, we are nearing the end of a tumultuous year. I have taken many positives away from the year, not the least was having the time to explore the natural world of The Cape and put together Cape Chatter. I have seen many new things and learnt so much from my explorations and expeditions into most corners of The Cape and am amazed how much life abounds around us and how well the ecological restoration effort is supporting the return of native fauna and flora. I hope Chatter has helped this burgeoning community be more aware and appreciative of the natural life which surrounds us!