Shy Grey Strike-thrush

This is the first time I’ve spotted one of these birds. I think it’s a Grey Strike-thrush. Neat and tidy, with understated grey plumage. The bird took great care to remain hidden behind the leaves and branches of a Banksia. I snapped a shot when it peeped out to see if I was still around:

Peeking out again:

Now that I know Grey Strike-thrushes are a thing, I’ll keep a look out and try to get a better picture.

Common name: Grey Strike-thrush

Scientific name: Colluricincla harmonica

Approximate length: 23 cm

Date spotted: 19 May 2018 (Autumn)

Location: Manly Dam National Park, New South Wales, Australia: 33°46’36.7″S 151°15’16.9″E


Fluffy little Silvereye

Silvereyes are tiny puffballs that flit through the shadows of a gum tree. This one stopped a moment to glance up at the sky:

There are a few variations of Silvereyes in New South Wales. According to my bird book, this one is a Zosterops cornwalli. It has a yellow throat, which differentiates it from the white-throated lateralis also found around here.

Weirdly, the birds migrate up the eastern coast of Australia as winter approaches, but we’re still likely to see them around even in winter – it’s just that the ones we see have come from even further south, while the ones that live around here in summer have moved northwards for the winter.

I took a shot of the tree too, so that you can see the bird’s habitat:

Last time I managed to snap a shot of one of these birds was at a mossy puddle, way back in 2016.

Common name: Silvereye

Scientific name: Zosterops cornwalli

Approximate length: 11 cm

Date spotted: 19 May 2018 (Autumn)

Location: Manly Dam National Park, New South Wales, Australia: 33°46’35.3″S 151°15’11.0″E

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike in frame at last

I have just a very short, shaky video and two stills, but I’m so pleased I managed to get a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike in the frame at last. I’ve seen and heard these birds a few times. They have a soft, chirring call and they swoop and glide high in the tree tops. When they come to rest, they’re either well shielded by foliage, or they fly off after just a short stop.

They have quite large eyes, and soft white and grey plumage:

This shot shows off the black face that gives the bird its name:

Common name: Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, also called a shufflewing

Scientific name: Coracina novaehollandiae

Approximate length: 35 cm

Date spotted: 5 May 2018 (Autumn)

Location: Manly Dam National Park, New South Wales, Australia: 33°46’50.1″S 151°15’04.5″E

A Scrubwren I think

I’ve pored through my bird book and decided this little bird looks most like a Scrubwren of some sort. It’s a very small bird, around 11 centimetres long. It has a relatively long beak, a dark grey mask around its eyes, and white tips on its shoulder feathers. What’s confusing is that this bird seems largely grey, while the pictures of Scrubwrens are largely brown.

The bird was flitting around an area of the bush where I often see and hear movement, but am never fast enough to snap a picture. Today I managed – just!

Here’s a picture of the bird’s surroundings – lovely, quiet, dense bushland:

Common name: Some kind of Scrubwren?

Approximate length: 11-13 cm

Date spotted: 29 April 2018 (Autumn)

Approximate location: Manly Dam National Park, New South Wales, Australia: 33°46’22.0″S 151°14’56.8″E

Magpie-lark, Mudlark, or Peewee

This Magpie-lark was one of three that came up close to investigate a friend and me while we were standing on the shore of Manly Dam. Magpie-larks are also known as Mudlarks, because they build their nests of mud, and as Peewees in imitation of the noise they make.

This one is a male. You can tell by the colour of the throat: in males it’s black, in females white.

Common name: Magpie-lark, also called a Peewee or a Mudlark

Scientific name: Grallina cyanoleuca

Approximate length: 30 cm

Date spotted: 28 April 2018 (Autumn)

Location: Manly Dam National Park, New South Wales, Australia: 33°46’35.5″S 151°14’50.3″E


Yellows and greys of the Eastern Yellow Robin

The bright yellow and soft greys of this bird’s plumage are quite distinctive.

The bird sat quietly on the branch for quite some time, occasionally turning to watch me with an inquisitive eye:

Common name: Eastern Yellow Robin

Scientific name: Eopsaltria australis

Approximate length: 15 cm

Date spotted: 8 April 2018 (Autumn)

Location: Manly Dam National Park, New South Wales, Australia: 33°46’24.1″S 151°15’07.1″E

Olive-backed Oriole chirruping and looking for bugs

It was the unusual chirruping that made me look up into the trees and see this Olive-backed Oriole. At first I thought it was a Wattle Bird, but the sound it made was unusual. So I snapped a few shots and took them home to examine them on the big screen.

In the video, you can hear the sound the bird makes:

This is the first view I had of the bird. Very well camouflaged!

Here the bird looks with gimlet eye at a termite nest (out of shot above its head) no doubt hoping for some food to wander by.

This is a general picture of the trees in the area – the bird’s habitat:

Common name: Olive-backed Oriole

Scientific name: Oriolus sagittatus

Approximate length: 25-28 cm

Date spotted: 8 April 2018 (Autumn)

Location: Manly Dam National Park, New South Wales, Australia: 33°46’25.6″S 151°14’56.8″E

Silver chrysalis on Oleander bush – Common Crow Butterfly

Strolling along, head in the trees as is my wont, I saw something that fair knocked the socks off me. Today’s post is not about a bird, but it is about something that birds encounter.

It’s the chrysalis of the Common Crow Butterfly, hanging from an Oleander leaf. Here it is from a different angle:

At first I thought someone was playing a trick, and had stuck a Christmas bauble on the bush. Then I did some research, and found the Australian Museum’s page about the Common Crow Butterfly. Evidently the pupal stage (chrysalis) lasts about two weeks. I must have discovered this one towards the end of its transformation. I first saw the chrysalis on Thursday. Less than a week later, on Tuesday, the chrysalis had turned black, and I could see the yellow and white markings on the butterfly’s wing. This photo is blurry, because it was early morning twilight, and I had only my phone camera.

Later the same day, the chrysalis was empty:

Oleander bushes are poisonous. Extremely so, to humans. So I wondered, are they poisonous to birds? If so, is the pupa poisonous too, given that the caterpillar had no doubt been feeding on Oleander leaves? It seems the answer to both questions is yes. Oleanders and the pupae of the Common Crow Butterfly are poisonous to most birds.

Sharing a treetop shower with King Parrots

This was one of those magical moments that happen when you walk in the Aussie bush. I was strolling along under the canopy of tall gum trees…

… when I heard a swooshing and clattering of wings. I looked up, just in time to receive a spattering of large droplets on my face.

Oops, I thought, some bird had a little accident.

But then it happened again. And I saw this face looking down from high in a leafy cluster:

Looking around, I saw four or five other birds – all Australian King Parrots.

(The birds were very high up indeed. My camera’s zoom has done a good job, though some of the images are a little fuzzy.)

They were swooping through the wet clusters of leaves at the top of the trees, then coming to rest for a good grooming session.

And I was lucky enough to share the resulting shower of droplets!

Here’s a female King Parrot. It’s interesting how short her tail is in comparison with the male birds. It’s perhaps a trick of perspective:

Common name: Australian King Parrot

Scientific name: Alisterus scapularis

Approximate length: 44 cm

Date spotted: 1 April 2018 (Autumn)

Location: Manly Dam National Park, New South Wales, Australia: 33°46’51.3″S 151°14’52.3″E

Call of the whipbird

The birds in Australia make strange noises, and the call of the Eastern Whipbird is one of the strangest.

A sound bite:

Common name: Eastern Whipbird

Scientific name: Psophodes olivaceus

Approximate length: 30 cm

Date spotted: 10 March 2018 (Early autumn)

Location: Manly Dam National Reserve, New South Wales, Australia: 33°46’36.5″S 151°15’16.0″E