Tuesday, 18 May 2010

We three kings

Three Kings were sitting high up in trees as I walked towards the gardens today - King Parrots Alisterus scapularis to be exact...

A closer look showed that they were three females - so more like Queens than Kings!
I went to eat lunch in my old favourite spot, but before I even got to the bench I was really excited to see that there was a male Galah Eolophus roseicapillus poking his little head out of the nest hole that has been vacant for a while!

He seemed to be on his own, unless his mate is inside there.  I will be keeping an eye out each lunchtime to see!  After sitting down on the bench I only managed a couple of bites of my sandwich before noticing some great photo opportunities for two birds that I'm always having trouble getting nice pictures of: an Eastern Spinebill Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris, doing a great pose in a Grevillea bush, and a wonderful male Superb Fairy Wren Malurus cyaneus in full breeding colours! 

Definitely some photos I'm really pleased with.  The little Fairy Wren kept hopping closer and closer, I wondered if he could smell my cheese sandwich.  The weather is getting quite nippy now, so I'm not seeing so many other people around in the gardens, certainly not eating lunch like me!  I've knitted myself some fingerless mittens that really help with eating lunch and taking photos in the cold weather.

I did bump into someone out and about which was a surprise - Robyn who follows this blog!  We hadn't met before but she guessed who I was by my pink bag.  Such a small world... I gave her sneak preview of some of my blog photos for today, I think she was a bit surprised by the next photo - some poo!  I had wondered if it was wombat poo, as Id heard a Facebook rumour about wombats in the gardens, however turns out it is just Kangaroo poo - though I didn't see any nearby.  Anyhow, it was interesting to know, so thanks Robyn!
I'm still wondering what this is on this Eucalyptus tree - Ive seen a lot of trees with this sort of growth on, anyone out there know? 

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Merry Merry King of the Bush

Today I thought I'd blog about some of the magnificent trees in the gardens, as they haven't really featured in my blog as yet and there are so many great trees!  So, I started out in the obvious place to me, the Eucalypt Lawn.  There are about 800 species of the genus Eucalyptus and this almost endemic flowering tree dominates the Australian flora in the non-desert regions.  The Eucalypt Lawn has many different examples of the species laid out beautifully, creating a feeling of grandeur. 

As I wandered across the lawn I noticed some interesting species common names - such as the large-fruited blackbutt Eucalyptus pyrocarpa and the Nunniong Gum Eucalyptus elaeophloia, 'discovered' in 1990, according to this CSIRO publication!  

However, as I walked through the trees I heard the unmistakable laugh of the Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae.  I was very excited, as I knew there are Kookaburras about as they often come to the trees outside my office, but I figured to take a picture of them there is 'cheating' as its not in the gardens, so I've been waiting to find them here.  He was quiet for a bit, but then I spotted him sitting on a small tree, so I got a good shot as he surveyed the ground below:
Then he swooped down for his lunch!  He was so quick and gobbled it up all at once that I only managed to get a picture when it was all gone:
So, I was somewhat distracted from my plan to blog about trees!  I did notice one of the Eucalyptus trees had what looked like little branches growing out of it's trunk, I wonder if it was some Mistletoe recently attaching itself?
Unfortunately, it was already time to head back to the office, so the tree blog will have to wait for another day.  However, on my way back I noticed a number of interesting flowers beginning to bloom and discovered they were of the Hakea genus.  According to ANPSA these are often thought of as a poor relation to Grevillea, but I thought they deserve better than that, particularly the Hakea kincora which is an unusual and very pretty globular Hakea. 
Another couple of Hakeas are pictured below, the delicate Hakea cycloptera according to Wikipedia commonly called the 'Elm-seed Hakea' and Hakea nodosa which apparently has a pungent smell, though I can't say I noticed!

Admittedly, the Grevilleas are stunning and two more species I noticed were in flower today, so I will finish with some pictures of two beauties from Western Australia.  The first is Diels Grevillea Grevillea dielsiana - though according to that website it should flower in August-September, I suppose it behaves differently here in the East?!  The other is the rare Collie Grevillea Grevillea ripicola, which is said to flower at this time of year or in late spring. 

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Bath time

There is a bench in the garden dedicated to a certain Tom Green, who (according to the bench) was a keen birdwatcher.  So, as you might guess, this bench is situated in one of the best spots to sit and watch birds!  Opposite the bench is a shady glade with a little pool of water, where I have seen many birds flitting around and even taking a bath.  Today as I was passing I could hear that there were a lot of Crimson Rosellas Platycercus elegans chattering away to each other behind the screen of the bushes.  They sounded like they were having a jolly old time in there, so I took a peek - sure enough, one little fellow was happily splashing about in the pool...

Then his friend decided to join him - this bathtub is big enough for two!

I got some nice pictures of some other Crimson Rosellas nearby.  They are very beautiful birds, such a cheerful colour with cheeky little faces, they always brighten up my day. 

I do have a bone to pick with a pair of them though.  Remember the nesting Galahs? Well, after I noticed they were in and out of the nest hole I went back a week later and found they were no longer there - the hole was being investigated by a pair of Crimson Rosellas! So it appeared they had been turfed out of their love nest, I was most indignant.  However, since then I haven't seen any birds near the hole in the Eucalyptus tree, so it seems I won't get to watch any birds nesting there after all, at least, not for now...

Finally, as this is a blog about my lunchtime after all, I thought Id just share a shot of my lunch!  I went to Hudson's cafe which is situated in the gardens, in fact for the first time.   I had the most enormous bagel, which a cheeky Magpie Gymnorhina tibicen had his little beady eye on!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Birds and Fairies

At long last, I've now got an Eastern Spinebill and New Holland Honeyeater picture I'm proud of!  In the last week I've had briefer lunches at work so not taken my camera to the gardens, however last Monday was a public holiday in Australia (Anzac day) and I took the opportunity to spend a little longer in the the gardens than usual and went there in the afternoon.  The result was better quality pictures of the more elusive birds in the gardens. The advice of my fellow blogger Mosura definitely helped: waiting patiently and taking lots of shots paid off. 

So, first the Eastern Spinebill Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris - not absolutely perfect as he is looking away from the camera, but the colours and focus are nice:

I then went to the rock garden where I sat for a while watching a New Holland Honeyeater Phylidonyris novaehollandiae flit around a small Banksia bush.  After a while he rested on top of a flower, so I got a few lovely pictures - he was quite fluffy, so may a young one, or just a bit chilly?!

I saw a Red Wattle Bird Anthochaera carunculata sitting on top of a bench.  These birds are very common in the gardens with a distinctive raucous call, however I got a couple of good shots Id like to include here.

I also got a picture of an Eastern Yellow Robin Eopsaltria australis, the first I'd seen in the gardens.  They have a very pretty bell-like call, which gave away his hiding place in a bush.
Finally, I also got some pictures of fairies! Well, the Superb Fairy-wren  Malurus cyaneus to be exact.  These are probably the hardest ones to get a shot of that I've seen - they are very small, fast movers and pretty shy!  The first is a female, the second and third pictures are a non-breeding male, these only have a blue tail whereas breeding males have a spectacular blue plumage.  Unlike the Galahs, fairy wrens are very promiscuous, apparently females may be courted by up to 13 males in half an hour!  They have a complex social structure, described here on this blog, where territories over-lap and a number of birds help bring up the young. 
I went to the gardens today, with the intention of doing the same and getting some better bird pictures to add to this collection.  I took a fantastic picture of a non-breeding male Fairy Wren with a lovely blue tail, however the memory card in my camera went loopy and wouldn't let me take any more pictures and appears to have wiped my Fairy Wren masterpiece, gutted!  So, that may be 'the one that got away'...