15 January 2012

Nature Walk

This morning I thought it would be fun to do a nature walk around the university campus to see what was around. My husband and I often cover some of this territory on our regular morning walks, but this time we both took our cameras, and extended the walk to visit some of the wetlands on the edge of the campus.

It was later than we usually walk during the week, and already quite warm. There were still quite a few birds and other things around though.

Noisy miners are common around the campus. They love the many flowering grevillias and other bushes. This one was hopping around in a shady tree.

Australian magpies have a lovely warbling call. They are very common and relatively approachable. This one was sitting on top of a fence post keeping an eye out for edible things in the grass. There were others around the grassy areas, stalking around and chomping down on the occasional grub.

The galahs have been feeding in the grassy paddocks recently, eating seed heads and dandelion flowers. From a distance, with their heads down, they are hard to spot. Only when they put their heads up to watch us were they more visible. There were a few young birds in the flock, with very grey plumage instead of bright pink.

Red-rumped parrots are another common parrot around the area. They generally feed on the ground, almost invisible as they are the same colour as the grass. When flushed they often fly up and perch on fence posts or wire, as this male has done.

When we reached the wetlands there were a lot of birds around, attracted to the permanent water. We flushed a couple of purple swamphens, which flew awkwardly and perched in some trees on an island in the middle of the largest pond.

Some corellas came down to drink. They were quite wary, sitting on a dead branch in the water and flying up as soon as they had finished drinking.

This galah showed up bright pink against the brown and green of the foliage.

The tall dead trees in the water provided a good perch for several types of birds. When we arrived a flock of white ibis were resting in the branches, sometimes having trouble maintaining their balance in the breeze. A lone white-faced heron was resting in the lower branches.

As we watched, a flock of straw-necked ibis came in to join the white ibis, along with a few little pied cormorants with stained chests from the muddy water. The dead tree looked like a Christmas tree, decorated with black-and-white birds.

On the way back a couple of eastern rosellas flew past. I caught a photo of one watching me from a branch, but didn't manage to get a photo of the yellow rosellas that also went by.

As well as birds, insects were also in evidence along the walk. There were a few butterflies, too quick to photograph, and also a few dragonflies near the water. A couple of small eucalypts looked like they were being badly eaten by something. Perhaps these beetles were the culprit.

Ants were everywhere, and we had to be careful that we weren't standing on a nest when we stopped. They were fairly lively in the heat, and especially so when we disturbed them.

Overall it was a very interesting walk. I was surprised at how many birds were active even in the summer heat.

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