Thursday, 29 September 2011


Adult male white-browed woodswallow

I was helping to catch and band birds on a field study run by Richard Allen last weekend at the Weddin Mountains. The weather on Sunday was a bit windy for efficient mist-netting but we caught 108 birds, mostly on the Saturday.

The main birds of the trip were woodswallows. There was a flock of about 700 flying overhead most of Saturday, and they were coming down to feed on nectar from flowering Ironbark trees, then they came in to roost in the trees at dusk. The main species was white-browed, of which we caught 40, and there were also masked (2 caught) and dusky (1 caught).

A dusky woodswallow on the left and
a white-browed woodswallow on the right

Among the other birds we caught were a male and female sacred kingfisher,

Male sacred kingfisher

and a one of those wonderful kingfishers, a kookaburra.


Tuesday, 20 September 2011


I was out catching and banding birds at the weekend helping Mark Clayton with his long-running study of birds in the Charcoal Tank Nature Reserve near West Wyalong in south-west New South Wales. This is a stand of woodland, a tiny remnant of what was once typical wooded plains in the area. The main trees are red ironbark which were flowering and attracting numerous honeyeaters and the little jewels of the woodland, pardalotes. There were two species: the spotted and the striated, and we caught both.  

Spotted pardalote - Pardalotus punctatus

This is an adult male, identifiable by his white-spotted black crown, bold white supercilium and bright yellow throat. The female has yellowish spots on her crown and less pronounced supercilium and throat colours. The young birds have a pale crown base colour and greyish back with very little scalloping of the back feather pattern.

The bright fire-red base to the tail  of the spotted and the bright yellow forehead of the striated are the most readily identifiable markings between the two species when seen briefly in the field. 

Striated pardalote - Pardalotus striatus, subspecies substriatus

This is an adult bird as it has a full white supercilium and streaked crown of white feathers on black. The sexes are identical. Young birds of the year have a faint yellowish supercilium and a pale buff-green freckled crown.

The broad white markings along the veins of the primaries are a feature of the subspecies which is the typical type of the wooded plains west of the Great divide in southern New South Wales.

Monday, 5 September 2011


I made a stock check at the weekend of what possums were sleeping where in the garden. These are common brush-tailed possums which are common in suburban Canberra. The one above is a young male which was in a nestbox above the logpile. He came down willingly for a piece of bread and jam.

The next four shots are of a mother with her well grown youngster which were sleeping in one of the boxes in the back garden. She came out first and waited for the young one to climb out after her. The boxes were put up to encourage rosellas, crimson or eastern, to nest in the garden. However,the possums found the soft pine wood easy to chew and they quickly enlarged the entrance holes to fit them, and they have subsequently taken them all over. They use them for alternative roost holes used in rotation, although they do use one or other box for long periods before shifting.

Once out the young one quickly clambered onto the mother's back.
Then off they went up the tree and through the continuous canopy of the trees along the back fence.