Bird of the Week: Eastern Spinebill

Male Eastern Spinebill. Photo by Stilgherrian, Creative Commons license.

I have, in other posts, complained that the small birds around Bunjaree Cottages are difficult to photograph because they move very quickly and don’t sit still. This week, our friend Stilgherrian has managed a rare treat, getting pics of both male and female Eastern Spinebills.

The Eastern Spinebill can be seen all the way from Cooktown in Queensland all the way around to the Flinders Ranges in South Australia – but they’re less common around urban areas, because they like heaths, forests and woodlands.

Female Eastern Spinebill. Photo by Stilgherrian, Creative Commons license.

Their down-curved bill is designed for nectar-eating – in these photos, they’re feeding on the flower of the iconic Mountain Devil shrub that grows throughout Bunjaree Cottages. Their distinctive call is a high pitched, short, repetitive piping whistle.

While a kid of honeyeater – and they have a hummingbird-like hover while feeding – Eastern Spinebills also occasionally add small insects to their diet.

Days out with Thomas – April 13 to 15

The Zig Zag Railway has its “Thomas the Tank Engine” days on April 13, 14 and 15. It’s a fabulous day for families with younger children – as well as the Thomas the Tank Engine ride, there are amusements displays and much more. More information here.

Bird of the Week: the Wonga Pigeon

Australia has quite a number of native pigeons, but none of them quite match the Wonga Pigeon, Leucosarcia melanoleuca.

The photo doesn’t really do it justice: the Wonga is a seriously large amount of pigeon.

Source: Glen Fergus, O’Reillys Guest House, Queensland

While quite shy, the Wonga pigeon is a ground-forager. Around Bunjaree Cottages, early risers can get lucky and surprise a Wonga Pigeon around their cottages.

If the pigeon sees or hears someone, it will leave as quickly as possible, and here you will get your second treat: its takeoff is noisy and rather ungainly because they’re so heavy by pigeon standards. The wing-clapping noise is quite impressive.

Bird of the week: Superb Lyrebird

The Superb Lyrebird is almost a mascot of the Blue Mountains: it only takes a little good fortune (and a watchful eye) to spot lyrebirds on a bushwalk. And we feel incredibly lucky to have Lyrebirds living around Bunjaree Cottages.

They are very shy, but can sometimes be spotted in the early morning, moving between feeding spots and crossing the driveway. Lyrebirds feed by scratching around the leaf-litter for insects and spiders, and leave quite distinctive scratchings.

Superb Lyrebird. Author: Attis. Source: Wikimedia

We’re more likely to hear the Lyrebirds than to see them. They mimic a huge variety of sounds, but are particularly fond of putting whip-bird songs into their repertoire. I was so pleased with this recording of a Lyrebird (taken on my phone) that I use it as my ringtone!

Bushwalks where we have spotted Lyrebirds include the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, which runs between Leura and Katoomba; between the Three Sisters and Scenic World; and around Katoomba Falls.

Here’s another Lyrebird performance I recorded. First it has a dog bark, then it imitates the owner (“Yoo-Hoo!”), and then it kind of riffs on other birds. “Yoo-hoo Lyerbird”

Bird of the week: Crimson Rosella

We can’t guarantee that you’ll see every one of the 30 or more species of birds that frequent the bush around Bunjaree Cottages – some are shy, some are rare, and some are nocturnal. But we can absolutely guarantee that visitors will see Crimson Rosellas – Platycercus Elegans – because there are several families living here.

Image: Richard at Bunjaree Cottages

These beautiful birds love visiting the feeders at our cottages, and will stay around for several hours on any given day.

Apart from their looks, the Crimson Rosella is notable for its variety of calls. There are sounds that you will recognize as normal for parrots – the chattering when they’re around the feeders; a loud, short screech in flight; but most astonishing is the beautiful bell-like “family call” when they are perched in a tree and calling to their family. It’s a two-note, high pitched “who-he-whoo” (low-high-low) that seems to mean either “here I am”, “where are you?”, or “come here, there’s food!”

They’re also extremely agile in flight. We’re constantly amazed at the way they can streak through dense bush at high speed – it’s really something to see!

Bird of the week: the King Parrot

I’m celebrating the new WordPress version of the Bunjaree Cottages Website by instituting a “Bird of the Week” series to celebrate the many species of birds that live on the property. There are 30 species that we’ve been able to identify, although some of them are very shy; we know there’s at least one Lyrebird around, but we haven’t yet made his acquaintance.

First in our “Bird of the Week” series is the King Parrot. Although the Crimson Rosella is more numerous, the King Parrot is very impressive and fairly comfortable around people.

Image of a King Parrot

Male King Parrot. Copyright: Brett Donald, under the Wikimedia Commons license

They seem to hang around in families rather than flocks – the male (pictured) and the female (which has a green head rather than red), and a juvenile at the right time of year.

And the King Parrot will happily hang around the cottages and feeders for hours. They’re truly magnificent and a treasured guest!

A new website, rushed

On Friday the Bunjaree Cottages website fell victim to hackers, and our backups proved inadequate. It was therefore quicker to just build a brand new site — something we’d been thinking about anyway. And here it is.

But this entire site was built in just one day — a but of a hurry — so it’s still a little rough at the edges. We’ll have the problems ironed out over the next couple of days.