Wildlife Visitors in May 2018

May was a busy month for me as I had a lot going on, so I didn’t get as much opportunity to take photos of the visiting wildlife like usual. So here is a short list of some of my backyard visitors.

Kookaburra
Ladybird
European Honey Bee
Type of grasshopper
A type of moth
Hoverfly
A type of moth
A type of fly
Grey Butcherbird

This is my participation in a monthly event called Wildlife Wednesdays hosted by Tina of My Gardner Says… You can see the wildlife visitors of other participants here.

This is my last Wildlife Wednesday post for awhile, and I won’t be posting as often as I usually do for a bit. Due to a significant change in my personal circumstances, I have left the Gold Coast in Queensland and moved permanently to Launceston in Tasmania. I am starting a new life on my own here in Tassie so please bear with me while I settle in to a new job and new surroundings, and I hope to be back online regularly soon posting my wildlife experiences in Tasmania.

 

 

Mimicry of the Pied Butcherbird

Many Australians may be familiar with the little black and white pied butcherbirds that frequent parks and backyards and their beautiful bird song they have, but something I discovered recently was that they are mimics, and rather good ones at that!

Pied Butcherbird

One of my regular pied butcherbirds was visiting on the veranda and I was inside the house listening to it singing away merrily and then I thought I could hear other bird calls in amongst its tunes. Being curious, I grabbed my camera and went out onto the veranda and waited. After a bit, the bird started singing again and then I heard it sing a currawong call! I started filming and was blown away by all the different bird calls this pied butcherbird sang, it was amazing!

This little birdie sang for quite a long time, so I have just taken the last 2 minutes of the recording which shows the variety of bird calls it was imitating.  Have a listen for yourself:

No one believed me until I showed them my video. I have been visited by this bird a few times now on rainy days, and it is such a treat to listen to all its tunes. Maybe it gets bored and wants to entertain me! 😀

Wildlife Visitors in May 2017

brushtail possum eating banana

May was the final month of autumn here in Australia, and it was great to see the regular wildlife visitors out and about. I was also happy to see a rare visitor to our place and we also had a surprise visitor!

Below is a Golden Orb Weaver spider with a massive web that I came across in the yard. The spider is about 10cm in total length (including the legs). Look closely, and you’ll see another much smaller spider just above the big spider. That little one is the male!

golden orb weaver male and female

This Monarch Butterfly was fluttering around the yard at the end of the month. I thought it was unusual to see one at this time of year, but apparently where I live these butterflies are still around because it’s warmer along the coastline.

monarch butterfly

Below is a short video of a Juvenile Grey Butcherbird who has nearly got his adult colours. I watched it sitting on the tree branch watching for bugs after my husband mowed the grass.

Plenty of Brushtail Possum visitors during May as well, and there has been lots of running (or chasing!) up and down our veranda as well as on the roof at night! Here’s a photo of a female possum who looks ecstatic at getting a bit of banana! 🙂

brushtail possum eating banana

My rare visitor during May was the Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo. These are huge birds, about 60cm (24 inches) in length and very majestic to watch. I had 2 sightings of them during the month which is amazing because I’ve only ever seen them a couple of times in the 12 years I’ve been living here. The first visit caught me by surprise, as I was on the veranda and suddenly there were two of them casually flying past my house! I only had my mobile phone on me at the time so snapped this photo.  They were actually a lot closer than they look in the picture.

flying yellow tailed black cockatoos

On the second occasion, I heard the distinctive loud call of one of these cockatoos and raced outside with my camera. One had landed in the gum tree out the back. The photo below is not good quality because it was cropped and enlarged, but it gives you an idea of the lovely yellow colouring on these birds.

yellowtailed black cockatoo

I managed to get a quick video of it before it took off, calling as it went. Sorry if the video is a little dark, it was overcast that morning, but as well as hearing its call, you can see how beautiful this bird is with the lovely black feathers, yellow patch on the cheek and the yellow under the tail. Magnificent!

And finally, here is my surprise visitor (no kidding! 🙂 ).

goat

I’m guessing someone got themselves a goat and it escaped. I thought I could catch it and enquire with the neighbours, but it wouldn’t let me get anywhere near it and toddled off to another neighbour’s place. I haven’t seen it since so I hope it made it home okay.

Hope you enjoyed seeing some of my wildlife visitors. 🙂

This is my participation in a monthly event called Wildlife Wednesdays hosted by Tina of My Gardner Says… You can see the wildlife visitors of other participants here.

Watching for Bugs

Above is a photo of a juvenile grey butcherbird that I spotted just recently, and I was really happy to see it because I last saw this bird in early February and was worried that something had happened to it.

In a way, something did happen to it – it grew up and found it’s own way to the front of our property where it seems to be happily living and surviving.

The bird caught my eye diving to the ground catching bugs after my husband mowed the lawn.

The last time I saw this little bird, it was small and thin, coloured various shades of brown and was tagging along behind its parents. Now, it’s out on its own, looks healthy, and the brown feathers are starting to turn black around its head and the brown feathers on its back are starting to turn black and grey.

I did some research on the internet about the grey butcherbirds and in some families, the juveniles leave home early instead of hanging out with the parents for another year to help bring up the next lot of babies. Maybe this would explain why the two young ones suddenly stopped visiting back in February. Perhaps things are good in our area and the young ones decided it was time to move out. Or maybe mum and dad sent them on their way!

You can click here to read my earlier post about the grey butcherbird family that’s been visiting us.

 

Battle Scarred Butcherbird

The other day I was shocked to see one of my regular pied butcherbird visitors turn up looking like this.

Clearly, the poor bird had just been in some kind of fight, and it looked like it was a vicious one.

I’m happy to say that the bird turned up again the following day and looked nice and clean again. The bird seems fine and is continuing to visit us with the rest of its family. Here are pictures of what the bird looks like now.

It makes me wonder, who was the bird’s opponent and how did they look after the battle?

 

The Grey Butcherbird Family

We had never seen grey butcherbirds at our place until November 2016, when I saw a whole family of them turn up in my backyard. Where they came from, or even why they appeared, remains a mystery.

Two juvenile grey butcherbirds can be seen at the front of the photo and an adult can just be seen behind them.

The adult grey butcherbird has a beautiful grey, white and black colouring.

The juveniles are coloured brown and beige.

The family of greys were often seen perched on the roof of the garage. They almost always stay out the back, except on the odd occasion when they venture out the front, only to be swooped on by the pied butcherbirds. This makes for some interesting observations when a pied swoops on a grey and then lands on the veranda railing looking quite pleased with himself, and he is then swooped on by a grey butcherbird as payback. The look on their face is priceless!

It’s always interesting observing birds, and I captured this strange moment on my camera between an adult and juvenile.

Have you figured out yet why this bird is called a butcherbird? These birds hang their prey (lizards, mice, beetles, insects and even chicks) on a twig or in a fork of a branch and then use their sharp hooked beak to hack away at it.

Despite its intimidating looks, the grey butcherbird has a lovely musical song. Below is a video of one of the juveniles practising his singing.

I’ve managed to also capture some of the grey butcherbird calls in the audio recordings below. They have quite a repertoire!

 

 

 

Here is one of the juveniles looking right at me!

I haven’t seen either of the juvenile birds since the start of February. I have only seen the two adults. I miss my little juveniles turning up on the veranda to practise their singing. I wonder if something happened to them because it is my understanding that they’re supposed to hang around with their parents for about a year and help out with the raising of the next lot of babies (like the kookaburras and pied butcherbirds), before they fully colour up and go out on their own. Does anyone know if the juveniles always stay with their parents to help raise future chicks before going it alone, or is it possible the young ones have already moved on as they would have been about 4 months old the last time I saw them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildlife Visitors in November

This is my participation in a monthly event called Wildlife Wednesdays hosted by Tina of My Gardner Says …

November was the last month of spring here in Australia, and it clearly showed in the wildlife I saw out and about on our property. There was the surprise return of an old visitor, a family of new visitors, and finally the appearance of baby birds!

We were happy to see the return of this old fellow – an eastern water dragon. I don’t know much about these reptiles, I don’t even know if it’s a he or a she, but we think he’s been hiding out somewhere all winter and has reappeared since the weather has warmed up so much already.

eastern water dragon
eastern water dragon

The caper white butterfly migration that had been fascinating everyone recently is now over and this is the last photo I managed to get.

caper white butterfly
caper white butterfly

I also saw this Australian painted lady butterfly, but it was difficult to get a decent picture as she would never stay still.

australian painted lady butterfly
australian painted lady butterfly

I’m not a big fan of arachnids, but I couldn’t help but marvel at the spectacular web of this female golden orb weaver.

golden orb weaver
golden orb weaver

And for only the second time in my life, I managed to capture a photo of a dragonfly!

dragonfly
dragonfly

The nocturnal activities of the local possums seems to have died down for now, and I didn’t get a chance to get any photos of a night, but I did capture this lovable mum and joey chilling out in one of our possum boxes.

mother brushtail possum and joey in a possum box
mother brushtail possum and joey in a possum box

There was another visit from a galah, who was just checking out the scene and had a drink from our old birdbath.

galah
galah

Still plenty of rainbow lorikeets around, as you can see by this late afternoon photo of the gum tree in front of our house.

rainbow lorikeets
rainbow lorikeets

I also got this picture of one of two baby lorikeets amongst the crowd.

baby rainbow lorikeet
baby rainbow lorikeet

The rainbow loris continued their daily antics to entertain us. Here’s a video of a couple of them playing and hanging upside down on a piece of rope that is attached to the top of a gum tree in front of our house. It’s been there ever since we bought the place, no idea how it got up there it’s so high, or what the purpose of it was, but the birds seem to have a ball with it.

I was lucky to spot several of the gorgeous little scaly breasted lorikeets one day. I counted 5 of them, I’ve never seen so many here before. Here are three of them, not sure what had caught their attention, but they were amusing to watch before they flew off.

scaly breasted lorikeets
scaly breasted lorikeets
scaly breasted lorikeets
scaly breasted lorikeets

Brand new visitors to our place is a family of grey butcherbirds. We have been here almost 12 years now and never seen these birds before. The grey butcherbirds look similar to our regular pied butcherbirds, just lighter in colour, and have a different song, so it took a second glance to realise these were not our usual visitors. And there wasn’t just one, there was a whole family!

grey butcherbird
grey butcherbird
two baby grey butcherbirds with a parent in the background
two baby grey butcherbirds with a parent in the background

In the photo above, the 2 birds in the front are the juveniles, not long out of the nest and still being fed by the parents. You can just make out a parent behind them on another branch.

The pied currawongs have had 2 babies again this year. The magpies have significantly let up their dive bombing tactics and the currawongs can get closer to our house again, but the babies are still sitting in trees out of the magpies reach. Here is a photo of the 2 young ones.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
two baby pied currawongs not long out of the nest

 

Last month I mentioned the appearance of birds of prey causing a stir amongst the magpies, well, I saw them again, several times. On one day, I saw 3 birds of prey, circling right over our house (2 at once!). And another time I saw both magpies madly chasing a brown hawk of some description right over our roof. Wow, those birds can fly! On another day, I heard the urgent cries of the magpies again, so I grabbed my camera and dashed outside, and sure enough, there was a bird of prey circling high above. I managed to get one reasonable photo of it before it went away. It’s really hard to use a zoom and find a speck in the sky! I’m not sure what bird this is, some kind of kite or hawk I’m thinking, depending on the angle of light, it looked brown or white/grey.

a bird of prey
a bird of prey

And this is Igor, our resident male magpie, following me as I’m out and about taking pictures, and finding some food to take back to their nest.

male magpie collecting food for his young
male magpie collecting food for his young

And finally, we see the two baby magpies, just out of the nest and still being fed by their parents. I was lucky to get this shot because the parents had been keeping the babies separated in different trees.

two baby magpies
two baby magpies

Some more good news is that the pair of kookaburras we have been seeing regularly over the last few months have a nest close by and we have watched them taking food to feed babies. Unfortunately due to the location and angle of the nest, I can’t see it very well, and we’re not going to go anywhere near it, so we will just have to wait a bit longer for the babies to grow up and then I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of them  once they’ve left the nest.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my photos of wildlife in my backyard. 🙂

 

 

 

A Singing Visitor

This is a lovely juvenile pied butcherbird that comes to visit everyday, and in the last few days he has been sitting on the veranda practising his song. Yesterday he was singing close to the door, so I grabbed my camera and cautiously went outside so as not to disturb him. He didn’t seem bothered at all by my being so close and he continued on with his birdsong. Here is a short clip of one of the videos I was able to take of him.

Thanks for making my day little fella! 🙂