After moving into my house more than 12 years ago I’ve been keeping a list of the different birds I’ve seen either in our garden or from our garden. It’s been several months since I’ve been able to add a new one to the list: until Sunday morning.
On Sunday I was walking around outside and heard an unfamiliar bird chattering away. In a neighbour’s tree I saw a once familiar sight – a pair of rainbow lorikeets.
They were a frequent visitor around my previous home in Sydney. They would sit on the window sill, or on the balcony table, and were “tame” enough to be handfed. However, they’re not supposed to be native to more inland areas like the town where I now live.
According to the two bird field guides I own, their habitat should be closer to the coast. However, changing climate seems to be having its effect on the movement of wild life, and the range of some birds (rainbow lorikeets included) is expanding.
Both photos were taken from my back garden.
A few days ago I wrote about Sparky, the half blind, non-flying magpie that visits our garden. Since then he’s discovered the ability to fly short distances and has been able to find his way up to low branches. He has also become a little more timid and doesn’t come so close to Gloria or myself.
Sadly, one thing that hasn’t changed is the bullying. More able bodied magpies still conduct occasional attacks on him.
One of those attacks was launched after I arrived home from work yesterday afternoon. Through the window I saw that three of them had him pinned to the ground, so I rushed outside and ran at them clapping my hands, to drive them away.
However, I suddenly found myself taking flight, but only momentarily. I soon crashed to the ground ripping the skin from my palms and grazing my knees.
It seems I’d slipped on the wet grass and ended up a few metres away on the garden after “bouncing” off the concrete path. Gloria says I just missed the concrete bird bath as I rolled several times across the ground.
At first I thought I must have hit my head because my glasses were knocked off but I couldn’t find any damage to my head or the glasses, but my hands were in a bad way. This morning the lower part of both palms are pitted, looking as if I have several burst blisters on each hand and my left wrist is painful.
I wonder whether Sparky appreciates what I suffered for him.
A magpie has adopted my wife.
Whenever she is in the garden the bird follows her around, picking at any bug or worm it finds and waiting for Gloria to unearth a curly-grub or two (beetle larvae). Our garden has an abundance of those grubs and it’s satisfying to put them to good use feeding the bird instead of having the grubs feeding from our plant roots.
The magpie is very trusting and doesn’t hesitate to come within easy reach. We first saw it two evenings ago, curled up on the ground near the side fence. Assuming it was injured, Gloria went to check whether it was alright, but as she approached it hopped away. Then yesterday, it joined her while she was weeding one of the veggie beds.
A magpie similar to “sparky”
Having a close view showed that its left eye was badly injured and for some reason it was unable to fly. The injury to its eye was possibly explained a little later when two healthy magpies swooped down and attacked it. These attacks were repeated a few times during the day until the aggressive birds were chased away.
Gloria has given her bird the name “Sparky” and was concerned that it may not survive the night. Our neighbour’s cat Leroy is a regular visitor and I have no doubt what would happen should the two of them meet. But Sparky made it through the night and joined Gloria in the garden again this morning. We’re not sure where it found shelter, but hope wherever it was it will continue to provide safety from cats and the frosts.
For almost 8 years I’ve been keeping a list of the different types of birds I’ve seen from my home. It includes the various birds seen in my garden, from my garden (on neighbouring properties) or flying over my garden. The one limiting factor is that I have to be on my own property when I see them.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to add another bird to the list, but this morning I saw something different feeding from a small Correa plant now in flower.
While it’s always exciting to be able to add a new entry on my list, this morning’s sighting was more special than most. It was an eastern spinebill.
What is so significant about this bird?
For many years I’ve owned a watercolour painting of an eastern spinebill. It’s been hanging on my bedroom wall since we moved into this house in 2006.
Almost from the day I bought the painting I’ve been wondering why I didn’t get one of a bird with more personal significance – for example, there were several I could have bought of blue wrens, birds that I regularly see .
Today’s sighting has now given more relevance to the painting. It’s no longer a depiction of a random bird, but is an illustration of a welcome new visitor.
Photo (of Spinebill on a Grevillea plant) from here: