Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Birds of My Backyard.

I often like to just sit in the backyard and watch the birds. My block merges into bushland at the back and I can also see the sea so there are a reasonable variety of birds to be seen. (see pictures of backyard here) Having said that, my "From the backyard" list is not very large at only 47 species and that's including several sea birds which I can watch with the binoculars or small scope.

The sea birds on my list include Black-browed Albatross and Shy Albatross and just yesterday I watched dozens of Australasian gannets. They were slowly heading west along the coast while actively fishing. Only once I spotted two Pelicans flying fairly low over the backyard.

There are also many birds of prey. They regulars include White (Grey) Goshawk, Collared Sparrowhawk and White-bellied Sea-eagle and it's not too unusual to spot one or more Wedge-tailed Eagles circling overhead.

Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos regularly fly over and often land in the trees on the hill behind us but always in a position that makes it impossible to photograph them. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos have been seen but are a rarity here as are Galahs. Another regular is the Green Rosella. Usually we only see a pair but at this time of year their is often a small flock of 5 or 6. A much rarer visitor is the Swift Parrot.

Six honeyeaters are found here. My favourites are the Yellow-throated honeyeater and the Black-headed honeyeater. The most common is the New-holland Honeyeater. At the moment these are turning up in noisy and excited flocks of 15 to 20 birds. This is something I've not noticed before.

Five of Tasmania's 12 endemic birds have been seen in the backyard. These are Dusky Robin, Tasmanian Native Hen, Green Rosella, Yellow-throated honeyeater, and Black-headed honeyeater.

Tawny Frogmouths are known to inhabit the bush behind us but I haven't seen one. In fact it has been 36 years since I have seen a frogmouth anywhere. Of course 8 of those years were spent in Scotland so I wasn't exactly maximising my chances. We have had an occasional visit from a Boobook Owl.

We get our fair share of ferals too. Of these the Goldfinch and Greenfinch I could almost learn to like. Well almost :-) Beautiful birds but in the wrong place. The funny thing is I see far more Goldfinches here than I ever saw in Scotland where they are natives. The Blackbird has a beautiful call too but in the breeding season they are very aggressive in chasing off some of our natives including the Green Rosellas.

Of course seeing birds and getting a photograph are two different things. Below are some of this weeks attempts at photographing the birds in my backyard.

Some Backyard Bird Photos from the Last Week or So
(Click to enlarge)
Grey fantail - Rhipidura fuliginosa
Most of our Grey Fantails will soon be migrating north .

Grey fantail - Rhipidura fuliginosa

Green rosella - Platycercus caledonicus
A Tasmanian endemic

Yellow-tailed black cockatoo - Calyptorhynchus funereus
Flying over

White-bellied sea eagle - Haliaeetus leucogaster
An immature eagle carrying a small fish.

Male Superb Fairy-wren - Malurus cyaneus
We currently have a flock of seven that spend most of their time in our backyard. Two are in male breeding plumage, one male in non-breeding plumage, and four females.

Female Superb Fairy-wren - Malurus cyaneus

Silvereye - Zosterops lateralis
Currently these are coming through in flocks of up to twenty. They all seem to be heading west perhaps in preparation for their migration across Bass Strait.

Male Scarlet robin - Petroica multicolor
These robins are regulars in autumn and winter but I only occasionally see them here in the warmer months

Female Scarlet robin - Petroica multicolor

Golden whistler - Pachycephala pectoralis
I've never seen a male here

Eastern spinebill - Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris
Feeding on Canna lilies. I've been trying to get rid of these lilies but they keep coming back. At least they are providing a little nectar.

Eastern spinebill - Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris

My "From the Backyard List"

Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophris)
Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta)
Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)
Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator)
White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)
Grey Goshawk (Accipiter novaehollandiae)
Brown Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus)
Collared Sparrowhawk (Accipiter cirrocephalus)
Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax)
Brown Falcon (Falco berigora)
Tasmanian Nativehen (Tribonyx mortierii)
Pied Oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris)
Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles)
Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae)
Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus)
Swift Tern (Thalasseus bergii)
Brush Bronzewing (Phaps elegans)
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus)
Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla)
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)
Green Rosella (Platycercus caledonicus)
Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor)
Shining Bronze Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx lucidus)
Southern Boobook (Ninox boobook)
White-throated Needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus)
Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)
Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus)
Yellow-throated Honeyeater (Lichenostomus flavicollis)
Black-headed Honeyeater (Melithreptus affinis)
Little Wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera)
Crescent Honeyeater (Phylidonyris pyrrhopterus)
New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae)
Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris)
Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus)
Brown Thornbill (Acanthiza pusilla)
Australian Golden Whistler (Pachycephala pectoralis)
Grey Shrikethrush (Colluricincla harmonica)
Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa)
Forest Raven (Corvus tasmanicus)
Scarlet Robin (Petroica boodang)
Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena)
Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis)
Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
European Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)


  1. Nice look at the Mosura backyarders. It's a list to envy.

  2. You have an amazing number of birds around your backyard. I guess it must be the different habitats close-by. Photos of the birds are beautiful - the new camera was definitely worth waiting for I would say!

  3. You DO have a great backyard. I envy you on that.

    I can´t chose from your birds. The species and your photage are all great.

  4. Thanks Tiny, Mick, and NatureFootstep - No doubt the "Backyard list" will grow in time. There are quite a few species I believe I've seen here but not clearly enough to put on the list.

  5. Your bird pictures are amazing, id love to know the secret to capturing them so well, and in flight too (fantastic composition on the black cockatoos)! Very envious of the Eastern Spinebill pictures, Ive been trying to take a good picture of one today for my blog, and failed! Great blog.

  6. Thanks fnkykntr - Ah! For me there were two secrets to learn. 1. I had to save up for a reasonable lens. 2. I discard millions (well maybe not millions) of failed shots :-) I've been trying to photograph spinebills for ages and I'm still not happy with the shots I'm getting but in the mean time it's great fun trying' as well as just watching the birds.