Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Nature Notebook


Birds  have been the major focus we've had for the past month in our nature study. It never ceases to surprise me how often we see a bird we'd never seen before even in just our own area.

Unfortunately, we don't always get a photo, or a decent one at any rate, before they fly off, but we try & note specific features such as colour, size & shape of the beak, long tail feathers, general size of the bird and the noise it makes.

Usually we can get a good enough description to compare our observations with photos in our bird book - or we can narrow it down to a couple of choices.

These are some birds we've managed to get photos of just recently.

Magpie-Lark 

(Grallina cyanoleuca) Commonly known as a peewee because of the sound it makes and is apparently neither a magpie or a lark. I think this one is a male and he came tapping on the window at a friend's house about half an hour's drive from us. We haven't seen them around here as they avoid the densely wooded areas.


Australian Wood Ducks 

(Chenonetta jubatta) Not a great photo; the female is on the left, male on the right of the photo. These actually landed in a tree next to the house and because we've only seen mallard ducks in our area we didn't recognize them as ducks - they have longish necks & look a bit like geese. We found them running around in a garden up the road & took the photo there.


These photos of water birds were taken on the weekend on the Central Coast (New South Wales) on Lake Munmorah. We definitely don't see any of these birds near us although we did see a White Faced Heron on a football oval nearby.


Australian Pelican

(Pelecanus conspicillatus) The name says it all! Unmistakeable. 
The smaller birds are Little Pied Cormorants (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos).
A group of cormorants are called a 'gulp'! 

Later in the day a pod/squadron of pelicans came sailing majestically across the lake - I didn't have a camera, unfortunately.



I think this bird with the striking coral beak is a Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia).
I only saw this one on its own.


This looks like either an Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia) or a Great Egret (Ardea alba).

The Great Egret has a distinctive, long, kinked neck - which I think this one has - but if anyone can tell me for sure I'd appreciate it.




A unique  book we used as a read aloud was The Birds, Our Teachers, by Dr. John Stott.

There are estimated to be 9,000 different species of birds in the world and the author has seen about 2,500 of them in his travels and in this book he combines biblical truths and his own  experiences with information about birds (he calls this 'orni-theology').

Expanding  on Martin Luther's exposition on the Sermon on the Mount,

 'You see, He is making the birds our schoolmasters and teachers......We have as many teachers and preachers as there are little birds in the air,'

he demonstrates how the birds teach us about such things as faith, gratitude, repentance, and joy.
The book is well illustrated  throughout and includes birds from many different parts of the world.

Australian Brush Turkey

(Alectura lathami) This is one bird we don't like having around mainly because it might decide to build a nest in your garden - if you're happy to have a hill about 4 metres in diameter and 1 metre high then go ahead and let them stay - we always chase them away. I must admit we've seen a couple of baby brush turkeys and they are very cute.

They  behave a bit like chickens - scratching around on the ground etc.-
actually we had one today who thought he was a chicken - he got into their shed and was eating their food until he saw me and took off very heavily over the fence, but they are larger and can get quite aggressive towards cats and dogs.

This is him on the run. The (breeding) male has a bright red neck.




3 comments:

  1. Gorgeous photos! We love our birds too. In fact, bird study would be the most successful part of our 'nature study' to date. I find it easier than plants and flowers which tend to lose me a bit. I think I need some good field guides to help me in the other areas!

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  2. I suppose it's because they've got personality. I'm still getting the hang of our digital camera and probably end up deleting half of the photos I take.

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  3. A gulp of cormorants. I did not know that.

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