Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gone to the Birds!

I think it could easily be said that I love bird watching. This is definitely something I have to thank my mum for. She has a keen eye for birds and always pointed out interesting ones on our walks or drives. A lot of our bird watching was done on our drives to Edmonton (45min north of where I grew up). It's a long stretch of mostly straight highway and a great spot for hawks and occasionally owls. Mum loves all birds but we seemed to do a lot of hawk watching which she seemed to excel at even while behind the wheel (my cousin once commented that she feared mum was spending more time hawk watching than paying attention to the road!).

A lot of die-hard bird enthusiasts might disagree with me when I say that birds in central Alberta are a bit boring. Sure we have blue jays but apart from that and a handfull of other birds, they lack a lot of bright, flashy colour.

Enter Australia. Land of exciting, technicolour birds!

Rainbow Lorikeets, Brimbank Park, Oct 27th 2009

Birds in Australia are for the most part, different. They are bright and of a variety that I'd previously only seen on TV, in zoos or in pet stores. This is what I like to call the "pretend bird" (kangaroos and koalas also qualify as "pretend animals"). That's the kind of bird that as a kid you could never imagine could actually live in the wild somewhere because they were just too awesome.
We had budgies and cockateils as pets growing up. Hi! They are wild here! (they also sell them in pet stores).

Red-rumped Parrot, Brimbank Park, Oct 27th 2009

I mentioned this a few posts ago but we've been trying to get out to the park by the house (google map Brimbank Park) as much as we can. We usually only make it on Glen's days off. Sometimes we'll dart over there after Glen gets off work for a quick walk.
This park is great for bird watching (there are also wallabies and a tonne of bunnies -- bunnies aren't looked upon very favourably here though) which is one reason why we keep going back.

So Glen had the day off yesterday and after going on some other adventures (we drove out to Sunbury) we made our way to the park. The first half of the walk was fairly uneventful. We went a different way than usual (we still haven't walked all the trails!) and mostly saw magpies. Once we hooked up with more familiar trails, we found ourselves in the "Rainbow Lorikeet Area" (ie: the place in the park where there are always TONNES of them).
Rainbow Lorikeets are tricky things to get pictures of. For one, they love to be high up in the trees and they seem to always be sitting in awkward places (photography wise). Behind branches or their favourite - in front of the sun so that they're back-lit. An interesting thing about them is that the colour of their feathers absorbs light instead of reflecting it making it even harder to get a clear picture (you should see how many pictures I have where the tree/etc looks great but the bird is too dark).

So we walked along the trail and stopped every so often to crane our necks to watch the lorikeets and then we saw a kookaburra! It was sitting fairly low in a tree which meant it was a great place to stand and watch it and take pictures.

Kookaburra, Brimbank Park, Oct 27th 2009

This part of the park has a "rabbit proof fence" so I couldn't get much closer (the fence only succeeds in keeping the people out as the rabbits have found ways to get through!). Glen walked a little ways down the trail while I was taking pictures then came to get me to tell me that there were some lorikeets low in a bush/tree and they should be in good picture taking range. Sure enough they were! I took a few pictures and then they flew even closer onto a branch right in front of me! Since I've been after a decent picture of these birds, it was quite a satisfying moment.

Rainbow Lorikeets, Brimbank Park, Oct 27th 2009

After our jaunt through the park we decided to try our luck at finding some Galahs, so we drove out to a place where Glen said they usually hang out but no luck. But the trip wasn't a total bust because we saw a bird that we'd never seen before - the Purple-crowned Lorikeet. We didn't realise what they were until we did a bit of research at home. All we knew was that we'd never seen them before and they were a type of parrot. They were very high up in a tree so I got a few pictures and once we were home, we zoomed (way) in to see if we could get any more identifying marks. The pictures weren't great but it was enough to help us narrow things down and finally make an identification. Exciting!

So that's pretty much what I'm doing in my spare time! Staring up into trees with my camera and bird book. I think the next thing I need is a pair of binoculars for when the birds are too high (an extra 100-200mm zoom wouldn't hurt either... I'm coveting a few lenses!).

Temperature: +19C
Sunrise: 6:18am
Sunset: 7:50pm


Rookie, Ernie, Kim & Ev said...

Great Pictures and tales Megan! Good to see you back on line & look forward to reading more of your adventures in Australia. Kim

Megan said...

Thanks!!! Hope you're doing well!