2022—Superb!

The Superb Fairy Wren is a small, colorful bird that is common and familiar across south-eastern Australia. One afternoon we visited one of the large back lawns at O’Reilly’s where a small flock of these adorable birds was flitting about. Much of the time they were running across the lawn looking for grubs to eat but this male landed on a leafy bush and called out to his companions.

2022—Skyline

Sydney’s iconic Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge are usually what identifies Sydney’s skyline. But the cityscape south of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, as viewed from Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens is very appealing because of the whimsical nature of the buildings. Not only do they have interesting shapes and dimensions, they are colorful as well. Their colors show up even as the sky darkened with the incoming storm.

2022—The Sydney Opera House

In 1973, Queen Elizabeth II officially opened what was to become Sydney’s iconic Opera House in Australia. It was fitting, then, that she was honored with her likeness projected onto the largest sail of the Opera House after her death on September 8. We were told that it would only be up for only a couple of days but when we arrived in Sydney on September 13 and walked by the Opera House after sunset, the tribute remained and we saw it every evening we were there. Before we went to dinner late one afternoon, we photographed the Opera House from across the channel where the ferries come and go. It was quite the challenge to photograph the iconic site without a ferry cruising by at that time of day, probably rush hour for the ferries. The mellow sun and clouds announcing a pending storm made the Opera House glow.

2022—Allopreening

When a bird preens the feathers of another bird, or when two birds preen each other, as is very common in parrots, it is called allopreening. This behavior tends to strengthen the bond between mated pairs but allopreening occurs between unmated birds and even between birds and humans. These two Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, allopreening in Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens a few days ago spent quite a long time preening each other’s feathers. I have some experience with allopreening between a bird and a human. My Red-lored Amazon, Bobo, puts her head on my lap so I can preen her head feathers. She turns her head to let me know where she wants to be preened. I do NOT ask her to return the favor!

2022—Rainbow

The Rainbow Lorikeet is one of the most colorful parrots, maybe one of the most colorful of all birds. Its spectacular feathers include every color of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. We watched a pair of wild Rainbow Lorikeets from a few feet away as they perched in a nearby tree in The Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens. It was a special sight to see. Its mate had just flown off when I took this shot. It seems to be awaiting the mate’s return. I thought I had a colorful companion parrot, a Red-lored Amazon whose intense green and red feathers combined with yellow and blue feathers, make her my year-round Christmas ornament. But while Bobo’s colors are intense, they are drab by comparison to this gorgeous bird.

2022—Grey Shrike-thrush

Shrike-thrush, Shrike-thrush, Shrike-thrush! Say that three times quickly! We encountered Grey Shrike-thrushes every day as we walked through the rainforest and on the grounds at O’Reilly’s in Lamington National Park. It is a common bird and lives throughout most of Australia. Every time someone pointed to it, I couldn’t say Shrike-thrush once, let along three times. I believe this is a juvenile Grey Shrike-thrush because of the rufous brow and dark streaks on its breast, information gleaned from one of the Australian bird reference e-guides I used on this trip, the Morcombe & Stewart Guide to Birds of Australia. It also seems to have that irresistibly cute baby bird look about it.

2022—Acrobat

The Sulphur-crested Cockatoos in the Royal Botanical Gardens of Sydney, Australia are delightful birds that even in the wild tolerate human interaction and provide entertainment to visitors. These large white parrots seem to enjoy showing off their acrobatic prowess. This particular bird seemed intent on dangling from the metal chain that surrounded a protected area of the gardens, sometimes using a single claw or its beak or, as in this shot, three points of contact. Native to eastern Australia, it has been declared an agricultural pest in some portions of Western Australia.

2022—Snake Bird

It’s called a Snake Bird, and Australasian Darter, similar to the Anhinga that we see in Florida. We first spotted it from the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens as it swam submerged in the bay, looking like a small version of the Loch Ness Monster. Just its head and long neck protruded from the water, it’s body completely under water. When it had found its fill of dinner, it hopped out of the water onto a rocky outcrop and spread its wings to dry them off so it could fly. It took quite a while, late in the afternoon and not in direct sunlight so we got quite the show. It was especially fun to watch the waves crash behind it and frame its body.

2022—Nesting

Seeing an Eastern Yellow Robin’s nest in Lamington National Park in Australia was an unexpected treat. The nests are are a basket like structure of sticks in the crotch of a tree and decorated with lichen. The male feeds the female while she sets on the nest. We could tell when the male was coming to the nest with an offering because the female would suddenly start to call out and quiver. The visit was over in a fraction of a second when the male delivered a grub or insect to the female very quickly.

2022—Gathering Fuzz

We spent an afternoon on one of the large lawns of O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat watching a small flock of Superb Fairy-wrens searching for tiny insects in the grass and in the surrounding garden shrubs. The female Superb Fairy-wren does not have the distinctive blue and black feathers that adorn the male of the species. They are fairly drab by comparison except for the orange feathers surrounding the eye. I watched this female perched atop a fern frond, tugging on a clump of white fuzz of some sort and pulling off bits of it. Perhaps it was potential nesting material. The fuzz did not look like it was any kind of natural garden substance; it looked like polyester stuffing so its appearance on a fern frond was a bit puzzling.

2022—Macleay’s Swallowtail

While I was waiting my turn to photograph the Satin Bowerbird’s bower in Lamington National Park, I noticed a green and white butterfly sipping nectar from a large shrub. I had never seen a butterfly with such distinctive green coloring and I thought it might be a type of Swallowtail because of the small dark tails on the wings. Turns out it is in the Swallowtail family, a Macleay’s Swallowtail. The green appears only on the underside of its wings but from the angle I viewed it, I never saw the butterfly from the top. With its coloring it blended perfectly with the surrounding shrubs.

2022—Paying Tribute

The second Elizabethan Era has come to an end. Australia is a Constitutional Monarchy so Elizabeth II was Queen of Australia as well as of the United Kingdom and Australians are paying tribute. We spent the afternoon walking around Sydney and visited the grounds around Government House, the official residence of the Governor of New South Wales, where thousands of bouquets and messages of condolences lined the fence surrounding the residence. The Sydney Opera House paid tribute as well. After sundown, the largest sail of the Opera House displayed a photograph of the queen that dominated the harbor.

2022—Crack That Whip, Again!

Few bird sounds in the Australian rainforest are louder, more distinctive, and more obvious than the call of the Eastern Whipbird, pictured above. When a pair of these birds is nearby, the call, sounding more like a cracking whip than a bird song, is unmistakable. It can be deafening if the birds are nearby which they often are, foraging in the underbrush along the side of the boardwalk in Lamington National Park. The first time you. hear it, it is startling. It is a call and response form of communication that the male and female Whipbirds use. It is so distinctive and it is not easily forgotten. No matter where you might be in the rainforest, when you hear the sound of a cracking whip, you know that the Eastern Whipbird is nearby.

2022—Regent Bowerbirds

A graphic depiction of the stunning male Regent Bowerbird is used as the logo for O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat in Lamington National Park in Queensland, Australia. The males and females are quite different in appearance but are both quite beautiful. The males construct a bower decorated with items like shells and leaves that will attract females. The first image is a male, the second, a female.

2022—Dew Drops and Fairies

The Superb Fairy Wren is a very tiny bird that lives in the Southeast part of Australia, including Queensland in the midst of Lamington National Park. These tiny wrens seem never to keep still. We followed a couple of pairs around the O’Reilly’s compound as they searched for something to feast on. The grass was still covered with dew in the early morning when we went looking for them and this little male Superb Fairy Wren has a couple of dew drops on his cheek feathers, the result of foraging in the dewy grasses.

2022—Waiting to Join the Frenzy

Australian King-Parrots in Lamington National Park in Queensland, Australia seem to have adjusted well to the presence of humans in their range in Coastal Eastern Australia. Here at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat in the midst of Lamington National Park, they know that humans sometimes are a source of treats and they will gather excitedly in nearby trees and watch for anyone they think might have one to give them. Large groups of Crimson Rosellas and King-Parrots gather excitedly to watch and wait. It is quite the show as the gregarious birds fly from one person to another, then perch atop cameras, lenses, and flashes. They will land on shoulders, arms and heads by ones, twos, and even threes. One landed on top of my flash while I was handholding the rig, throwing the rig out of balance and making it a bit unwieldy. Another bird was comfortable enough to eat something while perched atop my camera gear, then to wipe its beak off on my flash. I guess I’m lucky that I avoided getting whitewashed by the swarm of birds surrounding us in the roadway at O’Reilly’s. This male, perched on a branch overlooking the walkway, looks as if he is searching for an opening so he could join in the frenzy. I can attest to the fact that the claws on their feet are quite sharp and it took a while for the sensation of a Parrot dancing on my head to subside.

2022—Reflecting at the Beach

The little Piping Plovers that we photographed at the Salisbury Salt Marsh Wildlife Area were absolutely adorable. This little one seemed to be trying to see its reflection as it dug into the sand with its beak in search of something edible. When there is a tiny surface of water over the sand, these little shorebirds will scuffle their feet back and forth in an effort to uncover a delectable morsel to eat.

2022—Small Bite

Many small shorebirds look so much alike it’s nice to have Merlin’s photo ID app to help with identification once I’ve taken the photograph. This is a Semipalmated Sandpiper, still in its breeding plumage, taken on Red River Beach on Cape Cod, Massachussetts. It has extracted some sort of morsel from the surf debris and is attempting to move it into its throat to swallow it by manipulating its beak.