Cook’s Tour.

The Cook’s River Cycleway is one of those underrated Sydney classics: a 30km mostly off-road cycle path (give or take, and depending on where you consider the start and the end), that wends its way between many different landscapes – from industrial wastelands to landscaped parklands and Casuarina groves, mostly hugging one of Australia’s most polluted rivers! At times ugly and smelly, at times beautiful. Very Sydney!

On a strangely cool December day, Bramanda rode about half of it, and saw quite a few birds.

Starting with a mystery: we confess… we don’t know who this is. We would love it if anyone could reply with a identification of this bird.

Australian Pied Cormorants and Australian Pelicans were using the inflatable pollution booms as a lilo:

Magpie-lark Dad was showing his two fledglings how to forage in the mud, but they were noisily more intent on being fed, rather than learning to feed themselves:

A family of Australian Wood Ducks:

This fluffy young Pied Currawong was also being shown the ropes by a parent:

A pair of sleepy, fledgling Noisy Miner siblings hunkered together for warmth in the cool breeze. It made me sleepy just watching them:

At Boat Harbour (a tiny man-made dock that once served the historic sugar-mill) a pair of Tawny Frogmouths were roosting. We had heard that this family of Frogmouths were something of a fixture at Boat Harbour, so we were pleased to spot them on our visit.

At Beaman Park, a flock of Eastern Rosellas was feeding:

In Gough Whitlam Park, a Little Pied Cormorant dried his wings and was none too happy that I had interrupted him:

Also in Gough Whitlam Park, we happened upon this lovely Striated Heron, waiting for passing fish. As is always the way when we encounter Striated Herons, we spent ages here in the hope of him doing his “amazing telescopic neck” thing… sadly no luck this time:

Even though the fish were tiny by his standards – we’ve seen Striateds deal with much bigger catches – he seemed to be catching enough to make it worthwhile:


Eastern Block.

The Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius) is a quiet, wary, mid-sized parrot common in eastern Australia from south-east Queensland to eastern South Australia (with sub-species extending south into Tasmania, and further north to north Queensland).
They inhabit lightly-treed forests, forest edges, open parks and grasslands, and are right at home in suburban gardens and wildlife corridors.
They will forage in trees (particularly eucalypts) for insects, flowers and nectar, but are more usually seen feeding quietly on the ground, on grass and fallen seeds. This guy was feeding in the grounds of Concord Hospital.

The Eastern Rosella is perhaps the most colourful and distinctly-marked bird in Australia. Its red head, white cheeks and beak, yellow lower breast fading to green on the abdomen, dark green tail and bluish wings and lateral tail-feathers make it absolutely unmistakable. Their black wing-feathers fringed with yellow-green make for an effective camouflage pattern however, and they can be surprisingly hard to spot in foliage and long grass.

Eastern Rosellas nest in tree-hollows, ideally a metre deep and preferably in eucalypts. However, they are relatively enthusiastic users of nest-boxes and other artificial sites as well.
I recently came across this couple scoping out every possible nook and cranny in a suburban house in West Ryde.
The female chooses and prepares the nesting site, and this lady was leaving no crack or gap uninvestigated:

I assume this is the male looking on from the fence…

Even this claustrophobic gap was inspected. I’m thinking that if Easterns are being forced to consider spaces like this, perhaps we need to build or buy one or two Eastern-specific nest boxes.

Eastern Rosellas face competition for more than just hollows. The Noisy Miners’ diet is essentially the same as the Easterns’. Plus Noisy Miners are just inherently belligerent!

And finally, a handful of Eastern Rosellas we saw on a trip to Cowra and environs in 2020.

Birds Walk

Megalong Meander.

While on our mini-break in the Mountains, we took a drive down into Megalong Valley. We stopped at Coachwood Glen to stretch our legs on the short loop-walk through a patch of rainforest.

In the dense tree ferns near the end of the loop were a family of Brown Thornbills (Acanthiza pusilla). Only one of them was obliging enough to pose for photos though:

We drove on, parked at Megalong Cemetery, and walked the two-and-a-bit kilometres via Six Foot Track to Dryridge Estate Winery, where we planned to have a spot of lunch.

A Jacky Winter (Microeca fascinans). Sometimes called “Stumpbird”, “Post Sitter” or “Postboy” for its habit of perching on exposed fence posts or signs.

A Yellow-rumped Thornbill (Acanthiza chrysorrhoa):

The Yellow-rumped Thornbills were feeding in a large flock, but were moving so fast and so frequently that photography was a real challenge. As is often the way with small seed-eating or insectivorous birds, they often associate in mixed-species flocks when food is abundant. As well as a Jacky Winter or two, there were also a number of Double-barred Finches (Taeniopygia bichenovii):

After a relaxing wine or two with our cheeseboard lunch, we headed back to where we had left the car, racing the approaching rain. An Eastern Rosella perched among the vines to see us off.