Saturday, November 03, 2007
It wasn't a great morning's birding at Peter Murrell reserve. I was feeling less than 100% as we'd hosted a dinner for visiting relatives from the UK, the previous evening. Coupled with that, was the presence of 3 stray dogs wandering around, and the incessant calling of recently fledged Forest Ravens. In woodland areas, I rely heavily on hearing birds call, both to ID them and of course, locate them, and with, perhaps, as many as 50 or 60 Ravens calling, it wasn't easy to concentrate. Most of the action was in the tree canopies, with Yellow Wattlebirds and Dusky Woodswallows, chasing off the Ravens, and Ravens chasing Ravens. I did get a brief view of a Brown Goshawk, as it passed over the treetops. After about an hour, I decided I'd had enough! As I neared the car park, I noticed a lone Grey Currawong flying towards a large gum, some distance away, and took a single shot (top left). I should confess here, that I really don't like the name Grey Currawong. Yes, I do know that elsewhere around Australia they are grey, but ours aren't! For many years, in Tasmania. they were 'officially' named Clinking Currawong, an admirable description of the call. I watched the Currawong for a while, as it levered bark off the gum, and delved deeply into the crevices to find insects. I was about to get into the car, thinking that my morning's birding was over, when said bird flew back into a group of small gums close by. Having photographed almost nothing of note all morning, I thought I'd try my luck. For a while I couldn't locate it, despite hearing an odd short call, and finally flushed it from the edge of the creek. Fortunately it propped in a nearby gum, where it proceeded to preen. Just as I was thinking that I had missed my best chance of photography, it flew back to the creek, had a brief drink before batheing. I took a few distant shots, before it resumed its perch in the gum. By now I was quite close, and therefore surprised when it came back to bathe yet again. As you can see in the lower shot, as it washes, it was well aware of my presence, and kept both of those piercing yellow eyes on me. Although Grey Currawongs are not uncommon, they do seem to be fairly thinly distributed, and I rarely see groups of more than 4 or 5 birds, unlike the Black Currawongs, which, particularly in Winter, may be seen in flocks of a hundred or more. In my neighbourhood, they visit gardens, usually in Winter, and cause total panic among the resident birds. Few, even the Noisy Miners, daring to get close, perhaps dissuaded by the Clinkers formidable looking bill.