Thursday, October 19, 2006

Swift Parrots

I think I may be suffering from Swift Parrot Neck Syndrome! Tipped off by Gillian Lord that there were fair numbers of Swift Parrots at Sandown Park, Sandy Bay, I spent a few hours trying to photograph them. This entails spending most of the time looking almost straight up at the tops of substantial flowering Blue Gums, desperately trying to find the parrots among the almost identically coloured gum leaves. I think I'm getting too old for this caper. By luck rather than skill, I managed to get a few useable shots when they decided to roost in a nearby Elm tree. The flock appeared to consist of around 60 individuals, some of them seemed to have paired. It was something of a smogasbord of parrot species, at least by Tasmanian standards, with both Green and Eastern Rosellas, Galahs and Musk Lorikeets also present. The presence of the latter made spotting the Swift Parrots all the more difficult. Most of the flock briefly fed on the ground, consuming the abundant Elm seeds. However, they were rather 'flighty', and the presence of numerous joggers, walkers and dogs, made approaching them difficult! They also fed in nearby non-flowering eucalypts, and for a while I puzzled over what the attraction was. As the bottom left photo. shows, they were licking off the lerps, or rather, they were eating the sugary coating that the lerp covers itself with. Sandown Park is well worth a visit at the moment, especially to watch the "swifties". Take your camera, you might just be lucky.
[A few facts about the Swift Parrot. It is an endangered species, with a population probably of less than 3000 birds. It breeds only in Tasmania. The vast majority migrating back to the Mainland after breeding. It probably has the longest migration of any parrot in the World.]

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