Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Setting Up Home.....Musk Lorikeets

I was feeling particularly depressed. I had just lost all my emails, and that was only one of a number of computer issues that I have recently suffered. I needed to get out. But I knew that the need to fix the PC would soon draw me back home, so I opted for the short trip to Lambert Park, Sandy Bay, in search of newly arrived Swift Parrots.
Arriving, I was confronted by the screeching of Musk Lorikeets as I opened the car door, but I thought I also heard a couple of Swift Parrots calling. I could be in luck. This time of year a couple of years ago, in this park, I watched a flock of about 40 Swift Parrots, feeding on the ground, I think it was probably on elm seeds. A repeat of that was uppermost in my mind (briefly forgetting the PC!). Unfortunately that wasn't to be, and I had to settle on watching other parrots. The Blue Gums were in full flower and the Muskies and Eastern Rosellas were making the most it. There were several Galahs and a few Green Rosellas to add to the list of parrots. Only a few metres from the car, several pairs of Musks were embroiled in a melee on the side of a eucalypt, with one pair appearing to defend a possible nest hole, about 3 metres up. The brief scrum over, I was intent on finding out whether they were indeed setting up home, and I took the accompanying images while I watched. The two birds sat at the entrance hole, and the male (based on the greater amount of head colour), splayed its tail, and quivered its body feathers. After doing that several times, they took to mutual grooming, mostly of neck feathers, before flying down to the ground. The male lorikeet then searched among the many gum flowers littering the ground, before presenting one to its mate (upper left image). Further mutual grooming, and an attempt at coition, which if it took place, was over in the blink of an eye, was followed by rather more aggressive 'grooming', as shown in the lower left shot. The two birds then sat side by side for sometime, before flying off.
A few metres higher up the tree, was another potential nest hole, this one defended by a pair of Galahs, in between bouts of chasing other pairs around the area.
Having failed in my primary goal of finding Swifties and feeling somewhat invigorated by all the action, I decided to widen my search to nearby Truganini Reserve. But that's another story!


Mosura said...

Great behavioral shots of the Musk Lorikeets. We don't see too many around here.(north-west Tas)

Anonymous said...

Interesting - I used to do regular counts in Lambert Park about 20 years ago and I don't think I ever had Musk Lorikeets there. David Milledge used to do counts there back in the 1960s and I don't recall him having recorded them there. He used to get all sorts of things, eg Pink Robins breeding in the valley above Churchill Avenue, which I never had. Muskies must be an expanding species.

BirdingTas said...

Hi Mosura,
Thanks for your comments. Musks have found that suburban parks and gardens are very much to their liking down South. In many areas I think it could be said that they've outstayed their welcome. They are very noisy feeders! Before the population explosion, they were more common in the East and South East, often in Banksia heaths, mainly during the warmer months, but we now have them year round.

BirdingTas said...

Hi Murray,
You've been away too long! Many parrots, Galahs, Sulphur-cresteds, and Musks in particular,have increased in numbers remarkably over the last ten years or so. Corellas and more recently, Rainbow Lorikeets are slowly building numbers too. This Winter I've also had far more Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos in my garden than ever before. I suspect that in their case, lose of more suitable habitat may be the cause.

mick said...

Great photos showing bird movement and action. So much easier to learn from shots like this than the studied poses in books.

BirdingTas said...

Hi Mick,
Thanks, the wonders of digital photography, but they did make it pretty easy for me! Can't wait for the time when broadband speeds enable it to be shown in real time as a movie file. Has the potential for being a great scientific and informational tool.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful action shots Alan. Great time to snap them when their minds are on other things!

On the subject of bearing gifts to a mate, the Cygnet SeaEagle was seen during the recent bout of bad weather, carrying a black cat back to the nesting territory - I would have thought that would have been worth a few points in bird world!

Kris McCracken said...

Great shots and great story!