An early morning walk...3rd February 2013

on 05 Mar 2013 

Another beautiful morning at Naree..... It is 7am and the sun has just appeared over the treeline as I wander out of the house yard heading down the front track towards the shallow end of the lagoon. The first patch of vegetation – Bimble Box, Western Boobialla, emu-bushes, and sennas – give me cover to observe some wildlife for awhile.  I find a spot where there are no ant trails.

A family of Variegated Fairy-wrens dart amongst the shrub layer, chasing insects. This must be their territory as they are here most mornings when I visit. A mudlark calls, another replies. Black-fronted Dotterel forages along the ‘shoreline’, its mate not too far away. The artesian bore water drains out into shallow waters and mud flats providing ideal conditions for reeds and other riparian plants. Willie Wagtails flit here and there disturbing insects with their constant movement. Small groups of Black-tailed Native-hens peck at reeds and grasses growing in this riparian zone. They sometimes venture up the track and into the house yard where open green lawns beckon. At present they are still hanging around the lagoon where the reeds and shrubs give them cover.

A Brown Falcon flies in and perches on a branch overlooking the lagoon. I watch it as it surveys the area for activity. For a few minutes it sits quietly. I return my focus to the water’s edge where two small birds have flown in for a drink. Never having seen this species before I take note of their shape, colour, markings and call. They are a species of woodswallow and the colour is a most beautiful chocolate brown. (Back at the house later my Simpson and Day verifies they are Little Woodswallow.) A third one flies to the water and they all cautiously take a few drinks. My attention is diverted back to the Brown Falcon. It suddenly swoops down behind a shrub and momentarily out of view. Without landing it picks up a small bird in its talons and flies off. I cannot see what species of bird it has in its grasp – all I can see is a lump of feathers and no movement. I assume death is swift in a vice-like grip. I look back at the woodswallows – there are still three individuals. I give a sigh of relief! A little while later the Brown Falcon returns to its perch. It flies to a higher branch and proceeds to preen itself, breakfast over.

Further down the bore drainage line some parrots are drinking – Mallee Ringnecks and Blue Bonnets. What great names for some beautiful parrots. Some happily stand at the water’s edge and take a drink, others bend down from a branch, constantly looking between sips. Then they fly back up into a nearby dead tree before taking off to feed for the day. The vegetation this season is lush. Grasses cover dried up lakebeds and provide much seed for  seed-eaters like parrots. Many wattle bushes are loaded with fruit full of seed also, providing a varied diet. I look back to where the woodswallows were drinking – they have flown away.

White-plumed Honeyeaters like to splash and drink at a particular spot along the drain. This spot provides a few dead branches in and near the water, allowing the honeyeaters to perch on branches or twigs. From there they bend down to take a drink or fly into the water, splash, and quickly fly out again. Back on the branch they can preen themselves or else take another dip. Three Yellow-throated Miners join them.

As the sun gets higher in the sky the temperature warms a little. Crested Pigeons fly in and land on a dead branch. Their landing habit is a source of amusement to me as they overbalance, tail up and then back down as they right themselves. The dead shrub they have occupied is a perfect vantage point to keep an eye on their immediate surrounds. The landscape is littered with trees and shrubs that have some or many dead branches, making great lookout posts for birds. These dead limbs also provide many hollows of varying width and depth for native animals to roost and nest in.

Further ahead three Majors are feeding on the ground. They walk a few paces and stop to feed, eating seed from the ground or picking up a grass stem, holding it to their beak with a claw - a perfect balancing act done many times before. They are not fussed with my presence as I slowly get a little closer for a photo shot. Soon they fly to the water’s edge and take a drink.

Before I turn back towards the house I spy two young boars moving towards me and the lagoon. They are oblivious to my presence behind thick cover and come very close, with a Willie Wagtail perched on the back of one pig. A few photos are quickly taken before I make a sound and alert them to my presence. They turn around and trot off with the Wagtail abandoning the free ride.

Dianne Davies