Monday, July 18, 2011

Mellow Yellow

As I may well have said before, there is one outstanding advantage in having your own “backyard” birding patch; you get to know your local avifauna. The regulars are there or, if they suddenly cease to be there – and it’s not the migratory season- then you soon notice. You may never know the why this or that particular species has suddenly stopped being among the more common residents or at least frequent visitors but you become aware of the situation and mull over the possibilities. Fay and I continue to mull over the sudden exit of our Yellow-faced Honeyeaters Lichenostomus chrysops; the demise of the Speckled Warblers Chthonicola sagittata and White-throated Scrubwrens Sericornis frontalis could be feasibly accounted for because of the decade-long drought which decimated the understorey, thus depriving these skulkers of adequate cover.

Nevertheless, overall, a backyard patch allows you to become intimately familiar with your local birds.

Occasionally the set routines are pleasantly disturbed by the unexpected arrival of an avian stranger, or at least an infrequent caller.

The other day, while walking through the wooded northwest quadrant of our property, an area set aside as sacrosanct to the wildlife and not to be interfered with by us throughout our sojourn at Allen Road, we suddenly heard the distinctive call of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus funereus. It took a little craning of necks, bending of backs to see around or over various shrubs and trees but we soon spotted movement further down [west] Allen Road. Fay counted four flying across the road. A moment later and we heard the plaintive cry of a juvenile cockatoo wanting to be fed.

By the time we had returned to the house, a long list of chores awaited our attention, the Yellow-tails sounded as if they had swung around and were closer to our own property; then on our property, somewhere in the wooded southwest quadrant and another calling from directly west [in Rudolf’s former place]. Fay spotted the two from the southwest; I saw one alight in a tree just on the other side of the western fence.

We stopped our various tasks and looked closer. One Yellow-tailed flew across to the tall, but sadly dead, tree on the edge of the track leading to the front gate. From this lookout post it called incessantly and before long five other Yellow-tails flew across the property, collected the lone pleader and all six disappeared further east along Allen Road.

Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos are more an uncommon than a rare occurrence along Allen Road but they come infrequently enough to cause at least a mild stir in the bosom of any local birders.

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