Native birds have been very much on my mind over summer here in the Blue Mountains. For several weeks, a pair of lyre birds drove me crazy digging up my precious dendrobiums, scattering mulch the length of the driveway, exposing roots on scaevolas and croweas. On the upside, we have been entertained by wattle birds, spinebills, silver eyes, magpies, black cockatoos, butcher birds, parrots, … around the garden and at the water bowls.
My mind has drifted often to the birds (other than muttonbirds) we saw on Maatsuyker Island. I have always appreciated native birds and enjoyed their song, but I find them very hard to spot and even harder to photograph. As a result, I was not able to tick off many of the 54 species that have been recorded on Maatsuyker Island or the Needles.
The Green Rosella, Platycercus caledonicus, shown in the image above, is common on the island and we often saw them near our quarters. One day Marsha was watching them flitting about the gutters and concluded (correctly, as it turns out) that they were trying to nest in the roof. Towards the end of our stay, we often heard scratching above our ceiling. Our trusty caretaker, Roger, climbed up the ladder into the cavity and found two very cute newly hatched chicks.
Several times, on our walks to the Red Shed, we were lucky enough to spot Pink Robins (Petroica rodinogaster) near the track to the pool, aka Olympic Dam. We were not able to get very close to them, but although they are small, they were easy to spot with their beautiful lolly-pink coloured chests. One of the Christmas traditions on the island is for residents to stitch their mark onto the caretaker’s tablecloth. Here is Marsha stitching a Pink Robin to mark our visit. The thread is from some of the balls of wool I had taken to the island for my knitting project.
Also common are the Black Currawong, Strepera fuliginosa, and the Forest Raven, Corvus tasmanicus, that frequents the E. nitida forest on the summit. On our walks we also saw honey-eaters and many unidentified LBJs.
Often while quietly working away in Q2, we were serenaded by the repetitive “oom-oom” of the Brush Bronzewing, Phaps elegans. Its low, slow resonating call reminded me of a shortened version of our yoga “OMs”. And occasionally out the back porch window we would catch sight of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, feasting on the fruits of the thick shrubs.
Then there were the many captivating seabirds: the majestic White-bellied Sea Eagles, the effortlessly gliding Albatrosses, Petrels and the noisy Gulls. Many of the Albatrosses breed on nearby islands. The Shy Albatross breeds on Mewstone, approximately 6km from Maatsuyker. The Australasian Gannet breeds on Pedra Branca, about 50km to the SE.
A bird that had us scratching our heads for weeks was one we often saw on the rocks near the Gulch or on the track under the Lighthouse. It was a black bird with a bright red beak and pink/red legs. I think we decided it is a Sooty Oystercatcher…?