Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cunnamulla bird life

The bird life in Cunnamulla is perfect for any beginner twitchers. On the road into town we saw an emu with his five chicks. Something I didn't know was that chick stealing is rife, with males trying to take over broods from other birds. While I didn't see it, a local told us of one male who currently has twenty chicks in his brood. Incredible thought! All those mouths to feed. I saw galahs and short billed corellas in large numbers - a flock of corellas must have numbered in the hundreds. We also saw the local gaggle of geese. This group lives down on the banks of the Warrego River, seeming right at home, evidently well loved (and fed) by locals. The birds that amazed me the most were the swallows. They nest at this time of year under the eaves of local buildings. While the local NAB has the most nests, it was those outside of the window of the Paroo Shire Council building that I was best able to observe. It really was a privilege to spy on these guys through the window. The nests are made of mud. Constructed in such a way that they cling to the eaves, with a bulge to hold eggs/babies, which then has a tube like entry point for the parent bird to squeeze in and out of to gain access to the nest. Made of mud the mind boggles at how many thousands of trips backwards and forwards the swallows must make with a mouthful of mud, to add to the construction. The nest ends up being sort of striped, and quite beautiful. I can only imagine this is because the source of the mud changes, or dries at a different rate. Actually I have no idea what causes the stripes, but I am in awe of these little birds. I know little about swallows, but do know that some are migratory travelling huge distances, so can only assume that these little guys fly half way around the world, then on arrival have to build their nest. What a mammoth effort! Postscript - since returning home I have perused my trusting Field guide to Australian birds, and am pleased to report that these little guys actually seem to be Martins, not Swallows....oops.

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