Bowerbirds and Babblers

At Ormiston Gorge is a near-permanent waterhole nestled below towering red quartzite cliff walls, surrounded with soft sand and shady eucalypts 135km west of Alice Springs. Honeyeaters were drinking from small pools, Black-fronted Dotterels darted along the water’s edge, a White-faced Heron patrolled the main pool, a pair of Whistling Kite added fresh leaves to their nest at the top of the tallest eucalypt and occasional flocks of budgerigars swooped overhead. We also saw Hooded Robins, Grey Shrike-thrush, Spinifex Pigeons, Western Bowerbirds and the red-breasted form of Grey-crowned Babblers: it was like being an extra in a David Attenborough documentary.

 

 Western Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus guttatus)

 

Western Bowerbird

 

The bowerbird’s yellow ochre underbelly is clear in the above image. It’s the same shade as the ochre traditionally used by the local Arrerente people which was gathered locally, including from the Ochre Pits, 50km west of Alice. These birds have adapted to life in the deserts of central Northern Territory and Western Australian.

 

Western Bowerbird

 

Western Bowerbirds have a bright pink or lilac nuchal crest which becomes more promenant when the feathers are erected.

 

Grey-crowned Babbler (Pomatostomus temporalis, race rubeculus)
This sub-species is also known as the Red-breasted Babbler

 

On the left is an immature bird who periodically hunkered down with its feathers fluffed and it wings held away from its body, trembling in the way typical of begging juveniles. The adult birds ignored its behaviour, it must be considered old enough to fend for itself. Immature birds have brown eyes, they do not become pale yellow until the bird is 2-3 years old.

 

Grey-crowned Babbler

 

The grumpy expression on this babbler’s face along with the errant feather makes it look as though its having a bad hair day. I really like the rich colouring of this sub-species. Grey-crowned Babbler are also known as Yahoo-birds due to one of their many calls.

After working on this post I’m feeling homesick for a place that isn’t home.

Happy birding, Kim

 

 

 

 

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