Saturday, 6 October 2012

Choughs and things in the rain.

The catalyst for this post was a nesting White-winged Chough reacting to rain.
I have never seen a bird spread its wings out in this way to keep the rain out of the nest.  Of course, preventing the entry of water becomes more important if your nest is a bowl of compacted mud rather than a leaky collection of twigs grass and feathers.

Following on from Ian Fraser's recent post about bird names the name 'Chough' for this species draws on an apparent similarity of appearance between this species and a couple of Northern Hemisphere species.  Of those, the Red-billed Chough would have been more familiar to the European folk who probably named the Australian species.  The European examples are corvids (aka Crows etc) while the Australian species are one of two species in the Mud-nest builders (Corcoracidae) which they share with Apostlebirds.  As shown in this graphic, from "Bird Families of the World" ed C J O Harrison, the two families are quite a bit a bit apart on the evolutionary tree.  Crows are ringed in red, Mud-nest builders in green.
I did look down as well as up.  This let me see the very good crop of Glossodia major (Waxlip orchids) coming into full glory and the Hymenochilus cycnocephala beginning to elevate their buds.
In case anyone marvels at my skills in identifying orchids at that stage of development I'd point out that I saw what flowered in that place in previous seasons!

Also looking down there were a myriad of tiny moths of a number of species flying through the Kunzea.  As it was raining I did't like to have my camera out for too long and thus didn't get any images.  However, taken in conjunction with Denis Wilson's comments about termites at Robertson this probably explains the flocks of insectivorous Woodswallows seen in the Canberra area recently.