I got to Point Walter on the Swan River nice and early this morning and had a quick walk around to prepare for a bird walk. It wouldn’t be long before the Year 1 PEAC children from Penrhos College (and a few other local schools) arrived! It was great to have an intact remnant of Tuart habitat along the edge of the river complete with a walking track, which was ideal for our walk.
The children soon turned up and we headed off, spotting many Australian Ravens, and a few Galahs, one pair of which were chewing around their nest-hollow inside a gum tree. Further into the bush we found a raven’s nest high up in a tall fork, and spotted some Australian Ringnecks looking into one of the many nest-boxes we saw had been installed in the area. Blossoming Parrotbush plants grew thickly along our walk trail, and we saw many Red Wattlebirds foraging in them, chortling and coughing as they went! We talked about the specially designed ‘paintbrush’ tongue which is able to probe into flowers and absorb the nectar with ease.
We finished off the walk with a quick ‘treasure hunt’ for a bird’s nest which I’d found earlier, and hidden in the bush. The kids were soon bringing back handfulls of down feathers, and we learnt that this was from a duck’s nest inside another nest box close to the track. We learned how ducks use their own feathers to keep their eggs warm inside the nest, and how the baby ducklings have to jump to the floor when they hatch!
I spent the afternoon giving a some talks about Australian birds and local habitats to three wonderful classes of Year 5’s back at Penrhos College. Most of our session was in the classroom, where we talked about the Banksia woodland habitat and the variety of Honeyeaters that live in it. We also learnt how humans have cleared much of the Banksia woodland, and that many birds have disappeared because of this.
To finish of the sessions, I took the girls outside and we had a quick look for birds at the school. I also showed them some feathers and a few birds’ nests, and we thought about some ways to detect birds other than looking for them: finding feathers, spotting nests and listening for songs and calls. In a highly modified environment (with pine trees and many introduced plants), I didn’t expect to see many local native species. However, we heard a Brown Honeyeater calling, saw a few Australian Ravens and even watched one dipping some food in the bird bath. But the highlight of the day was finding a Grey Butcherbird nesting about 4m above the ground in a Silver Birch tree, RIGHT at the school’s front entrance!! I’d brought in a butcherbird nest to show, thinking this would be something the girls might not see in their area – how wrong I was! Being so used to people, we were able to watch the butcherbirds flying to their nest in front of us without being worried. What a learning opportunity! I climbed the nest to take a photo before leaving, and found 3 wonderful eggs!
This is what they look like:
The Year 5’s will now be keeping close tabs on the nest to check its progress, and are hoping to see chicks very soon!Thanks to all the fabulous teachers for having me talk to their children today, and to the children for their enthusiasm and interest to learn new things!