Monday, April 27, 2015

Black Swan

One of my favourite books in finance is Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s "The black swan", a term he popularized to mean "An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult to predict." The chance sighting of this pair of Black Swan ( Cygnus atratus , the scientific name means ‘a swan attired in black’, ) was something like a 'Black swan' event itself. A series of unplanned events, led my wife and me to a place called Hunter wetland center, where we spotted this pair.
We spent quite sometime, watching this graceful pair. Black swans are naturally found in in the wetlands of south western and eastern Australia and were hunted to near extinction in New Zealand, where they are successfully reintroduced now.  These birds are exclusively herbivores and feed on aquatic plants and algae. The swan is the state emblem of Western Australia and appears on the state flag.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Satin Bowerbird

When I started birding in Australia there were three birds that I wanted to see; Kookaburra, Satin Bowerbird and the Lyre bird. I have already posted about the Kookaburra, today is the turn of the Bowerbird. To my dismay, I did not sight a male Satin bowerbird ( Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) - but was quite delighted seeing a female. Bowerbirds themselves are quite drab looking birds, nothing eye catching about their appearance or colour. But what is quite fascinating, is what the male does to woo the female. The male builds an elaborate structure and decorates it with various artifacts- they could be anything raging from shells, petals, parrot feathers, berries to mirror pieces, ball pens, clips and other man made objects. They however prefer objects with blue colour or even the ones that shine. Once the structure ( called bower) is built the female inspects it and if she likes it mates with the builder. What the male has built is actually not a nest- but just a structure. The female now has to build her own nest and lay her eggs- while the male goes his merry ways.
I did not spot a bower in the wild, however I did see one in the Natural History museum at Sydney. The third photograph is from this place, and displays a bower with two stuffed birds. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Pacific Black Duck

The Pacific black duck (Anas superciliosa), featured today is  predominantly brown duck- the only black feathers it has are a thin stripe near its eyes. In New Zealand, they are called the grey ducks, again they hardly have any grey colour on them; who says taxonomists are predictable ? The bird is found throughout most of Australia, and the Pacific. Recreational hunting (Isn't this word Oxymoron?) of this duck is permitted in some Australian states. We had a lovely time with the sociable duck though.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wandering whistling duck

It was raining very heavily and going by their demeanor these Wandering Whistling ducks (Dendrocygna arcuata ) did not like the rain a bit.  They spent most of their time (we were there for a whole day) on a tree top rather than on water.
The are called whistling duck because  of the loud whistling calls and the whistling noise their wings make during flight. Wandering because, they keep migrating from permanent wetlands along the coast to ephemeral ones that are formed inland during wet weather.
These birds feed on aquatic vegetation, seeds, the bulbs of plants and other herbage, insects and small aquatic animals. Pairs mostly bond for life.