While we have been living in Palmerston in the Northern Territory I do miss our garden at home in Broome and all of our daily visiting birds. However I am able to visit Marlow Lagoon in town regularly and cycle there most days to observe the changing bird-life as the different trees flower. There is a huge variety of bird-life and by visiting at different times of day I have found over 65 species, with the highlight so far being the Black Bittern that I wrote of last week. It is a very peaceful place during the day and usually I am the only person present, but it is quite popular in the evening with dog walkers and they have an area where they are allowed to be “off-leash”.
During the first two weeks we were here there were Bar-breasted Honeyeaters and Dusky Honeyeaters feasting on the nectar, but the trees are no longer in flower and the remaining Honeyeaters are White-throated Honeyeaters, White-gaped Honeyeaters, Blue-faced Honeyeaters and Rufous-banded Honeyeaters. There are also still White-winged Trillers present that chase down the insects in the trees.
The islands are good refuges for birds and on closer inspection you will find Nankeen Night Herons. Once you establish a “white patch” on the leaf matter you look upwards and more than likely you will discover a bird sitting high up above that area. I have observed three Nankeen Night Herons on one island at Marlow Lagoon.
Nankeen Night Heron
Marlow Lagoon is an excellent place to observe the Kingfisher family and often I will see a Sacred Kingfisher sitting on the power line near the entrance. I have also observed up to six Forest Kingfishers at the lagoon and they are often catching and eating small frogs. They are one of the most colourful birds at the lagoon.
There is a huge population of Red-collared Lorikeets in Palmerston and they roost right in the city centre at night and cause quite a commotion as they all come in and roost. During the day they go out to feed and are relatively quiet and could be overlooked as they feed in flowering trees. The Red-collared Lorikeets have a bad reputation for “getting drunk” on fermenting fruit. It is almost that time of year, so I can expect to see a few falling out of trees soon! Other parrots and cockatoos include Galahs, Little Corellas, Red-tailed Black Cockatoos and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.
I have observed Double-barred Finch, Long-tailed Finch and Crimson Finch at the lagoon and occasionally Chestnut-breasted Mannikins. They nip down to the water briefly and then they are gone. It is the one species that has eluded Grant during his limited birding time while he works here. Surprisingly we have only the one bird that he has not seen and I have and I spend a lot more time out and about than he is able to!
Straw-necked Ibis and White Ibis are common around the water bodies in town and on the sports ovals. They are usually on the edge of the lagoon digging away in their search for food. There have been a pair of Green Pygmy-geese at the lagoon as well recently and they float around among the water-lilies.
Straw-necked Ibis and Green Pygmy-geese
There are small patches of reeds and often there are Great Egrets and Intermediate Egrets stalking prey. I was rather surprised to observe a grey morph Reef Egret stalking prey along the edge. Although it is not far to the coast it had found a place that was suitable for finding food and has remained there for some time now.
Reef Egret-grey morph
Black Kites and Whistling Kites soar overhead constantly at this time of year and every few days I will see a Brahminy Kite. There appears to be a Brown Goshawk that lives in the area and I will often see it swoop silently through and occasionally come down to the water’s edge to drink.
There are so many more birds I could mention of course and every visit offers variety and surprises and I will continue to visit Marlow Lagoon on a regular basis while we are in the Northern Territory.