Solandra Wetland’s Musk Lorikeets

4 Jan

Dear Reader

Last week, on a warm summer afternoon, I decided to walk down to the pond at the bottom of the street to photograph a pair of nesting Australian grebes. The pond is part of a chain of wetlands that feeds off the nearby creek and filters stormwater for use on local parks and gardens around Tea Tree Gully. It provides a welcome oasis for many species during the dry summer months and supports a small semi-permanent population of water birds.

Local pond

On the edge of the pond there are a few medium sized eucalyptus trees that flower this time of year. They have broad canopies adorned with either cream or coral blossoms and are a favourite destination of the local rainbow lorikeet tribe. As I passed the trees I could hear the raucous screech of feeding birds but the tone seemed a little different to the cacophony of sound that frequently greets me.  A quick glance confirmed that most of these parrots were musk lorikeets with just a smattering of rainbows amongst them.

Rainbow Lorikeet amongst white gum blossoms

Musk lorikeeets ( Glossopsitta concinna) are medium sized lorikeets between 20-30cms from head to tail. They use their brush tipped tongues to feed on pollen and nectar but will also eat some seeds, fruits and insects. They often travel in flocks and are usually found in dry woodlands where they nest in hollow branches. They are slightly smaller than rainbows and less common in this area.

Musk Lorikeet feeding on coral gum blossoms

I decided that the grebes could wait. And, while I have quite a good collection of rainbow pictures I rarely see more than a few Muskies and the chance to photograph them while feeding does not come along too often. They were endearing little animals to watch as they performed an extraordinary range of acrobatic movements. Sometimes they hung upside down to get their beaks into a bunch of blossoms; at other times they used it as a prehensile tool to climb along spindly branches. Despite their preoccupation with feeding they were still a little nervous and as I moved cautiously around the trees they scattered into the denser parts of the foliage making photography somewhat difficult.

Pair of Musk Lorikeets

I tried sitting quietly in some of the surrounding bushes closer to the pond and using the telephoto on full zoom. An equally unsuccessful manoeuvre, as the birds seemed to rarely feed on the outer blossoms as doing so would probably increase their exposure to local predators like harriers and falcons. Finally I adopted a more professional and scientific approach to the problem; walk slowly, keep shooting and hope for the best.

Musk Lorikeet pair bonding near nest hole

Dozens of frames later, with the light diminishing and more than a few bird droppings adorning my jacket, I left my flock of musk lorikeets to their meal and walked down to the pond for a quick look at the pair of grebes. One was repairing the nest and the other half hidden in the reeds at the edge. Australian Grebe building nest

Another post for another day



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