Our Birds

The birds fly freely and brightly around KPS.  Because the river flows around the school, a number of water birds are regularly seen and heard.  The hoot of Dusky Moorhens is heard coming from the reeds, and perched on a log protruding from the water will be the small Pied Cormorant, perhaps a Darter, or one of the Black Cormorants.  On the water, the Black Duck is often seen along with the Grey Teal, and a pair of Wood Ducks will often be found on the riverbank, accompanied in spring by a gaggle of young ones.  The White-faced Heron drops in to patrol the water bank, or maybe the Pacific White-necked Heron.  While a few years ago Nankeen Night-Herons roosted in the willows across the river, today the most exciting bird to spot is the blue flash of the Sacred Kingfisher zooming across from a low branch in a Red Gum to a protruding stick on a submerged log.

Within the school grounds, a colony of Noisy Miners patrols the red gums showing aggression towards any White-plumed Honeyeater or Striated Pardalote dropping by.  But the beautiful Blue-faced Honeyeaters and the raucous Noisy Friarbirds are too big to be perturbed by the Miners.  The Little Friarbird with its "Get Real" call often dangles from a blossoming bunch of leaves, and the Yellow Rosellas zip by in small groups.  Eastern Rosellas are seen feeding on the oval low to the ground perhaps with Red-rumped Grass Parrots, both well-camouflaged compared with the Magpies strutting around looking for spiders or beetles, or the Magpie Larks chirruping to one another.

Suddenly the Miners and Magpies are in the air with warning calls and a Brown Goshawk is driven off through the trees.  They don't seem to mind the Black Kites or Whistling Kites that often drift over the school suspended on air.  Kookaburras are heard but none live in the actual school-grounds area.

In Winter, the Friarbirds and Kingfisher leave, and the Pied Currawongs arrive - usually at the start of May.  They may be found cleaning up around the rubbish bins, or just flying over to or from their evening roost on Gunbower Island.  Very rarely, the astonishing red breast of the Flame Robin may be seen in its Winter dispersal passing through.

The grape-vine in the school ground attracts Silver-eyes and the introduced House Sparrows.  Occasionally, the seldom-seen Crested Shrike-Tit comes out of the tree tops to peck at caterpillars on the vines also.  The Rufous Whistler sets up its glorious call, and at times the astonishing bell-notes of the Pied Butcherbird echo across the school.

In the trees, the chips and whistles of some Thornbills attract attention.  Are they the Little Thornbill, or the Yellow-Rumped Thornbill?  Hard to tell without binoculars.  The little Superb Fairy Wrens play and sing in the bushes and patient observing may reveal a Weebill, or perhaps a Western Warbler.  Meanwhile, a Willie Wagtail is calling from the playground, scolding a Little Raven, and on the roof, a pair of Crested Pigeons cuddles up.

A big mob of Galahs wheels by, sometimes stopping to feed on the grass.  Other flock birds sometimes seen are the Long-billed Corellas and the Straw-necked Ibis.  On the water towers opposite the school, a colony of feral Pigeons lives, and at various times, Welcome Swallows swoop in the air, circling the school from their nests under the bridge.

At night time, the Owls may be heard.  Boobook Owls give their distinctive 'mopoke' call, and perhaps the distinctive white face of the Barn Owl may catch in a night light as they swoop on a big moth.  The Tawny Frogmouth has been nesting at the school in an ash tree to the fascination of the students.  Also at night, the weird shrill call of the Bush Stone Curlew echoes through the night.  These rare and declining birds may even feed on the school oval at night, as they are certainly seen at several places regularly in Koondrook.

How many birds are mentioned in this story?

Our many thanks to Rev Geoff Leslie for this article.

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