From the archives – mid August 2016
Out of all the birds I’ve photographed over the last 8 years, the Spotted Turtle-dove (Streptopelia chinensis) has become my favourite (except for the Nankeen Night Heron).
I guess this is partly because they became quite tame and allowed me to get very close to them (when I was living on the north-east side of Melbourne. Once they discovered my bird seed bowl), I suspect they relayed the message to all their friends as my previous apartment was overlooking a dark steep laneway and warehouse and possibly not visible to most of the avian population in the area.
I’ve only seen on dove on my balcony fence in my current location and then, was too slow bringing the camera up to my eye in order to photograph it.
Even when they weren’t standing on my balcony fence, they were ‘roosting’ on the warehouse roof opposite. The 2 Spotted Turtle-doves in the image below were not fat, merely had their feathers plumped up as they huddled together in the early morning chill of mid-Winter.
I used to call them Tweedledum and Tweedledee from that well-known classic children’s book my C.S. Lewis.
I often awoke to the sound of doves cooing in the morning. I suspect they were calling me to come and fill the seed bowl.
The tamest of all is the one below, easily identified by the tiny tuft of feathers above its right eye.
Sometimes they would move suddenly from the fence to the seed bowl and I wouldn’t have time to zoom out with the telephoto lens in order to capture their whole body within the frame. I have plenty of images with their legs chopped off.
Many of the other dozen or so doves that came to visit regularly were slightly less tame and would raise their wings ready to take flight if I got too close.
I haven’t noticed any special feather pattern in the House Sparrows that visit my current apartment balcony regularly and the only way I can get really close is by using the 150-500mm lens and keeping very still so as not to scare them away (as I sit at my desk).
New Years Day’s feeding frenzy, when I put out some birdseed, yielded some better shots and a new visitor yesterday.
A Spotted Turtle-dove (Streptopelia chinensis) dropped in for lunch. I think this is only the second time I’ve seen this species on my balcony. Quite clearly all the spilt bird seed was a big attraction. Unbeknown to me, much had fallen in the empty planter box hanging over the side of the balcony rail.
(Note: long-time followers will remember the Spotted Turtle-doves not only visited my 3rd floor previous apartment on the north-east side of Melbourne, but several eventually became very tame and I could fill the bird-seed and water bowls 6″ away from where they stood on the fence. One bird even hopped inside my open balcony door and inspected my lounge room, but upon stepping on my wool rug, it quite clearly didn’t like the surface and eventually flew back outdoors – Phew! Just as well too. I’d hate to have to chase a dove around my lounge room trying to catch it and put it outdoors).
After a couple of quick shots, I thought yesterday’s Dove had flown away and went back to my computer work, but it was merely playing hide and seek.
This empty long planter box is awaiting a visit to the nearby Hardware/Plant Nursery Warehouse to get some more potting soil. My brother gave me a Basil and Italian Parsley seedling together with a book & dvd on Gardening in a Small Space for Christmas and the poor little plants keep wilting in the hot sun, so a shopping expedition is sorely needed.
I am hoping there are no visitors today so that I can finally get out the front door to do some much needed fresh food & plant nursery shopping.
I think all the long-term Followers will agree – this is the best couple of weeks for avian visitors since I moved to the western suburbs of Melbourne 15 months ago.
We have several beautiful Doves and Pigeons in Australia, but I’ve only seen 6-7 in the wild.
Back in 2014, I photographed one that normally lives in the northern warmer states in woodland, forest and scrubby parkland with fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, and its a beauty. Initially I saw it in the humidity of the Butterfly House at Melbourne Zoo, but it was not until many zoo visits later that I saw it in its own large enclosure and found out its name.
The Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove is medium-sized and spectacularly coloured. The female is slightly less so, but they do have a loud distinctive cooing sound. I wish I could see one in the wild because although we have large, well landscaped enclosures at Melbourne Zoo, it’s not really the same thing. Actually, we have many wild birds, large and small, that are wild in the Zoo, no doubt attracted to the regular feeding times.