Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Swans versus Hawks - The birds behind the teams! #aflgf

Well I do love my Aussie Rules Football and it's Grand Final week in Melbourne so here's a post about one of the best games in the world!

The birding link?

Well, this year's Grand Final combatants are the Sydney "Swans" and the Hawthorn "Hawks". The birder in me wanted to understand a little more about the choice of team mascot and logo design for these clubs. Would I be satisfied that they have a worthy connection with Australian birds? If not, why not?

(If you have 5 minutes you can watch the highlights from the classic 2012 Grand Final also played between the Hawks and Swans....)

We'll start with the Sydney Swans. The Swans were originally the Victorian-based South Melbourne Football Club. The club was transferred to Sydney in 1982 as the League was trying to expand to become a national competition. South Melbourne was originally founded in 1874. They played with a red and white jumper (red sash on white) and were known as "The Bloods".
It was not until the 1930s that the name "The Swans" came about. A journalist (Hec de Lacy) referred to the club as The Swans in articles written having a dig at an influx of Western Australian players at the time (the state of Western Australia has always featured Australia's Black Swan on its flag and coat of arms).

Black Swan, Cygnus atratus, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat, Vic
South Melbourne Football Club (1930s)
Why white swans and not black then? The club's home ground (Lake Oval) was at Albert Park Lake which was home to some introduced white swans. This fact as well as the prominent white background in the team colours meant that the Black swan was overlooked when designing logos! A Wikipedia article says that the "Feral white swans were removed from the park between the 1980s and 1990s".

Here's a few of my favourite shots of Australia's Black swan!

Deen Maar, Victoria 
Cygnets aboard, Swan Lake, Phillip Island
Keeping an eye on the raptors, Fisher's Wetland, Phillip Island
Not so graceful when landing
Bruny Island
Black swans among the godwits and oystercatchers at Observation Point, Phillip Island

The Hawthorn football club was nick-named the Mayblooms after a plant that apparently flowered profusely in the local area. A transformation followed a newspaper report of a pre-match address at which the coach Roy Cazaly urged the players to play like hawks.

My Australian Bird Names book (Fraser & Gray) says of the name:
"Hawk, from the old english hafoc, just meant any raptorial bird. it is still used today with much imprecision."
When logos arrived in 1977 the initial design featured a fairly non-specific raptor in flight.

I am pleased to say that the modern logo happens to strike a semblance with that pair of the most "hawkish" of Australian raptors - the Brown Goshawk and Collared Sparrowhawk. This is no doubt due to that piercing eye. The designers (Cato Purnell Partners) said of their creation:
"A modern integrated logotype combined with a sharply drawn, predatory hawk and a modern take on a traditional shield, forms the club's new brand."

Again the colours aren't true to any Australian bird but there's not much you can do when your team's colours are brown and gold (immature Brown goshawks get pretty close)!

Collared sparrowhawk or Brown goshawk? Due to only occasional exposure to these birds I have little confidence when differentiating between the two. I have read the guides and studied my photos but have very little confidence in the field. Any tips on the shots below greatly appreciated!

This bird just appeared at our powered site at Cable Beach Caravan Park in Broome! It's bulk and eyebrow had me tending towards Brown goshawk

I was looking for arty in this distant shot - again I was leaning towards Brown goshawk, Summerlands Peninsula, Phillip Island
Cropped view (click for larger)
My local experts were leaning towards Collared sparrowhawk, Alice Springs
No idea! Attempt at an ID shot through foliage #1. Hulls Road Wetlands, Lilydale, Vic
No idea! Attempt at an ID shot through foliage #2. A Silverleaves garden, Phillip Island - again click for a larger view
Sharing with Wild Bird Wednesday

May the best team bird win!
Bird on!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Phillip Island Birds - Oswin Roberts Sanctuary

A few shots from Ozzie Bobs taken in recent times.

This bit of bush has always been good for honeyeaters (especially if they have bits of white on them)...

White-naped honeyeater
White-eared honeyeater
White-plumed honeyeater
It seems that there is always a Superb fairy-wren family around every corner.

Male Superb fairy-wren, Oswin Roberts Sanctuary, Phillip Island
Spotted pardalote
Distant view of a Golden whistler enjoying morning sunshine
Grey currawong looking menacing as always
Satin flycatcher - female (April 2014)
Galah inspecting tree-hollows

Sharing with Wild Bird Wednesday

Bird on!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hide & Seek with a Spinebill - Birding Phillip Island

Silverleaves was pretty wet at times this last winter.

As the old saying goes: It was good weather for ....

Australian wood-duck took to the water where there was usually just grass
A few Chestnut teal had also moved in 
Waterlogged. "The Common" at Silverleaves
Birding was still OK albeit with damp feet! This Eastern spinebill was hanging around our house playing hide & seek.

Hiding in the correa. Eastern spinebill, Phillip Island
Playing peek-a-boo with a grevillea. Eastern spinebill, Phillip Island

There's nowhere to hide on fence wire! Eastern spinebill
 Another individual I'm getting to know is one of the local kookaburras. "He" also like sitting on wires.

Laughing kookaburra. This is his good side.
Here it is giving all in song. At first I thought his eye was just closed but his right eye is not normal
I see him 'round from time to time
The Common - uncommonly wet (Winter 2014)!
Bird on!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The amazing Tasmanian Silvereye!

Silvereye Zosterops lateralis, Race lateralis
These little guys are amazing. I read that in early Autumn many of them migrate from Tasmania across Bass Strait to the Australian mainland only to return in August-October. I was observing this group feeding on small green insects in the northern Tasmanian town of Evandale in April this year. If I had been more cognizant of this amazing fact at the time I would have been more awe-struck in their presence! This little group may have been about to embark on a remarkable journey!

Little is known of the reasons why and how they migrate. It is wondered if they island hop along the eastern Bass Strait islands. This in turn raises another theory that this migration may be an evolutionary hangover of when Tasmania was connected to the mainland! There is a piece about the Mystery Migration of the Tiny Silvereye at ABC Science.

I have very little confidence that I could tell a Tasmanian silvereye from a mainland one (and I suspect in Southern Victoria we may share the Tasmanian race lateralis) but I'll be having a closer look from now on! A whiter throat (as distinct from yellow) and browner flanks makes your Silvereye more likely to be a Taswegian Traveller.

According to the books they'd be on their way back to Tassie now for this year's return trip but watch for them next winter along south eastern Australia!

Sharing with Wild Bird Wednesday

Bird on!