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4 June 2013 / leggypeggy

What you can see in an hour


Galahs in Commonwealth Park

When we’re at home in Canberra, it’s fairly common for us to have an extra dog or two underfoot. Dog-owning friends travel a lot (just like us), our yard is fully fenced, all the dogs get along, my homemade dog food recipe is very popular and we are quite happy to do walkies.



Arj is our guest this week. He’s a Portuguese waterdog (something we have in common with President Obama) and only slightly smaller than a Volkswagen.

So walkies (or draggies) are essential. Today’s excursion was on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. We didn’t do the whole 5-kilometre circuit—mostly because it was late afternoon and I wanted to see what birds I could snap.

Poor John clung to Arj. I escorted Chiyo, who looks a lot like a large mop head, and had a camera (complete with telephoto lens) slung around my neck.

Black swans

A swan couple. They almost always travel in pairs.

And here’s what we saw, in no particular order.

The lake and its surrounds are home to a variety of ducks. It’s not unusual to see traffic stopped on Constitution Avenue while a mother and her ducklings cross the road. A few years back, we had a troupe march by our house (we’re no more than five blocks from the lake). The next morning, the local newspaper had a front-page pic showing a youngster shepherding that flock back to the lake. Today there were Wood Ducks and Pacific Black Ducks, and a third species I didn’t recognise.

Canberra teems with sulphur-crested cockatoos. When I first came to Australia, I fed them in our backyard, until Poor John banned me from doing so. They have an ear-piercing, raucous squawk that must have irked the neighbours—and obviously irked Poor John. Cockatoos are partial to cooler weather and are especially common across the city in winter.

Silver gull

Silver gull

Seagulls appear everywhere in Australia, and are usually hoping to steal some of your food. They’re quite small compared to the gulls I’ve seen in other countries. Ours are called silver gulls.

Coots are at home on open water, but also come ashore to graze on areas where grass is short. Their white beak makes them fairly easy to identify.

The Australian darter looks a bit like a pale cormorant, which also visits the lake but we didn’t see any today. Because of its long slender neck, the darter is sometimes called a snakebird. It dives for food, using its beak to spear dinner. Small fish are swallowed under water, while larger ones are brought to the surface, flicked into the air and swallowed head first on the way down.

Purple swamphen

Purple swamphen

I love purple so it’s not surprising that I love Purple Swamphens. I see them all the time around the lake, but writing this blog entry finally made me to look up their name.

Now for the silly galahs. These pink and grey parrots are handsome—but not so smart—showstoppers. A goofy person is sometimes referred to as a ‘silly galah’—there’s even a song about silly galahs. I’ve seen them (the birds, not the people) stand by the edge of the road and get mowed down by a semi.

And lastly, the black swans. Yes, Australia’s swans are black. This is the sunburnt country and we can’t afford to have Western Australia’s state bird get sunburnt.

As for my reference to an hour? I took all these pics in an hour.

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Leave a Comment
  1. Derrick / Jun 5 2013 1:05 am

    This is why I have got to come back to OZ, the birdlife here is great, Gallahs are funny and noisy birfds (in the evenings)


  2. Maggie / Jun 6 2013 1:48 pm

    how about a picture of Arj?


  3. Liz / Jun 10 2013 10:08 pm

    Lovely pictures, you sure saw a lot in one hour! Have a wonderful week!


    • leggypeggy / Jun 10 2013 10:27 pm

      Thanks Liz. I hope to get some pics of the kangaroos we sometimes see on a different one-hour walk.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Liz / Jun 14 2013 9:44 pm

        Oh my god, I would totally want to see pictures of Kangaroos, that sounds so exciting. I love Australia but I have never been there. We saw very nice scenery from Australia when Oprah visited, It was so exciting. I loved watching every part of Australia that was shown during her visit. I look forward to the pictures. Have a lovely weekend.


      • leggypeggy / Jun 15 2013 8:24 am

        Australia is amazing in so many ways. Have a look through the Australia category here and you’ll see lots of scenery and wildlife. We’re going for a walk today where kangaroos often hang out (depending on the wind). I’ll take the camera and we’ll see what I see. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. gpcox / Jun 26 2013 12:18 am

    I never heard of a galah, but they’re adorable!


    • leggypeggy / Jun 26 2013 3:21 am

      They are a beautiful bird, but kind of silly. They’ll stand on the side of the road and get mown down by a truck.

      Liked by 1 person

      • gpcox / Jun 26 2013 7:43 pm



      • leggypeggy / Jun 26 2013 7:54 pm

        🙂 At least it explains why they are called ‘silly galahs’. There’s even a children’s song about it — not the truck bit, just the silly bit.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Davud / Jan 12 2014 5:21 pm

    Liz must come, I personally recommend a minimum of two if not three weeks as the flight is so long you are not likely to go back next year so make it worth your while, while there!
    Yep, Peggy’s Poor John took me for a bike ride around Lake Burley Griffin and it is indeed teeming with wildlife everywhere including their beloved kangaroos, the squirrel pest of OZ! ;o)
    I’ve only seen small bits of OZ. I have a strong yearning to visit Perth, Ayers Rock, Darwin, a return to the Great Barreir Reef (a must in my opinion), Melbourne and Tazmania. Maybe I need to shorten my list but it’s a big place!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. hiMe / Oct 28 2018 5:43 pm

    Lovely pics to introduce the birds of Canberra!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. barkinginthedark / Mar 30 2021 8:14 am

    SO beautiful. Both of you stay well Peggy. continue…

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 30 2021 8:47 am

      Have just had two weeks in Tasmania. We’re doing fine. Hope you are too.



  1. Australia and her scary and not-so-scary critters | Where to next?

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