Saturday Evening Post: #41 Problem Solving

Long term readers will remember, or might recall, that I have a warm and fuzzy feeling for “Choughness”, the life skills of your average White-winged Chough clan.
I put up a shot a week or so ago from a trip to Serendip Park, where the Choughs were trying to raid the feed bin for Brolgas and Magpie Geese.

Now it probably doesn’t take much to figure out that your average feeding spot for a brolga or goose is somewhat higher up than even the tallest chough.

The family I worked with two week ago had adopted the ‘jump higher its got to work’ approach as each family member tried-usually in vain-to get a grip inside the feeder and only had time to grab a small beakful before plummeting back to earth.

However time goes on. Problem solving skill seminars and practice sessions followed up with various counselling events, has given the Choughs a new approach to the problem

This is a different family and well on the way up the evolutionary ladder. Next step Chough on the moon?

This family had developed a very workable solution indeed.  One clever bird, (Called Lucky by its friends) would jump up, flap/drop onto the edge of the feeder, and somehow balance its centre of gravity over the feeder and thus successful land inside. Then with great scooping bills-full, drop seed out of the feeder to the waiting family members below.
The only draw back to this incredible bit of problem solving is the Brolga, Magpie Geese and Little Ravens, don’t take to kindly to their food supply being raided, and every few minutes Lucky was forced to abandon its position to avoid a sharp wrap from the Brolga.

Where there is a will there is Choughness.


In the School with Choughs

Flow with whatever may happen 
and let your mind be free. 
Stay centered by accepting 
whatever you are doing. 
This is the ultimate. 
Chuang Tzu


We’d been sitting quietly for awhile. Infact long enough to enjoy at least one cuppa and think longingly for the Thermos for a second.

It’s the You Yangs. Near the old, now unused, Duckponds School building. We were making one last session at finding the Jacky Winter pair and to see what the Eastern Yellow Robins were up to.
To tell all the truth.  Not much.  Yep, that’s it. Little, a void, devoid, uninhabited. Departed, moved on, relocated.

And its been like that for quite awhiles. Many of the more productive spots we’ve been visiting, have been, well, decidedly UNproductive.

I knew there were White-winged Choughs on the other side of the main road, as their calls were quite clear.


Continue reading “In the School with Choughs”

Life with a sprinkle of Choughness

Long term readers will know of my fascination with all things Choughness.

White-winged Choughs can be both frustrating and rewarding to follow.  Some families seem to have a high human tolerance and I’ve had them hunt around my feet and sit on the same log with me.  Others. No matter how much time I spend, they just keep moving on.
They are not the world’s greatest aeronauts and I often think that if they can run to the next location that is their preferred method of locomotion.

They also have quite well established family rules. Which they understand, while I must guess what is going on.  And at just about every encounter, I come away impressed by some new view of choughness.

One family we see regularly in the You Yangs have just managed to get a couple of young ones off the nest.   Now comes the job of teaching these little ones all the rules of choughness.   And its a big task.  The young birds are quite clueless. And they have an average attention span of about 1 millisecond.   “Is it food”, seems to be the total of their ability to reason.   So the adults have to spend quite a bit of time working with young. And because of their lack of reason, they are easily enticed away by other families offering “bigger grubs”.  Oh boy, I gotta go

Choughs need quite a large family size, at least six or seven adults to raise a young.  Larger groups have more flexibility and its reported, more success.

Found the family at work around some rocks, and settled down for a sprinkle of choughness to add to my day.

Continue reading “Life with a sprinkle of Choughness”

Blogging 101 the Third Week in Review; “Family Matters”

Family Matters

Been away for the bulk of this past week. Up at the Family Acres.  We stayed at the Murray Downs Resort in Swan Hill.  Really nice and quiet, and just a few km out of town.
Like all good resorts, probably enough to do without having to make the tourist mecca trip. And a lovely golfcourse built in.
But, of course not being the sporty type, golf doesn’t mean, clubs, balls and keeping score.  It means wide open green areas, water, trees, bushes and … birds.

So each morning we managed to be up at Sparrows call, and walk around the course, before the golfers began their pilgrimages.
In return we got to see among other things, White-winged Choughs, Rainbow Bee-eaters, Pied Butcherbirds and a host of the usual suspects.
With the Goschen Roadside Reserve about 20 minutes away, it should have been a great birding week.


Family Matters.

So photography was banned.  Well at least frowned on. So I snuck into the deep pockets of my Breakaway jacket, a D810, sans its L Bracket, and in the other pocket, the 300mm f/4 PF with a 1.4 TC attached.    Not much help for general photography but at least it covered some of the birds at the golf course.

The White-winged Choughs have adapted quite well, thank you, to the rolling sand hills, saltbush and thin mallee scrub, nestled between the sweeping grassy greens of the golf course.   Able to enjoy both the richness of their old habitat and the pleasures of the new.

I managed to spend two sessions, a mid morning, and a late evening with a couple of the families.  They are so used to people zooming past in carts, or walking by with bags and clubs that a dude walking quietly with a camera seemed quite  harmless. So within a few minutes I was accepted into the family, and they worked around me nonchalantly. Even the ever present “Lookout” bird relaxed enough for closeups.

Blogging 101 was also concentrating on the family of bloggers.

But a lot of it was about branding, id, making themes that people will follow, or seek out and developing a feature to enrich readership, as my eyes glaze over….

So I came to the conclusion “Family Matters”. Those who graciously have clicked the Follow button or come over from another link are welcome here as family, and the time shared is as much important to me as the enjoyment of the birds.

So there is not going to be a ‘sustainable purely personal blog of random musings benefitting from a hint of structure.. ” here anytime in the foreseeable future.

Just me sharing our best time with the birds and hoping you enjoy it as much.

Here is how the Chough Family took their day.


Sentry on Guard. If it can get the sentry to accept my presence then the family will settle down.
Sentry on Guard. If I can get the sentry to accept my presence then the family will settle down.
Always a delight to see the wing spread. They are not the world's most agile flyers
Always a delight to see the wing spread. They are not the world’s most agile flyers
The benefits of settling in a golf course. Plenty of water in pools on the road
The benefits of settling in a golf course. Plenty of water in pools on the road
A somewhat deformed beak.
A somewhat deformed beak.
Taking a stroll under the cooling shower of a lawn sprinkler.
Taking a stroll under the cooling shower of a lawn sprinkler.
The family that preens together.
The family that preens together.
Plenty of food among the damp understory litter.
Plenty of food among the damp understory litter.