Today in Gloucester

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Subject: Today in Gloucester
From: "Penny Drake-Brockman" <>
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 2004 21:18:55 +1000
Dear all
Had a lovely sighting today. Out at the front gate at 8 am getting the newspaper I heard a new bird call calling down the side of the house - rushed to the deck at the back of the house and saw a pair of Leaden Flycatchers flapping around in the mulberry, obviously in courting mode. They then flew to the bare grapevines next door and entertained me for a 7 full minutes (timed).
She sat on a top twig, upright, crest raised, wagging tail, bobbing up and down a bit, he below her (right and proper I must say!), crest raised, wagging and fanning tail, and bobbing up and down and side to side, all the time making a very loud ringing call, which she answered with sharp creaky noises. Once they moved places but still she perched above him, and slightly changed the tones of their calls. Sometimes they almost touched bills, but the action was intense and loud. After 7 mins they flew off. Then at 8.30 they were back in the mulberry with another pair in the other neighbours' bottlebrush (female of this pair had less orange wash on her breast, the first female was very brightly coloured central under chin, both with the orange wash trailing further down the flanks than in the chest centre) but they soon were off and I could hear them calling down along the river.
Then at 10 am I saw an unusual bird on the wires over the road - got the 'bins on it - a male Sacred Kingfisher, and at 1.30 pm saw a female in the trees of the house behind my back garden. She stayed there for at least 15 mins until Kookaburras disturbed her.  The Kookaburras entertained me later with Willie Wagtails and Magpie Larks attacking them (the Willies sit on the back of the Kookas who snap at them when they get too irritated), until they took off to the trees at the back, and had a rather lack lustre mating session with him mounting her 5 times in a rather ineffectual way (took a firm hold of her head feathers each time but I didn't see any fly). Between attempts she kept her tail up so it looked as if she was saying, 'Come on, can't you do better than that?'
The mulberry is covered in small green fruit (although some have reddish tips), and this is bringing in the Figbirds who seem happy to eat the very undeveloped and unripe fruit. A pair of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes are building a nest which I can just make out from the whitish stuff they are spreading on a horizontal branch, presumably spider web. This is their second try and in a different place.  7 Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos have been making a lot of noise, flying up and down the river oaks and even across my back garden.
The Bee-eaters have been callling down along the river in the town parks.  It's good to have the migrants back.
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