Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday 316 - Pacific Gull

The Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus) is the largest gull in Australia, with a wingspan that can exceed 1.5m and a weight over 1kg.  The beak of this bird is huge - and it is very characteristic of this species (although it's size is pretty diagnostic in Australia too!)

Thie individual was loafing about in the car park at tidal river, and unlike many of the other creatures in that area was not over fond of people and cameras.

All is all this is a rather impressive bird!







To join in with WBW click on the blue button below the thumbnails.  Cheers - SM

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday 315 - Australasian Grebe

I took a brief walk around one of my local wetland sites this weekend - its recently had a lot of work done to it, replacing an old boardwalk and such like.  It seemed pretty quiet at first - which was not a surprise given how much disturbance the work must have caused - but eventually this Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) emerged from the reeds.

As you can see, it was not a windy day!  Also you can see how the grebe managed to dislodge a feature from its body when it was having a bit of a shake.  Keep an eye open for the big, flanged feet.











To join in with WBW click on the blue button below the thumbnails.  Cheers - SM

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Black Wallaby / Swamp Wallaby

This is a Black or Swamp Wallaby (Wallabia bicolor).  This relaxed looking individual was having a good feed around the camp sites at Tidal River in Wilsons Promontory National Park.

This species is common all along the east coast of Australia, and can be found in a variety of habitats. Like many of the animals at Wilson Prom, this individual is clearly used to being in the proximity of people.







You can find more pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.  SM

Sunday, 5 August 2018

A review of Wunderbird Clothing.

Wunderbird produce a range of specialist birding clothes and equipment.  I was given two articles of clothing to check out.  This is my review.

When I started bird watching – it wasn’t called bird then – the closest you got to specialist clothing were wax cotton jackets, long green Hunter Wellies and ex-army jackets and jumpers.  Winter hats were woollen, and if it ever got hot you wore a tour tee shirt.  That was about it.

Jump forward to today, and the world has changed.   When I was contacted by Wunderbird, to see if I would write a review of their specialist bird watching clothing, I was, to say the least, sceptical.  But, never look a gift horse in the mouth.

A week or so later a package arrived from the UK containing two garments – a hooded jacket, known as a Gyrfalcon and a long sleeved tee shirt known as a Peregrine.  First impressions were very favourable.  The jacket was robust looking, and neatly stitched.  The tee shirt was similar in quality, although it looked to be made from a lighter grade of fabric.  But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, or wearing in this case.



The Gyrfalcon looks a lot like a hoddie, and is designed to be worn as an outer layer.  The body and sleeves of the Gyrfalcon have a fleece like inner surface, and a dense rather shiny outer, which is wind proof rather then waterproof.  There are three main pockets on the front of the jacket, a zipped pocket at the top – which is designed to hold binoculars and take the weight off your neck – and two larger pouch pockets at the bottom.  The shoulders are thinly padded.

The Peregrine is basically a long sleeved tee shirt, with lightly padded shoulder (they seem to have the same amount of padding as the Gyrfalcon).  The body of the shirt is made from a light fabric, similar to that used in sports shirts. There are two zipped pockets on the front, again designed to support binoculars.  The side panels of the Peregrine are made from a lighter mesh material for extra ventilation.

So much for the details – how do they wear?  As it’s winter here right now I have use the Gyrfalcon far more than the Peregrine, and found it to be very good.  As a jacket it is surprisingly warm, especially if you flip up the hood.  I wore a light thermal under the Gyrfalcon while sitting on a windy cliff looking for whales (proving that its not all bird watching) and was comfortably warm.  I did not really embrace the pockets for holding my binoculars, maybe more from habit than anything else.  But I found the lower pouch pockets well placed and comfortable.

Initially I did find the cut of the Gyrfalcon (and the Peregrine from that matter) a little strange.  The shoulders seemed narrow and the sleeves a little long.  But that opinion changed quite quickly when I used the jacket.  The firm fit allowed me to wear a waterproof jacket over the top of the Gyrfalcon without the shoulders wrinkling up. While sitting down (I use my car a mobile hide) I found that the longer sleeves did not ride up when I lifted my arms to use binoculars. So, my initial reaction was wrong – and I now like the cut.   I suspect that this garment will get a lot of use in the Australian winter. 

The padded shoulders worked really well – and seem to be the right balance between padding and bulk.  I carry a camera and long lens on a monopod most of the time I am birding, and the shoulder pads made a real difference.

Because it is winter, I have not used the Peregrine as much as the Gyrfalcon.  However, in my brief usage I found it to be as practical as the hoddie.  The long sleeves will provide the kind of sun-protection that I need in Australia,  and the mesh panels will provide good ventilation.

So, what’s my conclusion?

I really like these products – and think they will make a days birding just a bit more comfortable.  In the end I don’t think you can ask clothes to do much more.

You can find these products (and a number more) at this web-site: wunderbirdworld.com .  If you happen to purchase anything after clicking on this link, I will get a commission.  I suppose I have entered the 21st Century!  SM


Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday 314 - Laughing Kookaburra

I need to do a quick post today - so, I'll go with one of my favourite birds, the Laughing kookaburra.  Even though I have photographed these birds many times, I almost always take 'just a few more shots' when I see one.  That is especially true when they are as cooperative as this bird was.

This bird was feeding in the camp site area of Tidal River at Wilsons Prom National Park - I think it's safe to assume that he (or she) is used to having people around!

Anyway, here are some pictures of the worlds largest kingfisher!









To join in with WBW click on the blue button below the thumbnails.  Cheers - SM


Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday 313 - Little Corella (Part 2) - In the Trees

I little while back our suburb was invaded by Little Corellas (Cacatua sanguinea) - I posted some images of them feeding on the ground.

These images were taken during the same invasion - but this time the birds were in trees with autumn leaves, and for a good number of the shots, bathed in sunset light.

What's not to like.












As ever to join in with WBW just click the blue button below.  Cheers  SM


Sunday, 22 July 2018

Common Wombat

Being able to see Common Wombats (Vombatus ursinus) on a daily basis in one of the real pleasures of going to Wilsons Promontory National Park.

Although generally nocturnal, in the winter they can often been found out and about in the daylight.  I have been told that these animals are the largest hole dwelling herbivores in the world - and I have no reason to doubt this claim.  These rather solid animals grow to almost 1m long and weigh over 25 kg.  They are also surprisingly fast over short distances.  This species of Wombat is only found in the SE corner of Australia.  There are two other species of wombat in Australia - and in the near future I hope to see some of those as well!

The log climber rather took me by surprise, and I though he was going to head butt me at one stage, but he jumped off the other side of the log and went on his way.









Wombats are the only marsupial whose teeth grow through their life: this is an adaptation to the coarse grass that is important in their diets.  As you can see from the last few pictures, when in feeding mode it really is case of nose 'down and keep chewing' for these animals!

You can find more pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.  SM

PS: I think I may have fixed the email from blogger issue - thanks for the advice!

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday 312 - Masked Lapwing

The Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) is a visible and often vocal part of the Australian landscape.  If they are anywhere in the area you are very likely to know about it, either through their calls or their tendency to swoop people, cats, dogs, horses and such like in the breeding season.

This bird - which was one of a (presumed) pair - was reasonably well behaved, until, shrieking, it jumped into flight.

These pictures were taken last week at Wilsons Promontory, a wonderful national park about 3 hours from Melbourne.







As ever to join in with WBW just click the blue button below.  Cheers  SM

{312 consecutive weeks is a long time! The last couple of weeks have not been that straight forward. At present the net access at home is flaky, Blogger has stopped sending email notifications and I have too much work!  All in all, it's been pretty difficult to visit blogs and generally reply to comments.  In the absence of cake, messages of encouragement would help - as would suggestions as to how to get bloggers linking into WBW again.  Cheers - SM}

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday 311 - Shy Albatross

Late last week I went out on a whale watching cruise around Phillip Island - which is about an hour and 40 minutes from Melbourne.  Its a popular holiday destination, but also has some good wildlife.

Most of the people on the cruise were very much concentrated on the whales, and I was one of the few that got excited when we encountered some albatross.

I'm pretty certain that all of these pictures are of Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta), but I am more than happy to stand corrected.  I just get happy seeing Albatross, the identification and taxonomy of which seems rather more challenging than for some birds.  Shy Albatross have a wingspan of over 2 meters and weigh in at just over 4kg.

I love the pictures why the huge skies - these are birds of the wide oceans and empty skies.  Its not always all about filling the frame.








As ever, to join in with WBW click on the blue button.    Cheers, SM.