Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Wild Bird Wednesday 488 - Australian Pelican

The Australia Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) is a huge and conspicuous water bird.  Its name does not actually refer to its size, but to the yellow rings around its eyes.  Who would have thought.

These birds were at one of my more regular - if a little distant - bird watching locations, Swan Bay Jetty which is about two hours west of my house.

I rather liked the way that the four birds got involved in some semi-synchronized plumage maintenance. 










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Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Wild Bird Wednesday 487 - Pacific Gull

The Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus) is a very large gull found along the south coast of Australia, it range also extends north up the coast of Western Australia.  Anyone with a decent familiarity with the geography of Australia will notice that it does not really exist on Australia's Pacific Coast!

This is a gull that takes about 4 years to reach gull maturity.  Over those four years the bird transitions from mainly brown to the classic grey and white paint job of many gull species. 

This species has the heaviest bill - described in some books as be almost 'grotesquely' large.  I would not go that far!

These pictures do not do justice to how windy and wet it was on the day I took the pictures - it was dumping it down with rain and blowing a gale - and I was pleased to stay in the car to take the pictures.  All these birds were around the harbour at Port Welshpool in eastern Victoria.













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Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Wild Bird Wednesday 486 - Eastern Curlew

Well, I finally managed to get away for a walk and some birding.  Its been far too long!  And even if the weather was shocking at times over the weekend it was just so great to get away. I hope this may finally be the sign that I can get back to some form of normal.

I spend more than a few hours in a public bird hide near the coastal village of Toora, which is in East Gippsland, about three hours east of Melbourne.  Friday was more or less a wash out, but Sunday was a much better day, and I managed to get some images of birds I have not photographed before, as well as showing these species to some birders who had never seen them. 

These photographs are of Eastern Curlews (Numenius madagascariensis), the worlds largest shore bird. They are justifiably famous for their 'improbably long, strongly down-curved bill' - which you can see clearly in these pictures.  Both sexes have long bills, but the male bill really is very long!  These birds are also famous for being very cautious,  and even though I was in a hide the birds never really came that close.  Long, long lenses and cropping are the order of the day for this species.

Eastern Curlews breed in Siberia and Manchuria, but most (75%+) spend the southern summer in Australia. There are probably less than 50,000 of these birds left in the wild, so having more that 20 in front of the hide was a great thing to see.  Like many other shore birds this species is threatened because of habitat loss, most especially in China's Yellow sea.










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Hope everyone who reads this is also coming out of the the C19 blues - and I hope to be in touch (via blogs) soon.  SM


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Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Wild Bird Wednesday 485 - Tawny Frogmouth

The Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) is a reasonably common bird - but it's one that is often hard to find because of its wonderful camouflage.  This bird will also pose in a 'head up' position, in which it looks remarkably like a branch.

We found these birds in out local area - unfortunately in a park that is about to be heavily altered to make way for a better railway station in our area.  The tree in which the birds are nesting is going to be removed at some time, but for the moment at least the birds are being left alone.

I visited these birds a number of times over the weekend in the hope that the young bird would be showing well, he it never really did.  It was always tucked into its parent.

These birds are often misidentified as owls, but they are more closely related to Nightjars. 






You may need to enlarge the pictures to get the best view.

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Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Wild Bird Wednesday 484 - Red-rumped Parrot

Things are moving the right direction here at last, with far fewer restrictions in place, and travel beyond our local neighbourhood possible at last.  That being said, I did stay local this weekend - I'll let my poor old brain readjust to the new normal for a while yet I think.

I went to a local wetland area called Bolin Bolin Billabong, which is one of the few wetlands in the Melbourne area where the geomorphology has not been changed since European settlement.  It not a wilderness by any stretch of the imagination - with invasive weeds and fish present - but it was an interesting place to explore.

In general the wetlands were not busy from a bird point of view - I probably saw more carp in the billabong than birds - but I did get some excellent views of  Red-rumped Parrots (Psephotus haematonotus) on some of the sports fields that are in the area.  This is common parrot in my area, and sports fields are often the best places to find them - especially the 'weedy' edges where grass runs to seed and some flowers can be found.





 





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Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Wild Bird Wednesday 483 - Little Wattlebird

On the weekend I went back out to the Dandenong Wetlands to have a look at what the Fairy Martins were doing at their washed out nest site.  While the birds were still about, I did not see a single one on the ground collecting nesting mud - so I think that they are either nesting elsewhere, or they may have given up.  I'll keep looking.

As I moved on to another areas of the wetland I came across this Little Wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera).  While not as spectacular as some birds I still enjoyed photographing it.  This bird is (not surprisingly) smaller than the Red Wattlebird, but surprisingly (given its name) it does not have wattles! These kind of things in bird names always makes me smile.

In one of these pictures you can see some of the feathers that form the chestnut / rufous wingpatch that is very distinctive in the species when it is in flight.

 




Not the most glamorous of birds, but I dont think I have shared any pictures of this species before.

By the end of this week we should be more or less out of lock down in Victoria - which I am very thankful for.  I hope that the ability to move about a bit more, get out a lot more and generally rejoin life will result in me being a bit more active in the 'visting blogs' regard.  Hope this makes sense.

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