Birdlife outings

This is a quick tour through what Birdlife Australia Melbourne branch outings look like to me. I love that there are organised bird watching outings, just like I love my Wheel Women outings; because it’s just harder on your own. You don’t know what locations to go to, where to find the best birds when you get there, and you just don’t have the local knowledge of what birds are around and where they might be. But Birdlife just isn’t the family that Wheel Women is. I know a few people to say hello to and have a chat with as we walk around together for a few hours. But I don’t really have a relationship with any of them outside of our bird watching outings. Still, its a very friendly, helpful group of people who are just dead keen of improving other’s skills at finding birds, helping us to learn their behaviour and hopefully finding new and different birds every outing. This is my photo journal of everything but the birds  (almost) from an outing to Woodlands Historic Park on 27th May 2017.

img_4947-e1496568962599.jpg

First off, the car park meet up – yep they’re all ours

 

IMG_4949

Getting the briefing for how the day is going to run, what to look out for, who is leading and who is tailing, and the famous sign up sheet

 

img_4954.jpg

Hold up on the bridge as someone spots something…what, what, what have you got?? we call from the rear

 

IMG_4988

It’s REALLY time that I got binoculars! The camera does pretty well, but I think binoculars would adjust quicker and let more light in

IMG_5479

A bit more scattered along the track as we wander back for lunch

img_5567.jpg

Bring on lunch!!! It’s almost a stampede once 12.30 hits the second hand!!

 

And here is a quick snapshot of some of the birds that we saw. It wasn’t a tremendous day out, although that last bird was a first for me, the Fan-tailed Cuckoo. We got to see some beautiful Flame (above) and Scarlet Robins but at a long distance so there’s not a lot to show for it. Better photos next time!

Advertisements

Birds birds birds birds birds

Are you surprised? More birds. What a shock!

This holiday has been one of the best I’ve ever had for bird watching. Considering that I only took up bird watching late last year this isn’t a massive statement.

But I’ve found so many great birds here, those that you come across every day, those that are specific to the area and some I’ve ever seen before.

On Friday 4th July I had a slow morning in bed and didn’t get outside til lunch time. It was super windy so I didn’t really want to go out, but turns out once I got out there it was beautifully sunny and quite a nice day, if you could avoid the wind.

All I did once I got out of the house was take a slow stroll around town but there were still some beautiful parrots around that I had the chance to stop, sit down and watch while taking photos. As always, just being able to find the birds by recognising their song or glimpsing their colours is exhilarating. Getting the chance to get up close and take pictures without them flying away is super exciting. Having some oblivious people or an aggressive Magpie chase my birds away is annoying!! But I still got some great pics!

I love this shot of the four Galahs making a perfect square!!

I love this shot of the four Galahs making a perfect square!!

Pretty Galah ruffled by the wind

Pretty Galah ruffled by the wind

Stunning pair of Eastern Rosellas, looks like an adult and baby

Stunning pair of Eastern Rosellas, looks like an adult and baby

Adult Eastern Rosella feeding in the grass

Adult Eastern Rosella feeding in the grass

Cute juvenile Eastern Rosella feeding with its parent in the grass

Cute juvenile Eastern Rosella feeding with its parent in the grass

Queenscliff pier - beautiful in the sun but the wind is brisk!

Queenscliff pier – beautiful in the sun but the wind is brisk!

Silver gull in the sun

Silver gull in the sun

Juvenile Crimson Rosella blending into an olive tree

Juvenile Crimson Rosella blending into an olive tree

Juvenile Crimson Rosella blending into an olive tree

Juvenile Crimson Rosella blending into an olive tree

Juvenile Crimson Rosella eating berries with its claws

Juvenile Crimson Rosella eating berries with its claws

On Saturday I went to visit a friend and found a beautiful parkland near her house. As luck would have it, as I parked and got out of the car I heard the screech of a cockatoo and as I looked up there were a flock of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos!! I have never seen these before in my life and had the best time watching them break open and eat pine cones high up in the trees as the wind almost blew them off! As I got out of the car it started raining! Taking photos while holding an umbrella under my arm and scrambling up a very soft incline was not easy! My umbrella got blown away and I got wet! My photos were a bit blurry as well. So once the shower passed I crossed the road to get a better shot, and would you believe there was a set of stairs that took me all the way up to within a couple of metres of the tree?! Bad luck and good luck so close together; interesting!

Flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos eating pine cones on top of a tree

Flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos eating pine cones on top of a tree. You can see how strong the wind is!

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo perched precariously at the top of a tree

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo perched precariously at the top of a tree

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo crunching on pine cones

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo crunching on pine cones

The fortuitous staircase to nowhere that let me get up close and personal with Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos!

The fortuitous staircase to nowhere that let me get up close and personal with Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos!

After spending half an hour with the black cockatoos, I finally made it to where I was headed in the first place: Fyansford Common. Such a beautiful park alongside the river and teeming with birds!!

Here’s another first for me, I’ve never seen this bird before. I think it’s a Grey Strike-thrush, as far as I can tell from my bird guide, but I’d love an expert opinion 🙂

Grey Strike-thrush singing its beautiful song on the rails

Grey Strike-thrush singing its beautiful song on the rails

Another Grey Strike-Thrush? Probably too far to tell, tree

Another Grey Strike-Thrush? Probably too far to tell

Cute fluffy little pair of New Holland Honeyeaters, sadly out of focus, dead bushes

Cute fluffy little pair of New Holland Honeyeaters, sadly out of focus but still awesome! I’ve never seen so many of these!

A Willy Wagtail mid-dance with its tail feathers fanned out and side wings pointing down about to flit away

A Willy Wagtail mid-dance with its tail feathers fanned out and side wings pointing down about to flit away

I thought I was catching a snap of a swallow resting, but on reflection it looks more like a Willy Wagtail

I thought I was catching a snap of a swallow resting, but on reflection it looks more like a Willy Wagtail from the front

I finally got a face-on photo of the Red-Browed Finch!! Earlier in the year I got a snap of the back of this pretty little bird in the Yea Wetlands, and by chance I stumbled upon this little firetail while looking at wrens and other birds in Fyanford Common. Score!!

Red-browed Finch flitting around with the many wrens and other tiny birds

Red-browed Finch flitting around with the many wrens and other tiny birds

Female Superb Fairy-Wren with vivid blue tail, gum tree

Female Superb Fairy-Wren with vivid blue tail

Baby Australasian Grebes ducking and diving under water when they notice me looking at them!, river, reeds

Baby Australasian Grebes ducking and diving under water when they notice me looking at them!

Then in the early evening we went for a delightful walk along part of the Bellarine Rail Trail near Swan Bay and saw some lovely birds.

Male and female Chestnut Teal on a pond

Male Chestnut Teal duck on a windy pond

A beautiful time of night and a beautiful White-faced Heron on the railway signal

A beautiful time of night and a beautiful White-faced Heron on the railway signal

A bonus sighting of a heritage diesel engine and train carriages near Lakers Siding, sunset

A bonus sighting of a heritage diesel engine and train carriages near Lakers Siding

And for the grand finale, an amazing Eastern Great Egret! I saw one from the train on Thursday and wished that I could get a shot. So I was very excited to see this Egret fly over as we were walking back to the car. They are really shy so we took shots from far away and then tried to creep up. Unfortunately we were losing the light by the time we saw the Egret so most of the shots come to nothing but I like this shot anyway. Then the train blew its whistle and it took off, ever so gracefully!

I’m so excited about these holidays. I’ve seen Egrets, Herons, Spoonbills and Ibis that I haven’t seen in years since I left our small farm out of town to live in the city and study. Seeing them all again gets me reminiscing and remembering the good parts of my childhood when we would watch the birds in the channel or out in the wet paddocks

Beautiful and graceful Eastern Great Egret stalking fish in the backwater, reeds, lake

Beautiful and graceful Eastern Great Egret stalking fish in the backwater

And so we come to the last day of our holiday! It really has been perfect and I’ve enjoyed myself so much! And the weather has behaved beautifully; on our last day it rained and rained! So we were happy to leave and head for home. Isn’t that the dream?

We had plans for walks but it was a bit wet early on so we drove on and ate breakfast out. Luckily the rain cleared out over breakfast so we headed out to the Edwards Point State Faunal Reserve on the point just out of St Leonards. It really was beautiful, if chilly, and the rain held off for a couple of hours while we wondered around.

I love herons for their grace and elegance. I love shots of birds flying and I accidentally got them both together! Not well focused but okay.

Focusing on the standing White-faced Heron and another flew right into my photo!, lake, reeds

Focusing on the standing White-faced Heron and another flew right into my photo!

This one I am proud of, not well focused but I got the heron landing!, lake, reeds

This one I am proud of, not well focused but I got the heron landing!

Black Swans in the water, lake reeds

Black Swans in the water

Edwards Point State Faunal Reserve on an overcast July day

Edwards Point State Faunal Reserve on an overcast July day

Edwards Point State Faunal Reserve on an overcast July day

Edwards Point State Faunal Reserve on an overcast July day

Another Eastern Great Heron - two in two days!

Another Eastern Great Heron – two in two days!

Edwards Point State Faunal Reserve boardwalk across the water

Edwards Point State Faunal Reserve boardwalk across the water

And the lovely beach, stunning as always! sand, clouds, waves

And the lovely beach, stunning as always!

Majestic Australian Pelican swimming on the calm seas

Majestic Australian Pelican swimming on the calm seas with Mornington Peninsula in the background

And here we are, down to the last bird for the holiday! The freeways from Geelong to Melbourne and Ballarat to Melbourne are hotspots for birds of prey and we stopped to take a picture of this one. It was interesting to see chickens in the yard of the house over which the bird was hovering, running for cover; smart!

Not sure what bird of prey but looks impressive soaring overhead

Not sure what bird of prey but looks impressive soaring overhead

Some kind of bird of prey threatening the local chickens! blue sky

Some kind of bird of prey threatening the local chickens!

Thank you holiday! You have energised and refreshed me and I’ll always remember the wonderful bird finding, watching and photographing that I have so enjoyed!

I highly recommend Swan Bay, Lake Lorne and Queenscliff in general for bird watchers. There are so many different types and such an abundance of birds! A fabulous area and one I’ll be happy to return to in the return. But for now, onward and upward 🙂

Bucket list #34

So a little while ago I was writing about this awesome hobby I have stumbled into, of bird watching. Bird listening, bird photographing, bird appreciation.

I mentioned a bucket list of birds. One of them is the bell bird. I’d looked them up to know what to look for and found them to be very generic; brown, small, plain. In other words, hard to find!!

Whenever I’ve been out and about since and heard their typical call, I’ve tried to find the bird by focussing in on where the call is coming from.

Have you ever heard a bell bird? That distinctive “ting ting” noise? It’s hard to locate!! It has some ventriloquist properties and seems to come from multiple locations at the same time! And usually from a while away, not just nearby.

So today I went to the zoo. To look at animals and have a day out of the house and away from my walls and floors. I have a zoo membership this year which means I can come and go as many times as I want!! This is pretty exciting but since getting the membership I haven’t been again until today. This shows the power of depression – the power of lack of motivation, loss of energy and interest and inability to enjoy life. If I can’t enjoy the zoo, there is little left that I can enjoy!!

Anyway today I got up and going, it was panning out to be a good day with a reasonable amount of energy so I went to the zoo, camera in hand ready to see some cool animals. I carried my map from last time. I’d ticked off all the animals I saw on that day, so I planned to start where I left off and keep going around. First stop was the seal talk at 11.30am but I was just a few minutes too late. There was still one seal up on a rock putting on a bit of a show which was fun. Then I had a look at the penguins, very cute! Great new enclosure for them as well and always fun to watch. Especially cool watching them swim around and shake off after.

As I was heading out of the penguin enclosure I heard bell birds! Really close! Closer than I’ve ever heard them!! With my camera in hand I slowed down and started looking around hoping to catch a glimpse. And next thing I was in the middle of a bell bird fiesta!! A beautiful big old ghost gum tree right next to the path, and bell birds flitting here there and everywhere!! Exhilaration!! I saw a bell bird! I saw several bell birds! I got photographs of bell birds!! So exciting! Ah the enjoyment of being able to enjoy things again – so amazing!

bellbird, zoo, yellow

Cool close up photo of another bell minor!

So here I am standing in the middle of the path taking shot after shot chasing these flitting dancing birds around the branches of the tree, this angle that angle, too dark there, in the light here, great shot here, missed that shot, re-focus, re-aim, awesome fun!! And some guy says to me, ‘it is a beautiful old tree isn’t it?’ Well, true it is gorgeous, but more importantly, bellbirds!! Life goal being achieved here buddy, never mind the old tree!!

bellbird, yellow, gum tree

First shot of the bell bird!!

And then, a bell bird flew down and landed a metre from my foot!! And started eating out of a blossom. Then another one, then another. Clear shots right at hand, hardly any zoom needed!! Well count my day as made! I’ve been at the zoo thirty minutes and I can go home satisfied with birds that are not even in an enclosure!! How about that??

bellbird, zoo, garden, yellow

Exciting close up of a bell bird

So here are a few photos, can’t believe that I have them here to share!! I’ve looked the bird up in The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds that I’ve borrowed from the library this week, and it is actually a type of minor, the bell minor. There’s another type, the crested bellbird but that’s for another day!

zoo, bellbird, yellow, bushes

Exciting first sighting of a bell minor!! EEK!

So a good day turned into a great event by the delights of nature! Satisfying, fun, exciting, and altogether fabulicious!!