Point Cook

Friday 16th March, 2018

This one is for a patient from ED tonight who I had a great chat with about photography. No I wasn’t neglecting my work, there weren’t that many other patients to see at that point, and it’s my hobby…always happy to chat about it!

I learnt a lot! About camera clubs at a local, state, national and international level including one that I might go along to locally, we talked about his 3 dark rooms, I heard about UV and infrared photography, and we talked camera models, good lenses for bird photography…and we could have gone on!! But eventually work has to come to the fore.

Anyway, since I shared my blog but haven’t put up a lot of my photos later, I guess I better. These are some shots that I liked from an outing with Birdlife Australia, Melbourne branch to Point Cook on Wednesday. A great walk, perfect bushwalking weather, nice company and a few stunning and semi-co-operative birds! It all makes for a great day out. The day was a bit misty/smoggy so as I cropped all the photos they became a bit murky; apologies!

Brown Falcon

Brown Falcon, better not shooting into the light! 

I got a whole series of shots of this gorgeous creature because you never know how close you’ll be able to get, but this was a youngish bird so we got very close in the end, slowly step by step. So the blurry shot isn’t really excusable, but unfortunately these days I have a degree of hand shaking that is bugging me – I really need to learn to wind up my shutter speed beyond what I’ve done in the past. I have cropped this shot.

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Brown Falcon, same bird but shot into the glary sky

The conditions of the day make a huge difference as far as the photos you can achieve.

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The glare of the sky adds so much light into the camera that it can be hard to make out detail of the subject when you shoot into the light and it is backlit; this is where being able to use your settings well really comes into play…or you just accept that you are operating in impossible conditions…but what fun would that be??

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A Crested Tern on the wing

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Love Terns, they are so acrobatic in the air and a delight to photograph!

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Now THIS is a series I’m super proud of!! Just saying…a little stoush

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Now THAT’S the type of shot I want to be taking!

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Whistling Kite, not a great shot but the best I got

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Perfect! Do you know how close I had to get to this Superb Fairywren for this shot? Actually I had to wait for it to get this close to me. Time and patience pays off! About 2 metres away

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This scrappy looking guy is a male Superb Fairywren in eclipse, halfway moulting between immature and full male adult plumage in the non breeding season – this means he’s less than 5 years old

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I was sitting at lunch and all the birds took off in a big Kuffluffle behind me! It’s a tell tale sign of a bird of prey flying over; there’s a consensus amongst all the birds that this is a bad thing. 4 magpies suddenly went into attack mode and I discovered exactly where the bird of prey was! Not in focus but a nice action shot, I didn’t have much time to get off a shot

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Again, poor focus but I’m proud of this shot because I was the only one in a group of 20 that got a shot, and so I contributed a Brown Goshawk to the day’s count – I’m happy with that!!

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Spot the Little Wattlebird!

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Not perfect but a Black Kite right above my head?? Wow!

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And 2 Black Kites up there?? Perfection!

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This was my other moment of contribution – an immature Australasian Gannet, in the bay, out of the colony, away from Geelong, all on its own! I picked it out, someone else labelled it, lots of excitement all around! Love the spotty plumage – the adult is very monochrome

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Silver gulls (usually called Seagulls), Crested Terns, Chestnut Teal ducks, Little Pied Cormorant – these are all roosting in shallow water in the bay

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Little Pied Cormorants and Pied Cormorants – you can see the size difference clearly

Well, there’s some recent photos. I was overall a bit disappointed with the quality which was partly due to the weather with the glare and the smog, partly due to the settings being poorly managed and somewhat to do with this shake. Maybe I need to make a tripod part of my regular outfit for camera stability, maybe I need to go back to photography school to refresh the basics of which settings to use when, and let’s see what the doctor says about my tremor!

Enjoy!!

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Serendipity

I had been looking forward to this past Saturday all week!

It was going to be my very first bird watching outing with BirdLife Australia, a group that I have recently joined as they seem to perfectly fit my need for like-minded people who are just as excited by finding birds as I am! They are a bird watching, photographing and conserving group and there are a bunch of great benefits to being a member! Exciting times!

So far all of my bird watching has been fairly ad hoc, on the run and just as I happen upon it. I’ve been fortunate to have wandered into many excellent birding locations by chance and happenstance, and a few excellent recommendations from friends have definitely given me a helping hand in the right direction. We are very blessed in Australia with birdlife, and Victoria is no exception. Luckily many varieties of birds still happily inhabit our backyards and local parks so that often we don’t need to make an effort at all to see many birds of all colours and sizes and sounds.

I joined this group a little while back and mostly for their regular birding outings as I still have a fair amount of caution about diving into thickly wooded areas alone! I’ve been testing out my nerves lately about going out alone into nature, and I’ve found out about myself that I’m okay walking around grassy open parks, okay with going into thicker wooded areas if it’s just a short section of the park, happy in any parks near a busy road and occasionally with full mobile reception and fully charged battery I’ll brave further off road. And so far I’ve been perfectly fine, so I’m gradually getting less jumpy and wide-eyed 🙂

My generalised anxiety has mostly abated with the treatment that I’m on for bipolar and depression but being a female alone in a area where no-one can see me, probably no-one can hear me scream and where I could potentially although quite unlikely but still scarily be attacked is one residual fear that I can’t quite shake off. I’m getting a lot better but I guess it probably is a safe and self-preserving habit to have. Especially since I’m taking most of my excursions during the middle of the day, which isn’t a peak time for other people to be walking through parks and gardens. Anywho, point being, I’d rather go with a bunch of strangers that I’ve never met than by myself 🙂 Especially when every one of the strangers is as interested or more in birding as me, and probably not so much in the other people around them.

Having said that, if I can coerce my husband or one of my friends to go with me, and they’re available during the same non-working hours as me, I’d definitely take that over the stranger business!

Moving on. My other motivation for joining a bird watching group was their expertise in identifying and locating birds and their intimate knowledge of birds and where to go and what to find when.

The particular sub group who had organised this bird watching trip are especially interested in photography which is perfect for me!

I’ve taken the opportunity while I am off work and free during the day to take an eight week course in photography. I saw a flyer for the course when I was out on a bird watching walk at Blackburn Lakes and it looked like exactly what I’d been needing.

The poster asked if I had a digital SLR camera but was still using it on auto? Why yes I was. It asked if I was frustrated with my photos and wanted to learn how to master my camera? Absolutely! So I signed up and started the classes. And I have learned a LOT! Still more to go but I’ve done five classes and I have already been able to apply a lot of what I’ve learned to my photography but I need to practice, practice, practice. I’m also learning the imperfections of my camera as I go along, and my list of what I need is growing…I can see that an upgrade will be in the cards some day but in the meantime I’m just enjoying being able to take better photos than what I could before 🙂

So, bird watching group found and joined; photography course turned up at the right time with the needed skill set; and now I’m all set for a day out enjoying the best of both! Yay for me!

So Saturday morning, Serendip Sanctuary, somewhere short of the You Yangs. I woke up to a good going fog and it was consistent all the way along highway and kept up to some degree most of the day. It was interesting to see how the fog showed up in photos taken at long zoom.

The Serendip Sanctuary wetlands, gum tree, green grass, water

The Serendip Sanctuary wetlands

A good drive with no traffic later, I pull into the car park. High excitement! Followed by a few moments of oh my goodness I am way out of my league! when I saw all the tripods, enormous camera lenses, binoculars, camouflage, neutral toned clothing and vibe of general expertise! Oh no I’m the amateur surrounded by experts! But everyone was very reassuring and helpful and in fact very keen to teach and show me the ropes.

Our group of bird watching and photography enthusiasts, all much more well equipped than me! lens, camera, camouflage, tripod

Our group of bird watching and photography enthusiasts, all much more well equipped than me!

Before I even got into the park I had seen several emus grazing in the paddock next to the sanctuary! Awesome! I’ve hardly ever seen emus in the wild; how exhilarating!

Emus in the wild! Not a great photo at full zoom and the fog really shows up at that distance!, grassland, bushland

Emus in the wild! Not a great photo at full zoom and the fog really shows up at that distance!

It turned out to be the most amazing day out! I think one day back a few months ago around Kialla Lakes I counted 25 species of birds in one day. Someone else is the group was counting on Saturday and I heard that they got over 50! Of course some we can’t take much credit for; some sections of the park were enclosures of captive birds, so that was easy game but that didn’t take any of the enjoyment out of seeing birds that I haven’t seen before.

Fun fun fun! I highly recommend this beautiful sanctuary; I find it absolutely astonishing that so many beautiful birds and animals can be accessed for nothing at all! Zero charge; amazing! There are enclosures, open park land, paddocks, waterways and wetlands, hides walking tracks; everything you need for bird watching.

One of the hides looking out over the wetlands, gum trees, swamp

One of the hides looking out over the wetlands

So of course I have to add some photos, but I promise only to post birds I have seen/posted ever before. I’m a bit disappointed with my photos, a lot had annoying camera shake which has me warming to the idea of a tripod but still not sure how it’ll work for me. I’ll have to keep thinking about it…

Ok not new but I am very proud of how this photo of a pair of Chestnut Teal ducks turned out!, wooden post, trees

Ok not new but I am very proud of how this photo of a pair of Chestnut Teal ducks turned out!

Overall I think my shutter speed was too slow for a lot of photos so I ended up with a lot of blurry shaky photos; but at least I know how to improve my shots next time.

Another shot that I am very happy with, I think the bird is a White-Browed Scrubwren but happt to take other opinions, gum tree, branch

Another shot that I am very happy with, I think the bird is a White-Browed Scrubwren but happy to take other opinions

Male Red-Rumped Parrot showing all of his fabulous colours; of course it is easier to get great shots in a small enclosure, bird wire, bird feeder

Male Red-Rumped Parrot showing all of his fabulous colours; of course it is easier to get great shots in a small enclosure

Female Red-Rumped Parrot, very difficult to find through the viewfinder!, green grass, dew

Female Red-Rumped Parrot, very difficult to find through the viewfinder!

Definitely not new, but I love this picture of a Willy Wagtail at rest for a brief second, wooden post

Definitely not new, but I love this picture of a Willy Wagtail at rest for a brief second

Okay I officially take back my statement that I will only post new birds; I just can’t stick to it!

Cute little bunny rabbits hopping around the enclosures, green grass, paddock

Cute little bunny rabbits hopping around the enclosures

I find male Superb Blue Wrens are always delightful to photograph no matter how many times I get the chance, green grass

I find male Superb Blue Wrens are always delightful to photograph no matter how many times I get the chance

I got such a great series of this New Holland Honeyeater but this is one of my favourites, gum tree, blossoms

I got such a great series of this New Holland Honeyeater but this is one of my favourites

Beautiful Cape Barren female goose with gosling in the nest

Beautiful Cape Barren female goose with gosling in the nest

Now this really is a first, an apparently an uncommon sight: the White-Winged Chough!, gum trees

Now this really is a first, an apparently an uncommon sight: the White-Winged Chough!

A Black-winged Stilt mirrored in the wetlands, not as good a photo as I would have liked; reeds, water

A Black-winged Stilt mirrored in the wetlands, not as good a photo as I would have liked

My favourite photo of a male Superb Blue Wren, unfortunately affected by reflection from the glass, swamp, window sill

My favourite photo of a male Superb Blue Wren, unfortunately affected by reflection from the glass

I have been trying for a while now to get a good picture of a Welcome Swallow flying and this is the best yet; still have a ways to go, swamp, wetland

I have been trying for a while now to get a good picture of a Welcome Swallow flying and this is the best yet; still have a ways to go

A beautiful example of the many Magpie Geese around the waterways, wetland, swamp

A beautiful example of the many Magpie Geese around the waterways

A very cute Wallaby checking out the surroundings, one of several lounging around, leaves, dirt

A very cute Wallaby checking out the surroundings, one of several lounging around

The easiest shot of Red-Browed Finch ever; of course they were safely in their enclosure from which they could come and go, but we could not!, drinking, dish of water

The easiest shot of Red-Browed Finch ever; of course they were safely in their enclosure from which they could come and go, but we could not!

Another new kind of duck! YAY! This one is the male Freckled Duck, it was quite shy so I was not able to get a good clear shot, grasses, red nose

A new kind of duck! YAY! This one is the male Freckled Duck, it was quite shy so I was not able to get a good clear shot

This Beach Stone-Curlew did NOT want to be photographed! He just kept walking away

This Beach Stone-Curlew did NOT want to be photographed! He just kept walking away

An unexpected delight! Spotted tiger quolls playing together, branches

An unexpected delight! Spotted tiger quolls playing together

What a beautiful multicoloured Buff Banded Rail! A lovely discovery, green grass

What a beautiful multicoloured Buff Banded Rail! A lovely discovery

For a duck afficionado, this Musk Duck is just amazing! What strange characteristics it has!, rocks, green grass

For a duck afficionado, this Musk Duck is just amazing! What strange characteristics it has!

Another delightfully colourful bird, the Blue-Faced Honeyeater - none of my shots were in clear focus but this shows the colours at least

Another delightfully colourful bird, the Blue-Faced Honeyeater – none of my shots were in clear focus but this shows the colours at least

An inscrutable Tawny Frogmouth sitting on a log on the ground, safe and sound in his enclosure, grey, brown

An inscrutable Tawny Frogmouth sitting on a log on the ground, safe and sound in his enclosure

Red-Cheeked Honeyeater, very common but still a fun shot, eucalypt

Red-Cheeked Wattlebird; very common but still a fun shot

I wish I could have got a clear shot but any shot is great for my very first time seeing Brolgas, especially when there is an adorable baby Brolga!, fences, gates, green grass

I wish I could have got a clear shot but any shot is great for my very first time seeing Brolgas, especially when there is an adorable baby Brolga!

Also the first close-ish photo that I have gotten! I was told that it is a Black Shouldered Kite; I have no idea, birds of prey are an area I have no experience in at all!, dead tree

Also the first close-ish photo that I have gotten! I was told that it is a Black Shouldered Kite; I have no idea, birds of prey are an area I have no experience in at all!

I have an amendment to make to a previous post from Lake Drysdale where I wrote that I saw and photographed Masked Lapwing plover chicks. I was mistaken; they are in fact their own species, the Red-Kneed Dotterels.

Entertaining little Red-Kneed Dotterels fishing along the shoreline, bushes, march

Entertaining little Red-Kneed Dotterels fishing along the shoreline

One slight conflict of birding with experienced birders is that I am ecstatic at every bird I see, and they are only really excited if it seems to be an unusual or interesting bird…ah well, I still made use of their expertise and knowledge so no complaining 🙂

I am told this was another Black Shouldered Kite; I will have to check it out for myself. One slight conflict of birding with experienced birders is that I am ecstatic at every bird I see, and they are only really excited if it seems to be an unusual or interesting bird...ah well, gum tree

I am told this was another Black Shouldered Kite; I will have to check it out for myself. 

A gorgeous little Black-Fronted Dotterel fishing along the shoreline, water, reflection,

A gorgeous little Black-Fronted Dotterel fishing along the shoreline

Wow! I do not know what to say about this odd looking male Australian Bustard! Quite unique!, bushes, green grass

Wow! I do not know what to say about this odd looking male Australian Bustard! Quite unique!

And finally, just for fun, a cheeky New Holland Honeyeater posing for us while dancing up and down on the window

And finally, just for fun, a cheeky New Holland Honeyeater posing for us while dancing up and down on the window

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 🙂