Mammals and birds of the East

Good morning peeps.

I think it is a good morning; the view out the window looks promising. Haven’t actually put a foot out to check but that can wait. I’m having a recovery day, catching up on some down time and some sleep.

So what better to do while lying around in bed than go through some photos? Yay!

You know how I recently went on holidays, and didn’t post any bird pictures whatsoever? No not that WA holiday, also not the Phuket holiday. The other holiday, the Victoria one. Hmm, I do seem to have had a lot of holidays lately!

You didn’t really think you’d get away without my birds that easily did you?

Good, cos here they come! Also this special post comes with animals as well, so you can skim over the birds if you like.

And I promise you that you do want to have a look at these photos. We’ve got babies following mums around, mums and dads sitting on nests and maybe one of my best bird of prey photos yet! I know that last statement doesn’t say much, but still…I think it’s worth a glimmer.

These photos were all taken in East Victoria either at the holiday house at Wattle Point, at Paynesville, on Raymond Island, on the Silt Jetties and in the Blond Bay game reserve. I highly recommend any of these spots for great wildlife encounters. Sadly I don’t have photographic evidence of the 3 echidnas I glimpsed from the coach on the way; only my memories.

So here we go!

I love the Eastern Spinebills. So far I’ve only ever seen males, and only ever in the pink flowering gum! Must be one of their favourite playgrounds. Notice the first photo and the second; despite most of the photos showing them at a reasonable size they are actually very tiny!

Stunning male Eastern Spinebill in the pink flowering gum

Stunning male Eastern Spinebill in the pink flowering gum

Tiny little Eastern Spinebill flitting around the gum tree

Tiny little Eastern Spinebill flitting around the gum tree

So agile and skilled at balancing in all kinds of poses so that he can reach the nectar, eastern spinebill, pink flowering gum

So agile and skilled at balancing in all kinds of poses so that he can reach the nectar – sadly the focus is just off

Dangling upside down with breast side up getting right into the pink gum blossom, eastern spinebill

Dangling upside down with breast side up getting right into the pink gum blossom

Another favourite of mine are the swallows. I’ve been trying to photograph them in flight for a few months, and up until recently I had never seen them sit still. Now I know that they do roost at night so dusk or early morning can be a good time to find them sitting still if you catch them before they head out to feed or after they’re back; if you find their nest you’ll see them sitting on the nest or busy building a nest; and when they dip for water they slow right down, and sometimes stop on the edge of the water. So it turns out there are a few opportunities to catch them.

The first Welcome Swallow I found sitting still, checking out the world from the property gate

The first Welcome Swallow I found sitting still, checking out the world from the property gate at Wattle Point

Beautiful Welcome Swallow taking time out of flitting around to preen up in the eves next to the main road

Beautiful Welcome Swallow taking time out of flitting around to preen up in the eves next to the main road in Paynesville

A Welcome Swallow standing on a half built nest up in the eves over a cafe

A Welcome Swallow standing on a half built nest up in the eves over a cafe in Paynesville

Welcome Swallow sitting still at dusk, facing into the bracing wind!, green grass, wooden fence

Welcome Swallow sitting still at dusk, facing into the bracing wind!

My absolute favourite photo from a whole series of Welcome Swallows sitting on the fence at dusk, green grass

My absolute favourite photo from a whole series of Welcome Swallows sitting on the fence at dusk!

And then there are Black Swans, beautiful, elegant, graceful. And then there are their delightful cute cygnets!

Fascinating viewing: two Black Swans fishing together along the shallow shore

Fascinating viewing: two Black Swans fishing together along the shallow shore

These are about the most adorable thing I've ever seen! And I used to rear ducklings that are also cute and cuddly, black swan, cygnets

These are about the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen! And I used to rear ducklings that are also cute and cuddly

Adorable grey fluffy Black Swan cygnets bobbing in the lake, green water

Adorable grey fluffy Black Swan cygnets bobbing in the lake

And another mum and bub group! This time the Black Swan cygnets are tinier and cuter

And another mum and bub group! This time the Black Swan cygnets are tinier and cuter

The cutest little only child learning to gather sea grass with its vigilant parents

The cutest little only child learning to gather sea grass with its vigilant parents

I love Laughing Kookaburras. They can look fluffy and cute, lean and mean and sound lovely or act vicious. You just never know how you’ll find them.

Evil mean look Laughing Kookabura, ironically found next to the house named 'Kookaburra Corner', electric wire

Evil mean look Laughing Kookabura, ironically found next to the house named ‘Kookaburra Corner’

Here’s a “lifer”, twitchers/birdwatchers term for a bird that you’ve never seen, or in my case photographed before; in this case a bird that I’ve never appreciated before. And never heard before. They can produce an amazing volume of sound that travels for blocks and blocks!

The female Common Bronzewing pigeon sadly in the shade so you can't see the luminescent bars on her wings

The female Common Bronzewing pigeon sadly in the shade so you can’t see the luminescent bars on her wings

A few days later,  huge "oom oom" sound caught our attention. We finally tracked it down to the male Common Bronzewing pigeon sitting on the nest

A few days later, a huge “oom oom” sound caught our attention. We finally tracked it down to the male Common Bronzewing pigeon sitting on the nest on Raymond Island

If it doesn't turn you cross eyed, this was meant to be a great photo of the bronze wing which gives the bird its name, but i must have moved!

If it doesn’t turn you cross eyed, this was meant to be a great photo of the bronze wing which gives the bird its name, but i must have moved!

Cormorants are just so fascinating with their clever diving and swimming under water skills and then their wing drying habits.

A mixed bunch of Little Pied and Little Black cormorants hanging out in the sun

A mixed bunch of Little Pied and Little Black cormorants hanging out in the sun

I do love all kinds of seas birds. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen these terns before, and I’m almost certain I’ve never photographed them.

lake, pier, Pair of fabulous Crested Terns hanging with a silver gull

Pair of fabulous Crested Terns hanging with a silver gull

Another graceful gentle bird:

Ever graceful, even when stalking prey, beautiful White-Faced Heron, cape weed

Ever graceful, even when stalking prey, beautiful White-Faced Heron

And now to the nest!!

A pair of Willy Wagtails taking turns sitting on the nest

A pair of Willy Wagtails taking turns sitting on the nest – fascinating watching them switch over with dance rituals and much noise-making!

The partner looking on in displeasure as I get too close to the nest

The Willy Wagtail partner looking on in displeasure as I get too close to the nest

Beautiful cheeky Willy Wagtail dancing around for his mate before they changed turn on the nest

Beautiful cheeky Willy Wagtail dancing around for his mate before they changed turn on the nest

Forest birds are pretty great. I loved finding these because they weren’t screeching; I tracked them down by the sound of them destroying an innocent gum tree!

Somehow I haven't gotten to photograph many cockatoos so far, but I love the glossy white and bright yellow crest, gum tree

Somehow I haven’t gotten to photograph many cockatoos so far, but I love the glossy white and bright yellow crest

Sulfur-crested Cockatoo: such a beautiful, if racous and destructive, bird, gum tree

Sulfur-crested Cockatoo: such a beautiful, if racous and destructive, bird

I apologise in advance for this one because I’m meant to be posting new stuff only, but you know I can’t resist fairy wrens! Especially on the beach, it just seems so unusual, even though I’ve seen it a few times now.

Female Superb Fairy Wren dancing into the sun and just the right moment, beach, sand

Female Superb Fairy Wren dancing into the sun and just the right moment

Another oldie, but these are the best shots I’ve taken, I think.

This photo is still a bit dark despite my adjustment, but it shows the white eyebrows of this White Browed Scrub Wren very nicely

This photo is still a bit dark despite my adjustment, but it shows the white eyebrows of this White Browed Scrub Wren very nicely

Fun shot out in the sun, eyebrows aren't as clear but you can see the bars on the wing more clearly

Fun shot out in the sun, eyebrows aren’t as clear but you can see the bars on the wing more clearly

Another favourite that I can’t resist:

Acrobatic Rainbow Lorikeets are always a delight to photograph

Acrobatic Rainbow Lorikeets are always a delight to photograph

I love to watch birds of prey circling and catching prey, but I’ve hardly ever gotten a shot that means anything! I took this a while ago so I can’t remember the face so much, but fortunately this particular bird can be identified from underneath.

You'll have to take my word for is because I don't have a top or front shot, but this is a fabulous White-bellied Sea-Eagle over Blond Bay, blue sky

You’ll have to take my word for is because I don’t have a top or front shot, but this is a fabulous White-bellied Sea-Eagle over Blond Bay

A more distant shot but this shows off its wings a body a bit more - White-bellied Sea-Eagle

A more distant shot but this shows off its wings a body a bit more – White-bellied Sea-Eagle

I’ve posted photos of Eastern Rosellas a million times but I am always fascinated by juvenile forms:

Lovely juvenile Eastern Rosella with more muted colours, following mum around gathering food

Lovely juvenile Eastern Rosella with more muted colours, following mum around gathering food

And an underneath picture gives a whole different perspective:

gum leaves, The fabulous under belly of the Eastern Rosella - just as pretty as the top side

The fabulous under belly of the Eastern Rosella – just as pretty as the top side

A big moment, finding the Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos in exactly the same spot Mum and Dad had found them the day before!

I just love these darlings! I've been lucky enough to see them a few times, but it's always just as exciting! Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo

I just love these darlings! I’ve been lucky enough to see them a few times, but it’s always just as exciting! Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo

And now for the cute animals!

The cutest little bunny Rabbit caught in a 'who me'? moment deep in the capeweed on the side lawn green grass

The cutest little bunny Rabbit caught in a ‘who me’? moment deep in the capeweed on the side lawn

Another caught-in-the-headlights moment with a Wallaby, no idea what type sorry

Another caught-in-the-headlights moment with a Wallaby, no idea what type sorry

The most exciting amazing awesome moment of the day/week/month/year! So we’re driving along beside the river and suddenly three dolphins breach the surface!! In my haste to get out I very nearly didn’t stop the car, put on the foot brake, take off my seat belt, put the gear into neutral or any of the other necessary tasks when driving! I got some awesome video, but only one photo. Still, that’s better than nothing.

A gorgeous Dolphin surprisingly found up river...I guess the water is still salty there. I'm assuming it's a Bottlenose, only because I don't know any better

A gorgeous Dolphin surprisingly found up river…I guess the water is still salty there. I’m assuming it’s a Bottlenose, only because I don’t know any better

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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