Flighty Friday

[Written 22nd June, 2015]

Okay, now I get it!

It really is a big deal.

Actually I’m a bit exhilarated!

I finally found them! Well actually a really nice guy with his twins in a pram wearing a camera found them, and came and got me so that I could see them too. Many thanks to him for that, but what I mean is I finally got to see them!

gum tree, eucalypt

Several of the Swift parrots at Macleod station

The famous Macleod Station Swift Parrots!

Otherwise named by other birders as The Great Houdini! They have certainly nailed the vanishing act on the last three times I’ve gone looking for them! But to be fair, thanks to some advice from another birder, I’ve realised that I’ve been looking for the wrong thing.

branch, acrobat

The belly of an upside down Swift parrot doing acrobatics

I’m used to rainbow lorikeets and musk lorikeets. You can tell where these birds are at all times of the day and night by the raucous racket that they make! So every time I’ve gone over the Macleod I’ve followed the noise. This has been an unfailing tactic in the past, so I went by history and experience. This did lead to a first in a lifetime sighting of a few Scaly-breasted Lorikeets mixing with the Musk and Rainbow Lorikeets, but no Swift Parrots.

pink flowering gum, musk lorikeet

Just for variety, one of the Musk Lorikeets, the noisy ones!

So today was my ‘4th time is the charm’ visit! The plan: walk quietly around the station looking up into the eucalypt trees for sight of birds, rather than listening for their sound. And it was the perfect plan. Even without the kind gentleman I would have come across them, but sharing it with someone else was nice. The excitement and satisfaction is better shared, otherwise random shrieks of joy and jumping up and down clenching fists frightens nearby innocent strangers and inspires parents to gather their children and retreat to a safe distance!

colours

So many different colours! It’s hard to take it all in!

So, the Swift Parrot. This flock is estimated to be up to 30 birds, so I’ve heard. The word has spread like wildfire among birders around the country, and people have traveled serious distances to see these gorgeous creatures. Most days I see people posting photos to Facebook of their experience with finding these quiet, well camouflaged birds. And the sightings have been very reliable every day for several weeks. And now I’m a part of it!

climbing, food

This Swift parrot climbing up the tree for more food

Why are we so excited and motivated to see those beauties? Well for a start they are just stunning! Pretty colours, graceful flight, acrobatic climbers and most significantly, they are endangered. These parrots breed only in Tasmania in the summer; during those months they can only be found in that state which is their home territory and the location of their nests in hollow trees. They migrate to south-eastern Australia, i.e. Victoria and maybe southern NSW, in the winter. They are considered nearly extinct in SA. Year old birds who won’t be breeding sometimes stay here for the summer while the majority of the population head back to Tassie.[1]

magazine, celebrity

I feel like I’ve met a celebrity in the Swift Parrot! I might never see them again, and here they are on the cover of Birdlife’s quarterly magazine!

So they’re endangered, only here in the winter and they’ve set up shop right here in the city, in the square between a strip of shops, a kindergarten, a school and a train station of all things! Not exactly the distant, peaceful, undisturbed bush/forest that you would imagine.

Noisy Miner, power struggle

The annoying Noisy Miners trying to shoo off the Swift Parrots…eventually they won, for now

Which gives me an opportunity to grind one of my favourite axes!

I take issue with people favouring the country to the exclusion of the city.

hello

Well Hello there! Nice to see you

Of course you all have the right to your own opinion. And to be clear, I grew up in the country, moved to the city when I was eighteen to study instead of moving to another country city, moved back to the country for a job when I was twenty two because my city option fell through, and moved back to the city because trying to live in the country was killing us when I was twenty six.

pretty

Just so pretty from every angle!!

I love the country. It really feeds me to find some green spaces. I love the city; my life is there and I love the energy and opportunities.

I don’t understand having a total block opinion of the city. It’s the greatest variety of types and cultures and one opinion can’t apply as a blanket. My husband came from the city, my pharmacist education came from the city, some of the best days of my life have been in the city. Of course growing up in the country was something I loved too.

territory wars, back off

Territory wars are rife around Macleod, Noisy Miners vs. anything else! This Swfit parrot is telling Noisy to back off!

Having a narrow view of those “city people” and “city drivers” is not well thought out. Most “city people” don’t live in the city, as in the CBD. Not many people live in the actual city. We live in suburbs of the city, just like you live in suburbs of country; there is pretty much no difference between where I live and you live in most cases.

The majority of “country people” and “country drivers” don’t live in the country, as in open plains and wide spaces. Not many people live in the actual country. And as above, suburbs vs suburbs.

flock, quiet

A flock of Swift Parrots – if they sit still it’s pretty easy to miss them!

Those in the CBD and those out in the open country can debate the issue, but most people forget that for the rest of us, we’re actually living more or less the same life whether we’re in a town or city.

I can find undisturbed bush land where you can’t hear any traffic and feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere within a 10 minute drive or bike ride from my house in the middle eastern suburbs. Once there you would have no idea that there’s a freeway just the other side, that you’re surrounded by housing. And at the centre of a lot of towns you’ll find it hard to find a park, be walking past plate glass buildings and have all the fumes of the cars just like the city.

rainbow lorikeet, pink flowering gum

Can’t forget a photo of the many Rainbow Lorikeets that rule the rest of the playground at Macleod

I think it’s time we agreed everything has it’s good and poor aspects, and stop being scared of what we don’t know. You never truly know until you go and experience the other side of life. So get out there, live on the other side.

pose

Another shot in bad light so it doesn’t do this bird justice, but what a pose!

It’s always pros and cons. If you didn’t have the city, you couldn’t live the life you enjoy. Without the country, you wouldn’t have many essentials that make up life as we know it.

tomorrow

What a day! What an experience! I’m tempted to head back tomorrow…..

Point being, if a flock of an endangered species of bird that can migrate to anywhere they like choose the suburbs of the city instead of the country, can it really be that bad?

[1] Museum Victoria Field Guide to Victorian Fauna, free app

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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

Birds of the West

Hello Lovelies!

We’re just back from a family wedding in Swan Valley, WA which gave us a good excuse to spend a few days catching up with our various family members who live in Perth and southern WA.

Of course my aims for the holiday included seeing new birds specific to WA and I had some good luck with that!

So here’s the new ones for you to enjoy as well.

One of the most exciting new birds I saw was the WA black cockatoo! Sadly I didn’t get any pictures! I’m pretty sure what we saw was the Carnaby’s, but I’m willing to consider it was the Baudin’s.

The other was a brief glimpse of the Western Rosella, as opposed to our Eastern Rosella; just as stunning in different colours.

A textbook example of a juvenile Silver or Sea Gull near Canning River, green grass

A textbook example of a juvenile Silver or Sea Gull near Canning River, Perth

The '28', one of 4 types of Australian Ringneck Parrot - gorgeous! gum leaves

The ’28’, one of 4 types of Australian Ringneck Parrot – gorgeous! King’s Park, Perth

I thought this was a New Holland Honeyeater but its actually a new one, the White-cheeked Honeyeater! Yay!

I thought this was a New Holland Honeyeater but its actually a new one, the White-cheeked Honeyeater, western form! Yay! King’s Park, Perth

A Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike singing high up in a tree down the paddock

A Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike, humid form singing high up in a tree down the paddock in Boyup Brook

A pretty Singing Honeyeater flitting around above the treeline on Canning River

A pretty Singing Honeyeater flitting around above the treeline on Canning River, Perth

As we drove up to the wedding I saw that bird perched way up high, pretty sure its a Sacred Kingfisher

As we drove up to the wedding I saw that bird perched way up high, pretty sure its a Sacred Kingfisher, Swan Valley

I have never seen so many “crows” on a daily basis! Every day they were all around the house we were staying at in Perth. Did you know that in Victoria we do not have a single crow? We only have Ravens.

This is the Australian Raven. Every time I get a shot like this where I can shoot past or through the foreground to focus on the subject, it gives me great satisfaction!

This is the Australian Raven. Every time I get a shot like this where I can shoot past or through the foreground to focus on the subject, it gives me great satisfaction! Perth

Ad this one is just for kicks…a Red Wattlebird that took off just as I clicked the shutter!

Flying Red Wattlebird! King's Park, Perth WA

Flying Red Wattlebird! King’s Park, Perth WA

And this one for some springtime cuteness!

Soooo cute! A mother Pacific Black duck with at least 7 ducklings which she hurried away from us

Soooo cute! A mother Pacific Black duck with at least 7 ducklings which she hurried away from us to Canning River, Perth

Maybe just one more cuteness photo…

Impending cuteness: mummy Magpie-Lark on the nest, with daddy close by keeping an eye on things

Impending cuteness: mummy Magpie-Lark on the nest, with daddy close by keeping an eye on things

And this is because you don’t see flowering grass trees everyday, and especially not birds feeding off them!

A gorgeous-as-always Rainbow Lorikeet on the grass tree (Black Boy) flower

A gorgeous-as-always Rainbow Lorikeet on the grass tree (Black Boy) flower

And this is for plain fun!

This immature Australian Magpie looks like the cat got his tail!! Doesn't seem to be bothering him too much though

This immature Australian Magpie looks like the cat got his tail!! Doesn’t seem to be bothering him too much though