Bird’s eye view

[Written 15th October, 2015]

Apologies for my two week break. I’m calling it my school holidays! It’s just been busy busy lately and I’m struggling a little (read: more than a little!) to keep afloat. I tried to write for both Monday deadlines but I ended up with rambling, vague, long and somewhat pointless essays that I’d lost touch with and couldn’t relate to anymore. But now I’m back 🙂

Today a fellow birder from one of the several bird photography groups that I’m a member of on Facebook posted something that I could connect with. It’s a quote from a very famous author.

“I never saw a wild thing feel sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself” – D H Lawrence

I wanted to call this post perspective, again, but I’ve done that at least twice, so time for a new title. I looked up synonyms and one that was listed under prospect was bird’s eye view. It’s a unique outlook that humans mostly never get to enter into. We often imagine what a bird’s view is, and project onto birds our human emotions and thoughts.

There’s a whole animal welfare section of society that campaigns for different animals in different situations. As far as I can see, which might not be well or far, we can assess an animals pain based on what would cause us pain, or by the animals behaviour and reaction to the pain. Then we can treat the pain.

The rest of the industry I don’t know about, and I’m not sure if we always do it right. These are just my questioning thoughts; I’m not basing this on any evidence or proof.

We campaign for cage chickens and want them free to roam the open green grass paddocks. But as long as the animals aren’t being injured by too close proximity to each other or the cages, does the chicken feel sorry for itself? Or was it bred for this and in this environment, and doesn’t know the difference and is actually quite content? Are we thinking of ourselves and how we like open, green spaces, and don’t like being too close to each other in physical distance and housing? Are we projecting onto a creature that doesn’t even have the kind of human thinking that gets us worried about other life forms? I don’t know. I just wonder. How about overseas where high density living and family groups are crowded into one house? Do they think about free range chickens? Doubtful, because it’s exactly how they are living. Hmmm. Feel free to comment.

The picture posted on the bird photography group that prompted this quote was of a Silver Gull, commonly called a seagull. If you glanced at the photo, if you looked at it, you wouldn’t think anything of it. It’s a photo of a seagull standing on a stone border. Nothing particularly notable.

Until you read the comment that the person posting the photo had written:

“Silver gull with no feet. While it is sad, the bird seemed to be doing okay. And it shows just how adaptable the species can be” – Jade Craven, Bird Photography Australia.

That makes you look again. And this time you notice that instead of standing on two  three-toed, webbed feet, the bird is standing on stumps. Remarkable!

But looking at it you would have to agree with the description. This is a healthy Silver Gull.

Clean, healthy, perfect-looking plumage; healthy coloured legs, eye and beak; looking well fed.

Our instincts would be to protect this somewhat disabled bird, but actually, it’s doing okay.

We’d want to take it in, feed it, keep it safely enclosed from predators, care for it.

In doing so, we’d give it our idea of appropriate food at our idea of frequency, we’d make it dependent on us for food and water so that it would be lost or dead without us, we’d keep it in an environment where it couldn’t fly like normal and it might lose the ability to do so making it prone to attack. Being in a safe environment could make it unaware to danger and threat, so that it becomes an easy target.

I’m not saying this in any criticism of animal rescue professionals who are trained in animal welfare. They know what they are doing, and they take animals only if they cannot be left in the wild by any means possible, and give them the best care that is known by humans to give.

But I’m trying to look from a bird’s eye view and see how they see. Of course it’s impossible; they don’t talk so they can’t tell us. But I’ve seen a LOT of humans lately, in the groups that I follow, rush to take birds, especially babies into their care when in some circumstances, nature was taking its course as the fledglings left the nest and made their way to the ground. Taking them in is the worst thing for them, now that they are separated from their family. In my opinion.

I was always taught to leave well alone. Just because you’ve stumbled across a situation at a certain time and it looks a certain way, don’t jump the gun. Nature is incredibly smart! Birds and all the other creatures are incredibly well regulated and well designed and they know what they’re doing and are more resourceful than we are, I reckon. Of course this is all opinion but I’ve been interested to think about this.

People have tried to enter into a bird’s perspective. I’ve seen Go Pros strapped to the back to eagles before they are released to fly and soar so that we the humans can look down on the world like they do. Something that astounded me was that I couldn’t see the ground! Not in any detail at all anyway, of course I could see it but I couldn’t make out anything. And eagles can not only see the ground in detail but they see tiny animals in amazing detail and they dive on a pinpoint spot to capture and get away with their prey. They’re way ahead of us!

So I was just thinking about birds not feeling sorry for themselves, but just getting on with life in whatever way they can. Most times they don’t need us, and we can certainly make things worse for them, and maybe sometimes a little better.

But I can keeping thinking this: birds don’t seem to feel sorry for themselves. They just go, just do, just be without considering whether they are hard done by, or its unfair, or someone else should do something for me. So can I, if I am prepared to make the effort to change my thinking, and I hope I am!

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

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 🙂

Queenscliff sunrise

All the benefits of this morning are due to a great suggestion from my hubby.

I’m away at the beach with my family for a few days and my poor hubby is left home alone working. When we were chatting on the phone last night I was telling him how I went for an evening walk last night and took photographs of the sunset. His suggestion: wouldn’t it be cool if I also got up and photographed the sunrise?

Why yes it would be cool. However there’s the fact that I haven’t got up for the sunrise in months! But then I looked it up and the sunrise for today wasn’t until 7.40am. Well that’s not too bad. However there is the point that I have to be awake, up out of bed, dressed and down at the sunset by 7.40am. Where would be the best spot to watch the sunset around here…I’m thinking from the Queenscliff pier. So I set my alarm for 7.10am and decided I would just see what happened.

In the end I got up just in time to get dressed and get down to the pier for the sunrise. Although it wasn’t a true sunrise; there was a lot of cloud cover blocking the view but the sun did peek through for some cool photos.

Additional bonus: there were quite a few cool birds around too!

Queenscliff pier, sunrise

The beautiful Queenscliff pier at sunrise

pacific gulls, dawn, seaside

Pair of Pacific Gulls bobbing in the dawn seaside

immature pacific gull, lamp post

Immature Pacific Gull roosting on a lamp post

silver gull, walking

Beautiful Silver Gull walking the ledge

queenscliff pier, sunrise, bay

Cloudy sunrise beaming over the Queenscliff pier and bay

swimmer crab, cooked, pier

Swimmer crab on the pier – is it just me, or does it look cooked?

granary, queenscliff pier

Granary on the Queenscliff pier in the morning

little pied cormorant, shed roof

Little Pied Cormorant roosting on a shed roof

common starling, autumn winter spots, nesting, eaves

Common starling with autumn/winter spots nesting under the eaves

pier, lighthouse

Looking over to the other pier and lighthouse

female, superb fairy-wren, beach

Gorgeous female Superb Fairy-wren hopping about on the beach

Brilliant male Superb Fairy-wren hopping in the sea grass on the beach

Brilliant male Superb Fairy-wren hopping in the sea grass on the beach

SIlver Gull frenzy over a school of fish

Seagull frenzy over a school of fish at sunrise

new holland honeyeater, bushes, chirping, jumping

Gorgeous shot of a New Holland Honeyeater chirping and jumping in the bushes

Juvenile Crimson Rosella blending into a bush while eating breakfast

Juvenile Crimson Rosella blending into a bush while eating breakfast

willy wagtail, prancing

Prancing little Willy Wagtail fanning it’s tail

wattlebird

A loud Wattlebird, just not sure which one, not fast enough to shoot its face

Pretty cloudy sunrise from the pier

Pretty cloudy sunrise from the pier