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 🙂

Heritage steam

Today I went on an exciting adventure. Me and a whole bunch of kids with mum, dad, grandma, uncle etc. I felt just like a kid setting off on an exciting day trip, and as I was surrounded by exactly that, it really helped set the mood!

I arrived at the heritage Queenscliff station at twenty to eleven in the morning to find the train I was about to catch steaming and puffing away with doors wide open ready to receive travelers. What an adorable cutesie sight!! A glorious sunny day, the chill of the morning worn off to a nice comfortable day and a trip in this old steam train to boot!!

Ticket office at the Queenscliff railway station.

Ticket office at the Queenscliff railway station

Irony abounds in the sight of this old fashioned ticket office. I purchased my ticket for the steam train online with my smart phone, and unable to print it out, the railway man had to read my details off said smart phone to record my journey! So much for doing things in the old way! However I did get a cute old school ticket to carry.

Return ticket to board the Queenscliff to Drysdale steam train

Return ticket to board the Queenscliff to Drysdale steam train

Permission to enter the railway station and wait for the train to depart!

Moving from the ticket office to the railway platform

Moving from the ticket office to the railway platform

Queenscliff railway station

Queenscliff railway station

Here’s the train waiting to take on passengers and convey them to Drysdale

Steam engine puffing away ready to take off

Steam engine puffing away ready to take off

Steam engine with the engineers getting ready to depart

Steam engine with the engineers getting ready to depart

Carriages waiting with open doors for passengers to board

Carriages waiting with open doors for passengers to board

Finally eleven o’clock!! All aboard!

Time to depart - all aboard!

Time to depart – all aboard!

Time to pick the best place to sit for the best view!

Time to pick the best place to sit for the best view!

View from the carriage out the door waiting for the station master to shut us in

View from the carriage out the door waiting for the station master to shut us in

The station master closing all the doors for departure

The station master closing all the doors for departure

And we are off! Following the shore of Swan Bay then crossing inland to Drysdale

Perfection! Blue skies, green grass, trees and through it all the gorgeous Swan Bay

Perfection! The view from my seat in the train: blue skies, green grass, trees and through it all the gorgeous Swan Bay

The inside of the 1920s carriage

The inside of the 1920s carriage

Some days, life is just perfect! Comfy seat, train doing all the work, view to boot!

Some days, life is just perfect! Comfy seat, train doing all the work, view to boot!

First stop, Laker’s Siding

Lakers Siding railway station

Lakers Siding railway station

Second stop, Suma Park (bad photo!)

Suma Park railway station

Suma Park railway station

Third and final stop, Drysdale. Beautiful station opposite Lake Lorne, home of some great birds!

Behind of Drysdale railway station

Behind of Drysdale railway station

Purple Swamphens at the Drysdale railway station

Purple Swamphens at the Drysdale railway station

A beautiful Black Swan, a Eurasian Coot and some ducks opposite Drysdale railway station

A beautiful Black Swan, a Eurasian Coot and some ducks opposite Drysdale railway station

Cormorants roosting in an old tree in Lake Lorne opposite the Drysdale railway station

Cormorants roosting in an old tree in Lake Lorne opposite the Drysdale railway station

What a great trip! I can highly recommend the steam train trip between Queenscliff and Drysdale; if you’re in the area, make sure you take the time to enjoy this old school adventure 🙂

Swan Bay

Yesterday morning we took a walk around Swan Bay in Queenscliff. The morning had been pretty chilly and there was still a brisk wind off the water as we headed off around the waterside walking track.

The upside of a chilly morning is the clear sunny day that follows; perfect for bird watching and taking photos and just being out and about!

I didn’t see quite as many birds as I had hoped, however a lot of birds were far over on little islands of sea grass or tidal mud so although they were there, we didn’t get a good look.

I really need to look into getting a pair of more powerful binoculars. I already know mine are terrible, but just need to get out and look for my next pair; they would make a huge difference!

Pair of Crimson Rosellas walking the spouting of a nearby house

Pair of Crimson Rosellas walking the spouting of a nearby house

Beautiful duck in the wetlands: Pacific Black, Australian Shoveler or Australian Grey Teal??

Beautiful duck in the wetlands: Pacific Black, Australasian Shoveler or Australian Grey Teal??

Australian White Ibis poking around in the shallows

Australian White Ibis poking around in the shallows

White-faced Heron in the Swan Bay

White-faced Heron in the Swan Bay

Australian Pied Oystercatcher amongst the sea grass

Australian Pied Oystercatcher amongst the sea grass

Stunning Crimson Rosella in the bushes

Stunning Crimson Rosella in the bushes

Beautiful crimson and light blue colours of the Crimson Rosella

Beautiful crimson and light blue colours of the Crimson Rosella

Group of male and female Chestnut Teal ducks in the sea grass

Group of male and female Chestnut Teal ducks in the sea grass

Fabulous blue male Superb Fairy-wren on the path in front of us

Fabulous blue male Superb Fairy-wren on the path in front of us

Pretty female Superb Fairy-wren edging out of the bushes next to the path

Pretty female Superb Fairy-wren edging out of the bushes next to the path

New Holland Honeyeaters thronging through these yellow bushes

New Holland Honeyeaters thronging through these yellow bushes

New Holland Honeyeater dangling down into a flower

New Holland Honeyeater dangling down into a flower

Immature New Holland Honeyeater preening on a branch

Immature New Holland Honeyeater preening on a branch

Group of Little Pied Cormorants drying off on the shore

Group of Little Pied Cormorants drying off on the shore

Royal Spoonbills swishing their bills for dinner

Royal Spoonbills swishing their bills for dinner

Another yellow bush, another New Holland Honeyeater

Another yellow bush, another New Holland Honeyeater

Caught in mid twirl: New Holland Honeyeater dancing around

Caught in mid twirl: New Holland Honeyeater dancing around

Australian Magpie in the grass

Australian Magpie in the grass

Group of Australian Grey Teal ducks resting on Swan Bay

Group of Australian Grey Teal ducks resting on Swan Bay

Queenscliff sunset

Yesterday we drove to Queenscliff to spend a few days on holiday by the seaside. Yes, it’s winter. Yes, it’s freezing but it’s whale season!! I really want to see a whale! So I’m hoping that while we stay here on the coast I will somehow be in the right place at the right time and catch a glimpse. I’ve never seen a whale in the wild and it’s one of my bucket list items so here’s hoping.

We arrived in time for a late lunch and a nap for me. Yes I’m still napping but I’d been up early, been to the doctor, driven with the family down here and I was ready for some alone time and rest and relaxation.

I woke up just in time for the sunset.

I walked down to Swan Bay to take some shots over the beautiful water and was met with a fierce cold wind that goes straight to your bones! Wow it was cold! But I had fun taking sunset shots, even though my face went numb, and got a few bonus surprises. All afternoon I’d been hearing a train whistle and couldn’t work out what it was. Turns out it was a gorgeous old steam train! Tomorrow I’m going to take a ride on it; I’m pretty excited!

Here’s my evening’s work.

sunset, swan bay

Stunning sunset over Swan Bay

sunset, swan bay, wind

Sunset over the wind rippled bay

steam train, queenscliff

Queenscliff heritage steam train from the 1920s

steam train, station, queenscliff

Queenscliff heritage steam train and the old railway station

steam train, queenscliff

Heritage Queenscliff steam train at the siding

Queenscliff railway station in the dusk

Queenscliff railway station in the dusk

Dusk over Swan Bay

Dusk over Swan Bay

A flock of Silver Gulls and one lonely immature Pacific Gull

A flock of Silver Gulls and one lonely immature Pacific Gull

Quaint old stone waterways in Queenscliff

Quaint old stone waterways in Queenscliff