Red-Eared Firetail

 

Red-eared Firetail

Red-eared Firetail

One of the most enjoyable parts of my trip to Denmark was seeing a red-eared firetail.  That’s partly because they’re so pretty, but also because I’d never heard of one before.  They’re quite unusual, but I saw a pair come through the woodland most days that I was there.

Drinking

Drinking

Isn’t he beautiful? Fortunately, a neighbour put out a bird bath which they liked to visit which made them much easier to see.  They weren’t particularly shy, and would come reasonably close as long as I stood absolutely still.

Pair

Pair

Here he is again but with his partner.  It’s a type of finch so they have the finch family beak that’s ideal for eating seeds.  Several times I watched them feeding on the dried seed heads of the plants in the woodland, but I’ve no idea what the plants were called.

 

Drinking

Drinking

They’re only found in the far southwest of WA, so if you want to see one you’ll have to visit a fairly specific area.  There are two other types of firetail who are found over in the south east, so hopefully I’ll get to see them too at in the future.

Firetail

Firetail

 

 

Denmark Trip – Part 1

Western Rosella

Western Rosella

My recent trip to Denmark wasn’t as far afield as you might imagine, as it’s on the south coast of Western Australia, not the European one.  I stayed in a cabin on built stilts, on the side of a hill, in woodland, so from one side of the house the view was directly into the tree tops.  There was a bird feeder on the balcony and we had lots of visitors to it, including some surprises.  The rosella (above) was one of them.  It’s the first time I’ve seen them since we moved here and there was a whole family who were regular visitors.

White-browed Babbler

White-browed Babbler

The rosella wasn’t the only first for us.  This babbler was one of a group of about 7 who came noisily through the woods

Red-winged Fairy-wren

Red-winged Fairy-wren

This red-winged fairy-wren and his family was another regular visitor.  I have to say he looks just the same as several other fairy-wrens (blue-breasted, variegated, lovely) and I’m only guessing red-winged because of our location.

Common Bronzewing

Common Bronzewing

Another frequent visitor to the bird table was this lovely bronzewing.  There were quite a few of them and they were easily chased off the feeders by the gallahs, so they quite often fed on the forest floor beneath, picking up the seeds that the other birds were dropping.

White-naped Honey-eater

White-naped Honey-eater

These honey-eaters were also new to me – white-naped honey-eaters.

Gallah Chicks

Gallah Chicks

The most common visitors to the feeder, and the whole of the balcony, were the gallahs.  At one point we had 22 gallahs on there, all queuing up for a feed.  In the woods I found the reason they were so hungry. This one had been eating for at least 3. The parents seemed to be feeding, then regurgitating food for their very noisy chicks. You can just see one peeping out of the nest hole.

Gallah

Gallah

 

Dolphins

 

Dolphin

Dolphin

There won’t be any birds in this post but surely everyone loves dolphins.  So I thought I’d share some pictures from a recent trip.  This wild dolphin was playing just in front of me in the shallows.

Swimming in the shallows

Dolphin swimming in the shallows

These were taken in a town called Bunbury, about 2 hours drive south of Perth.  The town is built by a lovely bay, which happens to be a perfect home for dolphins.  It’s shallow and sheltered, and has plenty of fish in it. And lots and lots of dolphins.

Visitor Centre

Visitor Centre

There’s a dolphin visitor centre and the wild dolphins frequently come to shore all year round.  When a dolphin comes to the shore at the centre someone rings a bell.  Visitors and volunteers then stand in a line, thigh deep in the water.  The wild dolphins then come and have a look and a play.  It’s one of the few places in Australia where you can do this.  Each one might stay for just 2 minutes, or even for as long as an hour, it’s up to the dolphin.  Sometimes they come on their own, sometimes several come together.  Sometimes they might not come at all for a while – there are no guarantees with wild animals.

Dolphin Face

Dolphin Face

It’s just a breath taking experience.  It’s hard to think that they’re completely wild, they’re so curious and confident in the company of all those people.  You don’t touch them or feed them, just stand while they swim around you.  About 90 of them live in the bay all of the time, and about 200 are regular visitors to it.  About 20 of them are regular visitors to the shore.  Last year, one of the females brought her calf in to show it off less than 24 hours after it was born – I wish I’d seen that.

Dolphins Playing

Dolphins Playing

The centre runs boat tours around the bay, and also trips to swim with the dolphins in the bay.  When we arrived a trip came in where the visitors had been in the water with one group for about 45 minutes.

Females and calves

Females and calves

They’re all bottlenose dolphins.  The bay is especially safe for raising young because so much of it is too shallow for sharks to live and hunt in, and sharks are their main predators.

Bottlenose

Bottlenose

We went on the boat tour and it was amazing.  We must have seen 40 – 50 dolphins while we were out.  We were told that the group in the picture above were probably all mothers and calves.  The calves aren’t tiny – they looked pretty much full size, but they stay with their mum for several years.  The youngest would have been at least 9 months old as this year’s calves hadn’t been born yet.  It was such an amazing trip that I’ll be going back again soon in the hope of seeing one of this season’s calves.

Ospreys Are Back!

Osprey Nesting

Osprey Nesting

After a bit of a lull in activity, there’s suddenly lots of action around.  The best news is that the ospreys have nested again, in the same place as last time.  Most of last year’s nest had been blown away by storms so I wondered whether they’d choose somewhere else.  The nest already looks more robust than last year, so hopefully it might hold together better for them.  I don’t know how many eggs, if any, there are yet.  I’ll be back to take some more pictures next week.  Let’s hope they’re as successful as last year.

Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo

Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo

A couple of months ago I saw a red-tailed black-cockatoo for the first time, but I couldn’t put a photo up because I didn’t have my camera with me at the time.  Then a couple of weeks ago, I saw a pair.  I watched them fairly close to for several minutes.  Getting a photo isn’t easy as they feed so high up and there are always twigs in the way.  Then I managed to get this shot when he took off, I was so pleased.

Breakfast time

Breakfast time

What a delight getting up has been this week.  This lovely tree is flowering. I open my curtains in the morning and see the rainbow lorikeets feeding, such a treat.

Grey Currawong

Grey Currawong

This is one of those birds that I’d never heard of until I saw it.  In fact, when I saw it I just assumed it was a magpie and didn’t notice it.  It was only when it squawked that I realised it was something different – a very strange sound.  So I got a picture (just), and looked it up when I got home.  I was camping at a place called Wave Rock at the time which is spectacular itself.  I know this is a bird blog but I’ll finish with a picture of the rock for anyone who’s never heard of it.

Wave Rock

Wave Rock

 

Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo – Been and Gone

 

Carnaby's Black Cockatoo

Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo

 

The Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos were out and about in the northern suburbs for several weeks again, and now they’ve disappeared as quickly as they arrived.

Feed Time

Feed Time

They seem to come in early spring and feast on the flowers and bushes in the reserves.  I think it’s the time of year now when they breed, so maybe they fill up before flying off to their breeding grounds.

On the Lookout

On the Lookout

It’s really hard to think of them as being on the critically endangered list when they are so obvious in the area.  They’re very noisy, they travel in huge flocks sometimes, and they let me get within a few metres of them when they’re feeding.  When I think of endangered animals, I tend to think of solitary, shy animals that live in really remote places that will be very hard to spot.  But the cockatoos make sure that everyone knows when they arrive.

Carnaby's Black Cockatoo flying over

Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo flying over

The picture below was taken in Quinns Rocks, and you can see how big the flocks are.  I counted over 200 together on the reserve that day.  Their numbers have halved over the past 50 years though, so there are huge conservation efforts to try and increase their numbers again.  Hopefully, in a few months time, they’ll be back again but with some youngsters with them too.

Flocks in the Suburbs

Flocks in the Suburbs

 

 

Birds Eye View

Osprey

Osprey     Getting a Birds Eye View

I haven’t posted for a few weeks because I haven’t been out very much, because of the rubbish weather.  It’s good for the region because it had been so dry for so long, and the birds don’t care, but I like the big blue sky and hope we get better weather soon.

The good news is that I see the ospreys regularly now, so I’m hoping that in a month or so they might nest again nearby.  The one above was less than a kilometre from the marina, on a fishing trip.

White-Winged Fairy-Wrens

White-Winged Fairy-Wrens

While I was trying to get a photo of the osprey, the fairy-wrens very kindly came to me.  The male’s breeding plumage is almost complete, but not quite.

Splendid Fairy-Wren

Splendid Fairy-Wren

I went to Yanchep National Park and the splendid Fairy-Wren was also putting on a show.

Spoonbill

Spoonbill

 

The water birds were out in force, including this spoonbill.  The spoonbill didn’t appear to be making a nest, but didn’t seem to want to give up his stick either.

 

 

 

Ducklings

Ducklings

 

 

It’s always a treat to see ducklings, and this mother had 15 tiny ducklings to care for.  I don’t know when they’d hatched but it must have been very recently.

 

Australian Shelducks

Australian Shelducks

 

 

The shelducks seemed happy to make the most of the break in the rain to sit and sun themselves on the rocks.

 

 

Pelican
Pelican

 

 

The pelican also seems to be happy to get the sun on his back for a while.  It’s raining again at the moment, fingers crossed for some sunshine and dry days next week.

 

Spring is in the Air

Black-Tailed Native-Hen

Black-Tailed Native-Hen

Spring is in the air again and the birds are back in huge numbers, many of them getting ready to breed.  Over 40 black-tailed native-hens were feeding on the lawns last time I went to Yanchep, and they aren’t nearly as shy now as they seemed a year ago.

Scarlet Robin

Scarlet Robin

 

 

This scarlet robin was eating a grub in the tree in front of me – the first time I’d ever seen one.

 

 

 

Scarlet Robin (female)

Scarlet Robin (female)

 

 

 

And here’s his partner, watching from a nearby branch.

 

 

Australian Shelduck

Australian Shelduck

 

This male Australian shelduck has his work cut out protecting 10 ducklings.  His partner was there too (out of shot) and he devoted a lot of time to chasing several ducks away from his family.  It hasn’t rained anywhere much as it should this winter but at least the lakes are full enough for the birds to swim now.

Pink-eared Duck

Pink-eared Duck

 

This pair of pink-eared ducks was at Herdsman Lake and managed to stay nearby for long enough for me to get a picture this time.

 

 

 

 

Little Corella

Little Corella

 

 

The winter rains have also allowed the grass to grow.  This corella wasn’t content with just plucking at the grass or roots, it set about digging a hole too.

 

 

The rains may not have filled the lakes, but they are looking much better than they did a month ago.

Loch McNess - Yanchep

Loch McNess – Yanchep

 

 

 

White-bellied Sea-eagle

White-bellied Sea-eagle

White-bellied Sea-eagle

As I mentioned before, I’ve never actually seen a sea-eagle properly.  These pictures were taken by my husband on his trip to the Northern Territories, east of Darwin, in a place called Corroboree Billabong.

I'm looking at you

I’m looking at you

 

 

He was only there for a few hours yet he managed to see at least 6 of these lovely birds, and fairly close too.  They seemed to realise that the people on the cruise boat were no threat.

 

Perching

Perching

 

If you want to see a white-bellied sea-eagle in action but, like me, you aren’t near a good viewing spot, try this.  It’s the white-bellied sea-eagle cam, a live stream from a nest in Sydney.  It’s been running for several years. As I type the eggs are due to hatch any minute.

 

Setting off

Setting off

 

 

As the clouds rolled in this one realised the photo opportunity was coming to an end and flew away.  Their wingspan is over 2m so it’s quite an impressive sight.

 

 

Always on the lookout

Always on the lookout

 

Hopefully it won’t be too long before I see a sea-eagle for myself.  If not, I’ll have to save up for a trip to the Northern Territories.

 

 

 

Although it was the sea-eagles who stole the show, these whistling kites were quite cooperative too.  The one on the left is a juvenile.

Whistling Kites - probably

Whistling Kites – probably

 

 

 

 

 

Arrggh – Crocodiles

Darwin  Home of the Saltwater Crocodile

Darwin Home of the Saltwater Crocodile

Today’s pictures all come courtesy of my husband who was lucky enough to have a couple of days off while working up in Darwin.  I was fairly unsettled while he was away, but mainly because I’d let him take my camera. The understanding was that I could use his pictures on here on his return.

Freshwater Crocodile

Freshwater Crocodile

He went to a National Park east of Darwin for a river cruise to see the crocodiles that the region is famous for, and he wasn’t disappointed.  There were plenty of saltwater crocs out right from the start, and they saw the smaller freshwater ones further into the trip too. About 40 years the saltwater crocs had been hunted to near extinction, when there were only about 3,000 left in the wild.  Since being protected, their numbers have risen rapidly to near 100,000 now.

These dense trees were great for smaller birds to hide in.

These dense trees were great for smaller birds to hide in.

 

 

The scenery and the weather are very different to that around Perth.  It’s tropical so the plants and birds are completely different too.

Comb-crested Jacana

Comb-crested Jacana

 

 

 

 

 

 

The birds were out in their masses.  Many different species, and some in huge flocks.

It doesn’t look it in this photo, but these jacanas actually have really long legs.

 

Jabiru

Jabiru

 

 

I’d seen jabiru on the television before, but I hadn’t really paid attention to where they lived.  Also called the Black-Necked Stork.

 

 

 

Little Kingfisher

Little Kingfisher

 

 

There were several of these Little Kingfishers out fishing.  We don’t get these around Perth either.

 

 

 

White-bellied Sea-eagle

White-bellied Sea-eagle

 

 

Now these do live in WA too, but I’ve only ever seen one and it was extremely high in the air and being chased by crows at the time.  There were several sea-eagles on the river, but more about them next time.

 

Ant Nest - in a tree

Ant Nest – in a tree

 

 

There are over 700 types of ants living in Australia but not many (even across the world) nest in trees.  These are specially adapted and live really high off the ground, avoiding many of the normal ant predators.  They don’t avoid the birds though.

 

 

Rainbow Bee-eater

Rainbow Bee-eater

 

 

There were several bee-eaters out, but most of them were lass co-operative than this one about sitting still and posing for the camera.

 

 

Seeing the photos has made me just a bit jealous – especially as we had rain and cold weather for most of the time he was away.  So the central north of Northern Territory is now very much on my hit-list of places to visit.

Best viewed at a distance

Best viewed at a distance