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

 

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

Winter has Arrived

Wanderer Butterfly

Wanderer Butterfly

It took me a while to get used to the reversal of seasons having moved hemispheres, to think of July as winter and Christmas as being in summer, but I’m getting used to it now.  What I didn’t allow for was that not everything swapped with it.  For instance, I looked for lambs in spring, in September. Wrong.  And butterflies in summer. Wrong again.  A lot of what happens in spring in the UK actually happens in autumn or winter here.  In the summer, it’s so dry that food is sparse.  There aren’t many flowers and the grass dies off.  When it starts to cool down and then rain in autumn, the wildlife springs into action.

Lake Joondalup

Lake Joondalup

It’s started to rain regularly now.  Not much so far, but enough to cover most of Lake Joondalup.  And with it, many of the water-birds have returned.  Hundreds of ducks, along with shovelers and grebes were resting in the middle of the lake.

Spoonbill

Spoonbill

A spoonbill and a heron were making the most of the rain too.  They went into hiding with the arrival of several dogs playing, but I managed to get one picture of the spoonbill just in time.

Elegant Parrot Pair

Elegant Parrot Pair

The pair of elegant parrots were perching near to where I saw them a couple of weeks ago, in Franklin park.  I’m hoping that maybe they’ll hang around to breed there.  I also hope that one day they might sit a little bit closer to the fence so that I can get a clearer look.

There are some fairly spectacular spider webs around too at the moment.  This one was in Franklin Park.  I think it’s an orb-weaver (based on 5 minutes on google images), but I could be wrong.

Golden Orb-weaver (probably!)

Golden Orb-weaver (probably!)

 

Heirisson Island, Perth

Heirisson Island view of Perth City

Heirisson Island view of Perth City

Heirisson Island is an absolute gem in Perth and seems remarkably under-appreciated.  It’s right on the doorstep of the main part of the city, in the middle of the Swan River, at the end of Riverside Drive.  There’s a busy road (The Causeway),  which connects the North and South of the city, and it crosses the island.  If you head south on The Causeway, you can pull into a car park on the island.  Once there, it feels a million miles from city centre life.

Pelican

Pelican

 

I called in this week for an hour for a walk in the middle of an otherwise busy day and there was plenty to see.  This pelican was having a mid-day rest and didn’t seem interested in my presence.

 

 

Kangaroo

Kangaroo

 

The island has its own population of kangaroos. You have to go through a gate on the western side of the island, where there’s a fence to stop them wandering onto the road.  In the daytime in summer, they’re usually sleeping in the shade, but this week was cooler so they were out grazing.

 

Island on the island

Island on the island

This shows an island within a lake on the island in the river – strange.  Note how there’s nobody else in the picture at all!  Despite being in a city.  Why?

Jellyfish

Jellyfish

Because it’s so close to the sea, the tide still effects this part of the river.  This means that the water is brackish and there are natural tubes for the river water to flow in and out of the lakes on the island.  So that explains how jellyfish have come to populate the water on the island.

White-faced Heron

White-faced Heron

This time there were lots of herons around.  I saw at  least 7 in the wetland area.  Much more shy than the pelican or the darter, but they still let me get close enough to get some photos.

There are usually darters somewhere to be seen on the island, and often they will be stretching their wings out to dry like the one below.

Australasian Darter

Australasian Darter

There are development plans around for the island. One plan is to make a sculpture park.  However, I quite like it as it is – quiet, peaceful and natural.

We Need RAIN!

 

Where's the rain? Dried up Yanchep

Where’s the rain? Dried up Yanchep

We could really do with some rain now.  We’ve had just 44mm this year so far, and most of that was in a couple of heavy downpours.  The lakes at Yanchep and Joondalup have all but dried up and the water birds have taken the huff.  A lot of them have simply upped sticks and gone south closer to Perth where the lakes are still watery.

Herdsman Lake

Herdsman Lake

So this week I took my bike down to Herdsman and cycled there one morning, and found all the missing birds.

Daft Spoonbill

Daft Spoonbill

 

 

The biggest treat was finding this spoonbill.  I’ve seen them before, but this is the first time I’ve been close enough to get a good picture.  I didn’t realise until now just quite how daft they look.

 

Male Hardhead

Male Hardhead

 

 

New bird!  I also saw this – a hardhead.  I’d never even heard of one before but there were several there.

 

 

Egret by the road

Egret by the road

 

One of the stranger sights was this egret walking along the edge of the cycle path – right next to the dual carriage-way.

I counted over 20 glossy ibis together, along with several teals.  Thanks to the people at Birdlife Australia we managed to get the teals identified as grey ones.  There’s a picture of the teals and ibis at the bottom.

 

 

Kookaburra

Kookaburra

 

 

There were plenty of very Australian birds out too.  Kookaburra, black swan and willie-wagtail all out and about.

 

 

Great Crested Grebe

Great Crested Grebe

 

I’ll have to learn to pay more attention to the ‘Caution – Snake Habitat’ signs.  Fortunately my friend managed to say ‘watch it – snake’ before I stood on the tiger snake.  I wasn’t in the rough grass.  It was just in the very short , mown, green lawn by the visitor centre.  And it was barely even visible as it slithered away, managing to stay under the grass somehow.

 

The clouds have been gathering for a couple of weeks now, and the humidity has been up at over 90% for a lot of the time, so maybe the rain will arrive soon.  And maybe a few more of the birds will return.

Glossy Ibis and Grey Teal

Glossy Ibis and Grey Teal

Caversham Wildlife Park

Barking owl

Caversham Wildlife Park – Barking owl

This week’s pictures are of captive birds.  We had an outing over the Easter break to Caversham WIldlife Park, mainly to see the koalas and wombats.  I had no idea how big it was or how much there was to see and do there.  As well as all the marsupials there were lots of native birds on show.

Sooty owl

Sooty owl

 

 

In one of the ‘meet and greet’ sessions there were owls and ‘parroty types’.  Feel free to correct me if I’ve identified them wrongly.

Frogmouth

Frogmouth

 

 

 

 

I love being stared out by owls.  This one is a frogmouth.  I’m still not entirely sure whether a frogmouth is an owl or not.

Major Mitchell's Cockatoo

Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo

 

 

 

 

 

Electus Parrot

Electus Parrot

 

 

 

 

 

The parrots and cockatoos were entertaining as ever – so intelligent and playful.

 

Upside down
Upside down

 

 

 

 

 

They  were keen not to be out-done by the wombat and were showing off their best moves for us.

Masked Lapwing

Masked Lapwing

 

 

 

Then outside there were enclosures with birds from different states.

 

Bush stone-curlew

Bush stone-curlew

 

 

 

 

 

This stone-curlew was fairly well hidden until it started to stand up.  If it hadn’t moved I may have missed it.

 

 

 

I couldn’t end without showing the cutest marsupial of the day.  It’s called a bettong – a tiny, tiny kangaroo.  It was surrounded by visitors, but just fell asleep, upside down, in the arms of its keeper.  With his feet in the air, he quite happily slept through the action as all the visitors gently stroked his tummy.

Sleepy head

Sleepy head

 

Penguin Island

 

Pelican Drying

Pelican Drying

 

Several recent posts have been about birds that I saw on Penguin Island, but there’s plenty more wildlife to see there.  It’s a great day out too.  It’s just a 10 minute boat ride from the mainland or, if you like kayaking, you can kayak from the shore on a trip or in your own kayak.  The boats don’t run during the winter because the island is closed during the penguins‘ breeding season.

penguin island

This is the view from the top of the island looking back to the mainland.  Plenty of people come over for a day on the beach with a picnic.  It’s a good snorkelling spot too.  Lots of visitors also go on the boat trip over to Seal Island or go dolphin watching.

Pelican Chicks

Pelican Chicks

The 2 pelican breeding sites are amazing to see.  The chicks look even more clumsy than the parents, with wings and legs seeming to stick out at all angles.  Each site looks very disorganised with chicks just lying scattered.  They don’t appear to have nests.  Maybe with a lack of predators and the warm temperatures they don’t need a nest.

 

Buff-Banded Rail

Buff-Banded Rail

 

Another common sight are the buff-banded rails.  There are several on the island, but the ones near the visitor centre don’t have the level of shyness that you’d expect.  They don’t come out at the height of picnic time, but when it’s a bit quieter they often come onto the lawn.

 

 

King's Skink

King’s Skink

 

 

It’s well known for its King’s Skinks. If you try to have a picnic by the visitors centre they’ll come right up and hope for scraps.

 

 

 

Oyster Catchers

Oyster Catchers

 

 

 

These oyster catchers were having a good stretch while I watched.

 

 

Seagull Chick

Seagull Chick

 

Naturally there are plenty of gulls on the island.  This little chick was feeling very shy.  Patience paid off and it eventually came out of the bushes to join its mum.

 

 

 

Stack

Stack

 

 

 

There are lots of wierd rock formations over the island.  A tern took advantage of this stack to make its nest.

 

 

 

 

I won’t subject you to any photos of me snorkelling, but there are snorkelling sites around and if you are lucky you might just be joined by one of the dolphins.

Rocks

Rocks

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wangara Lakes – A Great End to a Boring Week

Little Eagle

Little Eagle

 

We all have boring weeks sometimes, and mine had been full of housework, paperwork and finances.  The forecast was for days of rain and I ‘Needed to get out.’  So on Saturday morning we headed to an area nearby where we often see signs to lakes but never actually see any water.  It was time to investigate Wangara Lakes. Before the storm arrived.

Lake Jandabup

Lake Jandabup

Wangara Lakes isn’t an official place,  but the area around Wangara seems to have a series of small lakes as part of the Gnangara Mound.  Many of them only hold water for part of the year as the water table is so low now, and one of them appeared to be a boggy area rather than a recognisable lake.The first Lake we visited was Lake Jandabup.  Very quiet, very pretty.

Crested Pigeon

Crested Pigeon

 

Almost straight away I saw a Crested Pigeon.  My husband was annoyingly underwhelmed and said he’d seen them several times before.  But I hadn’t and I was very pleased to see it, and pleased that it was so happy to pose.  We also saw a great egret in the water and a pair of swamp harriers (I think) overhead.

Red-capped Parrot

Red-capped Parrot

Next was Badgerup Lake – this was the one where we couldn’t actually find any water.  A lovely wood, but no lake.  I’ll have to go again sometime in the car and have a look for another entrance just in case we missed it.  Before long we saw a little bird.  My thanks to John at ‘Birdlife Australia’ for identifying it as a red capped robin.  Then the elusive red-capped parrot.  I think I’ve glimpsed them before, but never for long enough to be sure.  And never long enough to get a photo.  We saw a pair for a couple of minutes before they disappeared into the wood.

Gnangara Lake

Gnangara Lake

Then we headed to Gnangara Lake, but the clouds were already rolling in.  It seemed silent after Badgerup and we didn’t stay for long.  I saw 3 red-capped plovers down by the water’s edge (see picture below) and then a bird of prey.  Most Australian Birders would have thought ‘there’s a little eagle’, but I had never heard of one never mind seen one.  I didn’t even realise it was something that I hadn’t seen before to be honest.  All I could think was ‘I must get a decent photo’.  All my efforts went into trying to get a clear picture and keep it in focus.  It was only when I got home that I realised that it was different to what I had thought I’d seen and I had to look it up.  At least I had several pictures to identify it from.  It’s the ‘Little Eagle’ in the picture at the top of the page.

So it turned out to be a fantastic walk to clear my head and I saw several birds that I’d never heard of, and I arrived home before the storm hit.

Red-Capped Plover

Red-Capped Plover