Heron

White-Faced Heron

White-Faced Heron

I see at least one heron on most of my walks by lakes and rivers and, until now, they’ve all been white-faced herons.  The one above was one of several at Heirisson Island.

White-faced Heron at Lake Joondalup

White-faced Heron at Lake Joondalup

 

 

This one perched on the board-walk at Lake Joondalup for ages, watching me while I watched him.

 

 

 

White-Necked Heron in Moore River

White-Necked Heron in Moore River

 

 

It’s annoyed me for ages that my husband and son saw this white-necked heron while they were out kayaking, but I had never seen one.  They aren’t as common as white-faced ones.

 

 

White-Necked Heron

White-Necked Heron

 

This weekend I was lucky enough to see 2 of them at a place I’d never visited before – Pipidinny swamp.

At Pipidinny Swamp

At Pipidinny Swamp

 

 

They seem much more shy than their white-faced cousins, and they’re quite a bit bigger.  They both flew off before I’d even seen them.  Luckily this one landed and let me creep close enough to get a photo.

 

When I looked on the Birdlife Australia sightings page, it turned out that lots of these Australian birds had arrived and been seen in the area recently.  It would be great if they could hang around for long enough for me to see them again and maybe get some pictures from a little closer.

Flying away

Flying away

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!)

 

Butcherbird

Butcherbird (Grey)

Butcherbird (Grey)

The butcherbird is one of the 4 very common black and white birds here.  It’s not the biggest, or the smallest, or the noisiest so it’s very easily overlooked.  But I don’t think it should be.  It’s a lovely bird who is relatively friendly with people.  Watch it though, it will guard its nest just like the magpie and the magpie-lark.

This one lives nearby and regularly visits.   In this series of pictures he’s eating an olive.

Shake the olive off the twig

Shake the olive off the twig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discard twig

Discard twig

Grab Olive and Squeeze

Grab Olive and Squeeze

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shake and Squeeze

Shake and Squeeze

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Result

Result

Flamenco Dance to finish

Flamenco Dance to finish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to my friend Wiki, it’s called a butcherbird because of its habit of hanging its catch in a crevice or fork in a tree to eat it, or to store it for later.  So I’m glad it brought an olive to my garden then and not a lizard.

In the Woods

In the Woods

Elegant Parrot and other New Birds

Elegant Parrot

Elegant Parrot

Every so often I realise that its ages since I’ve seen any ‘new’ birds that I haven’t seen before, and I think that it’s inevitable as time goes on that seeing new birds will become less frequent.  Then I see several new birds in a short time and realise just how many I’ve never seen.  So here’s an update on several new sightings from a very short time.  The elegant parrot above was one of a pair that I came across in Franklin Park (a tiny reserve) in Wanneroo.  They were quite shy and it was quite hard to get a clear picture at that distance.

Red-Capped Robin

Red-Capped Robin

 

I’ve wanted to see a red-capped robin since I came across one in my book.  I wrongly assumed that they would be as common and as friendly as a British robin, but not so.  He was just as pretty though and let me follow him for a few minutes.

 

Australian Hobby

Australian Hobby

 

This little bird of prey was quite happy to sit still while I took pictures, maybe because he was so high up.  He was in another tiny reserve called Caporn Park in Wanneroo.  He’s another one that I’ve seen pictures of before, and I saw in a bird of prey display, but I’ve never seen in the wild before.

 

Cuckoo-Shrike

Cuckoo-Shrike

I’ve seen one of these, a black-faced cuckoo-shrike, before.  I even have some photos of them, but they have always stayed so far away that the photos are poor, so I’ve never had one that was fit to post on here.  This one was also in Caporn Park and also happy to be photographed.  It was one of a pair who moved between trees around us for at least 10 minutes before we left.

 

Black-fronted Dotterel
Black-fronted Dotterel

 

I went walking at Yanchep and saw 16 of these pretty little birds by the edge of the lake.  I had to look them up when I got home.  When I zoomed in close on the photos of the birds on the lake I found they were a different type of dotterel – they were red-kneed dotterels.  And while I was taking pictures, a spoonbill dropped in for lunch.

Red-Kneed Dotterels at Yanchep Lake

Red-Kneed Dotterels at Yanchep Lake

 

 

 

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.

Black-Faced Woodswallow

Black-Faced Woodswallow

Black-Faced Woodswallow

Isn’t she pretty? Until this week I don’t think I’d ever seen a woodswallow.  To be honest, I’d never heard of one.  It’s not a page that I’ve noticed in my book before.  When we first saw them, at a distance, we wondered if they might be some sort of shrike.  Up close, it was obvious that I’d have to look it up when I got home.

Woodswallows on a grasstree spike

Woodswallows on a grasstree spike

At this point I’d nomally hope to share an interesting fact gleaned from wiki.  The only interesting wiki fact is that the entry for the black-faced woodswallow is less than 2 lines long.  So I seem to know as much now as their expert author.

Woodswallow

Woodswallow

There were probably about 20 of them, feeding mainly on the seed spikes of the grasstrees.  When a bird found a ripe spike, several others would come and join it.

Having been here for 18 months, it’s not so often now that I see a bird that I haven’t seen before, so this was great.  And seeing so many of them at once, and so close up, made it even better.

Perching

‘It’s comfy here and I’m not shifting’

 

Whistling kite – a very sad day

Whistling Kite - covered in diesel

Whistling Kite – covered in diesel

This is a very sad sight indeed, a pathetic little whistling kite having diesel removed from its body and feathers.

Last week I took my son to a nearby wildlife rescue centre, Express Wildlife Rescue, for him to do a few hours of voluntary work and in the end I stayed too.  It’s in Wanneroo, North of Perth, and is run by a very driven and dedicated woman called Andrea.

The kite was rescued by a ranger from a vat of diesel and was covered head to toe in a sticky goo, just like when birds are taken out of an oil slick.  One of the last things I helped with before I left was cleaning some of it off.  It’s a tricky balance though.  The diesel seeps in through the skin, so it’s important that it is removed as soon as possible.  On the other hand, it’s a wild bird and too much handling could cause it to die of shock.  And it’s bound to be even more stressful when being handled by 2 people and washed.  Sadly, the bird died the next morning.  As with any animal that dies there, the vet did a post mortem.  One of the reasons is to find out over time which treatments are best what sort of care has the highest success rates ( how long can you handle a wild bird for before it’s too long, foods, temperatures etc ).  It turned out that it was covered in goo inside too, so it had it in its stomach and lungs too.  There was no way it could have survived that.

Tawny Frogmouth

Tawny Frogmouth Doing a very good impression of a log

Andrea has a very high success rate with around 75% of all of the animals she takes in being returned to  health and to the wild.  She had another kite there which was due to be released within the following few days after recovering from an attack by a cat.

Most of the animals fall into the following categories.  1) Attacked by another animal (fox, cat, dog etc).  2) Hit by a vehicle. 3) Deliberately hurt by humans.  I was shocked by just how many felll into that third category.  There was a beautiful white dove there.  It had been rescued after it had been completely plucked  by its owners while it was still alive.

Monopoly

Monopoly – making sure that bit is soft enough to rest his head on as he falls asleep

One of the most popular residents is Monopoly, the kangaroo.  He was orphaned when his mother was shot, then he was poisoned.  The cruelty left him epileptic, so he’ll never be able to be returned to the wild (he needs regular medication) and he probably won’t make it to maturity.  But, for now, he has a very happy life.  His best friend is a golden retriever who enjoys his company.  The two of them played together for ages, before finally settling down for a rest.  Monopoly needed to just make sure the hair was soft enough before he too lay down with his best friend for a rest .

The rescue centre is a not for profit organisation and is always fund raising to pay the medical fees and food bills.  There’s a page on the centre’s website listing things that they are short of (news papers, towels, food bowls etc) so if any readers live nearby, perhaps they could take a look at the list to see if they can drop off anything useful.

 

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

Australian Magpie

Australian Magpie

Australian Magpie

Sometimes it’s easy to overlook more common birds, but you can’t always overlook a magpie.  They have ways of grabbing your attention.

Young Magpie

Young Magpie

 

Their most extreme way is dive bombing when they have chicks (it’s usually the males).  They’re very protective and will swoop at anyone walking by.  They’re even more aggressive to anyone in a hat or helmet – cyclists beware!  Occasionally they’ll actually peck at the eyes, neck or face.

Austrlian Magpie

Austrlian Magpie

 

 

At the moment they are past the dive bombing stage, but are very noisy.  Not noisy at the levels of the ravens, but still noisy.  And they are visiting every day in groups of 5 – 10.  They redeem themselves by being surprisingly tuneful.

Looking for left overs

Looking for left overs

 

 

 

Balconies are sometimes a likely place to find a snack.  They might also visit you at a picnic table or BBQ.

 

magpie12

 

They don’t always make very laid back neighbours either.  They often squawk while they are chasing or being chased by other birds.  Outside the house it’s usually the magpie-larks or ravens that they argue with, but last week they were ganging up on one of the young ospreys.  He came to hunt at the marina but, each time he came to the bit at the end of our road, he was shooed away by a gang of rowdy magpies.  I don’t mind them visiting, but I don’t want them chasing off the osprey.

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