Snorkeling – it’s time for another ‘not bird’ post. One of the things that really struck me when I first arrived in Oz was how strange it was to not recognise most of the plants and birds around me. Getting used to them certainly helped me feel at home here. About 6 months ago I tried snorkeling. I’ve done it before with disappointing and slightly embarassing results – I wasn’t exactly agile in the water, despite being a reasonable swimmer.
I’m so glad I perservered, it was well worth it and I’m now a bit of a convert. Once again, I found myself in a world in which I was very uneasy. Full of plants and wildlife, of which I knew nothing.
Some of these pictures were taken off Rottnest Island, some up at Ningaloo and some just 10m from the beach near home. Even in the cooler waters away from the coral reef there’s plenty to see.
One of the great things about snorkeling at Ningaloo was how warm the sea water was – a pleasant change from the Irish sea and the North sea.
This is one of my favourite pictures, despite not being very clear. It was the first turtle I ever saw in the wild.
For Christmas I had an ‘Olympus tough’ camera which has been fantastic. You can take it to the beach with no worries about being near sand and, best of all, it’s waterproof. I’m still getting used to trying to focus it on the thing I want, and practising trying to stay still while the current is wafting me around, but it still takes some lovely shots. I only know the names of a few of the fish still but it’s starting to feel a bit more familiar under the waves.
Night Heron in Flight
Last week’s post ended with a fairly rubbish picture of a night heron. They’re still around here at the moment and I’ve seen them a couple of times since.
Sometimes, the first one or two to arrive sit and wait for the others on this aerial before heading to the water.
Landing in this tree at dusk, they look like they’re getting ready to roost. They aren’t, they’re preparing for fishing. Do I have any photos of that? No, because by then it’s too dark for me to get a photo of anything at that distance, so you’ll just have to imagine.
Pacific Gull and Little Black Cormorant
Today the weather was perfect for an early start in the kayaks, so we had a trip around the marina and along the coast. There were plenty of seabirds around. Because we were on the water, I only had my little camera, so not very good for distance shots of birds.
The best thing this morning was seeing one of the young ospreys for the first time since they left hte nest a few weeks ago.
Mum kept a close eye from a nearby lookout – you can see her on the aerial on the roof.
Here’s a view of the nest from on the water. You get a good view of the sculpture that it was built in.
And here the youngster is perched on a mast, looking closely for fish.
osprey call Click on ‘osprey call’ and hopefully you’ll be able to see and hear it. The young osprey was constantly calling to Mum during its training session.
There were several families of crested terns by the boats.
There was a family of Australasian Darters out. This is the female.
I’ve also seen several night herons by the marina this week. This is the best picture I’ve managed. The problem is that I see them when it’s dark. They are too far away to use a flash, so all the pictures were a bit dark and blurry. Hopefully I’ll get a better one before they leave the area.
Australian Bustard – Bush-Turkey
Bush-turkey – anyone for a barbie?
The bustard has been high on my list of birds I’d like to see in Oz ever since I discovered it lived here (confession – I’d always thought it was an African bird).
Looking and Listening as he crosses the road
I got to see this one on my trip up to Exmouth. I hoped to see one there, but came across this one quite by chance and not where I was expecting it. It was very early in the morning, and it was just strolling down the middle of the road.
It’s nick-name is bush-turkey (not to be mistaken with a brush-turkey) and I think it’s neck looks pretty turkey-like in this picture. It’s another Australian bird which is perfect for cartoons (like pelicans, emus and penguins). It really isn’t a perfect design for flying.
- Bustard in flight
The bustard is protected from hunting now, except for the aborigines who are still able to hunt and eat them as it’s part of their culture. It features in their ‘Dreamtime’ stories and sometimes in their dreamtime artwork. Sadly, bustards don’t live in the area where I live so I’ll have to wait until another holiday to see one again.
I was caught out by an imposter in the park this week.
Parrot in a tree
I saw a parrot in the park when I was walking the dog. It wasn’t an Australian ringneck, but it was about the same size and shape. I managed to get a picture of it in the tree on my phone as you can see. If I zoom in close, I can just about see the galahs who were keeping him company. It wasn’t a bird that I’d seen before in Oz though.
So I went and got a camera, and took this. Then I went home, zoomed in, and got out my bird book. Not a lorikeet, not an Australian ringneck, but definitely a parrot. After much searching, I caved in and e-mailed John at Birdlife Australia for help with an I.D.
Then a friend suggested looking up an Indian ringneck. Mystery solved. Definitely an Indian ringneck. But my googling also brought back an ad for a lost pet – an Indian ringneck from the next suburb along who had escaped a few weeks ago. I phoned the owners to let them know, but I’m not sure how they’ll catch him. He seems very happy though. I’ve seen him a couple of times since, still in the company of the galahs, and still eating from the same trees.
Little Egret Fishing
This week little egrets have been visiting Lake Joondalup – the first time I’ve seen them there. I’ve seen one or two in the distance since I’ve been in Oz, but this was the first time I’ve seen them fairly close to.
Maybe they’re here because so many lakes have now dried up after the long summer. I counted 15 great egrets too. So, how do you tell the difference between them? Obviously the ‘great’ is bigger than the ‘little’, but that’s not much use if they aren’t standing conveniently together. The best way is the beak colour. The great egret has a yellow beak, the little egret has a beak which is mainly black with a bit of yellow at the top where it meets the eyes.
They have an interesting fishing technique. Their ‘Great’ cousins stand dead still, watching the water, then dive their heads in when they see their food. The lillte egrets do a very graceful ‘dance’ over the water. little hops and flaps, and tapping the water surface with their feet.
Little Egrets at Lake Joondalup
Unfortunately, they don’t do a very good job of posing. Firstly, they stand on the side of the lake which guarantees that the sun is behind them, so nearly all photos are in silhouette. Secondly, they like to wade to the areas which are hidden from the path by trees. I know they’re there, but can’t get to them. This picture was taken from quite a distance from the wooden walkway, but there was no way of getting nearer – very frustrating.
A budgerigar in a tree. This won’t be a surprise to many who are used to seeing them, but it was a first for me.
I’ve seen budgies in the UK often in the past, but always in a cage in somebody’s home. I have to admit, I’d never even stopped to wonder where they came from in the wild.
Flocks of green and yellow
I was being driven when I saw a flurry of green and yellow. I hopped out of the car with my camera, but the birds were nowhere to be seen. I knew they were nearby though because I could hear the chattering. I waited a while, then I decided to take pictures of each of the nearby bushes before I left. It paid off. When I got home and zoomed in closely on the computer, I could see that one of the farther bushes had been teaming with budgies. I was so disappointed that I hadn’t got any good photos.
2 days later I drove back to the same spot and within seconds saw another flock of ‘green and yellow’. Within minutes, there were several flocks. Hundreds and hundreds of budgies, landing on the ground, then flying up each time a car zoomed by.
Budgies in a Tree
My favourite budgie fact (thanks again to wiki) – their plumage flouresces under ultraviolet light. I can’t help wondering how someone found that out. Did someone take one into a night club at some point?
Room for one More?
So when I think of budgerigars now, I won’t think of a solitary bird in a cage wolf whistling and occasionally shouting obscenities. Instead I’ll think of huge flocks in the wild, filling trees, chattering to each other and the ‘hum’ of their wings when they all fly up at once.
Flurry of Budgies
Mum Feeding Osprey Chicks
The osprey chicks are making rapid progress and I don’t think they’ll be at the nest for much longer.
Mum (top left) and chicks (top right and front)
The great news from this week is that we still have 2 chicks. The few visits prior to that I’d only seen one chick at a time, so I started to worry that maybe one of them hadn’t survived.
Osprey chick flapping
There’s quite a lot of ‘flapping practice’ going on each day.
We Have Lift Off
As you can see above, the bigger one is now airborn.
Osprey Chick Staring Me Out
Although the parents are used to me and not really interested in passers by, the chicks are still a little wary. This one gave me a long hard stare before returning to his flapping practice.
I’m sure it won’t be long now before they all leave the nest – Dad is already disappearing for increasingly long spells. Hopefully they’ll move back to the parents old feed ground nearby and I’ll be able to follow their progress into independence.
Looking Over The Edge
The Willie Wagtails have chicks again. After their success a couple of months ago, the Willie Wagtails decided they could fit in another brood this season and we now have another pair of chicks flitting round the garden.
There was a lot of this.
Willie Wagtail Chicks
And very soon, this.
Given their habit of sitting on the wall waiting for a feed, I’d have thought that by now they would have become lunch for either a cat, or ‘our’ lizard. He lives between this wall and next door’s garage. He often sits on the wall and a newly fledged chick would have made a tasty snack. I think the chicks a past the danger period now as they are good flyers and quite quick off the mark.
After all that work I think the parents deserve a rest until next spring.