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

Little Egret

Little Egret Fishing

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.

Little Egret

Little Egret

 

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.

 

Little Egret

Little Egret

 

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

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.

 

Little Egrets

Little Egrets

 

Great Egret

Great egret -reflection

Great egret -reflection

I couldn’t believe my luck when I came across this beautiful egret by Herdsman Lake.  It was happy to pose for ages until a jogger passed close by. 

Great egret flying

Great egret flying

 

I’ve only seen a great egret a few times. Unlike the pelicans and ibis who often make flying look like hard work, the egrets manage to be very graceful despite their size. 

 

Each time I see them I’m amazed by just how white they are.  If I put on a white skirt or blouse I can guarantee that by lunch time it will look grubby (dust, mud, jam ….) so how do they stay so clean and bright, especially when ‘home’ is by the water and mud?  One of natures mysteries …..

Great Egret Hunting

Great Egret Hunting

 

This one was so intent on hunting that it barely noticed me.  It didn’t fly away despite the fact that I was out in the open and fairly close.  I’m not sure whether they live here all year round or migrate to somewhere wetter in the summer.  I’ll have to keep watch over the next 6 months and see what happens.