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

Chicks, chicks and more chicks

Magpie-Larks - Take Off

Magpie-Larks – Take Off

I love springtime and I love seeing chicks.  There’s plenty of action around at the moment.  The magpie-larks have left the nest but are still living in the garden, semi-reliant on mum and dad for feeding.

Chicks in nest

Chicks in nest

 

We had 4 chicks hatch.  Sadly, 1 fell (or was pushed) out of the nest very early on.  Even more distressing was when another was squeezed out only a week or so before it would have been able to fly.  It was very stressed – so were the parents.  Not surprisingly, it didn’t survive.

 

Leaving the nest

Leaving the nest

 

 

For several days the chicks left the nest but stayed in the tree, hopping between the nearby branches and practicing flapping.

 

 

 

Wagtail nest

Wagtail nest

 

 

This is the tiny nest of a Wagtail.  The nest is about 2m below the magpie-larks’ nest and it’s only about 6cm across.  They don’t seem to have eggs yet as they aren’t sitting on the nest much.

 

Purple Swamp-Hen Chick

Purple Swamp-Hen Chick

 

 

This is a purple swamp-hen chick.  Something of an ugly duckling, but it won’t be long before he looks like this …….

 

 

 

Purple Swamp-Hen

Purple Swamp-Hen

 

 

Adult purple swamp-hen at Yanchep National Park.

 

 

 

 

Cygnet

Cygnet

 

Lots of the swans now have cygnets. This one was at Herdsman Lake but Lake Joondalup plenty too.

 

 

 

 

Panting Osprey

Panting Osprey

 

And the ospreys?  Still no chicks, but mum is sitting on the nest and I think it should only be about a week before the eggs hatch.  It’s up at 30 degrees C now so it’s hot work sitting out in exposed sunlight all day.  You can see the mum ‘panting’ to keep cool.  Hopefully I’ll write another chicks post in a few weeks with wagtails, wattle-birds and ospreys in action.

 

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.

 

 

Herdsman Lake, Perth

Great Egret at Herdsman Lake

Great Egret at Herdsman Lake

I’ve passed Herdsman Lake many times but I recently managed a visit there and it was well worth it. Lots of different birds were out on show, many of them ready for breeding season. This great egret was happy for me to watch him fishing from fairly close by.

Ibis Walking at Herdsman Lake

Ibis Walking at Herdsman Lake

 

The most striking thing about the lake for me was the sheer numbers of ibis there.  I’d never seen one until I came to Australia so it’s great to see so many.  There are hundreds of them, perching in trees, grazing on the lawns and flying overhead.

Blue-Billed Duck (male)
Blue-Billed Duck (male)

 

 

Another surprise for me at Herdsman Lake was the blue-billed duck.  I’d never heard of one, never mind seen them, but they were out in numbers too.  The male’s bill really is very blue at breeding time.

View from the board walk
View from the board walk

 

 

The lake is in the middle of a built up area in NW Perth, with a visitor centre and car park on the southern edge. There are plenty of other car parks around it and footpaths, cycle tracks and one or two bird hides. This photo was taken from the board walk by the visitor centre. It’s fairly short but takes you right through into a reed bed and past this stretch of mangrove.

So, who else did I see?

Whistling Kite

Whistling Kite

 

A whistling kite hunting.

Red Wattle Bird

Red Wattle Bird

Honey eaters and wattle birds.

Australian Reed Warbler
Australian Reed Warbler

 

 

Australian Reed Warblers

 

 

 

Buff-Banded rail running for cover
Buff-Banded rail running for cover

 

 

 

Buff-banded rail

 

 

 

 

 

I also saw tree martins, welcome swallows, shovellers, australasian grebes, great crested grebes, fantails, pelicans, pied cormorants, musk ducks, black swans, purple swamp-hens, black-tailed native-hens, black swans.

And a pacific duck with her new family.  Very common but it’s always a treat to see a family of young ducklings.

Ducklings

Ducklings