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

Good News and Bad News

Male Rainbow Bee-Eater

Male Rainbow Bee-Eater

It’s time for an update and this week I was going to share good news and bad news.  It’s now renamed Good News and Good News.

Wagtail Chicks Feeding

Wagtail Chicks Feeding

Let’s start with some good news.  The Willie Wagtails who nested outside our house successfully raised 2 chicks who are now announcing themselves noisily in the street every morning.  This is also great news for the dog who was divebombed every time he went for a walk or for a wee.  For the past few months he’s been harassed by magpies, magpie-larks, wattle-birds and wagtails almost every time he’s been for a walk.  Now that the chicks have all left their nests he can walk in peace!

 

Empty Osprey Nest

Empty Osprey Nest

This is how this section was going to read:         Next I have to share some sad news.  Not long after I last posted about the ospreys, I went to take some pictures and see if the eggs had hatched.  All I found was an abandoned nest.  There had been a really bad storm just beforehand.  I can only speculate that it might have been the strong winds that did the damage.  Worse news still, I haven’t seen either of the adults since.  Hopefully they’re fine and I’ll see them soon along the coast.

The great news is that I have now seen the ospreys, mum on the nest and dad perching nearby.  Hopefully they’ve laid a new clutch of eggs and soon I’ll be able to get those long awaited shots of some chicks.

Straw-Necked Ibis

Straw-Necked Ibis

 

This pair of straw-necked ibis have been spending time at Lake Joondalup.  I’m not sure whether they bred this year, but I was really pleased to get this shot of them.  The little specks around them aren’t from a dirty lens – they’re tiny flies!  They were surrounded.

 

 

Pair of Rainbow Bee-Eaters

Pair of Rainbow Bee-Eaters

 

I was out walking recently  and came across this pair of rainbow bee-eaters.  Yet another colourful surprise.  They’re fantastic.  Very colourful in flight but way too fast for me to get a picture.  It’s the first time I’d ever seen one so I was really pleased that they both opted to rest at the same time.

 

My last picture to post is of a young pacific gull.  I don’t think it’s this year’s chick, more likely a couple of years old.  It hangs out with a flock of ordinary seagulls though and not with other pacific gulls.  He looks very out of place next to them since they are bright white and also only half the size.  I’m growing quite fond of him as he regularly turns up on the beach when I go to watch the sunset.  So here it is, on the beach, just before sunset .

Immature Pacific Gull

Immature Pacific Gull

 

 

Australian White Ibis

Ibis Ready to fly

Ibis – Ready to fly

On my very first trip to Australia I saw an ibis in a in a park by the cafe, begging for scraps like a pigeon. It seemed really odd to have such an exotic looking bird acting like a pest and being shooed away.  One of it’s nicknames is ‘tip turkey’ because of it’s habit of scavenging rubbish.

Ibis flying over

Ibis flying over

 

It’s still strange seeing them now, especially when they fly overhead. They’re quite big and it seems like quite hard work.

 

 

 

Ibis Nest Building

Ibis Nest Building

 

 

This one flew over with a stick – nesting time.

 

 

 

Tree full of Ibis

Tree full of Ibis

 

It still seems really odd to see them roosting in trees in such numbers.  They somehow seem too big and too heavy for the twigs that they sit on.

Ibis Head

Ibis Head

 

 

 

 

Their bald heads remind me  of vultures, with wrinkly skin and no feathers until lower down their necks.  This was was at Herdsman Lake, home to hundreds of ibis.

 

 

Straw-necked ibis

Straw-necked ibis

 

I sometimes see the black ‘Straw-necked’ ibis, but they are hard to get good pictures of.  I don’t know why, but they seem to be more nervous than the white ibis, so my pictures are all taken at quite a distance – any nearer and they all fly off!

 

 

The straw-necked ibis below were at the Sandalford Estate, by the lake in the vineyard.  One day hopefully I’ll have more time to spend on getting a bit closer and getting a more detailed picture of one of these.

Straw-Necked Ibis

Straw-Necked Ibis

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