Birds Eye View

Osprey

Osprey     Getting a Birds Eye View

I haven’t posted for a few weeks because I haven’t been out very much, because of the rubbish weather.  It’s good for the region because it had been so dry for so long, and the birds don’t care, but I like the big blue sky and hope we get better weather soon.

The good news is that I see the ospreys regularly now, so I’m hoping that in a month or so they might nest again nearby.  The one above was less than a kilometre from the marina, on a fishing trip.

White-Winged Fairy-Wrens

White-Winged Fairy-Wrens

While I was trying to get a photo of the osprey, the fairy-wrens very kindly came to me.  The male’s breeding plumage is almost complete, but not quite.

Splendid Fairy-Wren

Splendid Fairy-Wren

I went to Yanchep National Park and the splendid Fairy-Wren was also putting on a show.

Spoonbill

Spoonbill

 

The water birds were out in force, including this spoonbill.  The spoonbill didn’t appear to be making a nest, but didn’t seem to want to give up his stick either.

 

 

 

Ducklings

Ducklings

 

 

It’s always a treat to see ducklings, and this mother had 15 tiny ducklings to care for.  I don’t know when they’d hatched but it must have been very recently.

 

Australian Shelducks

Australian Shelducks

 

 

The shelducks seemed happy to make the most of the break in the rain to sit and sun themselves on the rocks.

 

 

Pelican
Pelican

 

 

The pelican also seems to be happy to get the sun on his back for a while.  It’s raining again at the moment, fingers crossed for some sunshine and dry days next week.

 

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

 

 

 

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.

 

Fairy-Wrens – A Fantastic Show

Splendid Fairy Wren (Male)

Splendid Fairy Wren (Male)

It’s been a fantastic week for Fairy-Wrens, and this one certainly lives up to his name – ‘Splendid’.  His colours really are amazing.

You may remember that the Fairy-Wren featured on my Top 10 Classic Australian Bird list.  Pictures of them appear on so many items like on calenders, mugs and tea towels.  I was keen to see them but, since I arrived, I hadn’t seen the males in their breeding colours.

Male Splendid Fairy-Wren

Male Splendid Fairy-Wren

 

This male was showing off at Yanchep National Park.  Not the least bit concerned about me, or even my umbrella, he was out in the open for more than 5 minutes.  I’m sure he would have let me get closer to photograph him, but he was in the tiger snake reserve so I decided that the lawns were close enough.

 

Splendid Fairy-Wren (Female)
Splendid Fairy-Wren (Female)

 

There were 5 others with him.  This was one of the females. There may also have been immature males in the group who look very much like the females.

 

 

White-Winged Fairy-Wren (Male)
White-Winged Fairy-Wren (Male)

 

This little White-winged Fairy-Wren put in an appearance on the coastal path the following day, giving me a great opportunity to get a photo for a comparison.  He wasn’t quite such a show off.  He spent more time in the bushes and moved about very quickly, so it was a bit harder to get a photo.

White-Winged Fairy-Wren (Female)

White-Winged Fairy-Wren (Female)

 

He also had several others in his group.  This was one of the females.

There are still several types of fairy-wrens left for me to see, but I’m really happy with the ones I’ve seen this week.

White-Winged Fairy-Wren (Male)

Appearance of the Black-Tailed Native-Hen

Until last week I’d never heard of a Black-Tailed Native Hen, never mind seen one.

Australian Black-Tailed Native-Hens by Lake

Australian Black-Tailed Native-Hens by Lake

 

At the weekend I had to drop off one of my sons at Yanchep National Park. While I was there, I thought I’d go for a walk, and I came across these.

 

Aussie Black-Tailed Native-Hen Hiding

Australian Black-Tailed Native-Hen Hiding

 

 

 

Not for long though, as they scuttled into the undergrowth when they saw me.  They turned out to be quite shy.  They ran and hid very quickly, but they soon came back out when I waited quietly.

 

Kangaroo at Yanchep

Kangaroo for company

 

 

And look who I had for company while I waited.

 

 

Australian Black-Tailed Native-Hens
Black-Tailed Native-Hens

 

 

The following day when I had to collect my son, they were still there.

 

 

 

They’re similar to a moorhen or a coot and seem to prefer the same sort of area to live, by the water’s edge and with plenty of undergrowth.

They aren’t rare or endangered in any way, but it is unusual to see them in this area, especially in such a large group.  They appeared because we had recently had rain.  They may well stay at Yanchep for long enough to breed, then disappear again once the young are old enough.  If so, hopefully I’ll be able to get some pictures of some chicks in a month or so.

Black-Tailed Native-Hens, Australian Birdlife

Australian Black-Tailed Native-Hens

 

Yanchep National Park

Yanchep National Park has become one of my favourite places to go to see wildlife.  One of the things I loved when I arrived was that each time I went I saw something that amazed me.

Koala feeding at Yanchep

This is one of the few places in WA where you can see koalas.  They don’t live in the wild in WA as there aren’t any suitable areas – large enough forests with the right
kinds of eucalyptus trees.  In Yanchep they live in eucalyptus trees in ‘open’ enclosures.  Extra branches of food are provided in large containers.  The raised walkway ensures that you can get a really good, close up view of them.  Absolutely mesmerising.

Kangaroo Chilling Out at Yanchep

There is also a large population of kangaroos.  Arrive early enough and you will find them grazing on the lawns in huge numbers, or on the golf course.  Later in the day, they will be lying in the shade resting.

This is where I first saw a bobtail (blue tongued, short tailed lizard) in the wild.  There are many reptiles there, although you are unlikely to see them.  Most people are more than happy to obey this warning sign.

Snake Warning at Yanchep

Don’t argue with a Tiger Snake

And the birds?  This is where I first saw a purple swamphen. The first time I saw one, it was a little camera shy and it took a while to get a decent picture.  The next time
we visited, we discovered that producing a picnic helps them to overcome any nerves.  It was raiding the food basket along with the ducks and took some effort to shoo away!  Yanchep was also where I first saw a whistling kite – in fact, I saw a pair.  The
Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo is endangered, but you wouldn’t think so when visiting
Yanchep.  Hundreds of them fill the trees and the sky.  I have 2 gripes with this
species.  Firstly, they like to perch very high up in very high trees, so it’s hard to get a good photo without a great zoom lens.  The sky is so bright that they are always silhouetted against a bright background.  Secondly, whenever I get home from Yanchep I have to wash the car as it is covered in cockatoo poo.  Maybe I’ll have to invest in a cover.  It’s a haven for many species largely because of the lake – there is so little open water in the region, especially by April when other lakes have dried up.  There
are also emus in the park.  I haven’t seen one there (it’s quite hard to find them) but I did see my first wild ones nearby, on the way home from the park.  They were just by the side of the road, and they let me approach them to get a picture.

Cave Roof, Yanchep

There are beautiful caves with regular guided tours for all ages – a big hit with the family.  Once the lake is full, at the end of the winter, you can hire rowing boats.  There’s a pub, a cafe and an ice-cream shop too.  On bank holidays the park fills with families bringing picnics or food for barbeques.  It’s not a swings and slides type of park at all but that doesn’t stop the children having a great time there.

Entry on foot or bike is free, but you pay per car for parking.  We bought a park pass
which covers all the WA National Parks, great value for anyone intending to go to several of them.

Some birds you might see at Yanchep: white-tailed black cockatoo (also known as Carnaby’s black cockatoo), gallah, ringneck, purple swamphen, whistling kite, swamp harrier, Eurasian coot, dusky moorhen, white faced heron, white Ibis, musk duck, Australian wood duck, teal, Australasian shoveler, Great egret, clamorous reed-warbler, great crested grebe, darter, cormorant, honey eater, fan tail, emu (if you are very lucky!), wattlebird