Posts Tagged ‘Australia


Blue Velvet

Looking for an entrance into a reserve in the Blue Mountains I pulled us into a dead end street. I parked up and we consulted the oracle … Google maps. As we mused over which way to go next a bird flew low over the road in front of us; we disagreed as to its identification. It had settled inside a low thick pine. We waited. When it eventually made a reveal it has spontaneously multiplied into three birds. When we finally got a good look we decided they were female/immature Satin Bowerbirds.

We’ve all seen wildlife documentaries showing Bowerbirds collecting blue objects. Satin Bowerbirds are no exception. Blue items to match their saphire blue eyes.



No room at the Inn

The one thing I never ever tire of is the mammals of Australia. Last month I managed to get quite close to a mother Eastern Grey Kangaroo carrying a Joey. Just how big can these guys get in the pouch!


Wash & Brush up

Looking towards the end of the beach I could see birds roosting on distant rocks. They were far too far away to photograph.

Tania and I were visiting friends to the east of Port Phillip Bay later in the day and had decided to take a look along the coast in the afternoon to see what we could find. The tide was coming in and I knew the roosting birds would have to move or they would get their feet wet. All we had to do was wait and the encroaching water should push them closer to us.

There was a selection of species that settled a little nearer. This Crested Tern was among them. It was enjoying a wash and brush up after a hard days fishing.


Fancy a bite?

Walking along the Werribee River a couple of weeks ago I struck up a conversation with a ground worker who was, with colleagues, trying to eradicate brambles – they are considered an invasive weed in Victoria. We had something in common in that the guy was a ‘Pommie’. He’d been in the state for around 20 something years. When I told him I was photographing wildlife along the river he asked ‘Would you like to see a snake?’ Never one to turn down a chance to photograph anything remotely wild I stated I would. He pointed to the branch hanging over the path and calmly stated that the entwined reptile was a Tiger Snake.

Now I know a little about Ozzie snakes because I’d prepared myself up-front when I started visiting Australia. The main thing you need to remember when walking through the bush in Victoria is keep an eye on where you’re stepping and what you’re brushing up against. It’s no good skipping along with gay abandon as if you’re on a path from  Larkrise to Candleford. All snakes in Victoria bar one are poisonous. There are things lurking that can kill. The Tiger Snake is the third or fourth most dangerous snake in the world. Even this youngster deserves ultimate respect. … I used a long lens!!


Sitting tight

There are two Martin species in Victoria with pale rumps; Tree Martin and Fairy Martin. We stumbled upon a young Fairy Martin that tolerated close approach the other day. Sitting tight on the track ahead of us it posed well for photographs.


Unexpected Arrivals

Anyone that watches birds knows that if you see a raptor, a bird of prey, whatever you are doing or watching your eyes are inextricably drawn towards it. This can be mildly distracting when you’re trying to watch something else but can range upwards of damn right awkward when you’re driving!

Last week our eyes were fixed on a Swamp Harrier as it quartered the coastal scrub. A Swamp Harrier is akin to a cross between a Hen and a Marsh Harrier. It’s large, dark, flies with its wings held in a shallow ‘V’ and has a white rump. It came close. I fired off a few shots and as I looked at the back of the camera to inspect the results I became aware of something large nearby that wasn’t there when I started photographing the Harrier. I squinted against the bright light reflecting off the water. Not but 50m away were a couple of Brolga.

Brolga are large birds of the crane family. One of two species of crane found in Australia. In northern Australia they are abundant but in Victoria Brolga are scarce; they are now down to around 500 birds.  Although we’d searched for them in the past we’d failed to find them. It seemed that a pair had now found us! I think my opening comment was along the lines of “Where the **** did they come from?” Neither Tania nor I had seen them fly in. We’d been absorbed with the flypast of the Swamp Harrier.

The Brolga stayed with us for around 10 minutes as they drank and preened before departing north. What a treat!




Swapping Continents

I arrived in Australia a couple of days after finishing the Southern Scotland Tour at the beginning of March. Having recovered from a bout of food poisoning acquired on the Cathay Pacific flight one of the first places Tania and I visited was the Werribee treatment plant. What a wonderful place for birds it is. For those that have never been imagine Titchwell RSPB … on steroids. It does however have the downfall of being wrapped up in colonial administration worthy of a banana republic. It reminded me of visiting a shrimp farm in Gambia thirty odd years ago when I had to offer everything I owned short of a pint of blood before I was allowed to enter. Anyways that’s a story for a different time. Having applied for a permit online to visit Werribee then travelled to pick up the gate key in a completely different location to the reserve itself, sat through a training induction for the third time in as many months, signed a disclosure document, offered up my ID and made a promise to change from my shorts into long trousers, I was on my way. … but not before being given the following parting shot by the lady administrator …. “I hope the Tufted Duck is still around for you” she said.

I had heard a Tufted Duck was floating around on one of the lagoons somewhere. Completely lost of course and way off it’s Eurasian home turf, it had even hit newspaper headlines here in Victoria. I reassured the lady that I would not be seeking any Tufted Ducks as I had in the previous few days been knee deep among them in the Scottish lowlands. I could see a moment of confusion on her face as she looked down at the Norfolk address I’d given her. I made her none the wiser as I picked up the gate key and fled the office. I can only conclude she thought Norfolk was perhaps in Scotland somewhere.

I was processing a few shots from the South Scotland Tour this week and I noticed this photo. A drake Tufted Duck, caught in the wind with a fraying hairstyle worthy of Donald Trump rather than Donald Duck. The Tuftie was sharing a pool with a rather secretive Green Winged Teal from America. It’s a small world… especially if you can fly.

Next years Southern Scotland Tour will be available for booking shortly.

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April 2019
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