Posts Tagged ‘Victoria


Falling for an Emu

I wanted to photograph Emus. They are just about as close as a bird gets to a dinosaur. Having been told Tower Hill on the Victorian coast was a good place to see them we made an early morning visit in July.

We saw one almost immediately. Several more followed. I pursued one up hill through the Wattle bushes to watch it where it it fed peacefully. I had been told not to get too close to Emus by several people; apparently they can be quite vicious.

As I was happily photographing ‘my’ Emu I became aware it was paying more than a passing interest in me … or more likely my camera. I’m guessing it saw its reflection in the lens. I took a step or two back to bid a retreat when I lost my footing. Down the hill I went. Not a soft landing! Luckily the bird didn’t treat my horizontal repose as a sign of weakness; have you seen the size of the claws on these things!

When I recovered it was feeding happily again; …but I’m sure I heard it laugh!



Wonderful Songster

A delightful bird that occupies the coastal scrub around Portland and area is the Singing Honeyeater. A really wonderful songster.


Mom and baby

The idea was to take a few days down on the south coast of Victoria around Warrnambool. There’s some interesting birding down there and Southern Right Whale nursery. Yes, you heard that right … a whale nursery.

Each year Southern Right Whales move up from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to the calm waters of the south coast of Australia. the males move on but the females stay to give birth and may stop a few months while they raise their calf. One such favoured area is the bay off Warrnambool. The female along with her new calf will move back to Antarctica at the end of the Austral winter.

Whale watching quite rightly is banned from boats in this sensitive area so we had to view from land. It took a while but we eventually saw a female with her calf, albeit distantly. The calf can just be seen in the photo in front of its mother.

We had some good Humpback sightings a little further down the coast at Portland too – they were probably after whitebait and anchovies as were the Bluefin Tuna that were making the water almost boil with activity. Add to that two species of Albatross (Shy and Black Browed) plus a plethora of Australasian Gannet and you have a recipe for hours of endless sea watching.


Towny Eagle

Much building is taking place over farmland around the Western suburbs of Melbourne. On the edge of a building area I was intrigued by some distant large dark objects in the middle of a field as we drove out of town last week. They were nothing more than blobs really. However, staring at them from the moving vehicle I was sure one of them moved. I beckoned Tania to pull over. It was a busy road. A kilometer later we found a safe place to stop.

Viewing them through bins I decided to walk back along the road edge. I was still unsure what they were. It wasn’t until I got within 500m or so I could clearly see they were Wedge-tailed eagles; a pair, right on the edge of town. As I got closer they both moved to a nearby pylon so I took the opportunity to fire off a few shots.


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!!


In the pink

The main arterial that punctures its way into Melbourne from the west is the Westgate Freeway. It crosses the Yara River by way of the magnificent 2.5km long Westgate Bridge. Beneath the busy roadway is a small recreational area; Westgate Park.

Throughout the world there are a small number of rare lakes. The salinity, algal and bacterial content of these lakes, when the temperature is right, turn the water pink for a while. One such ‘Pink Lake’ occasionally occurs in Westgate Park and in mid March was at its ‘pinkest’ for a long time. Tania and dropped down from the bridge to take a look. I’m not sure what was going through the mind of the the White-headed Stilt I photographed feeding in what appeared to be a vast quantity of Strawberry Nesquik … but it certainly made a pretty picture.


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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Apr 2023


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