Saturday, 25 October 2014


TEAM -- Together Everybody Achieves More

"Well, Phil. A spot of fishing then?" "Okay Pete."

"Reach down. Stretch the neck."

"Hmm. A piece of weed. Tasty, not." 

"Let's have another go."

"Ah. That's better. Definitely piscian.
Better get it down quick before that swan comes over."


Burp "Yum. Shall we go again?" "Let's do"

"All together now."

"Don't look now, Phil.
There's a photographer behind us. Moon him."
f8 and be there. Magic.

Great Egret alternative fishing

Why go to all the fuss and bother of getting wet whilst fishing when you can do it from the comfort of a pier?

"Somewhere along here should do nicely."

"Ah. The peace and tranquility of fishing."

"This is the spot. All I need now is some gear."
Magic. f8 and be there.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

"Who's been sleeping in my bed?"

On a walk this morning to photograph the Freckled Ducks on Lake Guthridge in Sale, I noticed a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo inspecting a likely looking nest-hole in a gum tree.

"Aren't I pretty? ...
That looks like a suitable nest-hole over my left shoulder"

He/she would go to the lower edge of the sizeable hole but quickly jump/fly back to hang onto the small branch just a metre away. Indeed, the hole looked eminently suitable.

"Just our size."
"What's this plugging up the hole?"

He/she flew over again but a squabble started out with lots of cockatoo "raucous screeching" Simpson & Day and a strange hissing, asthmatic growling which I realised was a Brushtail Possum. A careful look at the photos above will show the black fur [of the tail, I think] in the entrance. Can't be too deep a hole! At one stage the ears and face of the possum appeared.

Possession is nine tenths of the law.

Possum 1: Cockatoo 0

End result? The cockatoo flew away to look for another hole.

Magic. f8 and be there.

PS. Note that a brilliantly white bird is hard to expose!!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Where's my dinner?

I visited the Herb Guyatt Sanctuary this afternoon, just to see what might turn up. As I sauntered along the path near the mobile stick area*, I noticed a male Golden Whistler working some low acacia next to the track. I quietly approached and, looking through the bins, noticed he had a big juicy insect in his mouth.

He came closer. I took some photos. He came closer still, to about two metres away from me. He also managed a pretty good call despite his full mouth. He seemed to call "around" the food morsel. Perhaps a trainee avian ventriloquist. I then realised that I was standing next to a sparse thin shrub in which was perched, about a metre off the ground, a fledgling Golden Whistler.

I can see a lot of potential in the kid
I backed off a couple of paces and Dad went in for the downloading. I had the camera on auto-drive-modey-thingy but, as the camera was saving in raw files, the 8 fps rate was in reality 2 fps so I missed the transfer.

"These things are just a food processor"

I waited a few minutes and he was back with another meal but refused to approach the kid so I left them to it.

f8 and be there. Magic.

Beware of Sticks

Monday, 13 October 2014

Regional Final of the National Australian Warbling Championship at Lake Hamilton

The Australian Reed-warbler.

"Outstanding singer of the summer reed beds". Pizzey & Knight

"Loud, melodious voice". Slater

Lake Hamilton is a permanent waterbody fed by the Grange Burn. Friends live right next to it and, whilst staying there last week, I was able to do the 4km circuit on two occasions. It is an excellent amenity for walkers, runners and bikers with an all-weather path circumnavigating the lake and a state-0f-the -art playground, rowing course and sheds and boat ramp for sail boats. It is mostly lined with reeds but there are some areas where the grass banks go directly to the water. It is all contained by a ten metre wall containing a floodway with a pair of resident Black-fronted Dotterels.

Dotterel on patrol

On my second circuit of the lake I was entertained by Australian Reed-warblers every ten metres for about a kilometre. It certainly seemed that there were 100! And they were all singing their hearts out. I have no idea how a female would chose a suitable mate but there were plenty to choose from. This also meant there were photo opportunities galore. And the winner, going on to the state finals at Albert Park Lake in Melbourne next month is .....

Arwold, the Australian Reed-warbler going full bore

Other finalists included ...

Pippa the Australasian Pipit
Beak too full of nesting material for the decibels required
Graeme the European Goldfinch
Colour is his strong suit/suite
Marvin the Musk Duck
Disqualified for making too much water splash

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Cisticola Central

Before going to The Cut last Monday, BLEG visited the northern end of Jones Bay. As we quietly and slowly walked along the track beside the bay, we began to hear a fair bit of "bhztt"ing and "lek"ing coming from the tussocks growing in the twenty metres or so from the waters edge. Several of us carefully walked through the tussocks and then the Golden-headed Cisticolas started to appear, perching on elevated reeds and fences. Sufficient birds appeared for long enough to enable all photographers to fill their camera cards. The total number of birds was estimated at 38 over three hundred metres!


"Look at me. Look at me" 

Monday, 6 October 2014

Bullies of The Cut

I spent the morning with Birdlife East Gippsland on their regular Monday outing. The venue today was initially Jones Bay, to the east of Bairnsdale, and then the northern silk jetty, specifically where it has been cut by the Mitchell River. The river flows into Jones Bay through this cut but water also continues along between the silk jetties discharging a further few kilometres along into Lake King.

We arrived at The Cut, had morning tea, then slowly walked the few hundred metres to the end. Apart from the swans and cygnets, the egrets, the various species of ducks and resting cormorants and herons we spotted six Royal Spoonbills and four Little Pied Cormorants resting and preening on a dead tree in the middle of the cut.

Getting on with life as a spoonbill.
A bit of peace and quiet.

 No interruptions please.
Here is another view of the party from a different angle with Lake King/Jones Bay in the background. But what is going on in the distance?

A massive raft of Great Cormorants and some Pelicans.
There was a lot of flying going on, wheeling around, dropping into the water. Probably feeding -- a feeding frenzy! Estimated at least one thousand Great Cormorants involved. It was too far away to see much of the action. Even a telephoto on a 1.6 camera can only bring the action so close. So the action would have to come to us.


We carried on walking a few metres more to end of the jetty. There on the sand spit about 10 metres away were Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Red-necked Stints, Black-fronted Dotterills, Masked Lapwings and chicks, Red-capped Plovers. Great. But what's that noise just behind us?  All the feeding action had transferred to The Cut. The birds were following the mullet who were trying to escape (being) dinner!  The sound of thousands of wings beating as the Great Cormorants landed and or did 'touch and gos'. Pelicans zooming left, right and centre. All this occurring twenty metres in front of us. We could now see what was really happening. The spoonbills took off. Exit stage left.

It looked like total chaos.
The cormorants were diving for the mullet and eating the small ones when under the surface. If a fish was too big to swallow, the cormorant came to the surface with the fish in its beak. A valiant attempt to swallow the mullet would happen but, as the pelicans were on "snack alert", the cormorant would be mobbed by those bullies, the pelicans. Three or four pelicans would assault the cormorant, beaks open and wings flapping, in an attempt to steal the meal.

"There's a cormorant in here somewhere!"
"Give me that fish"
The cormorant invariably dropped the fish which would be snapped up instantaneously. Occasionally it seemed that the fish was taken from the cormorant's mouth!

"Aah. Got one. Yum"
Pelican in the centre: "Finally. Morning tea"
This lasted ten minutes. Cormorants and pelicans continually flew past us chasing the mullet as they entered the cut and turned left going down the jetties back towards the lake.

f8 and be there. Magic.

* I'll tell you about the choir of cisticolas at Cisticola Central in the next blog!!