Friday, 26 February 2016

Wandering Dutchman meets Long-billed Corella

My step-son, Heath, spent a year in The Netherlands after completing year 12. He stayed with the one  host family, the Middelvelds, for the entire year. His host-brother, Robert, is just a year older and Heath's host-sister, Anneke, is a year younger. The relationship between the families has remained strong over the subsequent 12 or so years. Heath has visited them often [international traveller that he is] and Elaine and I spent two separate weeks with Albert and Gertje in 2010 at their house in North Holland. Robert is a very keen birdwatcher. He could almost be called a twitcher. He is presently in Australia on a road trip from Melbourne to Cairns with Heath.

I was asked along on the road trip to supplement Heath's diminished bird watching enthusiasm! I picked Robert up from Tulla on Saturday 23 January and we headed straight for Portland to check out the Australasian Gannet colony at Point Danger where they were having an "open" day the next day Sunday. After a stop at Colac to ease Robert back into Aussie birdwatching over Lake Colac, we were stopped by several hundred Long-billed Corellas Cacatua tenuirostris on the drive into Warrnambool through the industrial and mega-shops estate to the east of the town. One of the last posts from the Ben Cruachan blog was about the arrival of a Long-billed Corella in Maffra. Let me say there are hundreds of the things in the west of Victoria and you could be wondering why they haven't arrived in Gippsland earlier.

So Robert was on the lookout for a flock of white birds in the air but it was the mob on the ground, hoeing into the kikuyu on the roadside that were unmistakable and unpassable. They were right by the Princes Highway, unperturbed by trucks and semis and B-doubles and cars zooming past. Once we were close, it became obvious that they moved away from you as you approached thus only showing their backs and rears to the camera. We soon had that figured out with Robert going around behind them and quietly "driving" them towards the camera and the setting sun. A lifer for both of us. A pretty good start to the trip.

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