Where the Ibis builds its Nest

They had told us of pastures wide and green,
To be sought past the sunset's glow;
Of rifts in the ranges by opal lit ,
And gold 'neath the river's flow.
And thirst and hunger were banished words
When they spoke of that unknown West;
No drought they dreaded, no flood they feared,
Where the pelican builds her nest!
http://setis.library.usyd.edu.au/ozlit/pdf/v00016.pdf

Been away to Ballarat for a few days.  “Go the Doggies”, well not that I follow football, but the connection to the story is long and tenuous and involves boredom, so we’ll move right along.

Always good to take a bit of a stroll through the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.  Always amused by the interchange of Botanic and Botanical when used in names of gardens.  The ‘usage’ rules struggle a bit on the cogent side. Still Ballarat for all that has chosen Botanical.  And, well, just sayin’, that’s good enough for me.

In said Gardens, or more particularly, in Lake Wendoruree there are a number of small islands that might have been designed for other things, but have been squatted on by colonies of White Ibis.  Always amusing to see them fly in and out over the township.

I grew up, as a little tacker along the banks of the irrigation district around Swan Hill, and it was an everyday occurrence for the young lads and their dogs to be wandering the irrigation channel banks and see large flocks of these birds at work in the irrigated paddocks around.  Their guttural call, their harmony in flight was always a pleasure to experience.  So much so that we became so accustomed to them that we often took no notice on our ways to one piece of mischief or another—but those indeed are other stories.

When I moved to the city, I was taken aback that city folk saw them as ‘rubbish tip raiders’, ‘ugly, dirty, messy birds’.  Which given their high acclaim in cultures of yore, made me quite sad.  Then I realised that said sity folk had only ever seen them around their garbage dumps.And I wondered, (and still do) whose fault was it for their scavenging.  The birds, or those who dumped the rubbish.

Among my other childhood memories was a poem my Father was want to recite.  “Where the Pelican Builds its (Her) nest.”
It must have been one that he learned as a little bloke in school as he knew it by rote, word-perfect, except for the occasional its/her nest.  It was one of his favourite lines before going to bed at night, as “I’m off to where the Pelican builds her nest”.

Funny watching these lovely birds in action that his words came back so clearly.

 

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The Lady makes her Return

For a few months last year a female Eastern Osprey visited the western side of Port Phillip.  It spent some of that time along the Werribee River lower parts, fishing in the tidal estuary.    We named her Eloise,  because of her most elegant appearance.

To our delight, she has made a welcome return.

At this stage she has been mostly seen around the K-Road Cliffs area, which has given photographers and birders excellent views.
Needless to say of course we’ve been down to say hello.

 

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Scarlet Robin and Friends

It’s been awhile since we’ve been into the greybox at Woodlands Historic Park.
As we had a need to travel out to the northern subs today, we hummed and hahhed about making the extra effort to swing by Woodlands.  Mostly the conversation was about the weather.

Neither of us being partial to walking about in the rain, or being blown backwards by strong wings, nor suffering from the interminable porridge skies we’ve been experiencing the past week or so.

So says she, “Why don’t we put the cameras in, and take a late lunch at Greenvale Shopping Square and if when we come out, the weather is reasonable—at term to be defined by looking at the sky and the action of the wind in the trees—and decide then.?”
Done.

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Red-capped Robin

One of the birds I’ve talked about before is the Red-capped Robin male we have located at the You Yangs.
He seems to have a most unusual feather detail, with quite an amount of white amongst his red cap.

He also tends to call like a Scarlet Robin, and I have no idea why, although quite a number of suggestions have been offerered

He is in company with a rather sweet female Red-capped Robin, so she is obviously impressed with his credentials.

Bit of strange code kicking about as I was hoping to link this to my images on Nikon Space. We’ll see.

And here is the good Lady herself

A Tale of Brown Falconery

“Your beloved and your friends were once strangers. 
Somehow at a particular time, they came from the 
distance toward your life. Their arrival seemed 
so accidental and contingent. Now your life is 
unimaginable without them"
John O'Donohue

Years ago, the very first Raptor that I seriously made contact with in my beginnings of photographing birds was a pair of Brown Falcons.

The amazing birds were resident in the Backpaddock Area at Woodlands Historic Park out near the ruins of Cumberland Homestead. They were a very patient pair, and over the seasons I had quite a bit of time sitting in their territory while they carried on their falcon business.  And I managed several seasons with them when they nested, but the friendship changed to a very polite “Do Not Disturb”. The female taking umbrage to my intrusions more than once and on one occasion passing close enough by me to hear the wind on her feathers. They managed at least three young over the time I was actively with them.

I learned so much about the life of Brown Falcon from this pair.  Some things that have stuck with me.  They are as happy, and confident on the ground hunting as they are in the air.  Once I saw them do a dance routine display, not unlike Brolga, but perhaps without the elegance, as two big fat chooks jumping round each other is probably a more apt visual description.  They seem to have a territory completely mapped. A wing flap and a turn away is not some random movement, but rather quite a deliberate move to a location, which may not be in the direction of the first movement.  They are masters of the low level flight.  And if they can move behind bush or grasses, or perhaps along a creek or channel line, or roadway water runoff, they take that as first option.

Catching things is not about “Oh look, food” and going for it. Everything is planned to be a minimum of effort, often many minutes take place between spotting and finally attacking food. And I really suspect that both the approach and the exit are carefully planned.

They can hover in the air like Kestrels, although “Hover like a brick” is probably more accurate. Still in a good breeze, they can sit quite motionless, but mostly its a hard wingflapping to keep station.

Continue reading “A Tale of Brown Falconery”