What about a trip to the Darters?

Trying to avoid a heavy duty day out in the bush in 30+ temps, we decided that a sleep-in, a late breakfast and a drive down to the Balyang Sanctuary followed by a coffee and focaccia at the Barwon Boathouse would be the tourist thing to do.

After all we’d not discovered the Boathouse when we were there last week, so on the basis of new explorations, we packed up and were on the road by mid-morning.  No point in getting there too early as the light is probably about as good as it gets by mid morning, too early, (like Goldie), and the birds are in shadow from the trees hiding the early morning sun.  Too late, (like Goldie), and the sun is behind the bridge and the birds are in shade.
What of course this clever plan had failed to point out, is that while we might well have nice light on the birds, it would be blazing hot standing on the shadeless bridge. But, of course we were to figure that out much later.

There are perhaps 4 or 5 nests on the go, but only two that make for reasonable photography.  The first is quite close to bridge and on Tuesday, she had two chicks only hatched in the past 24 hours as the Ever-vigilant Helmut had checked it out on Monday and there was only eggs in the nest.

Mum was still sitting proudly, and at first she only showed hints of the eggs.   EE began to ponder that perhaps the chicks had met with a terrible fate.  But, then Mum got up turned and there were two little snake heads bobbing about in the sunshine. Still at this stage featherless, but it was possible to see the little feather pins pushing through.
She spent a bit of time feeding them and trying to keep them shaded from the sun.

In the apartment above, the female had settled into the nest her mate was preparing on Tuesday, and she too had at least four eggs to show.
Just as the sun was making its presence felt, a loud Sqwaark, and the male arrived.  After the usual greetings and things, he fed her on a nice big,  fish? and they exchanged places. Which is pretty much an art form in its own right, as large wings, big feet and awkward bodies dance around on thin branches.  But, to their credit it does work, and he ended up sitting on the eggs and she preened and went for a long breakfast.

We stayed long enough to see the male come into flat 1, and then decided the heat on the bridge was beyond a joke, I’d answered, “what kind of birds are they?” and “what are you doing?” questions for the week, and we meandered down the track toward the coffee shop.  Maybe Routley’s Pie Shop next time.

"Honey, I'm home". Male comes in with a snack, and is ready to do his time looking after the eggs.
“Honey, I’m home”. Male comes in with a snack, and is ready to do his time looking after the eggs.
Just changed over. She has time for a preen before flying out. His tail can be seen behind her on the nest.
Just changed over. She has time for a preen before flying out. His tail can be seen behind her on the nest.
Tiny little snake heads in the sunshine
Tiny little snake heads in the sunshine
Even at this young age they are feed from within her throat.
Even at this young age they are fed from within her throat.
Ready to fly.
Ready to fly.
Airborne, just have to avoid all the tree branches.
Airborne, just have to avoid all the tree branches.
Mum and young. Not yet feathered, and still unable to stand properly, they do know where the food comes from.
Mum and young. Not yet feathered, and still unable to stand properly, they do know where the food comes from.
Family portrait.
Family portrait.
Male sitting on the nest. He must get remarkably hot in the sunshine in that black suit.
Male sitting on the nest. He must get remarkably hot in the sunshine in that black suit.
As delicate as the female, he re-arranges his charge of four eggs.
As delicate as the female, he re-arranges his charge of four eggs.
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2 thoughts on “What about a trip to the Darters?

  1. More amazing shots David. And very interesting to hear that they have adapted to living with humans and all that we do to the natural world.
    Cheers,
    Christine

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    1. The first day I was invited to see them, by Helmut1946, I thought it would be some remarkably serene, carefully concealed spot.
      You can only imagine my shock when we stood on a bridge with traffic whizzing by, and there they were, metres from the mayhem, as calm and as relaxed as could be.
      I think there were about 8 pairs at work that early in the season.

      Its like birds that frequent airports. The noise and the movement is dialled out.
      Funny ah!

      David

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