Sneaking up on a Swamp Harrier. Chapter 3

Time to add another chapter to the Complete Guide for “Sneaking” up on a Swamp Harrier.

By now we have established some golden rules to ‘sneaking’ up on a Swamp Harrier.

For those who skim read, here they are.

Rule 1.  You Don’t Sneak up on a Swamp Harrier.
Rule 2.  None known in the universe.

We adopted a new technique the other evening.  Find a spot to park, setup chairs, open picnic basket, ignore Swamp Harriers.  Actually the real reason of course for the visit was the ever elusive White-bellied Sea-eagle.
The tide, Mr An Onymous had revealed to me in a private conversation was a low-low tide around sunset.

Armed with this vital piece of data, EE and I decided a picnic evening meal watching the sun set over other bay would be as good as any reason to travel down to the WTP, so as the Banjo has often been quoted. We went.

To Picnic Point.  Well its actually 175W Outflow and there is a big blue sign there warning of E coli and all sorts of other nasties, (but not about Swamp Harriers),  but for the sake of the exercise we’ll call it Picnic Point from here on.

The technical term, low-low tide means this is one of those tides that makes those funny tidal graphs drop really low on the page.  And it means in practice that the water level drops dramatically and reveals the mud/sand flats out several hundred metres. With such exposed areas, the small shore birds, (waders), come in their tens of thousands to gobble up as much rich food as they can.

And because of that low-low tide, the Sea-eagle can patrol looking for an easy snack, either to take alive, or to find carrion. Its an either/or for said Sea-eagle, and if all goes well, from our Picnic Point, it will patrol along the mudflats in great light, in close and will do some really clever Sea-eagle activity and we’ll get some good images.

Which of course as you can see leads us to sneaking up on Swamp Harriers.

Not to be out done the Clever Brown Bird has also worked out the low-low tide might just bring it the snack it so deserves.
We are hull down among the bushes.  The Swamp Harriers patrol through the scrub.
From previous chapters, its pretty obvious to me that the Swampie has the area well and truly mapped.  Nothing is a surprise to the average head-down hunting bird.  There is no “Oh look a fox killed duck, I might just swoop down and pick it up”.  No, it knows the carcass is there, because it wasn’t there the time before.   And humans, well they either drive around in circles or are large blobs standing against the horizon and easily spotted and avoided.

And for those fortunate souls picnicking at Picnic Point, well they stand out among the bushes as much as anything and from a distance can also be avoided.  Needless to say, based on these facts.  We didn’t get a close encounter with a Harrier all evening.  But. We did see a  Sea-eagle.

Still the weather was kind.


Head down, comparing the present information with the stored data
Nothing escapes that radar gaze
Oh, look, humans, they weren’t there before. Turn away
Humans. Turn away
Turning away in the evening light. Our presence didn’t come as a surprise to this bird, it simply continued its business along another track.
The elusive, White-bellied Sea-eagle made several runs along the low-low tidal flat. For some reason it was carrying grass from a previous swoop.


4 thoughts on “Sneaking up on a Swamp Harrier. Chapter 3

  1. G’day David and thanks for another highly enjoyable read. Stay away from E-coli and closer to the Swampie with lots of bonus Sea Eagles flying by.
    I’m off to your next blog.


  2. Adam,

    Glad you enjoyed. The Swampie does still tend to be a big challenge. And you only get one go. No hanging around when they turn.
    The new Nikon D500 among other things shoots at 10frames per second, and while I don’t have a $2,500 Swamp Harrier problem, it would be a way of getting a couple of extra shots on the turn.

    E-coli, least of my problems. 😉


  3. Great shots thanks David, I use to live near Sea Eagles where one got to know me and would hover above my head when it saw me, but it would drift off as soon as it saw me pick up my camera. yes the Harrier would be a great find!


    1. Thanks for the interest. I am a firm believer in the birds being able to differentiate between people, and are able to accept some humans to the point of being at least, appearing to be interested. As someone once said, “When you can fake sincerity you’ve got it made” 😉
      One of the upsides of our picnic was a close encounter with several Buff-banded Rails. Birds we rarely see, and never get much more than a glimpse, so I’ll have to put some of those up among the 2nd week of Blogging 101

      Liked by 1 person

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