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!

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.


The light on the day can only be described as ‘deceiving’.  Dark clouds that gave way to white heads and then small open breaks of sunshine.

The birds were actively feeding young as they could be heard calling from their island fortress, and the rest of the clan was engaged in preparing for their next nesting activity.

And from my vantage point on a little inlet, I was able to get birds flying toward me down the pond, and with the light behind them, and the surrounding dark trees as a backdrop.   All I really needed was a constant supply of sunlight. But, see para 1 above.

Some of the willows in the area are the Bent type and provide the most curious shaped nesting material, but rather than be descriptive, here is but a few from the hour or so I spent until the cold wind, and driving rain, had me heading for shelter

A steady stream of building materials went past my position on the water’s edge

Returning for more supplies.  The light and the backdrop worked so well, I just had to wait for everything to line up and press the shutter.  I’d have been hard pressed in a studio to be able to get this balance of light both for detail and colour.

Bent Willow seemed to be the preferred material

This bird no doubt was from the marketing department whose motto was “If you can’t do it good, do it Big.”

Beautifully marked and superb aviators.  A pleasure to watch.

I was so impressed when the birds came up the waterway with the sunlight behind and the dark bare trees for backdrops.


4 thoughts on “Where the Ibis builds its Nest

  1. An outstanding series of shots. Each one is full of fine details and colours. Their nesting material choices left me scratching my head a little.


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