Little Visits: Enjoying the Morning Sunshine

Funny old weather Melbourne.  Biting cold for days, then, such a tiny break of stable weather.  Frost on the ground, breathing out ‘steam’, and calm winds. Ideal.

So. I, as the Banjo wrote, “Sent him a email, which I had for want of better knowledge sent to his mail address, in case he was home.
Just on Spec, titled as follows, “A trip to Point Cook is in the offing”.
And an answer came directed in a manner I expected.  “Mr An Onymous will meet you there”.

So, as #kneetoo is on the move, but not willing to venture too far at the moment, I went.

As the weather icon ladies had predicted, the morning was crisp, still and sunny. Ideal.

After the usual “G’days” and, the like, we set off for a walk through the pines.

We’d not walked more than a few hundred metres when I turned to glance a Brown Falcon that had set itself up in a sheltered, warm spot in the sunshine. Had I kept going, he’d have stayed I’m guessing, but too much activity too close, and he unfurled the big brown sails and was gone.

Next the call of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos rang across the frosty grass, and there on the other side of the paddock we say around 6-8 descend on the large pines. To be followed in quick succession by a second group of more than 20, and then another smaller mob of about 10. By the time we’d arrived close up, they were well in to their feast of the young cones in what can only be described as an open area dining area.



Then one of the young ones, crying, caught my attention and we managed a view of it being fed.  Beak to beak.

Onward for a cuppa of the Earl’s best and a sit by the water’s edge.  The moon was pulling in a high, high tide and the still waters lapped and laughed as they kissed the sand, and retreated, having enjoyed the moment so much to quickly repeat the performance.
Sometimes, just slowing down, and watching the small things, like small child exploring the beach, not over-awed by the expanse of sand and water, but rather inspecting the grains of sand on its fingers.

A Greater Crested Tern was fishing, and I missed the head shake as it came out of the water.   Then a White-faced Heron again standing perfectly still.

Several young Pacific Gulls were paddling in the clear waters, and an adult was doing its best Otis Redding impersonation of “Watchin’ the Tide Roll Away…”

We could have stayed all day, but each of us had other things family to attend to, and we retreated to the vehicles and a local coffee shop.
Great day for birds, relaxing and a bit of a natter.

As we left the beach an Australian Pelican beat its way along the water’s edge, flying low to make the most of the lift of the water.

Moments: Rub-a-dub-dub, a Pelican in the Tub

I have written many times before about what I consider to be the preplanned actions of some birds.
It’s easy to see a bird fly round, or past, go to a tree, roam over the grass, or maybe sit quietly in the water and conclude that they just react from one situation to another without much planning or forethought.

Now I have no scientific measure for any of this, nor have I assembled loads of peer-assessed data, so at best it becomes anecdotal, at worse, biased opinion.

We were sitting on a bench near one of the small ponds at the Balyang Sanctuary on the Barwon River. We had, truth be told, gone there looking for nesting Australasian Darters.  These birds have nested along the river near the road bridge for quite a number of years and have had very successful colonies. But when we arrived there was only a single bird sitting in the sunshine.  The nesting trees were empty. And by the look of it, hadn’t been used in the past season. Perhaps the trees no longer were suitable, or maybe the birds have moved up or down the river. Maybe.

So we sat in the sunshine, watched some Little Pied Cormorants at nest, and a White-faced Heron feeding its bold, noisy young’uns.

When out of the blue, literally, a huge white shape circled the pond and came into land quite near to where we were sitting.

An Australian Pelican.

It quickly turned about and moved to the middle of the pond and began its bathing routine.  A pelican can throw up a lot of water.
Then slowly it paddled and washed its way to the far side of the lake.  The light was starting to go backlight and the water drops were sparkling.  I was hugging the lens close keeping the bird in frame, when on a sudden, it reared up, took a couple of jumps and a wing flap or two that carried it the top of a nesting box, so it could preen in the sunshine.

You clever bird, I said as it landed. It had the nesting box in mind all the time I think, just needed to clean up and move that way. Then a quick hop-step and flap and it had achieved its plan.
Now perhaps I read to much into it, and it would have flown to a tree, pole or fence post, but the positioning of the final wash and turn, put it into a perfect position for an effortless leap to rest.








Snapshots: The Delight of Flight

Most of us see Pelicans sometimes inflight, sometimes fishing, sometimes just paddling about. We also find them out of the water, and their huge bellies, beaks and ungainly legs makes them look amusing to say the least.
Have to be careful in this day of Political Correctness, that I don’t infer that a large slow stepping creature is any less a wonderful and important member of the bird society and any avoid any reference to them as less than fulfilling their chosen goals and aspirations and dreams.

However all that aside, tis when they take to the air, that their great beauty and artistry in the air is instantly apparent.

EE and I had a lovely sunny afternoon with nothing special planned so took the opportunity to head down to Werribee South, and stop at Wyndham Harbour for a coffee and ponder the fish’n’chip shop next door, and wouldn’t it be a good idea to grab some and take down to the foreshore and watch the birds. But diets, being what they are, we simply passed by the shop without stopping, much, except to sniff the air and enjoy the aroma and ohh, and ahh at the plates of rich looking fare on the tables outside.  Oh Well!

There was not much happening at the Werribee River entrance either. Lots of fishing boats a’comin’n’goin’ Ho, yah ho, ho, ho.

Which meant the pelicans were ready to help the fishermen dispose of any scraps of fish that were being cleaned.

So we sat on the grass, me on a seat, and she on Dolly, and enjoyed the birds as they preened, argued and flew by.  Such masters of the air. Able to propel that huge body and large wings with such skill.

Enjoy. We did.


Point Cook sunny day with Meetup Bird Photographic Group

What a difference to mood a bit of sunshine makes.
We were looking for a day out at the Point Cook Coastal Park with Graham Harkom and the Meetup Bird Photography Group, and as usual Graham managed to put on a picture perfect day.

We arrived in good time to find the park gates still locked, and so we stood around discussing the day’s activities and soon enough the gate was open. Just as well we were a little late starting as a few late-comers thought they’d arrived on time.

Within a  few moments of getting out of the car, EE had discovered “Brown” the resident Brown Falcon, and he seemed quite happy to sit in the sunshine. Then, for reasons falcon, he took to the air and patrolled along the treeline by the carpark. Much of course to the chagrin of every magpie in the area.  So we started with some good views of Brown in being harassed by first one, then another magpie.
Through the gate and along the track out to the Monument, we also managed some Flame Robins, White-fronted Chats and a particularly good view of several Striated Fieldwrens.

From there we wended out way back along the beach-line and found a small flock of Blue-winged Parrots sunning themselves on the fence-line. And we managed to get some pretty good shots for the photographers.  Then one of our more alert spotted a flash of red, and a Flame Robin males spent the next ten minutes entertaining us flying from fence to track to feed.  He seemed the least concerned by our presence and again it was a photo opportunity.

Add a couple of Whistling Kites, and several Black Kites that seemed quite taken by our presence and made low passes to get a good look at us. Perhaps they were doing a “People Count” or a “Camera Type Count”. Whichever it was nice to see the sunshine glinting on those rich  deep brown wings.

By the time we’d made it to the Homestead area, the tide was well in, several Australasian Gannets were working in the waters further out, EE managed some White-faced Herons, and Pacific Gulls while she had waited for us to turn up.

A large flock, (300+) Little Black and Pied Cormorants were working on a fish shoal out beyond the reef, and every-time the shoal moved a large black mass ascended to the air to catch up with. Very impressive.

A walk back to the car through the farmland revealed some more Flame Robins, several White-browed Scrubwrens and a loud-voiced Singing Honeyeater.

After lunch a few of the group continued round to the RAAF Lake Lookout and spent some time at a pond with circling Welcome Swallows.  Where are you Rodger Scott!!

Graham then spotted first one, then a second Little Eagle at work over the Lake, and we were discussing the presence (or lack of) Goshawks, when over the treeline a bullet shape with longish tail appeared and at first I’d picked it for a Goshawk, and we were both amused we’d been discussing the same.  Then as the bird drew closer, it pulled up its wings in a most ungoshawk manner and revealed itself as a Peregrine Falcon, and it was most intent on making the Little Eagle’s life just a bit miserable.  Several close stoops had the Eagle moving on thank you.

Thanks to Graham for organising the day, and to all the grand folk who turned up to add such a delightful companionship to a glorious sunny day.   Really, after the past week or so, the weather just seemed to make the air sing.



Brown Falcon, being seen off by an Australian Magpie

Brown Falcon, being seen off by an Australian Magpie

Female Flame Robin
Female Flame Robin
Striated Fieldwren
Striated Fieldwren
Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Meetup at work
Meetup at work
Blue-winged Parrot
Blue-winged Parrot
Male Flame Robin
Male Flame Robin
Whistling Kite
Whistling Kite
Australian Pelican
Australian Pelican



Nice to meet old friends

Today, we with a bright sunny day instore, we went to The Pipemakers Park, in Footscray. It was one of the Heart Foundation “Green Walks in the Park”, and it was nice to catch up with a group of walkers and have a bit of a chat as we sauntered about the gardens at the Pipemakers Park, and then down along the Maribyrnong River.
First time we’d been down there, and the bird life is exceptional.  Two Brown Falcons sailing overhead as we got out of the car.  Looked great.  Also spotted several Eastern Shrike Tits among the bushes, and a host of other smaller birds.  Must take the cameras and a lunch and do it justice.  The gardener guy told me they often have a White-bellied Sea Eagle patrol the river, and there is a pair of nesting Eastern Barn Owls in the area as well.

We then had a date down at WTP, and with a spot of lunch at the Highway Lounge on the freeway, were well on the way to a good afternoon.  The first birds we spotted weren’t even in the Permit area, but were on the roadway outside.  Brilliant Flashes of  Red and Brown, feeding against the black tarmac of the road.  A Flame Robin family group of at least three males, and females and a few juveniles kept us out on the roadside for quite awhile.  On the return journey just as sun was setting they were still there and not that fussed by our presence.

It was Pelican day as well, and no matter where we went the big amusing lumps seemed to sail by in groups or small flocks.

On the way out, we went along Beach Road, and a Black-shouldered Kite was spotted in a tree, eager to make a nice shot, I put the car of the side of the road, and was getting ready when to my surprise, and joy and delight, and  amazement, the familiar “Kar, Kar, Kar”, of a hunting Nankeen Kestrel wafted down on the air.  I was out of the car, and had a dozen frames away, before I had even worked out where it was happening.  She, it was a female, took to a tree in a paddock, and I contemplated following, but after a few minutes, another high pitched scream from her, and she took off. There had to be a male somewhere near.   She flew directly overhead, (it really was like old times), and gave him a piece of her mind, before landing in the tree and gave her begging for food call.  He dutifully took to the air to find dinner for her.  She sat on the tree and watched, and occasionally screamed encouragement, until a demented Wagtail couldn’t stand it any longer and chased her of the tree.

It was so nice to hear her call, and to watch the delicate wind-hover of the male.    I hope they stay in the area, as we have only seen Kestrels there once before.


A Yellow-Rumped Thornbill, helping itself to the bugs in the spider web. It got pretty tangled in the web, and eventually had shake itself free.


Pelican making final adjustments on its landing approach


Female Nankeen Kestrel on a hunting trip.


A post of Pelicans or a Port of Pelicans

Mostly Pelicans get ignored.  Big bird that they are, but after all, seen one, seen ’em all.

Or so I thought.  Now, the question is if we have a ‘flock’ of sheep, and a ‘murder’ of crows, what collective noun do we use to describe a number of pelicans.  Well search as I might, it is one of those things that no-one has ever gotten around to.

Till now.  So I pondered pelicans sit on posts, so a Post of Pelicans?   Or you find them near the beach, how about  A  Port of Pelicans?  And so I’ve taken a step into the universe of naming things and chosen “Port”  Sort of fits ah?

Which brings us to photographing them.  Well, first, as Mrs Beeton would say, “Find your Pelican”, and Western Treatment Plant has more than its fair share of the great lumbering feathered comedians.

Here is one image, but hit the link, you need to see a Port to get a view of their antics.

They may be ungainly on land, but given just the slightest of breezes, these big behemoths of the air make it all look too easy. A wing twist and a turn, drop the legs and water ski to a stop. If its done right, end up on dry land with out getting a feather wet.  And all with that big long beak hanging out the front.

Keep a low profile, we could be mistaken for magpies

Take this link to the Port of Pelicans