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.
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
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.
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.