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.