Moments: Bathing with a Friend

Among the residents at Serendip Sanctuary are seveal pairs of Emus.
We were walking toward the nesting Cape Barren Geese when we spotted a pair moving in the scrub behind the track.  A quick peek around the tree-line and we managed to get a view of them bathing.

The recent rains had filled  up a substantial puddle of water, not enough to dampen more than the ankles of an emu, but none-the-less, this enterprising pair decided that by squatting down, wrapping the long legs around, it was possible to get most of the body into the water.   No doubt in the wild, they’d just wade into a creek, river, dam and not have to go through the ungainly procedure.

It took each of them several goes to find the deepest spot and then flop down for a good soak. The amount of water they were able to shake off was pretty impressive.

And for all those who’ve been conned by the “Oh, you need to keep your birdbath pristine clean for the health of the birds…. blah blah…”  Take a look at the colour of the syrup running of these dudes.

Enjoy

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Little Visits: Serendipitous

We went to a BirdLife Werribee, (formerly Werribee Wagtails) monthly outing that included an afternoon at Serendip Sanctuary.

It’s a fairly close park for us, and we visit several times a year, and if the granndies turn up, it’s a day out in the field, but on formed tracks, and things to do, so makes a pleasing family day.  And it’s quite close to Lara Village and a certain Routley’s Bakery Pie shop. Which proved too much of a draw for Mr An Onymous and me, so we stopped off for lunch on the way through.
Furphy’s Ale and beef for him. Tandoori lamb for self.

I’m always a bit uneasy about photographing in an enclosed sanctuary area. It’s not a matter of ethics—per se—but, rather always seems to me a less challenging experience than working with the birds in the field. After all, the kangaroos have already seen a 1,000 tourists this week, so you are not exactly interesting.  They also know, people stay on the tracks, yell a lot, and move on. Some even wave, point fones at themselves and ‘whatever animal is that in the background?’ selfies abound.
So truth be told I normally wander through the area ohh and ahh appropriately, try not to get upset when someone points at a Tawny Frogmouth and says, “Oh, look, what a cute little owl!” and enjoy others enjoying their wildlife experience. (I’m not a spoil sport entirely!!!)

However it seems I’m mellowing with age. 😉

After so many trips, I’ve come to respect the locals. In their locality. Not only the ones in enclosures, but also the ‘visitors’, that have stayed on as Star Boarders. Quite a lot of the bird life is free on the wing and come and go as the season dictates. Others, for various reasons, including breeding programmes, are permanent.

And, what I’ve discovered from all that is I’m not so fussed about the lack of challenge, and much more interested in the closeup portrait.  The challenge for me is working with the bird for the right setting/location/lighting and then allowing them the freedom to move about unstressed. A humbling experience, but really has given me a feel of involvement with them as individuals. So much so that I look forward to being in their area, and hoping I’ll be able to make the best of the moments they share.

Of special interest to me is a pair of Cape Barren Geese.  These big birds have settled in to make Serendip their home territory, and with ready provided food, can you blame them. It’s nesting time right now.  One enterprising pair have made a nest site among some downed branches and scrub, not more than 5 metres from the main walking track. I spotted him first, and as he paced back and forth as people went by, I wondered, “Where is you mate”, and then I saw her.  All tucked up in her ‘secure’ haven.

The rest of the Wagtails tour/ensemble, moved on. I sat down with the pair for about 10 minutes.  Now a sitting goose doesn’t do a lot. Yet, the warm image of ‘mum’ raising her young, is such a classical performance.

Choughness, as this blog has often commented is a joy and delight to behold, especially as we don’t know the rules.
Inside the enclosure with the Brolga, there is a feeding station about brolga height. But rather attractive to your passing White-winged Chough. Except, they don’t have a good ‘hovering-flying’ technique, and so couldn’t access the food by sitting on the edge of the feeder. No where for them to attach.
Coughness is never defeated by such mere challenges.  So bend down, spring up on uncoiled legs, flap once to get direction, sail into the open feeder, grab a beak full and use those same wings to flutter back to the ground. Innovation at its best.

There is a bird enclose that houses quite a number of birds in a fly aviary.
Interestingly Buff-banded Rails are there in good numbers, and often Freckled ducks. One of the rails that I saw was quite white, so it must be a leucistic (the cells don’t have the ability to make colour).
And while I was there admiring that ‘Cute little owl’ (ggrrrr- it’s a Tawny Frogmouth!!!!), a pair of King Parrot turned up for a looksee at why wasn’t I walking through, yelling, pointing, and waving a fone about.  Thanks Mrs King, a lovely portrait session.

A day at Serendip is always a good experience with the birds, and now I’ve discovered my new friendships with them, I’ll look forward to the next trip to enjoy the photography of them as individuals, and find ways to express their character in a much more sympathetic manner.

Emu Portrait, in soft light. Finding the right background is the challenge
Oh, there you are, all tucked up in a safe nest
Sitting pretty, watching the parade of humans walking by
With a one, and two, and go. Coiled up like a spring it has to leap/flap about a metre and a half to get to the covered over feeding area.
As the old cartoony used to say, “Thunderbirds are GO!”
Incoming. Fiercely protective male makes a stunning entrance.
1907-02_DWJ_4665
Buff-banded Rail, not exactly blending in like its neighbors. Best guess is leucisim.
Mrs King, always looking resplendant.

 

Enjoy

Postcards from Mt Rothwell

We don’t need to know what it looks like (whatever it is), 
but what it might mean—what it might feel like. 
More than ever, we need images that speak to a deeper part of our humanity 
than the thirst for details. 
We need, and hunger for, context, insight, hope, 
and the kind of visual poetry that stirs our hearts, 
sparks our imaginations.
David DuChemin

Posted 28 Jan 2018

A few days before our sojourn up to the ‘old’ country, we were part of Werribee Wagtails quarterly bird count at Mt Rothwell.

In line with the weather all around, it was hot.  But we managed some good numbers in the first morning walk and at lunch time were sitting in the shade of the office area.  The ranger in charge  (Should that be hyphenated?) Ranger-in-charge.  There—setup a hose and sprinkler to give the little garden area a bit of relief.  This one action of course brought all the small bushbirds out for a bit of a cool off.

Continue reading “Postcards from Mt Rothwell”