Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wild geese protecting young

Well its nearing the end of the Victorian winter and it's time for Phillip Island's Cape Barren Geese families to start learning about life. While photographing this young family at Phillip Island's Fishers Wetland I noticed that the parent bird was keeping an eye on something in the sky ....

What's that in the sky? Cape Barren Geese, Phillip Island

The family had been feeding in a relaxed manner spread up to 4-5 metres apart (see iPhone shot above). Over a few seconds things tightened up quite a lot and that's when the adult bird could be seen checking the sky and posturing. I fired off a few more shots while the bird adopted this unusual posture (I am guessing signalling to the young who initially kept feeding and didn't seem at all fussed) ....

.... and I looked up to see what the fuss was about. On this occasion it was a Wedgie but there were also regular fly-overs from Swamp harrier and Whistling kite to keep the locals on their toes.

Wedge-tailed eagle, Fishers Wetland, Phillip Island
Now the parent bird had gathered the young goslings together and appeared to have most of them in a clump - the goslings had stopped feeding.

Checking to see that the threat has moved on
Hmmm ... but that guy's still there!
"Yeah .... He's still there Mum/Dad!"

I am pleased to report that the birds were much less concerned about my presence and wandered off to continue feeding in a relaxed manner. As with all large geese, Cape Barrens can put on quite an aggressive display if they are trying to get a message across - I reckon that they knew they had my measure! 

There were several new families (with between 3-5 chicks) at the wetland and many watchful birds.

Sentries on duty, Cape Barren Geese, Fishers Wetland, Phillip Island

Have you got a pass? 

Cape Barren Geese, Fishers Wetland, Phillip Island, 16 Aug 2014
Sharing with Wild Bird Wednesday

Bird on!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

All things Bassian Thrush, Dandenong Ranges

Bassian thrush, Zoothera lunulata
The explorer and navigator George Bass (1771-1803) lived for only 32 years but is well-remembered across Southern Victoria (and indeed northern Tasmania) through the naming of geographical features and modern infrastructure. It is my impression (from reading the book Australian Bird Names by Fraser & Gray) that the Bassian Thrush is named in honour of the man only indirectly in that the bird's range falls in a biogeographical region that attracts the "Bass-ian" name. When translated literally the scientific name for Bassian Thrush translates as "crescent animal-hunter". Lunulata is clearly a reference to those wonderful "dark half-moons" (Pizzy). I actually reckon the incantation Zoothera lunulata could do some damage at Hogwarts!

For me Bassian Thrush are an "occasional" bird. I have only identified them on four occasions and I can clearly remember each encounter. This year I have seen two - one in the Huon region of Tasmania and now this one in the Dandenongs.

I came across this fellow while exploring the forest between the Silvan Reservoir and Olinda the other day. When the low and feeble winter sun actually shines in Victoria the whole forest seems to breathe more happily!

I had wanted to explore the trails around the Eagle Nest Picnic Ground for some time but was always thwarted by closure of the vehicular tracks. Bizarrely the access track was again closed to cars the sign reading "Total Fire Ban". Anyway a check of the map suggested it was worthwhile parking the car at the blockade and walking 1-2km into the forest.

Eagle's Nest picnic area - perhaps with fresh landscaping. Maybe "current" works being the possible cause of road closures .... it's just easier without the public hooning around. 

I placed a coffee on the picnic table at the left of shot, turned around and behind me was this Bassian Thrush! Well we poked around for 20 minutes or so. It showed me how well it could camouflage itself ....

.... and showed off its bold scalloped stripes.

I can't even see it now, but it is my recollection that I took this iPhone shot with the bird in there somewhere!

The Canon EOS has a video setting but I'm not really set up for video (& there's a bit of a familial tremor sneaking in as the years go by)! On this occasion some of the frames are sharp so I was inclined to share it. The birds calling in the background are Sulphur-crested cockatoos....

Bird on!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bruny Island Cruise - Albatross

It's not often you see the terms "family holiday" and "pellagic cruise" together unless you are saying something like:
"Pete and Kath's relationship never really recovered from the infamous pellagic-cruise family-holiday incident"
White-capped albatross (or Shy albatross depending on which guide you are using), 15 April 2014
There are cruises run from Adventure Bay on Tasmania's Bruny Island by Pennicott Wilderness Journeys marketing spectacular scenery and the exhilaration of moving in powerful boats close to blow holes and sea tunnels. The opportunity to see wildlife such as seals, dolphins, whales and, yes, birds is also advertised.

On our stay at Bruny with our double-family group of nine (a few proclaiming definite sea sickness tendencies) I knew that the possibility of orchestrating a boat trip in the open sea were not great. This was April this year.

Well the pictures tell the story of a calm, mostly sunny day and an exhilarating and memorable trip! Entertaining guides (perhaps a little crazy!), no sea-sickness and an exciting boat ride had everyone happy.

Buller's albatross

One of each of the albatross species with a Silver gull for good measure
Crested tern

One of the roosting Black-faced cormorants shown above
Sooty oystercatcher
Great cormorant
Seal colony at The Friars

What are the chances of another moment in my life that I may photograph a dolphin and albatross in the same shot?
If you're curious to know more here's a 2 minute home movie with our experience of the cruise (you'll find many more on youtube including some professionally shot films commissioned by the company -this and more at the Pennicott Wilderness Journeys website)

Sharing with Wild Bird Wednesday

Bird on!