'P*ss off, you!' and other birdwatching tales

I do a lot of avian photography, taking pride in the end product even if some shots such as these leave a bit to be desired, technically, provided they have a story to lift them out of the humdrum.

Lost and Alone

The Blackbird (a species that bears the unfortunate name Turdus merula) is not endemic, but has become widespread since its release in Melbourne in 1850.

A juvenile flew into my yard with mum, dad or, perhaps, an older sibling. Whoever was responsible forgot their duty of care and returned to the roosting tree, leaving junior behind. It was calling out in alarm as the sun set so I went out and coerced it into a two metre corner of garden bed for the night, protecting it against possible stray cats with a cover of chicken wire. There was a great to-do in the yard soon after sunrise when dad arrived. I went out, with dad hopping off three or four metres to one side, and opened the protective cover. Junior flew to dad’s calls before the the pair headed away to their tree. Safe and sound.

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Excess Baggage

One of the most beautiful sights in our skies is the White Bellied Sea Eagle (its binomial a humungous Haliaeetus leucogaster). I saw this bird flying upriver at perhaps 60 metres, stopped my car and grabbed the Nikon. As I shot away, she reduced height and passed over me at no more than 20 metres. I noticed, as she did, there was fishing line wrapped around her right wing, a lure trailing behind. I could do nothing about it, but still wonder if she’d considered seeking human assistance to rid her of unwanted trash, only to think discretion the better part of valour. I will never know, but hope it never snagged on anything, causing damage to her beautiful wing.

P*ss Off, You!

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I chuckled watching a male Grey Shrike-Thrush (Colluricincla harmonica, but more commonly known as Duke Whitty due to its distinctive call). He’d been busy seeking insects on the grille of a car, then flew around to that spot where all birds know nice juicy spiders might be found, the rear vision mirror. Once there, he came face to face with an interloper. World War Three erupted for a couple of minutes as he pecked it into submission. Once satisfied it presented no further threat to his territory, he flitted onto the top of the mirror and called out his shrill “Duke, Duke, Duke Whitty!” a number of times to let the world know he was master of all he surveyed.

Daylight Robbery

One of my favoured photo spots is Buttons Creek, flowing into Bass Strait at Ulverstone. All three gull species, Silver (Larus novaehollandiae), Kelp (L. dominicanus) and Pacific (L. pacificus), are present in varying numbers. I’d just arrived and was getting my camera out when I heard a commotion. The Kelp Gull (on the right, an immature bird but with a wingspan already around 1.2 metres) had found itself a tasty morsel when the truth of ‘might is right’ was driven home to it in no uncertain terms. A Pacific Gull (also immature but, at probably two years and with a wingspan of some 1.4 metres) flew past and simply snatched the treat out of the small(er) bird’s beak.

Something a little different. I hope you’ve enjoyed my bird tales.

Do you enjoy bird watching?