I was lucky enough to have a 6am sleep in this Sunday morning. We were up early, hoping to see the regent honeyeater in better light before heading off and exploring various locations in north east Vic.
Now, I hate trying to do ‘big days’ of birding. I’m thankful for them, because it’s a braindump of birding genious from a bunch of very kind and generous birders. However, I prefer getting long, close looks at my favourite bird species. Sometimes, it feels like the goal is to just add various birds to tick them off your ‘yearly state list’.
Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this day. Yes, it was a bit of a slog. Yeah, it was disappointed that the view we got of the plumed whistling ducks was little more then a glimpse. But I learned loads. And the company was great 🙂
We picked up these white-backed swallows on a read heading towards Rutherglen. I couldn’t tell you were. Philip saw them and our convey suddenly stopped. They were fairly high up and it was hard to get good views of them. I don’t think I’m a fan of swallows yet. They were beautiful birds but their behaviour wasn’t that interesting.
We headed to Rutherglen where we stopped for coffee. This city looked lovely – very similar to Chiltern, but with more shops. I’d have loved to have spent a couple of days here. I can hear you asking, why would I mention something as boring as coffee? Because we found an Eurasian tree sparrow in the outside dining area, which was a lifer for many.
Lake King, in Rutherglen, is meant to be a great place to see birds. I can’t recall why we stopped here. I certainly wouldn’t seek this location out but it was a lovely place to go looking for species. I got my first photos of a yellow billed spoonbill landing on a branch! I could watch spoonbills all day.
Kings road swamp
I honestly have no idea where this is. I also wasn’t paying too much attention to the birds here, I was too distracted by the reptiles.
Tip: if you love reptiles, go birding with a snake catcher.
I’m not sure what frog this is. It was hiding under a rock. I did see another frog, but didn’t get a photo in time.
This photo is quite possibly of a robust skink. The lens was too long to get a really great photo and he was a quick little bugger!
The above two photos are of a dead brown snake that we found. I found to emphasis that Matt is a professional snake catcher and gave us a lot of warnings. It was fascinating getting a close look at it.
I learned on the weekend that I’m actually a skilled birder. Yes, I suck with calls and identification. But I’m good at finding random movements and tracking them with the camera.
This is apparently a different subspecies of the striated pardalote. I need to do more research into this. Regardless, such a beautiful bird to photography.
We had really beautiful views of these diamond firetails. I’m not overly interested in them as a species yet but they are really lovely to photography.
Another time where I had no idea where I was. Half the group went off to look for double barred finches and dipped. I was at the car where I saw a fox (missed the photo!), a kangaroo getting caught on the fence (it got free) and this wedgie! There is something so majestic about seeing such a large bird. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.
I did get to see plumed whistling ducks, which were a target bird for the weekend. I didn’t see the point in searching for them once I realized that they were little more then specks in a distance on my 500mm lens. We had to stand on a log – and have someone supporting us – to be even able to get those views. This isn’t a complaint, moreso a warning that it’s worth doing research. I would much rather travel to Queensland to get up close beautiful views of this bird, and spend my time getting awesome views of one that is local. Still… I love whistling ducks.
We also saw this barking owl. I’m not giving away the location. I was warned that this can be dangerous, as not everyone is as respectful of the birds as we are. I did ask about what other situations I should be careful about sharing, as my default response is to share the knowledge. Basically, in any situation where the bird is endangered or rare in the state. Also if certain types of species are breeding. This warrants more research.
We got to get really close and spend 15 minutes photographing it. It was such a beautiful bird. I would have loved to have spent more time with it and gotten other photos. Still, such an honour. My first owl! And so close!
It was a stressful weekend for me, but was also amazing. I learned so much. At times, I was more relaxed then I had ever been. It was exhausting but oh so worth it. I’ll need more time to digest the awesomeness of it.
I do know I need to return to Chiltern. I’d love to learn more about the local area. I’d also love to go birding with many of the people I hung out with. 🙂 I love nature
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