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Saturday, 23 January 2021

Random Memories of Australia - Part 2

      I am quite sure that the longer COVID prevents us from travelling, the more my regret grows that I had to cancel my trip to Australia in July of last year, and there is no chance that it is going to to take place this year either. I had grand plans for exciting birding adventures, with many new discoveries to be made, in the company of agreeable, knowledgeable people. Maybe I can do it next year, but I am not getting any younger!
     In the meantime, thank goodness for photographs, trip notes, reports and memories. 

Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae)

     I am dedicating the coverage of this charming little gull to Yamini MacLean, fellow larophile, erstwhile resident of New South Wales, and aficionada of the Silver Gulls who enlivened her daily routine and brought joy to her life when she still lived there.


     It was entirely fitting that as we exited the terminal at Sydney International Airport upon arrival in Australia, it was a flock of Silver Gulls that flew in to greet us.


     What a bold statement they make with their bright red legs and bill, with a red orbital ring around the eye.
     They resemble nothing so much as avian buccaneers!


     Silver Gull is widely distributed around the coasts of Australia and is familiar to all. Following breeding it may be found quite far inland, and there is some post- breeding dispersal to Papua New Guinea, but this is essentially an Australian Gull.
     I long to hear it again, wheeling above the Pacific Ocean against the backdrop of an Australian sky.  Then will I know that I have truly returned "down under"!

Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)

     Australia is at every turn a continent of wonders, and little could be more outstanding than the presence of two species of monotreme (egg-laying mammals). In fact only five species are extant in the world, two of which are found in Australia. In addition to the Short-beaked Echidna the legendary Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is thinly distributed in the eastern part of Australia. The three remaining monotremes are other species of echidna found in Papua, New Guinea.
     Short-beaked Echidna is quite common and I have seen it on both my visits to Australia.


     To say it is an endearing creature is the understatement of the day! It is not especially wary around humans and the first one I ever saw walked within a metre of me in Campbell Park in Canberra.
     They have a curious rolling gait, which is quite comical to watch. They either hibernate or go into torpor during periods of cold weather, and the one we saw at The Nobbies on Philip Island, Victoria in early October had no doubt recently emerged from winter sleep.


     I was overjoyed to see it and it served to remind  me of the special nature of Australia and its unique fauna. I am becoming excited just looking at the pictures again!

Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala)

     If one family of birds could be said to define Australia, one could not be faulted for turning to Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae). This unique assemblage of birds is wedded to the foliage of Australia and the sheer abundance of nectar-bearing plants, matched nowhere on earth.
     Noisy Miner is a large, boisterous species that has benefitted disproportionately from anthropogenic modification of the landscape and in many respects has become a bit of a "problem bird", as it displaces other species.


     But we were not there to investigate the vicissitudes of avian distribution, of impoverishment or expansion, of opportunism or encroachment, it was our mission to see as many birds as we could - all the while embracing the flora and fauna of this unique place, and learning every day.
     Noisy Miners were present in the trees and shrubs along the street at our first AirBnB in Sydney, chattering noisily, and moving along like street kids in a gang.


     In our entire visit to NSW and Victoria there were few days when Noisy Miners did not put in an appearance - and we were always happy to see them.


Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorynchus tenuirostris)

     Turning to another familiar honeyeater, Eastern Spinebill quickly became a favourite. 


     It has an unquestioned air of elegance about it, and was endearingly confiding. It would forage at arm's length without hesitation and brought us many pleasurable moments.
     

     When we checked into our accommodation at Callala Bay, NSW the above individual was foraging in the garden and it was rarely that we went to or from our apartment that it was not present. 
     It feeds on the nectar of a wide variety of plants and was catholic in its choice based on our observations. Its decurved bill doubtless helps it to exploit certain flowers and is probably used to advantage to secure insect prey also.


     If I were to live five life times I would never look as handsome!

Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

     Who has not gone to the seaside in one part of the world or another and thrilled to the sight of a pelican flying overhead, often in the company of others, cruising by with the precision of a crack team at an air show?


     Whenever we were near the coast, or at a large body of water inland, we were treated to Australian Pelicans.
     It is a very large bird, quite unmistakable, and as the only pelican in Australia not to be confused with other species.
     Its massive bill is used to great advantage; the pouch is filled with water containing fish, the water is expelled and the fish swallowed whole.


     It is an opportunistic feeder and will not hesitate to scoop up small mammals or birds such as gulls given the chance. Individuals will feed alone or gather with others to drive shoals of fish into shallow water where they are easily captured.


     Our experience of the inshore ocean and interior wetlands was enhanced by the magnificent Australian Pelican, such as the bird above that was seen at Jell's Park in Wheeler's Hill in suburban Melbourne, on a wetland favoured by many species including a large breeding colony of Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca).
     More about that another time, perhaps!


72 comments:

  1. What an adventure and beautifully documented!

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  2. I am so glad that you delight in our wildlife. I do too and never, ever grow tired of any of them.
    Indeed my Sunday Selections today is mostly devoted to the pelican. We saw a totally relaxed couple of birds last week and were thrilled. They never, ever grow old.
    Echidnas are a rarer treat, and more than welcome. One of my brothers saw on on the snow last year while they were skiing and he and his friends made a point of ensuring its safety as it crossed the 'runs' and disappeared into the nearby trees.

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    1. Kudos to your brother and his friends for doing the right thing.

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  3. Querido amigo nos dejas un precioso recuerdo, las fotos son espectaculares al igual que lo que en ellas hay. El Erizo es diferente al que habita aquí, es un animalito que me encanta encontrar, le tengo un especial cariño. En cuanto a vuestros viajes espero que pronto los podáis retomar y disfrutar como nunca. Un fuerte abrazo para ti y para Miriam.

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  4. Enjoyed all the photos and birds you shared today, especially the pelicans. I'm so sorry you're once again in lockdown and that you had to cancel last year's trip. Hopefully, this all ends soon and you can go back to taking your wonderful trips. Hope you are having a good Saturday.

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  5. One of the things I miss most about Australia is the noisy birds. Kiwi birds are quite timid and polite in comparison. I particularly love the cockatoos and brolgas.

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    1. You are right, Pauline. There is no shortage of bold, brassy birds in Australia.

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  6. Hari OM
    Oh, David, you made me grin!!! I need say no more... YAM xx

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  7. Australia must be amazing and such a diversid species! <3

    www.pimentamaisdoce.blogspot.com

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  8. The little gulls with their red legs and bills are indeed charming!
    I like your reference to bills and beaks ; the massive bills of the pelican, the decurbed bill of the Easter Spinebill, the short-beaked Echidna.

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  9. Wonderful bird pictures as always and the echidna is just so darn cute!

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  10. Hey David,
    I can imagine how much you are longing to go to visit Australia. It's great that you have such wonderful memory's. Beautiful photo's.
    Have a wonderful day
    Marijke

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  11. The light makes the seagulls silver stars. The pelican is master of his world.

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  12. Interesting post and awesome pictures! I'd like to travel again, but I miss seeing family most of all. And it would be nice to go on all-day trips that included eating out again.

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  13. Lovely selection of a few of Australia's birds.
    the photos are clear.
    Echidna - they are lovely, there is one who lives in the ground at one of the caravan parks we stayed in near MT. Field NP last March.

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  14. I can imagine how much you would like to go back to Australia. The fauna must be so unique. Let's hope the adventure has only been postponed to a near and brighter future.

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  15. The photo of the gulls from Sidney Airport are very beautiful, David. Tell Miriam that I admire her photos.

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  16. Hi David, I hope you will be able to go to Australia again next year. It's great to see so many beautiful birds and other animals. Thanks for sharing the wonderful photos. Have a great day, hugs, Valerie

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  17. So different to our birds here in NZ - hopefully one day I also will be able to visit our neighbours across The Ditch and see some of these for myself.

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    1. It is barely more than a local trip for you, Margaret! It also appears that travels from NZ to Australia may be permitted long before it happens for the rest of the world.

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  18. Lovely photos, David, and Australia will still be here when the pandemic ends - and I hope that won't be too much longer.

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    1. Don't hold your breath, Helen. I fear we have a long way to go yet, and Australia is well ahead of the rest of the world.

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  19. Just one word today David...extraordinary!!!
    Thanks so much for sharing this at IRBB this week.

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  20. Hi David.

    Super this retrospect.
    What beautiful Birds you saw there then.
    I enjoyed watching this.

    Greetings from Patricia.

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  21. Such an adventure.
    I'm perfectly happy staying home! We hermits prefer it.
    Too many are still traveling, the news is awful.

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    1. There is no question that travel under present circumstances is foolhardy, and the more the government does to make it difficult the better. As for the overall benefits of travel, I am always reminded of Rudyard Kiplings observation, "What do they know of England who only England know?"

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  22. I have never heard of monotremes before, what a remarkable species. Hopefully you will be able to make a trip to Australia again someday.

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  23. Wow, you got some stunning photos. It does look like 2021 will be like 2020, with regard to sheltering in place to stay safe. :-(

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  24. Great photos of some unique birds. I found the Noisy Miners rather pretty and the pelicans are always nice to see. Thanks for sharing.

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  25. Hi David – beautiful photo of the lone gull at the beginning … and see why the much lighter ones are called silver gulls. The Platypus … I’d love to see one – one day … the Honeyeaters … delightful colours … while the one on the road looks as though he’s had his toes amputated. Delightful colouration of the Eastern Spinebill. I’ve never to my knowledge seen a Pelican … though I might have done in St James Park where some enjoy Royal life. Brilliant photos again Miriam … thank you to you both - Hilary

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  26. Beautiful birds!
    Interesting little critter too.
    Have a wonderful day!

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  27. This pandemic thing is such a bother, isn't it? But if we live through it, we can return to whatever travels we might enjoy. I'm wanting to drive across America actually!

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  28. Une faune incroyable. J'espère que vous pourrez faire le voyage l'année prochaine.
    L'année dernière je devais partir au Vietnam et Cambodge et bien entendu cela a été annulé et cette année aussi...
    Bonne soirée

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  29. Just last night my husband and I talked about our fantasies of moving to either Australia or Ireland.

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    1. If ever you do, pick Ireland. Much as I love Australia and its wildlife, the summer heat there is just brutal. I think I would end up staying indoors for half the year!

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  30. Hi David,

    I think you're right that this year will also be a year without travelling :-(. But the world has to be save again before we all go out and travelling again, for everybody. I think we're still lucky having great memories and photo's from the parts of the world where we have enjoyed wildlife.

    and so are your memories and Miriam's photo's. I'm not as much a gull lover as you are but I do like this silver gull (the name helps ;-) ) with its bright red colours. The Echidna is a lovely animal and it looks so cute! Of course the birds are wonderful and special, they look so different than our birds. The Pelican I like very much, nice flight shot but the other photo's show their nice blue feet, which I like a lot.

    All the best for you both,
    Marianne

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    1. No Lesbos for you Marianne, and no Australia for me. Damn!

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  31. Birds have such interesting beaks. Great examples here!

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    1. And each one appropriate to its feeding strategy.

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  32. Wow. What an amazing bird fauna! I'm absolutely impressed by it and I feel so small as I didn't know most of the species you mention here. That Echidna is fabulous too.
    Best wishes.
    Guillermo

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  33. Australia! My dream trip. Likely to never be realized.

    Thank you, David, for sharing your memories. Another cup of tea is called for as I review all of these images again.

    Stay well.

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    1. I am still hoping to make it there one more time, Wally.

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  34. One of the things that the Australians impressed on us was that the Easter Bunny was an abomination for many reasons, mainly because of the damage caused by the rabbit species in Australia. They have made a huge effort to replace this myth with the Easter Echidna, which REALLY LAYS EGGS!

    I enjoyed your photos.

    be safe... mae at mae food.blogspot.com

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  35. David, I hope you are in the first plane load of buccaneers to Australia. You need to find an egret or a heron in Australia to report on, and get Miriam's photo of. Thank you from Yam's biggest fan.

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  36. Maravillosas estas fotografías. Los pájaros todos se ven preciosos. Abrazos y gracias para Miriam y para ti.

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  37. That is a beautiful colourful bird in your blog header. I hope you will be able to travel to Australia next year and that by then the borders will be opened. Enjoy looking at your collection of birds photos.

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  38. I enjoyed your birding memories of Australia. I especially love the pelicans!

    I pray that travel is in the stars again and that you continue to delight us with your beautiful photos.

    Happy Monday, David!

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  39. For a refresh of memory, I reread the first part of "Random Memories of Australia"! What an experience! Such a wonderful look back. Australia must be amazing! Traveling is something we can only dream it right now. I would like to visit Australia, but it is not possible, not only because of corona ... also because of other circumstances! Who knows ... another time in another life!
    Thanks for sharing "the Paradise" with us!

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  40. Precioso reportaje amigo David. No perdamos la esperanza, seguro que el próximo año podrás realizar ese fabuloso viaje que ansias. Tendrás un año más pero en plena forma para llevarlo a cabo.
    Un fuerte abrazo querido amigo y compadre David, os deseo, una buena semana de felicidad.

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  41. Hi David, beautiful photos of Australia. I like the birds very much. Beautiful colours. I hope you can travel soon to Australia. At moment we have to enjoy our memories of holidays. Have a great week. Greetings Caroline

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  42. You are lucky to have seen a platypus in the wild, I've never came across one.
    Noisy Miners are quite common in Sydney, and they are quite comfortable in the city environment and around people. We don't seem to have them in the west coast.
    Love the pelicans and I always see a few atop the lamp posts on one of the streets that borders the river near my workplace, and it always brightens my day to see them :)

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    1. You are correct, Sami, Noisy Miner is not found in Western Australia. You probably have Yellow-throated Miner, however.

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  43. You had to be in your element, seeing these magnificent birds so unlike many that you see in the frozen north -- even when it's not so frozen! You have some real beauties there. It had to be the trip of a lifetime!

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  44. Seeing these fabulous birds, David, all so very different to anything we see in UK, I can fully understand your longing to return. It seems that, on your previous visit, the wildlife was abundant - I wonder how much that might have changed after the intervening disasterous fires?

    I hope you DO manage to return - don't give up!

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  45. We should have toured the whole of Italy last year, I now wonder if we will even get to tour again. As for my visits to Australia, all I ever had at that stage was a Brownie Box camera!!! I did buy a fabulous book of Australian birds, only to find when we got home it had gone AWOL, very sad.

    Lovely set of photos so I have to be satisfied now of the birds in Australia that I see on the internet.

    While there we did see a platypus but in a tank sadly. I came home though with a vast collection of them as stuffed toys to silver jewellery. Great reminders of Australis also with my little koala.

    Keep well and stay safe Diane

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  46. Another series of superb images of of your previous Australian sojourns, from the delightful Echidna , the noisy Miners, through to the Eastern Spinebills. Even allowing for the brutality of the Australian Summer. Australia has a special place in you heart.
    Yu both stay safe and well
    John

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    1. It does have a special place in my heart, John, but the summers there would do me in. Temperatures routinely exceed 40 degrees and a couple of years ago in Sydney it hit 47 one day. How can you possibly go out and do anything in those conditions? I have often said that on the coldest day I can dress up and stay warm, but heat like that is impossible to escape.

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  47. Yes, in current times we are all looking back at holidays and visits which have provided special times and happy memories.

    A lovely look back with wonderful photographs. I do hope you will get to visit again.

    In the meantime stay safe and well.

    All the best Jan

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  48. Such a shame you had to cancel an exciting trip. I wonder how long it will take before traveling is safe, or if it will ever be safe.

    Love,
    Janie

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  49. Hello,
    I am sorry you had to cancel your Australia trip! Your previous trip was wonderful, so many great wildlife sightings and photos. Australia and New Zealand are both places on my bucket list. Hopefuly we can all travel safely soon. Take care, enjoy your day! Have a great new week!

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  50. Some classic Australians in this post! I read (a long time ago) that Australia was 'mother natures greatest experiment with alternative realities' - and I have loved that phrase ever since! With luck I will see one of Australia's greatest creations - the common wombat - in the next couple of days, as I am completing my time off with a walk at The Prom. Hope all is well. SM

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  51. Hello David, indeed so sad that we are still not able to travel. We all had such great plans for birding etc, so did I. You show here some great photos of birds and the Short-beaked Echidna. Birds and animals one can only see in Australia. I have never been there and I fear it will not happen for me eather. Hope you and Miriam will soon get the change to go.
    Regards,
    Roos

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  52. Hi David,
    I can imagine that you felt sorry that it was impossible to travel to Australia. The wildlife is unique over there. I still have good memories of my visit of many years ago. The examples you show us here rises the interest of many people I think. Let's hope you'll be able to visit the country soon.
    Greetings, Kees

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  53. hello David
    something like that arouses the desire to travel even more, I can well understand that you want to travel to such a country at any time and it is sad not to do it but it has something good, you unpack your archive and show us photos that we can only be amazed
    Greetings Frank

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  54. The Short-beaked Echidna brought to mind an English blogger who's dedicated to rescuing hedgehogs. There are differences, of course, but both are exceedingly cute! The Eastern Spinebill is an attractive bird, but I really enjoyed your description of the gull as an avian buccaneer. It does have that swashbuckling air about it.

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  55. Good evening, dear friend David, how are you!
    what a thing with this covid issue, here we are in summer but we also have to wear a mask, it's a nuisance. It does not end anymore. But we still have the beautiful memories, right?
    These adorable little birds bring a bit of kindness in this chaotic world.
    Great, great salute from elbow to elbow jajaja!

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  56. The Silver gull is one of the finest gulls I have seen. A real beauty. The Eastern Spinebill too is great, but I don´t remember seeing this one.
    And, yes, age takes it´s toll,
    Re the book about Ravens you recommend I can´t find it in Sweden. Too bad, it seemed to be very good from revievs. Take care!

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  57. The wonderful world of birds.

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