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Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Random Memories of Australia - Part 3

      The lockdown in Ontario has just been extended so the opportunities to get out birding are significantly restricted. In addition, as I start to compose this post (26 January), we are experiencing our first major snowfall of the winter, and by the time it is all over I expect there will be lots to shovel! The conditions are certainly not conducive to drives through the countryside.
     Being confined to the house has not been entirely disagreeable, and I have been quite happy reliving my Australian experiences and I am eager to share with you, again, some of that continent's superb species.
     In no particular order, and without regard to taxonomic sequence, here are six remarkable Australian birds.

Cape Barren Goose (Cereopsis novaehollandiae)

     You would be hard pressed to find a more handsome goose than Cape Barren Goose, but in many respects it flies in the face of all that we know about geese. It is of ancient origin and has only partially webbed feet; unique among waterfowl, copulation takes place entirely on land and there are no pre-copulatory displays involving water at all. In fact Cape Barren Goose seems to shun water most (if not all) of the time and we never saw a single bird enter the water. 


     Both sexes utter a pig-like grunt and one of the vernacular names for this species is Pig Goose.
     Cape Barren Goose was common on Philip Island, VIC, verging on abundant in some spots. Many adults were chaperoning recently arrived young, and it was charming to encounter them.


     Ducklings and goslings of all species are at the top of the avian cuteness index, but one might be forgiven for concluding that Cape Barren goslings take first prize.


     I owe a great debt of thanks to Stewart for taking us to see these treasures, and sharing with us his intimate knowledge of many great birding spots on Philip Island.


     As I look across from my desk right now I can see a flight feather that I collected at the time. One feather doesn't make a goose, but it will have to suffice for now!
     À la prochaine mes amis!

Channel-billed Cuckoo (Scythrops novaehollandiae)

     This huge monotypic cuckoo is unlike any other cuckoo in Australia.
     We were very fortunate to it see on our first day in Sydney when we visited the Royal Botanical Gardens.


     We were alerted to its presence by the noisy racket of agitated Pied Currawongs (Strepera graculina). This cuckoo, which will lay as many as five eggs in the nest of its host species, favours large songbirds roughly of its own size, currawongs and Australian Magpies (Gymnorhina tibicen) principally, as the host for its eggs and the future care of its young.
     As if in confirmation of this fact, Australian Magpies thronged together with the currawongs to mob the Channel-billed Cuckoo, much in the manner of the cavalry bringing in reinforcements! 


     The combined assault of the currawongs and magpies succeeded in driving off the nest vandal, but it had been a wonderful experience for us to witness.       Drama of this nature plays out daily, but it frequently goes unnoticed. We were happy to have had a front row seat to the performance!

Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina

     Doubtless many of you are now saying, "What the heck does a Pied Currawong look like"? Well, let me show you.


     It is a large bird, about the same size as an American Crow (Corvus brachyrynchos) and is widespread throughout the eastern regions of Australia from the tip of Cape York to the westernmost part of the State of Victoria.


     It is bold, and has habituated to a wide range of habitats, including cities and other zones of human habitation. 
     It flies with a deep, flapping wingbeat, and it did not take us long to recognize a bird in flight. Rarely did a day go by without the company of currawongs.


     This common Australian bird contributed in no small measure to our enjoyment of the marvelous and unique avifauna of Australia. Every sighting was special for us.

New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae)

     Few birds charmed us more than New Holland Honeyeater. It is impossible to overstate the joy we derived from this enchanting little bird.


     It was the most common honeyeater throughout our stay in Australia and we saw it most days throughout the three states we visited.


     If there was one bird we came to take for granted, in the way that one might become blasé here about American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis), New Holland Honeyeater would have been it.


     It's not that we ever failed to appreciate it, and it enlivened our days without exception.


     I think I will set for myself the challenge of going through all our pictures and identifying the different flowers on which it fed. Should be fun!

Nankeen Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus)

     Like me, perhaps you find night herons fascinating. Here in Ontario we can see Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) and, very rarely, Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax violaceus), but Nankeen Night Heron looks so different as to take on an air of exoticism. 
     The first one we spotted, at Centennial Park in Sydney, seemed to be hiding coyly.


     But several individuals were present and had no inclination to hide from view.


     This bird was formerly know as Rufous Night Heron, and that name does seem to fit the bird well.
      It is widespread through Australia, only being absent from arid areas, and its range extends to Indonesia, New Guinea, the Philippines and various Pacific islands and archipelagos.
     We could not make up our minds whether this individual was agitated or seeking to impress the female of his choice.


     Miriam and I both agreed that it was a perfectly wonderful encounter and one that leaves us with warm memories; the photographs help to rekindle them. 

Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria australis)

     Australian Robins (Petroicidae) possess a charm that is hard to beat. 
     Eastern Yellow Robin was the species we saw more than any other, and this individual was spotted as we were standing looking at the Nankeen Night Herons.
     

     It did not stay for long, but during the time it was there it was very obliging in terms of photography. We saw this species on several other occasions but never as well positioned as this individual.


     As you may see the greyish/blue back transitions to olive green and when the bird flicks its wings the effect is sensational. 
     Its range covers virtually the entire span of eastern Australia, where it may be found in habitats ranging from open forests and woodland to coastal and acacia scrub.
     It was always a special moment for us to spend our time in the company of this uniquely Australian bird.

     I initially turned to this retrospective of Australia as an antidote to the enforced confinement brought about by COVID, but I confess that it is giving me a great deal of pleasure to relive a fabulous journey to this land of discovery. I have no doubt that more episodes will follow.

93 comments:

  1. You have shown many beautiful birds from Australia. My favorite today is the Pied Currawong. It looks almost like our Magpie, David. I like Magpie and Crows very much.

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    1. They are among my favourites too, Marit - highly intelligent birds - just like Norwegian gardeners!

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  2. What an amazing trip, your photos are amazing!

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  3. Fantastic pictures ~ I love when you get the flowers/berries/grasses in with the birds to show off the setting. I'm sorry to hear of more restrictions, and I'm glad you have lot's of wonderful pictures to still share. The Cape Barren goslings really do win the prize!

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  4. Another mouth-watering selection of birds, David. I think this crop surpasses those in your previous two retrospectives. Yes, it seems that Cape Barren goslings are favourite candidates for the 'cute stakes'. I can't help but wonder what the reactions would be if our own iconic Robin suddenly transformed into the Eastern Yellow Robin. I expect they would be somewhat mixed. My own view is that it would be fabulous for most of the year, but the yellow robin would never suit a snow scene on a Christmas card!

    Sorry to hear of the increased restriction over there, but I expect it is for good reasons.

    Best wishes to you and Miriam - stay safe - - - Richard

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  5. It is always amazing to see such birds. God is an Artist.

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  6. "cuteness index" - I like this term.
    Two of the birds displayed in your post are my candidates for the top of the 'cuteness index':
    New Holland Honeyeater and Eastern Yellow Robin.

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  7. A pig-like grunt, huh? That sounds interesting. I have seen people think that a peacock's sound was a child calling for help. How much snow did you get?

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Hi Janie: Not a s much as they predicted - by the time it stopped there was about 12cm. Fortunately the winds weren't exceptionally strong so there was not a lot of drifting.

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  8. A great array of birds. And ducks and babies.

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  9. Hari OM
    Oooh one of my personal faves here, the Currawong... dare I again put a link, this time to the sound of their wonderful voices - and did you know they have dialects/accents? The murmuring of the magpie and the chorus of the currawong to cheer each morning and calm the evening... sigh... YAM xx

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    1. Thanks for this link, YAM. it's great to hear them again.

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  10. Hey David,
    What a beautiful photo's and story. I have no favorite bird I love them all.
    Enjoy the snow!!! I wish we've had it in Holland.
    Marijke

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  11. Great to be reminded of great Aussie Birds !

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  12. These are very interesting birds!

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  13. Good memories there of our Australian birds.
    The Currawong make lovely sounds :)

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    1. Your birds are imprinted on me forever, Margaret!

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  14. When it comes to birds there seems to be no end to the number of designs that work. On my one and only visit to Australia I didn't get much chance to watch birds, though the Currawongs made themselves obvious, so I appreciate this series to show me what I missed.

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  15. I really, really look forward to your next postings. Of course.
    And isn't the currawong song a joy? Many of our birds are not precisely musical (to human ears) but the currawongs and the magpies are exceptions. I adore (and that is not too strong a word) both of their calls.

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    1. This is precisely the reaction I would have expected from you, Sue.

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  16. The brown bird looks like a lord of the area.

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  17. Very nice! All those bird species that are not in Europe are special! Even a crow knows how to live its life better in the Australian paradise!
    But the little Australian Robins stole my heart ... he is so beautiful!
    Thanks for sharing!

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  18. It's exciting to read the enthusiasm you feel for these beautiful birds. Hopefully, one day, you will get to visit there again :)

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  19. Ils sont beaux ces oiseaux, les petites oies sont vraiment mignonnes!
    Bonne journée

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  20. The birds of Australia are wonderful, thanks for sharing these exotic varieties. Have a great day, take care, hugs, Valerie

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  21. My visits to Australia have always delighted me and the varied and different birdlife has been a great contributor to that delight. I did not see such a display in the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens but I did see many types of birds which were new to me.

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    1. And no doubt you saw the Sydney Opera House too - iconic birds and iconic architecture at the same time. Now that's hard to beat.

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  22. Australia is so pretty and have so many cute and pretty animals! <3

    www.pimentamaisdoce.blogspot.com

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  23. The shapes, colours, sizes and markings are fascinating. Bird watchers paradise!

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    1. Paradise indeed, Marie, and when I finally get to return there I will be looking for Paradise Rifelbird.

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  24. Hi David,
    when it's not possible to travel physically, travelling through your memories is a good alternative. especially when you have a large archive with pictures and notes. Nice to read that you enjoy reliving your Auatralian voyages. I like very much visiting Austraia through your blogs.

    Best regards, Corrie

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  25. Great assortment of photos. Stewart was very nice, to take you to locations where you could see so many beautiful birds. And it was nice to hear that your neighbors helped with snow clearing, after your snow storm. Here in Connecticut US, we might get hit with a major snowstorm Sunday into Monday. I'm hoping it stays south of us, but it's not looking good right now. :-(

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  26. Hi David.

    Super this series from Australia.
    What beautiful colored birds you saw there.
    Super the Cuckoo and the Night Heron.
    You have beautiful colored birds there.
    Watched everything with pleasure.

    Greetings from Patricia.

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  27. they are all beautiful birds that are mysterious to me because they do not exist with me and also this colorfulness!
    Have a good week, hugs Elke

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  28. Un precioso y bonito recuerdo de Australia, que a mí también me encantaría conocer. Las fotografías quedaron muy bien. Abrazos para Miriam y para ti.

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  29. I am enjoying this series, all the more as I never go to take photos when I was there. I would love to return but I could never stand the long flight any more. Last time we went it was 26 hours. With COVID around we never fly anywhere any more!! I suspect our restrictions will be in creased yet again in the next couple of days. Not sure what else we can do, we only shop once a fortnight and we have curfew fro 6pm to 6am. Guess they can cut exercise and walks again!! Keep safe, Diane

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  30. Es una maravilla amigo David, esplendido reportaje. Australia, tiene aves maravillosas y de todas las comentadas de esta entrada no sabría decirte cual de ellas es la más bella, son todas fascinantes.
    Esperamos con ansias nuevos capítulos.
    Que las nevadas hagan pocos estragos amigo mío.
    Un fuerte abrazo estimado amigo y compadre David.

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  31. Thank you for these lovely pictures and the discussion of these interesting birds, some of which I had not heard of before. The little robin and the honeyeater do look vaguely familiar in their resemblance to some of our birds here in Southeast Texas.

    Stay warm!

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  32. Apreciado amigo David, gracias por tu observación de mi blog que desconocía totalmente. De momento lo he arreglado parcialmente pues no se de otra forma solucionarlo. No entiendo que pasa con el traductor. Se admiten sugerencias.
    Muchas gracias y disculpa por las molestias querido amigo y compadre David pues lo desconocía por completo.

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  33. Amazing photos from your travels, nice reminders of where we want to go.

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  34. I have already been able to solve it. Thank you very much dear friend and compadre David.
    A hug.

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  35. Fascinating birds. It think my favorite is the bright blue and yellow robin. So cheery.
    Don’t overdo it shoveling all that white stuff!

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    1. I got help this time. One neighbour with a snow blower did the sidewalk for me and a strapping young guy from across the street came and helped me with the rest. And we didn't get as much as had been forecast, so it really wasn't that bad. But I have a shovel with your name on it Cynthia. I will expect you here next time it snows!

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  36. Wow David que espectaculares fotos y aves, son maravillosas. Nuestro encierro es mas ameno con tus post. El Ganso es fascinante y me parece muy muy guapo. Muchas gracias y un enorme abrazo para ti y para Miriam. Cuidaros mucho.

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  37. I have really enjoyed your look back at your visits to Australia, this one included :)

    The birds are so varied and so colourful. I think my favourite one here is the blue and yellow robin.

    Enjoy these last few days of January, even though most of us are in lockdown the days pass by quite quickly. Both Eddie and I find the key is to keep occupied :)

    Sending good wishes across the miles.

    All the best Jan

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    1. We are in lockdown too, but I have no difficulty at all keeping myself occupied with interesting pursuits.

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  38. Hi David, amazing photos of Australia. I love the nightheron and the honeyeater. Have a nice weekend. Greetings Caroline

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  39. David - a fabulous review. The Heron and the Robin are my favorites!!! Stunning yellow breast on that robin!

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  40. Hi David – I saw the snow had arrived for you … and yes shovelling it all away – a necessity, but such ‘a pain’ … the goose is an interesting evolutionary subject … at least I presume it’s evolutionary. The cuckoo looks rather large … while the Pied Currawong has amazing colouration … no wonder you enjoyed seeing it. Honeyeaters … beautiful to see. Night Herons … also stunning to see so clearly. While the Eastern Yellow Robin is gorgeous to look at …

    Lovely that you’re looking through your Australian photos – looking forward to see more retrospectives … but in the meantime – good luck with your shovelling! Take care - Hilary

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  41. I'm just catching up on your Australian posts, such cracking birds, the Night Heron is my favourite!

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  42. Hello David,:=) Captivating images of all these Australian birds, each one so different from anything I have seen before, and such a joy to see. Thank you David.

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  43. I have been enjoying your photos from "the land down under" as while it is a country I would like to visit, it may be just remain on a "someday" wish list, so nice to see what I might have seen. The robin was so much more colorful than the ones here, in fact all the bird species shown here were quite colorful.

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  44. The world of birds is indeed astonishing in its variety. Thanks for sharing your adventure capturing so many of the glorious and unusual birds that habitate that continent. An enjoyable read this morning in our lockdowned state.

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    1. The inhabitants of Australia are very special - birds, mammals, reptiles.....and many are unique. It is a marvelous place to visit.

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  45. Struck by how different the birds are compared to North America.

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    1. Evolution has taken a different path in so many ways on this piece of the ancient landmass of Gondwana, and the results are fascinating. Tim Low's book "Where Song Began" provides a wonderful account of it all.

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  46. Because the Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned night herons are such favorites of mine, I was completely taken with the Nankeen heron. The family resemblance certainly is obvious; it's a very handsome bird.

    Have you read about the Snowy Owl that was sighted in New York's Central Park? It caused quite a stir; some thought too much of a stir for the owl's own good, but nothing untoward happened. Needless to say, the major newspapers and social media were awash in reports of people's sightings.

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    1. I understand that one person attempted to breach the perimeter fence around the sports field where the Snowy Owl was resting, but was quickly turned back and another idiot flew a drone over the bird.

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  47. Hello David,
    I would love to visit Australia and see all these fantastic birds in person. Your photos are just awesome, it is too hard to pick a favorite. They are all beautiful! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post! Take care, enjoy your weekend! PS, thank you for visiting and for the comment.

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    1. And maybe by this time next year you will be able to do so, Eileen.

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  48. Great photos. The exotic birds that live in ordinary parks and cities in Australia are always amazing.

    be safe... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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  49. Hello David, it always amazes me to see the different flora and fauna of Australia so unique! The birds you show here are most wonderful but the New Holland Honeyeater is for me in this blog the most beautyful.
    Good to read that at last snow is falling in your region. We have now melting snow and the snow that fell earlier is all melted.
    Take care and stay safe.
    Regards,
    Roos

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  50. Hi David. I enjoyed my morning latte while being enchanted by your enthusiastic review of Australia's remarkable birdlife. Thank you. Can't wait until I can serve you a latte again!!

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    1. I will look forward to it, Carol. This lockdown has been a long haul - and it's far from over yet.

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  51. Even geese are different down under! Strange, but nice birds. In the very winter, it's ok to look back to warmer times.

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  52. Hi David! :) The Cape Barren Goose is beautiful, and the goslings really are very cute! I'd love to hear that pig grunt! :) There are so many birds that I have no clue exist, including that Pied Currawong, the eye is very mysterious looking! :) What lovely plumage! The Night Herron has pretty colouring, reminds me a bit of the colours of the Mourning Doves I just saw at the feeder yesterday morning. How nice to see all of these birds, the Eastern Yellow Robin is beautiful!

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  53. Hello David,
    Another interesting account on you Australian sojourns showing the diverse and unique flora and fauna of your visit, the goslings are so cute and the Rufus Night Heron a real beauty.
    Lets hope this vaccine does all we are asking of it and you can visit again soon.
    Stay safe,
    John

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  54. So glad you shared these David, all fantastic photos! What a trip that must have been. I look forward to the day when we can all start traveling again, though realize it could be a long time still.

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  55. Australia, land of discoveries and fascination, such wonderful memories!
    Hope you can make your postponed trip soon..
    I was watching the video of an argentine in Canada and it shows
    the amount of snow that is now there.
    Great contrast this world!
    Big flying kiss to dear and beautiful Canada

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  56. So many interesting birds in this collection.

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  57. hello David
    I like to believe that when you look at the pictures the whole trip comes back in your head
    very nice to have such memories
    stay healthy
    Greetings Frank

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  58. The diversity of the nature isamazing. I wish allthese wonderful birds survive to the future generations.

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  59. Siempre es un gusto leerte amigo. Aquí estamos conociendo especies que nunca vemos. Y tu al recordarlas vuelves s vivirlo. Gracias David y cuidaros.
    Un abrazo.

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  60. Sometimes it is fun to go through old photos and relive happy memories. Those goslings look so fluffy! I do hope that you stay safe and the lockdowns end soon though. Happy new week!

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  61. Today's brunch was accompanied by a luscious cup of strong Peruvian coffee which needed no sugar thanks to the sweetness of these pictures of your memories. Thank you.

    Australia is, indeed, a unique spot on our planet. Some day .....

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  62. You must lead a blessed life as your photography is gorgeous and your selection of birds magnificent. Being in the company of Stewart, doesn't hurt as he knows when and where to go to see what you want to see. I have followed him of WBW and almost every week I would see birds that I had never seen or even heard of ... and now you have done the same for me. I am glad you have been forced to your archives as I am enjoying your reminiscing immensely. And, as long as you are inside going through pictures, you are not outside where you could get exposed. Thank you for these wonderful learning minutes in what is usually a very long day.

    Andrea @ From the Sol

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  63. Lockdown extended AGAIN? Wow. We'll, I 'll say you Canadians know how to do it right -- and I bet most people obey, too, right? Not here. A wise thing to do with all the variants and just being winter and harder to be out. I've heard from other Canadian bloggers about real problems getting vaccine in Canada so best to be careful.

    And to be honest, it gives us time to revisit your travels! Love all the birds we never see here and what a holiday that was!

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  64. Wow ! You have incredible talent to capture lovely species of birds . It would be my pleasure if you join my link up party related to Gardening here at http://jaipurgardening.blogspot.com/2021/01/garden-affair-birds-attracting-plants.html

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  65. the Cape Barren Goose is a strange looking goose. But such cute chicks it has. When I was in Queensland I saw 5 species of robins. Including the one you have. Australia is an interesting country when it comes to wildlife. :)

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  66. Hi David, we are also in a lockdown here, in fact Portugal is going through a very difficult period with very high numbers of contagions and deaths.
    I loved all the birds, they are spectacular. I especially appreciated the ducklings in the 3rd photo, which are so cute and the Eastern Yellow Robin, which is an elegant and beautiful bird.

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    1. We can only hope that soon most of the population will receive vaccines. That seems to be about the only hope right now, Maria.

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  67. David,

    I like watching birds if it's an easy thing to do like from the window of my house. I'm horrible when it comes to capturing them through my camera lens. You do a marvelous job. No doubt you're far more patient than me since you're willing to go out looking for them. Thanks for sharing such an array of beautiful feathery friends with us and I appreciate your visit on Curious as a Cathy on Thursday. I'm sorry for dragging my feet to make my rounds. Have a fototastic week!

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  68. wow every time i come here there is a beautiful happy new header!
    Wonderful post David!I cant understand why you and not us have such great and different birds hih hih just kidding..Stay safe and happy you folks!

    Anita

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  69. Looking forward to more episodes.

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  70. Sorry to hear you're having more restrictions David, but you still managed to show us some impressive birds. The only time I saw the Cape Barren goose was also on Phillip Island

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