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Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Random Memories of Australia

      My good friend, Stewart Monckton, recently sent me a book called An Australian Birding Year, which, (combined with rereading my blog posts about visits to three states in 2018), set off a bit of a wave of nostalgia. It also triggered more than a little frustration over the fact that I was planning to return to Australia last year and was stymied due to COVID, and I will be unable to do it this year for the same reason. When this accursed pandemic first gripped the world, who would have thought that it would cancel travel plans two years in a row? And it is not over yet, unfortunately. Vaccines are now available, but there seems to be one roadblock or another in the way of actually getting people vaccinated.
     I am going to share with you a few random memories, in no particular order, and none having greater significance than another - but all precious.

Lake Wollumboola

     On our penultimate day in New South Wales, before moving on to Tasmania, we stopped to do some birding and have lunch at Lake Wollumboola near the town of Culburra.
      The sheer variety of birds there impressed me greatly, and it was a warm, sunny day, with Black Swans (Cygnus atratus) gracefully sailing by, or taking care of their toilette close to the shore. 


     There were herons and egrets, sandpipers and plovers, stilts and currawongs. It was quite magical really, and the pictures below will give you a sense of what we enjoyed.

White-headed Stilt (Himantopus leucocephalus), Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarbo melanoleucos), Black Swan, Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)



Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus)

     Nothing is quite so charming as a fairywren. Nothing is such a bundle of activity as a fairywren. 
     We saw Superb Fairywren virtually every day we were in Australia, but were thrilled every time. How could one tire of these little gems?

Superb Fairywren (♂)   
     They truly are marvelous feathered creatures, tiny but pugnacious and fearless, a wonder to behold.

Superb Fairywren (♀)

     Pairs remain socially monogamous, but are sexually promiscuous in the extreme; 70% of all eggs in a nest are the result of extra pair copulations.
     When soliciting a female the male often carries a yellow petal as a gift. How could she resist you might ask? And she seldom does!

White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

     Just as we were leaving Adventure Bay in Tasmania, after a successful venture to see the critically endangered Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor), Miriam spotted a magnificent White-bellied Sea Eagle overlooking the blue waters of the bay.


     We were thrilled!
     This species is not uncommon in coastal Australia, but we saw it infrequently and other than this sighting always in flight.
     It is an opportunistic feeder, specializing mainly in aquatic vertebrates including fish, reptiles, birds and mammals, but it will also capture crustaceans, and does not eschew tideline carrion. 
     In acknowledgement of its star attraction for Canadian birders it posed for us beautifully, and was still in position when we left.

Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanus)

     If you fail to be dazzled by this bird you had better check whether you have a pulse!


     In country renowned for its parrots, with so many colourful species, Rainbow Lorikeet stands out as a champion of ostentation.
     It is gregarious, friendly and has quickly learned how to take advantage of humans willing to bring food in exchange for a picture or two. This is another species that we saw frequently but were gobsmacked every time.
     On the day before our departure from Melbourne for Hong Kong  and thence onwards to Toronto, we enjoyed the company of a small troupe of these characters in Brimbank Park in Melbourne.
      We were glad to see them enjoying life in their own special way! Over and over!


     May their eggs be fertile, may their young be strong!

Forty-spotted Pardalote (Pardalotus quadragintus)

     Forty-spotted Pardalote ranks among the world's most endangered species; thus it was with heightened anticipation that I looked forward to seeing it.


     We had booked our stay on Bruny Island at Inala, that legendary haven owned and operated by Dr. Tonia Cochran, and a place where encounters with this diminutive species are almost guaranteed. Tonia has done more than any single individual to foster a breeding (and growing) population of these birds at Inala, and it was an honour to meet her, and have our fees help in the attempt to secure the future of this species. In the annals of ornithology Tonia will be earmarked for distinction.


     True to form we observed several Forty-spotted Pardalotes feeding on our first afternoon at Inala. It was grey, gloomy, wet and very cool, but nothing could diminish our great pleasure at seeing this bird.
     There were many other highlights at Inala but this was the most special of all.

     That's probably enough wallowing in the well of remembrance for now, but I am in love with Australia - with its birds, its monotremes and marsupials, with Stewart, Sally, Hamish and Pippa, with friendly people, with its wine, glorious wine, with Prosecco in the garden, with Lamingtons and Tim Tams, fish and chips and skinny lattés, cheese, and so much more - Vegemite not so much!
     One day, I vow to get back there again - COVID willing! Of that you may be sure.

82 comments:

  1. Such a wonderful look back.
    The fairywren is so sweet and the Rainbow Lorikeets so colourful.

    Let us hope the world will once again be open for safe travel soon!

    All the best Jan

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  2. The parrots are so special, David. The colors are striking. The Black Swans are also very beautiful. We have white swans near by, but I have never seen the black swans.

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  3. Querido David no me extraña que te diera nostalgia, sin duda es maravilloso disfrutar de tan preciosas aves. Me encanta el Loro arco iris que esta en la Grevillea que es también un un arbusto que me encanta. Preciosas fotos. Esperemos que nos llegue pronto la vacuna y volvamos a nuestras vidas, aquí en Asturias va bastante bien, aunque como es lógico están vacunando primero a las personas de mas riesgo. Cuidaros mucho y un enorme abrazo para ti y para Miriam. Besinos.

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  4. Australia must be amazing! Thanks for sharing! <3

    www.pimentamaisdoce.blogspot.com

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    1. Australia is just so different. I hope that every naturalist has the chance to visit there at least once in a lifetime. It will change you forever.

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  5. I love those two Fairy Wrens, what really cute little birds they are.

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  6. Years ago we raised allot of Lories so beautiful

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  7. Beautiful memories and so impressive. I'm amazed!

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  8. Hari OM
    Thanks for the nostalgia, David; I am homesick, yet must accept that the Bonny Land holds its own charms. Just wish it had a Lorikeet or three and a Superb wren here and there!!! YAM xx

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    1. Do I assume that you are going to remain in Scotland?

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    2. Hari OM
      This is a decision which will have to be made once the world settles down... though I suspect enough has changed as a result of the last year (personally as well as globally) to think that at the moment, my heart taken out of the algorithm, that Scotland will be my 'settle down'... Yxx

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    3. Good luck with your final decision.

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  9. BeautifuL photos David of memories. I love the rainbow lorikeet. We hope it will soon better with the Covid.

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  10. Hello David,
    Traveling is just a thing we can only dream about having this COVID. The total lockdown in Holland is extended for another 3 weeks. The English mutation came in to Holland. What I don't understand is to read that still 16 plains a day are coming in from England at Amsterdam airport.
    You are lucky to have such a beautiful archive so you have something to dream about. Fantastic shots by the way.
    Stay safe and take care
    Marijke

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  11. These photos are great to see. We were not far from Bruny Island whilst away :)

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    1. I think you can arrange for a day visit to Inala if you were interested.

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  12. Hello David,
    Beautiful collection of Australian Birds. Wonderful memories and great photos. I am wondering when we will feel safe to fly and travel again? Take care, have a happy day!

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  13. Todo me gusta de Australia, me encantaría ir algún día. Tu reportaje me parece precioso, los loros me encantan. Abrazos querido amigo David.

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  14. Very precious memories David!
    Thanks for sharing with us!

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  15. I love Australia too, David, although I've never been there. I have friends there since the 80s, very nice people. The first Australian bird I recognized was the Kookaburra. I even tried to hear how it sounds :-)
    Your photos show many different birds, you must have had a good time in Australia.

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  16. Those are nice and beautiful memories to have.
    My favorite is the Fairy Wrens, they are very cute little birds.

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  17. Lucky you to have visited such a Paradise for both humans and birds like Australia!
    We all feed on memories now, but must hope people will be able to resume travel someday, enjoy the colors and shapes so generously offered by Nature.

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  18. Hi David.

    Beautiful birds pass by.
    Beautiful the Black swans.

    Greetings from Patricia.

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  19. Hi David,

    Wat een mooie herinneringen aan jullie bezoek van 2018.
    Het is inderdaad heel jammer dat we onze vogeltrips niet kunnen maken maar gelukkig hebben we herinneringen om op te teren. En we moeten positief blijven dat het ooit beter wordt. De winterkoninkjes maken me wel blij, ze zijn prachtig en de vrolijke lorikeet ook.

    Hartelijke groet,
    Marianne

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    1. You are right, Marianne. Thank goodness we have these wonderful memories to keep us going!

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  20. Buenas tardes, fantástica esa mirada atrás querido amigo David, nos has dejado con un sabor esplendido. Cuanta belleza mostrada y como no, tener pulso al contemplar ese bello Loris arco iris, ¡maravilloso y majestuoso! Aunque, realmente lo son todos los que has mostrado en esta bella entrada. Ten por seguro que cuando esta maldita pesadilla pase podrás regresar de nuevo a contemplar tan maravillosas y excitantes criaturas.
    Un fuerte abrazo compadre David de tu siempre amigo Juan de Alicante.

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  21. Wonderful birds, it must be like visiting paradise. The rainbow Lorikeet is fascinating. Have a great day, take care, hugs, Valerie

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  22. I see that I'm not the only one caught up in a wave of reminscences, David. How lucky you are to have wonderful memories such as these to reflect on.

    We too are frustrated by the likelihood of cancellation of our booked travel plans, although ours were not nearly as long-haul as yours. An early spring visit to the Isles of Scilly has almost certainly gone by the board, an early summer visit to the Outer Hebrides now seems to be in serious jeopardy, and a mid-summer visit to the New Forest is looking a bit risky. We are now hanging our hat on an early autumn return to the Isles of Scilly. Hopefully, by then, we will be vaccinated and this Covid thing will have settled down to a dull roar - or better!

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    1. I am hoping that we too will have been vaccinated by mid year. Fingers crossed.

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  23. Hello David, Such wonderful memories! The delightful Fairy Wren, both male and female birds, has just caught the eye of my husband, as we sit side by side at our computers, and he was just as thrilled as I am to see them, and the Rainbow Lorikeets are truely dazzling.

    In answer to your query, my wrists have fully recovered now, thank you David. It's a good thing I have a positive outlook, and don't "dwell" on the past. I guess I'm still grieving for Mel, without realising it, for my emotions lie very near the surface. Sometimes tears are healing.

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  24. I have never seen a Rainbow Lorikeet. Gorgeous bird.

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  25. Glorious creatures. I’m with you about vegemite. May you be able to travel soon!

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  26. A wonderful post and your enthusiasm for your subjects comes through in your prose. An Australian blogging friend sent me vegemite and Tim Tams, only for me to find I could buy both locally. The vegemite, like marmite, is a bit of a struggle for me.

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    1. Vegemite is the only wicked, diabolical thing Australia has inflicted on the world!

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  27. Buena colección de aves. Me gusta mucho el Lori arco iris.

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  28. I love the story about the male offering the yellow petal. So beautiful.

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  29. Beautiful pictures! I'm sorry your trip has been delayed yet again. When I read about the fairywren "tiny but pugnacious and fearless" I said I want that to be said about me. Then I read on about the promiscuous part and had a good laugh and decided against that thought! Enjoy the weekend ahead ~ Love, Karen

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  30. hello David
    while looking at the pictures I already packed my suitcase in thought and was on the way to the airport, paid 250 € corona fine and now I am sitting here again and writing ;-)
    Greetings Frank

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  31. Hi both,
    Such a shame the cancellation of your trips but from the above images you have got some superb memories from your previous visit, we are sure you will get back to the Australia you love.
    All our best wishes,
    John and Veg

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  32. Thanks for the tour of these outstanding Australian birds! So colourful and impressive!

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  33. Great assortment of photos from your visit to Australia. Funny, true story: Several years ago, I saw a Black Swan at the local reservoir (in Connecticut US), where Mute Swans swim around. I thought nothing of it, and was thrilled to be able to get photos of the Black Swan. I think I posted it to Stewart's Wild Bird Wednesday challenge, and he left a comment along the lines that the Black Swan was a long way from home. (Can you tell I don't know much about birds, other than I think they are beautiful?) Soooo... I did some quick research, realized this wasn't a "native", and contacted the correct people, who informed me they were already aware of it and were trying to rescue it. (It was a "pet" someone had abandoned at the reservoir. Its wings were clipped, which meant it couldn't fly. Winter was closing in, meaning if the reservoir froze over, the Black Swan would've been forced onto land, where Coyotes would have gotten it. Happily, it was rescued by an animal group.)

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    1. Great story, Anne. I am glad that it had a happy ending.

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  34. These are gorgeous, David. I love the fairywren especially. I understand the frustration of not traveling -- same here (England/France, mostly England). Looks like 2022 now, with high hopes for even that. I sure don't want to age out! Your Australia images are exquisite and I can imagine that it was a wonderful trip all around.

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  35. Love that fairy wren! Great selection of beautiful photos.

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  36. Esperó que algún día puedas viajar nuevamente. Adore los cines y águilas aunque todas las aves eran hermosas .Te mando un beso y buen fin de semana .
    Enamorada de las letras

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  37. I hope the plague dies down soon and you can visit Australia again. Lovely photos - and there are some stunning fairy wrens in Western Australia, too. My artist niece lives on a bush block and the splendid fairy-wrens are a delight when we visit.

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  38. For us it’s very rare to see a black swan. They are beautiful!

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  39. Nossa Senhora, Mãe da divina Graça rogai por nós e por um mundo melhor.

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  40. Hi David :) I'm so happy you linked up, you have so many beautiful photos of birds. I have to say those Black Swans really captured me...they are so pretty and the composition of your photos is brilliant with the other birds in the photos with them. They really stand out! The Fairy Wrens are cute...I could not resist a yellow petal myself! :) How wonderful to see Parrots...they're so vibrant. I am now craving fish and chips and wine! :) By the way, yes I heard that the actors in The Birds had food placed on their heads, which I find a little crazy lol...I don't think I'd do that! Wow David....10,000 crows...what a sight that must be! You know, I nearly moved to Waterloo back in 2009, I needed to wander a little...I chose P.E.I. instead for a year, but I missed the Laurentian mountains too much so I moved back. Elizabeth (she's the second one who linked to my art date post) wrote me a comment saying she was unable to visit your blog from Firefox, but she wanted you to know she tried. She wrote this: "I got a security alert when I tried to visit David Gascoigne. Firefox wouldn't let me proceed to his blog, and I'm not sure how to get around it. Maybe someone could let him know I tried."

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    1. I have no idea why that should be, Rain. I am pretty harmless and so is my blog. If Elizabeth happens to read this maybe she can try through Google or Internet Explorer.

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    2. It happened to me too once. One of my friends uses Chrome and said she got a warning, but we're all on blogspot.com or .ca, so if my blog was unsafe, all of our blogs are unsafe! I told her it was probably just a harmless bug on Firefox!

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  41. Visiting from Rains blog ... I had never seen or heard of a fairy wren before but am in love with them - they are just so exquisite and dainty and, yes, fairylike - I would travel to Australia just to meet one! thanks for making such a beautiful post.

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    1. Hi Betty: Thanks for visiting. I will probably do a couple more posts detailing Australian memories - of which there are many!

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  42. I follow Stewart as well..You two are my birder contacts..Beautiful Parrot..Love the fairy wren..There is a public lake not far from here that used to rent Black Swans in the summertime..I don't know if they still do that or not..Have a wonderful weekend..

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  43. That looks like a spectacular birding trip. We too have had all our birding plans derailed by the lockdown. I'm resisting the temptation to revisit our old trips -- too frustrating. I hope we all are soon released!

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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  44. David - these are precious memories, indeed, and the sort that keep us going during the pandemic. We will get through this, and when we do, what spectacular things (and birds) we will see once again. If we were thrilled once, all the more the next time. I have not been to Australia (I do hope to go) but for now I am eminently satisfied to have seen this small slice through your post!

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  45. Hi David. Once you left a comment to me, I was able to visit your blog from your blogger profile. I have NO idea why Firefox does that to certain blogs, but the firewall will NOT allow me to continue. At least I was able to find a way around it this time.

    As much as I enjoyed seeing all those wonderful birds from Australia, my favorite is now and will always be the black swan. You were SO lucky to see so many of them in your trip to Australia. Thanks, too, for understanding my quirky Firefox security alert. I learned a LOT about Australian birds from your post. You certainly found some gorgeous ones.

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  46. Hello David,

    I would love to visit Australia! The birds you saw are all beautiful, I love the cute Fairy Wren, Sea Eagle and the Lorikeet! Wonderful memories and photos! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend! PS, thank you for the comment and visit.

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    1. Maybe by the end of the year travel will be back to something approaching normal, and you will be able to go, Eileen. You will seed birds the like of which you have never seen before - and that's just the birds!

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    2. That should say "see birds" and not "seed birds".

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  47. De belles couleurs pour ces magnifiques oiseaux!
    Bon weekend

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  48. The lorikeets are quite photogenic.

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  49. Excellent work and compilation of these beautiful birds... Thanks for sharing... Cheers...

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  50. I enjoyed your Australian birds and share your travel frustrations. I always thought I would visit Australia. It was near the top of my bucket list for years, but it is looking increasingly unlikely that I will ever explore it in person. So happy for blogs like yours , especially over the last 11 months and who knows how many more of quarantining!

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    1. Hi Cynthia: There appears to be one problem after another in terms of getting the vaccine into people's arms, and I suspect that it will be the end of the year before any resemblance to normalcy returns.

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  51. The Parrots really do steal the show! Some of them are so colorful, they don't look real! It's nice to have lots of photos to remember our trips. Hopefully we'll be planning another one soon! Enjoy your weekend!

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  52. That was beyond enjoyable! I have always wanted to visit New Zealand though I fear I won't make it there in this life time. One of my best friends did a trip to Australia with her husband some years back and I got to see all her stops via Facebook and through the stories she told when she returned. I was inspired to read some more Australian fiction because they have awesome novelists there.

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  53. Sadly on all our visits to Australia I never had a camera and Nigel's photos were mainly of buildings, he was a quantity surveyor. I did buy a beautiful bird book, but when we got back home it was to discover that it was missing!!! I could not manage the flight there again and anyway when will be ever able to fly again! Best wishes Diane

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  54. It was a special pleasure to see the Fairy-wrens here. A blog-friend who lives in Melbourne has the pleasure of regular visits from those birds, and I've watched their antics via her blog for several years. Other birds visit too, of course, but the Fairy-wrens are her favorites, and it's clear to see why.

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  55. Wonderful blog with all those beautiful colorful birds David.
    Very nice to see.
    Greetings Tinie

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  56. Brilliant, simply brilliant

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  57. Excellent summary of what happened on that surely fantastic trip, where you got some very beautiful photos and some iconic species of birds. This post was a pleasure

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  58. Odbyłeś cudowna podróż i sfotografowałeś piękne ptaki. Australia jest piękna, niezwykła i zupełnie inna niż Europa. też kiedyś bym chciała tam fotografować.Te zdjęcia z łabędziami mnie zaszokowały! My na naszym terenie też fotografowaliśmy takie, ale one uciekły z parku w Holandii, gdzie mieszkają jako ptaki z hodowli - ozdobne.

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  59. Well, I missed this one, and have just caught up! What a fine selection of birds! The garden is still available for sitting in, but strangely the wine and cheese keep disappearing from the cupboards resulting in trips to the shops!

    Cheers - SM

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    1. I will probably do a few more of these. Australia is on my mind!

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  60. Hi friend David,
    great to see so many black swans in the wild :-)))))
    Where I was (and am) also impressed are the beautiful pictures of the Fairywren. What a beautiful bird this is! Wow. I have to start thinking about vrhuizen hahahahahaha .....
    A big hug.

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  61. Hi David – I hadn’t realised the black swans had spread east as well … no idea why my brain didn’t think they’d be in the east … silly. Beautiful Superb Fairywren – stunning colours … with a quite delightful name.
    The White-bellied Sea Eagle reminds me of the South African Fish Eagle – particularly as both are revered by the indigenous peoples.
    I agree the Rainbow Lorikeen is quite stunningly beautiful … as you say ‘talk about ostentation’ … and love is!
    While the Forty-spotted Pardalote are extraordinary aren’t they … and what a name … and I’m so pleased your visit would have helped towards their protection …
    I do hope you’ll get out again … but perhaps more importantly right now – that this dreadful ‘thing’ goes away … stay safe – Hilary

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