One of the photography skills I am trying to perfect is taking shots of birds in flight. I don’t get all that many opportunities to practise, so when birds cooperate and fly slowly just over head I have a go – provided I have my camera at the ready.
On our recent trip across Lake Alexandrina (see previous two posts) several Australian Pelicans flew low over our boat, circling it several times before moving on elsewhere. I had the camera in my hand since I was taking photos of the nearby cliffs and it was ready to shoot.
I am quite pleased with the results.
In my last post here I wrote about a recent boat trip on Lake Alexandrina just south of my home in Murray Bridge. While this boat trip was mainly recreational in purpose, I cannot help but notice birds along the way whether I am driving in a car, travelling on a bus or train, walking or boating.
While travelling at 40kph (25mph) across the water is not conducive to birding – the boat’s engine scares many birds away – some birds are obviously very used to speeding boats on this stretch of water. Silver Gulls followed the wake of the boat as shown in my last post, Australian Pelicans kept fishing less than 40 metres from our racing vessel, cormorants kept bobbing up out of the water here and there and flocks of ducks flew over the lake heading somewhere else to feed.
The photo above shows one of many navigation posts seen at intervals across the lake. The depth of the water varies from a few centimetres through to about 4 – 5 metres. Some sections are far too shallow for safe boating – as we found out later in the day. I deliberately captured both the pelican and two Little Black Cormorants in the photo. Little Black and Little Pied are the two dominant species of cormorant in the lakes and river system of the Lower Murray River.
The photo below shows a view of the lakeside town of Milang. I can thoroughly recommend the little bakery in town, and our friends tell us that the fish and chip shop is also worth patronising.
Last weekend we were invited by friends to take our caravan to Meningie on the shores of Lake Albert here in South Australia. Meningie is just an hour’s drive from home, so it wasn’t a long road trip. The weather forecast looked promising for a good long weekend.
As we drove down the main street of Meningie we noticed that the local Progress Association had arranged for a Food Fair on the lawns along the shore of the lake. After setting up our caravan we drove the short distance from the park to the fair. Our treat for dinner was a Coorong mullet sandwich.
As we were eating our friends Rod and Janet who live nearby joined us at our table. They asked us about our plans for the weekend, offering to take us out for a trip on their ski boat – not for skiing but for touring the nearby lakes and river. How could we refuse such a kind, generous offer?
We set off at 9 o’clock next morning, heading straight across Lake Alexandrina at 40kph; quite exhilarating. As we went along I noticed quite a few birds following the wake of the boat. Most of them were Silver Gulls. The following photos show some of them.
On any given hot day in our garden there is a constant stream of birds coming in to drink from our various bird baths. Even on mild days we can be entertained for hours at a time watching the parade of birds as we sit in our sun room just a few metres from several of the bird baths. It is a wonderful distraction – but not so good when I have a writing deadline to meet.
About a half dozen honeyeater species come to the water on a regular daily basis, including the Spiny-cheeked honeyeater shown in today’s series of photos. The individual shown in the photos looks particularly stressed by the heat. We’ve had a record breaking series of hot days and heat waves this summer and the heat really takes its toll on our bird life.
I’ve said it on a number of occasions on this site before: the one really positive thing you can do to encourage birdlife in your garden is to provide fresh water for them to drink and bathe. Be sure to keep the container clean and topped up daily using fresh water. Forget feeding them; this is discouraged in Australia (for a whole range of reasons), but provide water and plenty of it.
There are several benefits:
- It helps the birds to survive on hot days.
- It attracts more birds to your garden.
- It helps you to observe them at close range and if seen through a window nearby, the birds are completely safe.
- The birds really do enjoy it.