I was amazed at the danger this Australian Wood Duck had placed itself into. It was quietly grazing on the grass in the African Wild Dog enclosure at the Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, and with its back to the pack sunning themselves about 30 metres away. They are cunning hunters and quite capable of sneaking up on an unsuspecting, tasty meal like a duck. I guess that they are well fed and have no need to chase after wildfowl, or any other birds which stray into their enclosure.
This reminded me of a guided tour we had a some years ago through our local Monarto Zoo, just 10km from my home here in Murray Bridge. The tour bus was slowly moving through the cheetah enclosure when the guide announced that the cheetahs loved running at full speed and catching the local ravens or magpies before they could get airborne again.
I decided then that I would never try to outrun a cheetah!
In our extensive travels in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales in recent years I have often observed Welcome Swallows. They are a widespread and very common species throughout their range in eastern, southern and parts of western Australia. In recent months I have often seen a dozen or more flying above our garden, indeed, more often than in many previous years.
Not often, however, have I had the opportunity to photograph them up close. They don’t sit still very often, preferring to keep flying and feeding on any flying insects there might be around. More than once I have hoped for a pair to set up home under our veranda where it would be easier to get photos. They had different ideas, of course.
It was with delight then, during our visit to the Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo a few weeks ago, that one of many swallows flying around decided to settle for a few moments on the edge of the African Wild Dog enclosure. Just a few metres from me. Well within easy camera range. Too easy.
After a few minutes it flew off and another one came in to rest, this time a little lower on the fence. This one decided that the early morning sunshine on such a cold morning was just what it needed to be doing a little feather preening.
By the way, the fence formed the enclosure for the African Wild Dogs (see photo below).