While travelling from Meknes to Fes in Morocco our guide asked the bus driver to stop briefly on the side of the road so we could take some photos. This was near the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis. I’ll show photos of birds seen there in the coming days.
Across the road from our bus a farmer was ploughing his field using two donkeys to pull the plough. Donkeys were a common sight in both Morocco and Ethiopia. As the ground was tilled, several Cattle Egrets followed along, taking the opportunity to feast on worms and beetles and insects disturbed by the implement.
A few weeks ago I spent an enjoyable afternoon birding in and around Mannum, about 20 minutes drive north of home. It was a beautiful spring day with bright clear sky, a gentle breeze and plenty of birds. I sat for a while in the Mary Ann Reserve on the river front, watching and photographing the birds on, over and near the Murray River.
I was rather puzzled by the behaviour of several species of birds in and over the water. Several Little Pied Cormorants and Little Black Cormorants were swimming around in the one spot about 30 metres out into the water. I can only assume they were fishing but I didn’t actually see one catch a fish. Over head several White-necked Herons and one Great Egret flew around low over the water sometimes almost landing and snapping at the cormorants in the water. A Silver Gull even joined in, harassing the heron as they flew (see photo below).
The White-necked Heron was an interesting sighting for me. It’s been one of my bogey birds over the last 25 years. I went from 1987 to 2001 without seeing a single one of them. Then only one – with another 6 year wait to see another one! Unbelievable. In fact in more than 35 years of birding I’ve only ever seen this species about 20 times. Then on this day at Mannum I saw 4 all flying around in close proximity. Unreal.
I find that the identification of the Australian family of egrets can be confusing and difficult, even when you get a close up view like this one. I was photographing the birds in the Adelaide Zoo collection when this Great Egret posed nicely for me.
At least – I think it’s a Great Egret. Any readers who disagree with me can do so by leaving a comment. I can easily amend the captions on the photos. This individual was in the Australian Pelican enclosure but I’m not sure if it was part of the official zoo collection – meaning its wings had been clipped by the keepers – or it was just visiting in order to get a free feed. I suspect it was a visitor because I saw what I think was the same bird a short distance away a little later in the afternoon. That one was definitely free flying and probably came from the River Torrens which forms the northern boundary of the zoo.