Saturday, January 23, 2010

Around the Bend

Or should that be around the corner.
Since the very hot weather of a few days ago temperatures have moderated. Out here on Melbourne’s northern fringes we’ve been having balmy 26° - 28°C days. This has induced us to go walking around our neighbourhood in the evenings.

We live in a new housing development, the downside is that we are part of continued urban sprawl. The upside is that these newer estates are leaving patches of open space and managing some of their impacts sensibly. One feature of this new thinking is capturing stormwater in artificial wetlands.

This has a double benefit: first new roads and rooftops create significant runoff which causes erosion and silting of streams if the extra water is not managed; second the wetlands are being thoughtfully developed and are becoming havens for wildlife that is otherwise displaced.

Just down our road is one of these new wetlands and the other day we went there for a stroll.

In the spirit of show and tell here are some of the wild creatures we saw.

First was a female Chestnut Teal. Unfortunately she was very shy and this was the best shot I could get of her.
These ducks are quite common, however the drought of recent years has slashed their numbers. In 2008 duck hunting season was abandoned, in 2009 there was a limited season. Debate is raging at the moment as to whether there should be a 2010 season. Die hard environmentalists argue falling waterfowl numbers and current conditions should lead to an indefinite halt to duck hunting. Some hunters argue this is just an attempt to ban what they see as a legitimate sport and a tradition going back generations.

In this case I am on the side of the ducks. While it is kind of possible to build a case for hunting ducks in a limited way, in normal seasons, those arguments go out the window with recent environmental conditions. Also, I have a moral objection to hunting most native species. Many are under terrible pressure since European settlement and in my view they have at least as much right to be here as we do.

Any way I am moving away from my point, which was the wildlife we saw in our neighbourhood. As we walked the evening was quite still, but obviously the wind up higher was fierce as attested by these clouds. The wind was tearing them apart as we watched.Then we came across this fellow hunting along the bank, a White Faced Heron. I love these guys they are so graceful. Normally they are quite shy, but this one must be a bit more used to people. After checking me out s/he went back to hunting.After I took far too many shots of the heron we turned for home.

As we walked, we heard an awful racket coming from some dead trees.
As an Aussie would put it: “It sounded like a mob of flaming galahs!”

Which in this case was close to the mark.

These are Galahs, the bird on the right is a fledgling about 90% grown. S/he was begging mum (or dad, it is hard to tell males and females apart) for a feed. I love galahs, like most parrots they are intelligent beautiful birds.

The term galah is used derisively in Oz. Ironically, given these birds intelligence, to say “you’re a bloody galah!” is to accuse someone of being a real idiot.

I’m getting distracted again. Mum (or dad) gave junior a mouthful, and hopped across to a nearby branch. Junior followed but there was already another chick there.
Galahs often hatch two chicks and sometimes as many as five, but all too often only one will survive to adulthood (if any). So these parents have had a good season.

Anyway junior continued to carry on like a flaming galah, demanding mum (or dad) continue feeding it.
This had one nice side affect as junior, while grumbling, spread out its wings allowing me to get this rather nice shot.


Lisa said...

Wow! You got some fantastic shots! Melbourne is certainly doing a much better job of managing suburban sprawl if environmental concerns come into play.

Dan said...

I think the birdlife in Australia is magnificent. all those parrots! It's always made me very envious

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

I agree with you on the native species issue. Poor little buggers.

roffe said...

Yeah, great shots and it is not so cold here as the last three weeks..Only around 0 celsius..

Al said...

Hi Lisa,
But we just keep spreading! Melbourne's spread is nearly as disastrous as my waistline!

Hi Dan,
Welcome! We are truly spoiled here we have dozens of parrot species alone.

Hi Christy,
A few species have really benefited from the changes we have made to the environment (like grey kangaroos, emus and some of the parrots) but you've hit the nails on the head when it comes to most. Poor little buggers is about right.

Hi Roffe,
Thank you, that is a great comment coming form you.
Strewth mate, 0°C! You'll be at the beach in no time at all!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

What lovely picture! You have a good eye, sir. Enjoy your balmy days, around here it's about 7 degrees Celsius. However, everyone is rejoicing the local mountains just got some snow, which we're hoping sticks around for the Olympics.

Al said...

Hi Elspeth,
Thanks I really appreciate your comment.

Yeah I expect a Winter Olympics without snow would be a bit of a downer!

Wendy R said...

Thank you for sharing your walks Al. This one is lovely. Your great eye and your commitment to wildlife ensures that we get a good sense of your part of that mysterious continent. Your image of the baby with the spread wings `is so ... well, life enhancing.

And thank you for dropping by my funny old blog. Your comments are so valued.

Al said...

Hi Wendy,
I can only respond by saying I enjoy sharing. Thank you for reading.

As to your "funny old blog", it is one of my favourite. To be invited to glimpse the world of such an accomplished writer and lovely person is a privilege.

chewbear said...

Nice pictures!! I'm glad to hear that the people planning your living development are thinking about environmental impacts.

Al said...

Hi Chewbear,
Welcome to my blog!

We have some environmental legislation that has had some good effects.

Of course developers grumble it costs them too much, fortunately there whining has pretty much been ignored.