There, sitting on a low branch of willowy-looking tree, partly obscured by leaves and twigs, just three metres away and almost at eye-level, was a most beautiful Azure Kingfisher!
I looked up at the tallest tree ahead at the edge of a small clearing in the forest, and there, bathed in glorious, golden afternoon light, was the Pacific Baza! I could have cried in elation, having gone in a split second from dejection to unbridled joy.
These tiny coastal birds face multiple threats in their native beach-front nesting habitats, including dogs, horseback riding, beach goers, and erosion, so we thought that we would never see them before they went extinct. However, with some recent excellent intel, we bucked that trend and finally found them at Point Roadknight near Anglesea along the Great Ocean Road.
An hour later, my patience paid off: the bird bobbed its head from side to side like a professional boxer, stared intently at the river below, locked on to a target with laser-sight precision, raised its wings, and flew towards the river below.
So imagine our shock, disbelief, and utter horror, when we arrived in the afternoon and were told that a massive flock of birds, including the Tufted Duck, had been flushed just 10mins prior, and the bird could not be relocated!
This was perhaps one of the most memorable birding days out we have ever done: perfect weather, mindblowing vistas, and incredibly abundant and diverse wildlife.
Every year during the long nights of winter, Eastern Barn Owls are known to frequent the paddocks around the Western Treatment Plant. The owls congregate to take advantage of the bounty of mice and other small prey that the freshly cut fields expose, and are very active in the first couple hours of darkness. One…
At the crack of dawn I met the volunteer guide from the Brookline Birding Club, and along with a dozen other eager birders, I braved the cold, damp conditions to find some lifers.
The number of birders visiting in subsequent days skyrocketed, with the presence of the birds being mentioned in the University newsletter. Over the next few weeks, hundreds of people – birders, locals, students, staff – were able to enjoy the spectacle of a rare bird calling their backyard home.
Finally, after almost 3hrs of waiting, a small flock of Diamond Doves flew in – success! Their red-ringed eyes were very apparent, and after a quick sip of water, they flew back to an overhanging branch, before disappearing into the bush. The entire interaction lasted about 20s – still, the 3hr wait was worth it!