Wednesday, 25 April 2012

ANZAC Day Part 3

Following Cape Nelson and Cape Bridgewater seabird watching and an afternoon in the drizzly rain at Mt Richmond NP, I drove to Nelson and Picaninny Ponds (just over the SA border). There was not a lot of bird activity at the ponds or on the Glenelg River so I drove back through Lower Glenelg NP. By late afternoon it was getting dark with the low cloud cover so I didn't spend too much time searching for birds in the forest but the macropod watching was great with kangaroos and wallabies feeding on the edge of the tracks every few hundred metres. The persistent drizzle was occasionally broken with glimpses of sunlight but the animals always seemed to be on the side of the road with the sun behind them but they did allow close approach from inside the car (this one is shot with a 200mm lens).

Red-necked Wallaby, Lower Glenelg National Park, Victoria

I enjoyed the slow drive through the park eventually reaching the Princes Hwy just west of Heywood. From Heywood, I took the Woolsthorpe Road 'short cut' and just on sunset spotted a paddock near Tyrendarra (see map) with a small flock of Cattle Egrets. The clouds had broken up and the sun was peeking through giving a beautiful orange glow to the landscape so I stopped to see if I could capture some of the egrets among the cattle on the other side of the paddock.

Cattle Egret, Tyrendarra, Victoria
Cattle Egret, Tyrendarra, Victoria

Five of them took off but maintained a tight formation allowing me to capture them in one shot and the slow shutter speed (1/125th second) gives them a slight blurring that to my eye is quite attractive.

Cattle Egret, Tyrendarra, Victoria

When I turned around to cross the road back to the car, I spotted a large flock of Common Starlings flowing across the farmland.

Common Starling, Tyrendarra, Victoria

The swarm crossed paths with another one approaching from the other direction

Common Starling, Tyrendarra, Victoria

and they merged into one larger flock, flowing across the pasture

Common Starling, Tyrendarra, Victoria

then turned towards me, filling the sky in front of the lens

Common Starling, Tyrendarra, Victoria

I love these large flocks. They seem to take on an life of their own, flowing and gyrating like a single meta-organism. It is fascinating to think about what is going on with each individual bird...what cues are they taking from the birds around them to enable this to happen and who decides where they are going?

1 comment:

  1. G,day
    The Starling flocks are fascinating.
    ABC TV had a show some time back called "The Code", English math prof tried to show mathematical relationships to a number of day to day things.
    He had a little computer programme setup to show the the birds only need a few pieces of knowledge to make it all work. From memory, and trust me its not as good as it used to be, 1. Everybody fly in the same direction. 2. Everybody fly at the same speed, 3. Keep a specified distance between you and the birds around you. 4. When a predator comes, all duck together.
    At least his computer model seemed to work. But.
    The starlings do it with elegance. Cool
    DJ

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