In my last post I highlighted our rainforest adventures, and this week we highlight birds of and creatures of the ocean and Lake Wallace in Forster NSW a beautiful tourist destination. One highlight of our week away was passing an Osprey nest on The Lakes Way as we travelled to and from our accommodation. Ospreys have been a feature in many birding blogs of late as they have been nesting here and now have their young.
[My blogging friend Tiny from Tiny Lessons Blog has amazing photos and beautiful stories behind the Osprey family she has been observing in Florida USA as she has followed years of their nesting.] It is a great delight to find a nest I can report on, though it by no means comes close to Tiny’s blog. [David Jensen an Aussie birding blogger has featured his Osprey friend Eloise in his blog this week at his Birds as Poetry blog]. Beside a busy road, it appeared that a parent and two possibly three juvenile Osprey were visible, with the parent leaving on fishing trips from time to time.
One parent, the male, stands watch by the nest while the female sits in the nest with the two juveniles, coming and going at times for food. Click on photo to enlarge it.
We would often be dodging the cars racing by at 100 km/hr as we attempted to get a good vantage point. It was good to hear their cry, our presence did not disturb them too much.
The female is a larger bird than the male, and has a distinct collar around the neck, which is even darker on juveniles. The male lacks this but has slight markings around neck area.
One of the reasons I visited this area was to spend time with my daughter’s family, so we took them out on a whale watch on the Amaroo, a great tourist attraction this time of year as the Humpback whales pass by with their newborn calves on their way back to Antarctic waters.
As you can see above the whales were putting on a show for us as they breached to cool off on the warm spring day.
To view the estuary and lake birds my wife and I took a lunch cruise on The Free Spirit around Wallace Lake, one of the largest lake systems in our state, and the third largest oyster producer in our country.
It was so peaceful touring around this huge lake and its several islands, seeing dolphins at play and the odd jelly-fish, and of course, many birds.
As we cruised we saw another Osprey nest on a power pole. The authorities had disconnected the power lines so the Osprey had the pole to themselves. This was some distance away from us, and again we see one adult standing watch and the other in the nest.
The usual estuary birds were present with the different types of Cormorant. The special feature was the seeing the juvenile Darter (pictured above).
It was interesting to find again flocks of Black Swan, which appears to now be found throughout Australia and its islands and is breeding quite well in large numbers.
However, the feature of this cruise was this little patch of sand spit which remains above the tide where many species of birds congregate to rest and…
…to breed. Above is a cluster of nesting Australian Pelicans. Notice how they form a circle cluster close to each other to give support and protection from the winds and weather, as they are quite exposed in the open lake.
Here is an example of what one can see on just a small portion of this thin sand strip in the middle of Wallace lake.
There were many raptor appearances over the lake on our cruise but not all were able to be captured. Whistling Kite both adult and immature as well as Braminy Kite were seen, both birds that fish for prey. Of course there were many appearances of…
My Bird of the Week – The White-bellied Sea-Eagle
The White-bellied Sea-Eagle is Australia’s second largest eagle and most frequently seen along the coast and inland rivers and lakes around mainland Australia and Tasmania, but not in the desert regions of central Australia. It soars on the thermals with great ease and precision, hardly moving a feather. I have had personal experience of a Sea-Eagle actually knowing me, years ago when I lived on the seaside, which afforded me great photography. These pics are all from our recent trip.
They similar to the Osprey are often seen carrying fish in from the ocean to their nest to feed their young, though I did not witness this on our cruise. These birds are territorial and are only seen in family groups.
It is always a treat to see the adult teaching the juvenile to fly (as featured in my recent book release), and here again we saw adult and juvenile flying together. Young Sea-eagles go through several plumage changes as they mature making it easy to age them. This one looks to be in its first year of life, being possibly born in June or July.
The breeding season being in winter months of Australia, and then fledge 2 to 3 months after birth. Notice that the adult always flies slightly lower than the juvenile, which is more from habit as they do this while teaching them to fly, so they can scoop them up should they fall. Above is a two year old as a comparison to the one we saw on our cruise. Notice how the white belly is starting to show and the neck ring of the juvenile is disappearing, as the bird takes on adult features.
They nest in forks of large trees, on power poles (similar to osprey) and on cliff edges, always close to the food source and fresh water. They form a deep bowl of sticks, seaweed and grasses.