BLUE-FACED HONEYEATER (Entomyzon cyanotis)

When I first bought a camera in May 2010 and took up Photography as a hobby, I felt a bit like a fraud sharing images on my Nature Blog from the Zoo’s Great Aviary (located at Melbourne’s main Zoo in North Melbourne).  We have 3 zoos, the other 2 are much further away from the city centre in the nearby countryside.

Blue-faced Honeyeater (Entomyzon cyanotis),

A nature photographer should be sharing images from the wild I thought.

But then I asked myself the question…..why do I blog?  What is this blog about?  (and I think these are questions you need to ask yourself when you first start blogging on the internet).

The answer was pretty easy.  This particular blog is about my Photography hobby and specifically about Nature Photography.

It’s about the nature that surrounds where I live and where I go for walks.  Initially, it was about flowers, trees and occasionally insects, but then came birds, beaches, lakes, rivers, parks, gardens and nature reserves.

It’s not about The Wild or Wilderness regions of Australia.

It’s about my own urban ‘backyard’ and its immediate surrounding areas.  

It’s about sharing nature through my eyes.  The small details are what appeals to me, so you won’t see very much in the way of landscapes or seascapes on this blog.  Without a car these days, I can’t get to the unique blue/grey/green-toned mountainous regions which are truly breath-taking in Australia and as diverse as the deserts, rich tropical rainforests, temperate or unique coastal  regions.

Australia is one country you should put on your Bucket List I might add.

(e.g.” The Great Ocean Road, on the southern coast in my state of Victoria, is one of the most spectacular drives in the world, stretching 243 kilometers from Torquay to Allansford, just 10 minutes from Warrnambool.  It was built by returning soldiers from WW1 between the years of 1919 to 1932 and is the world’s biggest War Memorial”).

…..back to the bird featured in this post……

The Blue-faced Honeyeater (Entomyzon cyanosis), found in the northern and eastern states, is not really found as far south as Melbourne to my knowledge, so I’m happy to share these images from the Zoo’s Great Aviary.

Dinner of mealy worms in the Great Aviary

This Honeyeater is a large one and distinctly easy to spot due to the bright to dark blue face and cheeks.  It has a prominent white eye (amidst black crown and nape) with prominent black bib and white moustachial streaks joining the white breast.  Its back and longish white-tipped tail are a striking golden olive-green. Found in open woodland or any areas with trees in the wild and certainly easy to see up close in the Zoo’s Great Aviary, especially at feeding time.

So I’ve stopped feeling guilty about photographing Australian Birds in enclosed areas to share online, particularly as some of my favourite images in my 2 photo libraries were made at the Zoo.

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APOSTLEBIRD (Struthidea cinerea)

When I cleared out my whole nature blog and started afresh, my main aim was to set up a better index in the sidebar for both birds and plants (as well as the intermittent news on my apartment balcony garden), but inevitably I’ll also end up with the more dull and less interesting Australian birds.

This Apostlebird (Struthidea cinerea), photographed in Melbourne Zoo’s great aviary, is one of them.

APOSTLEBIRD (Struthidea cinerea) – The Great Aviary, Melbourne Zoo.

The best way to describe this bird, usually found in more inner regions of eastern Australia, is DULL.

Body dull, lead-grey with a darker eye patch and dark brown wings.  Tail long and black, wedge-shaped.  Beak, dark grey, robust and almost triangular.  Legs short, giving an awkward almost horizontal posture, with the tip of its long tail on the ground.

It flies low, with frequent glides.  When feeding it hops, walks and runs actively and is often aggressive.

Not usually seen as far south as Melbourne where I live, but to be honest, I don’t think I could identify it in flight in the wild anyway, as its so similar to many other dark-coloured Australian birds, so was pleased to photograph it standing on a nearby branch at the Zoo.

CATTLE EGRET (Ardea ibis)

The Cattle Egret (Ardea ibis)  is large compared to other native birds, but is actually the smallest of the Egrets, and unmistakable in its breeding plumage with long yellow or ginger plumes on its head, neck , back and throat.

It’s frequently found feeding among grazing animals which is probably where the name came from (I presume).

The breeding adult is white, often rather scruffy, with yellowish beak and legs.  Cattle Egrets are found in most coastal regions of Australia, not necessarily close to water, although it breeds in trees over water.

These photos were made in Melbourne Zoo’s Great Aviary and the images below gives you some idea of how large this space is.

While Melbourne Zoo, located to the north of the city and easily accessible via tram from William Street, is open 365 days of the year, there is the odd occasion when the Aviary is closed for maintenance, so if you’re visiting to specifically visit the Great Aviary, it might be worth a phone call before you leave home/hotel.

Another hint: Don’t go during the school holidays in Melbourne, as young children have a habit of running down the boardwalk and squealing excitedly, which kind of…… spoils the experience a wee bit…..well it does for me.   Not that I have anything against young children enjoying themselves, but I really do think, for the enjoyment of other visitors, parents might try to discourage loud boisterous behaviour in this particular area.  There are signs at the Aviary entrance requesting that children don’t run anyway.

I could easily spend 2 hours in the Great Aviary and have done so many, many times over the years.