AUSTRALIAN PELICAN (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

You could never miss identifying an Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus).

They’re enormous.

Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

….and they’re found all over the country except inland to the west.

They have a short tail, very bulky-bodied appearance with a long neck and stout short legs.   The head, neck and body are all-white.

The adult has a short rough crest.  The wings are long and broad, white, with flight feathers producing a broad black trailing edge above and below.

The immature is dark brown and off-white.  While the image below is a wee bit over-exposed, it’s the only photo I have of a young Pelican so it belongs in this post.

It soars frequently and is one of the very few birds I’ve ever captured in flight.  They were probably standing still in the air held aloft by wind gusts LOL 😀

I suppose I am exaggerating as I have photographed the odd bird mid-flight, but its more through luck, than skill with the camera.  Methinks not enough practice (when it’s so much easier to photograph birds that stand still for me).

The best photos I’ve got in my bird library were made at Melbourne Zoo, where, if you know the right winding path through some thickets below the tree-top Orangutan enclosure, you can get very close indeed.

 

It’s such a thrill to get up close to these magnificent birds.

Australian Pelican

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I’ve photographed quite a few down at Brighton beach (a southern bayside beach from Melbourne City – accessible via public transport from the city), but now I live in the west, a little too far away from my present home location to re-visit at the present time.

The other images I’ve made were at Jawbone Conservation Reserve and Marine Sanctuary in the western bay suburb of Williamstown.  I’ve been there via bus (and taxi 🙂 ) a few times now, but still haven’t got around to taking the heavy telephoto lens down there to capture the birds perched on the islands or marshland stretches.  The first 3 images below were captured through a wooden hide, so if I’d had the long lens, I would have been able to capture them up close (as I did at Melbourne Zoo).

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CRESTED TERN (Sterna bergii)

Now I live in the western suburbs of Melbourne, I’m not close to the bayside beaches to the south of Melbourne City – only a small western port beach (and that takes some time to get to via 2 buses which run infrequently – miss one bus connection and you have to wait 40 minutes for the next bus).

I’ve spent a lot of time down the beach having fun photographing Silver and Pacific Gulls in the past.

In fact Silver Gulls frequent my current riverside home location too.

I love watching Seagulls in any shape or form.

They’re almost as much fun as watching the House Sparrows and Super Fairy-wrens on my apartment balcony.

While I’ve  never visited coastal regions famous for their bird life since I took up Photography as a hobby in 2010, I did occasionally see a couple of Terns, (some of which are known more for their marshland habitat), down at the local beach.

WHISKERED TERN (Chlidonias hybridus)

I think this tern is the Crested Tern (Sterna bergii) now that I re-read my Australian Bird Guide book this morning.  Originally I thought it was a Whiskered Tern (Chilidonias hybrids).

But if you think I might have identified it incorrectly, please leave me a message in the comments section.  I only have these 2 photos.

There are several Terns that look very similar in Australia, but the Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis) which is a better match, (according to the Bird Guide book), with its long slender orange beak and black legs isn’t found this far south.

On the other hand the bird in the image above has a beak that looks more orange and the bird below has a yellow beak. Maybe it’s just the light.   Or maybe, they are 2 different terns 🙂

I think the flecked wing pattern below merely indicates it is a  juvenile (as is the case in juvenile Silver Gulls).

Bird identification is not as easy as you might think in Australia, what with cross-breeding (or hybrids) a possibility too.   It always pays to get photos from as many angles as possible in Bird Photography.

There are 18 Terns described in my Photographic Field Cuide – Birds in Australia by Jim Flegg.

This is an excellent Field Guide by the way and I can highly recommend it.

PELARGONIUM Survivor

It’s been raining on and off all day today.

Not heavy.

Just enough to keep the lounge sliding door and windows 97% closed.  With no apartment or balcony roof above mine, the rain comes straight in if they’re open,  which is a great disadvantage for someone like me who loves fresh air……..even in the depths of Winter.

I thought it was timely to share an image of my Pelargonium which has 2 blooms at the moment and is absolutely stunning.  I nearly lost it the first year (2016) as I mistakenly watered it.  As each leaf yellowed and covered in black spots, I’d pluck the leaf off……. (and stopped watering it of course).

It nearly died, but lots of TLC brought it around and while it was decimated by about 95%, it is now well on the way to recovery and being a true beauty.

I now water it every ‘Blue Moon‘ 😀

I went outdoors between showers earlier today and took a couple of shots on the Aperture Priority setting with the white balance setting on ‘cloudy’ (for the photographers among you) – normally I leave the White Balance on Auto.  I could see on the LCD screen on the camera rear for a change and noted that the images were over-exposed and the colour much too red, so I switched to Manual Mode and did a little more adjusting in-camera – something I haven’t done for years.  I admit I can be a little lazy when it comes to the technicalities of Photography.  I love the creative side of Photography, but have little interest in the technical workings of my cameras.

2 more shots on manual mode brought me closer to the real colour, if not perfect.

I then spent about an hour fiddling with all the basic sliders trying to get a truly 100% accurate colour.  While I admit I don’t have the eyesight for finely detailed photo editing, the dull light of the day (and my lounge room), gave me surprisingly better viewing on my 27″ screen.  I actually enjoyed the challenge of trying to edit the flower into its true colour.

While I might have got sharper focus if I’d put the DSLR on my tripod, I was more than happy with the end result, even if the camera was covered with fine rain spots.

The ‘Survivor’ series  of Pelargoniums resists poor weather, extreme heat and tolerates drought.  I should have read the label again after repotting it the first time.  These bushy plants have BIG flowers which are available in a wide range of intense and pastel colours.

Flowering throughout the warmer months they are ideal for patio pots, mixed planters and hanging baskets.

I remove the spent flowers as soon as I spot them, although I must admit to forgetting about fertilising regularly as the plant label recommends.  But then…..I’m an amateur photographer, not a gardener (as some of you might think).

GIANT HONEY FLOWER (Melianthus Major)

I’ve only ever seen 2 Giant Honey Flower (Melianthus Major) plants in Melbourne.

One was in a very sheltered garden bed in a National Trust Property, Como House, and the other was in the back garden of The Abbotsford Convent, (in the inner north-east suburb of Melbourne overlooking the Yarra River).  The images below are from that second garden and thankfully, there were flowers in bloom so I could identify the plant the second time around.

It’s actually the leaves which I find interesting.  You can’t miss their distinctive shape.

The Giant Honey Flower is an evergreen suckering shrub, endemic to South Africa and naturalised in India, Australia and New Zealand.  It grows to 7-10 feet tall by 3-10 feet wide, with pinnate blue-green leaves 12-20 inches long, which have a distinctive odour.

Dark red, nectar-laden flower spikes, 12-31 inches in length, appear in Spring, followed by green pods.

All parts of the plant are poisonous.

The plant generally requires a sheltered position and may need a protective winter mulch in temperate regions like Melbourne.