Australian White Ibises

Bin Chickens. Trash Turkeys. Rubbish Raptors. The Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) has a bad reputation.

Intrepid, mobile, and omnivorous these birds thrive in our cities. Unfortunately, many people associate them with garbage and scavenging, and don’t see their astonishing beauty.

They have a lifespan of up to 20 years, and a high rate of fertility, so they seem to be permanent members of our community. Last year we were shocked when over 30% of the population died. We’re still not sure what the cause was, but a virus is the most likely candidate.

I often don’t bother to capture them, as they are common, they fly a lot, and they are very easy to photograph. Sometimes, when the other birds are too lazy to fly, or the swallows are too annoying, I grab a shot or two. Or thirteen.

I think they are majestic.

Physics in Action
Physics in Action
Commit to the Tree
Commit to the Tree
Trading Speed for Altitude
Trading Speed for Altitude
Flare for Landing
Flare for Landing
Spoilers deployed for landing
Spoilers deployed for landing
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Moorhen in Flight

This is an adolescent moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa) in actual, real, no-shit, airborne flight. Well, it was probably still in ground effect. Moorhens have trouble climbing more than a metre. With tiny, stubby little wings flying is a huge energy cost for them. This one is from last year’s recruitment. It hasn’t developed full adult colouration yet. It was flying towards a small child who was handing out bread to intrepid waterbirds.

Moorhen Airborne
Adolescent Moorhen in Flight
Adolescent Moorhen in Flight
An adolescent Moorhen (Galinula tenebrosa) touches down
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Hardhead in Flight

Hardheads (Aythya australis) are diving ducks. The swim, they dive, they fly. It’s very rare to see them go aground.

The white eye identifies this one as a male. The females have brown eyes.

A male Hardhead flies over the lake
A Hardhead (Aytha australis) moments after takeoff
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Noisy Miners Post #3

This is the last of the little buggers for now.

We had a wonderful time watching them splash in the lake. They have a complex and dynamic social life, and this activity is clearly something they do for fun together.

Noisy Miner Dipping
Noisy Miner
Noisy Miner
“Hey guys – I’m a duck!”
Noisy Miner Dipping
Noisy Miner Dipping
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Noisy Miners Post #1

On a mild (22°C) midwinter day the Noisy Miners were cooling off in the lake. They often do this when it’s hot, and it seems to be a social behaviour.

Capturing them is a bit of a technical challenge. They are small birds, and fast. The fly out a few meters over the lake, then dive in fast. Pointing the lens, acquiring a perfect focus, then taking the shot has to be done inside half a second. It’s easier to get them coming out than going in.

My recipe was to shoot a fast (1/3200) exposure with the gain wound up high and the autofocus tuned for fast acceleration.

I’m splitting these pictures across three posts out of concern for your page load times.

Noisy Miner
Soggy Noisy Miner
Noisy Miner
Noisy Miner Airborne
Noisy Miner getting Airborne
Noisy Miner commiting to the Dive
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