Saturday, February 25, 2012
Birding Victoria Part III. Herons, Rails, and Waterfowl.
The avifauna of Australia is blessed with 2 species of spoonbill: the yellow-billed [upper right] as well as the royal spoonbill [lower right]. Both were seen at Werribee. Given that there only 6 species of spoonbill in the world, it would mean that Victoria has 33% representation of global spoonbill species! On the heron front, the Australian count is 14 species; of which the white-faced heron is shown here [left].
The purple swamphen [center and bottom right] is a bright and large rail that is widely seen. The Australian race, as can be seen, is more royal blue with a black head compared to the race from the Indian subcontinent which is more cyan and has a grey head. This particular race can now also be found in Florida due to escapees from collections and eradication efforts have failed to strop their spread. Also seen were dusky moorhen [upper right] and Australian spotted crake [left].
Australia is full of surprises and it was little surprise, therefore, to encounter a white cormorant with black wings: the pied cormorant [upper right]. A welcome variation to the all-black cormorants we are accustomed to in the US. More familiar were the Australian white ibis [left] and the straw-necked ibis [lower right].
In reference to unusual creatures, in addition to white cormorants, Australia has black swans. Black swans were considered an impossibility in the old world -- hence the term "a black swan event". However, black swans [lower right] are native to Australia and they only thing impossible about them is their grace and beauty. Other members of the waterfowl seen were Australian wood duck [left] and Chestnut Teal [upper right].
Wrapping up the waterfowl seen were great crested grebe [left], Australasian grebe [middle and upper right], magpie goose [a very odd bird, right center] and the Australian Pelican [lower right]. And, finally, a picture of a Cape Barren Goose; a rare goose whose population is recovering at about 18,000 individuals. It has the remarkable ability to drink salt water.
Shown left to right: Cape barren goose, black swan, Australian pelican.
Black Swan Theory: link