The backgrounds in this week’s images may look like rather odd skies but they are actually the ocean, about 25 metres beneath a clifftop.
A pair of Cape Barren Geese were pottering around beneath a small timber lookout on a Phillip Island track. They rested for a while, then pottered and preened and grazed on the grasses and Berry Saltbush. The blurred background in the image above looks like storm clouds but is the distant ocean crashing again rocks.
Cape Barren Geese are wonderful birds and it’s great that they were brought back from the brink of extinction. Getting the exposure right on their white heads is always a challenge so I’m happy that there is detail in the whites.
Cape Barren Geese look amazing with their red eyes, yellow-green ceres and finely fringed feathers that remind me of a craft activity I used to do with children where we folded grey crepe paper into strips and fringed it to decorate cut outs of koalas. Male Cape Barren Geese are slightly larger than females, they mate for life and breed on offshore islands in south east Australia and in lesser numbers off the south coast of Western Australia.
The colour of the ocean in the image above looks gorgeous, but if someone assumed it was the sky they’d think I’d fiddled about with hues and saturation.
The preening image above shows how close the geese were to the edge of the cliff; there is saltbush in the bottom left-hand corner (if you look closely) and the rest of the background is ocean complete with breaking waves. Birds do a great job of looking after their feathers, careful preening is essential. I like the brown splodges and dark spots on their feathers, so pretty.
I’ve included this image to put the others in context and to show a whole bird including its handsome reddish-pink legs. Their call is a grunt-like honk, but images that look as though a bird is calling can sometimes be a bird yawning.
Taking images on this clifftop was very different to the dramatic drop of 200 metres at Malabar Hill. Images of tropicbirds in flight can be seen at Lord Howe Island Tropicbirds along with images taken by David Burren of me standing much closer to the edge of the cliff than looks sensible.
Happy birding, Kim
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