A fluffy bundle

Recently I desperately needed a smile, so I drove for six hours to get it. Hopefully today’s mysterious bundle of fluff will help to spread the smile even more widely. Can you work out what it is before scrolling down? I was tempted to share just the one image this week but couldn’t resist the reveal.

 

Canon gear, 1/1000, f/8.0, ISO 1600
Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator) – chick

 

I’m glad I clicked the shutter button on this curled up bundle of fluffiness and that I didn’t delete the image in my mammoth deletion sessions that have seen over 20,000 photographs scuttle off to oblivion.

Point Danger is a small headland near Portland in Victoria and it’s the only gannet colony on mainland Australia. The colony apparently became established in the mid 1990s but the survival rate for chicks was dismal as they were disturbed by people and heavily predated by foxes and cats. Various methods were tried to protect them including the use of Maremma Sheepdogs which are better known for protecting Little Penguins on Middle Island just off the Warrnambool coast. These livestock-protecting dogs featured in the movie ‘Oddball’ which I think would be interesting to watch.

The gannets are now protected by electrified fences which restrict access to the colony by humans and predators, leaving the birds to face their natural enemies such as the local White-bellied Sea Eagles.

 

 

Canon gear, 1/2000, f/9.0, ISO 800
Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator) – chick

 

The chick slept for so long I started to feel a bit concerned about its health so I was especially relieved when it woke up and started preening. Unless you know the species, or saw the caption, the image above wouldn’t be too helpful, though it does help identify the tufts of black feathers in the first image.

Its massive feet are well camouflaged on the rock. The webbing is extensive which helps gannets to be strong, agile swimmers when foraging. Some waterbirds, like ducks and Silvergulls, have webbing that connects the three front toes (termed ‘palmate’) while the other toe points backwards. Gannets, pelicans and cormorants are among the birds that have more extensive webbing which connects all four toes (totipalmate).

 

 

Canon gear, 1/2000, f/9.0, ISO 800
Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator) – chick

 

And then the sweet tacker looked across at me and had its photograph taken multiple times. I am still going through my Point Danger images but have found many that have made me smile. I visited the gannets twice in April and some images from the first visit were ready in time to be entered in the Sydney Harbour International premier image salon where four gannet shots were accepted for exhibition and one was awarded. I am humbled by the opportunities I sometimes get to enjoy our wildlife and to share its beauties, thank you for being part of the journey.

Happy birding

Kim

 

Victoria’s Season of Shame Update

Duck rescuers working with the Coalition Against Duck Shooting (CADS) have been fined for rescuing shot and abandoned birds. CADS are raising funds to help individuals pay the preposterously high fines of $930 each. If you are able to help in this way please go to CADS’ website here, or their facebook page here

 

 

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15 comments to A fluffy bundle

  • Alison Moore

    Hello Kim
    A picture tells a thousand words and you have once again achieved this. I sense you are in a tricky spot at the present, I hope things improve for you if this is necessary. Could just be me of course reading something into nothing and I hope that is the case.
    You make us smile each week with your wonderful pictures, thank you,
    Alison.

    • lirralirra

      Hi Alison, you are kind and intuitive, thank you for caring and commenting. Spending time with the gannets was just what I needed, I wish they were still there as I could do with a few more days/weeks of their company. I’m glad you enjoy the weekly pictures, that’s something else that makes me smile.

  • Neil Mansfield

    Beautiful images, Kim.

    Your note re the “preposterously high fines” made me feel sick. What is wrong with our court system that you can commit robbery and assault and be fined less than for the “crime” of rescuing wounded birds. It’s obscene!

    • lirralirra

      It really is obscene Neil. The rescuers should be funded by the government for rescuing injured birds and for cleaning up after the shooters … now there’s an idea! I think they should apply for an environmental grant, everyone acknowledges that there are too many shooting sites for them to be properly monitored by the official agencies

  • Celia

    Made me feel all fluffy too!
    Lovely photo series. Thank you for sharing.

  • Alyssa

    Aw sweet little fluff balls! Congratulations on your success with images of our beautiful BirdLife ❤️

  • Not only did I smile, my eyes leaked a little. Feathered enchantment at its very best. Thank you.
    And I have to ask – have any of the big, brave (not) hunters been fined? Or is justice as one-sided as the recreation of shame?

    • lirralirra

      Your question about the shooters has kept me busy for the past hour (the longest part was unsuccessfully trying to find a list of penalties, which I understand are considerably less than the fines dished out to rescuers). I found information from The Guardian (30 March 2017) saying that the Game Management Authority issued 43 infringements notices to shooters (I can’t call them hunters), including “seven for failing to have a valid gun licence, four for failing to retain a wing on a duck (for identification purposes) and one for shooting early’. Apparently dozens shot early, aiming in the general direction of silhouettes. The GMA issued a media release on 22 March 2017 acknowledging significant ‘unlawful and unethical duck hunting”. David Laird from the Sporting Shooters Association Australia (Victoria branch) said (in the Guardian article) that “more than 2000 [shooters] were in the Kerang area on opening morning, and thousands more were hunting across the state’ and that “most of GMA’s enforcement effort on the opening weekend went towards dealing with protesters’ when it would have been more effective if they’d focussed on the ‘hunters acting illegally’.
      I’m sure you wanted a far simpler response than that EC. If I can unearth more succinct information I’ll let you know.

  • Catarina Gregson

    Thanks this made me smile too . Very sweet and as always great photography!

    • lirralirra

      I’m so glad my little smile maker worked for you too Catarina. I would love to spend many days, actually weeks, with these little characters.

  • Tamsin

    Very cute ❤️

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