Brolga portrait and chick

It was fantastic to see the Brolga chick at the Western Treatment Plant; it would have been a bonus if it had stopped raining but nothing could dampen my smile.



Brolga (Grus rubicunda)
1/640, f5.6, ISO 6400

Over the past few weeks many images of the Western Treatment Plant Brolgas have been shared on social media, images of the Brolgas on their nest were followed by numerous images of two tiny, fluff-ball chicks. As much as I would have liked to have seen the chicks when they were newly hatched I was wary of adding to the general clamour so I waited until I heard the birds had left the nest; at this point only one chick was still surviving. As expected the nest was vacant when I arrived and I couldn’t see any sign of Brolgas but I returned later in the afternoon and the Brolga sitting on the nest; I hoped there was a chick snuggled beneath its feathers. Then the second parent flew in, the sitting bird stood and there in the dismal drizzle was one of the sweetest sights I’ve ever seen. Maybe they had briefly returned to the nest because of the weather. The light was so appalling that even an ISO of 6400 couldn’t help.

Brolgas are listed as vulnerable in Victoria. They are large cranes standing at over a metre, and famous for their dancing courtship display.


Brolga (Grus rubicunda)
1/800, f5.6, ISO 3200


I visited again the following week but the Brolgas’ nest had been commandeered by a pair of swans and the Brolga were nowhere to be seen. Later in the day the clouds were coming in and we wandered back to the general area when they walked into view across the other side of a pond! It was good to know the chick was growing fast and still safe.



Brolga (Grus rubicunda)
1/1600, f5.6, ISO 3200


The portrait above is of a sanctuary bird. The lighting was still poor but I was able to raise the speed enough to capture its quick movements and the details of its fascinating markings and the dewlap beneath its chin.



Brolga (Grus rubicunda)
1/1000, f5.6, ISO 1600


I like watching birds preening, especially as it means I know they are comfortable with my presence. Brolgas’ have remarkably flexible necks that look good among a flamboyant flurry of feathers.

Happy birding


UPDATE: The second chick did not survive. It was reported that a photographer had come between the parent birds and the chick and had not retreated despite the frantic calling of the parents and of other birders who were watching. I hope that the area is closed to visitors should the Brolgas be brave enough to attempt breeding in the area again. I regret going to see the Brolgas, even at the relatively late stage that I did. The birds are always more important than the images.


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