Here is a very common bird, but seen a bit closer than normal. It is the White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae). It is a common bird across the eastern states (and the rest of the country too, it seems, except the dry centre). By "common" I do not mean "numerous", but certainly it is seldom a surprise to see one of these birds. It may be found around ovals and parks, fish ponds in private gardens (which you thought had goldfish in them), urban lakes like this, and is also often seen stalking insects such as crickets and grasshoppers in paddocks. It builds a large stick nest, high in a large tree, often a great distance away from water.
These shots were taken ages ago, on a trip to Melbourne (September 2006). It was at one of a series of lakes/swamps/reserves on the Dandenong Creek. This was at "Bushy Park" Reserve. I was in a "hide", which explains why the bird was not too scared of me. Clearly it knew I was inside the shelter of the hide, but my presence did not disturb the bird at all. It just kept on feeding , right outside the hide.
What happened was that the bird was working the water's edge, and I stayed put (in the hide), and let the bird walk closer and closer to me.
As you can see, the bird stared at me - but, once it was reassured, it kept on coming.Note the long yellow-green legs, and the typical pose of the hunting Heron. Compare this photo with the last one, where the legs are in deep water. Back in the water, the Heron is now keeping a steady watch for small fish.
This next photo is the one which got away. Not the fish - I am sure it is safely gulped down, but the photo. Occasionally one sees a photo like this, with a fish visible in mid air, about to be swallowed. It is just a sudden snap of movement. I missed that image, by about 1/100th of a second, I figure.
These birds catch their prey, hold the beak fixed (for just a moment) and then in one very swift move, pull the neck and head backwards, then open the beak, thus swallowing the fish which has been literally thrown down the bird's neck. See how closely the neck has been drawn back over the birds shoulders, compared to the posture in the photo above.
Note how deep this water is. If you check back to the photo of the bird walking towards the camera, all the yellow-green part of the bird's leg which is visible in that photo, is now covered in water.