Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Swifts and Penguins (What???)

The Swifts (White-throated Needletails) visited Robertson late in the afternoon, today. They were here a week ago too.
The Penguin did not visit Robertson. 

My brother Brendan caught it accidentally while fishing at Green Cape. Can one get two birds more different?
Yes, but I don't have any current Emu photos.

How often can I publish a fit and healthy Little Penguin? Surely I can be excused for posting a Penguin image?

***** ****** ******

But firstly here is my best Swift image from today; and several of the weather conditions and why the Swifts were circling my house. 

They circled around, as they drifted slowly northwards, between 6:30 and 6:45 pm, in the late afternoon light. I estimate that I saw 100 birds in those 15 minutes.

White-throated Needletail circling quite low (Click to enlarge)

The balmy afternoon light was quite a shock (after ten days of drizzle, including the last three days of heavy rain). This image shows the weather (and the bright light) in which the Swifts were flying around.

And this image shows why they were here.
A huge swarm of flying insects is clearly visible.
Click to enlarge to see them, (look in the yellow ring).

Flying insects visible in this image (click to enlarge).
And now for the Little Penguin.
My brother Brendan went fishing at Green Cape last week. He sent me this image today.
Little Penguin - and a healthy looking one at that.

They were fishing from the rocks into deep water. Green Cape is the boundary of Bass Strait, so there is serious water out there. But he was not expecting to land a Penguin on a line.

The bird got tangled around the legs on the nylon trace line they were using. It was not "hooked" at any stage. He quickly untangled the bird and released it again ASAP. No damage done to either party, and a real surprise (to all).

Contrast the magnificently streamlined wings of the Needletail, and the wing size compared to the body, with the chunky body of the Penguin and its short but powerful flippers. Penguins use their flippers to "fly though the water".


Flabmeister said...


Any idea about the ID of the insects? From the size of them I suspect the huge moths that cover a windscreen with a single splat, but perhaps a cicada swarm?

I'm glad to hear the penguin got away unscathed. They seem to be feisty beasts so I am surprised that it didn't remove a few body parts from Brendan as he ministered to it! But of course I am pleased he was rewarded for his care.


mick said...

Very contrasting birds! Nice scenic shots too - I wondered how much of that heavy rain you were getting.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Martin
The image is a bit deceptive in that one cannot tell how how far away the insects are. The ones in the image look to be 100 metres away, but that's improbable. I saw some Flying Ants close to my house.
Last week I photographed Flying Ants
It is likely yesterday's Swifts were feasting on the same kind of insects.
Re the Penguin, yes I am sure they can give a good peck, with that solid beak.
I was pleased everyone survived the experience - intact.

Le Loup said...

A mishap, but a lovely opportunity to handle one of these birds & see it up close.
Good post, thank you.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Le Loup
Yes, a mishap, perhaps, but one which ended well.
And a bonus for the Bloggosphere!

Mr. Smiley said...

I'll be the insects were termites. The recent rains would have gotten them quite excited.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Dave

Last week I photographed Flying Ants

To me, they seem too heavy to be termites. We do get them flying here, on occasions.

I had the impression that they were a mid-sized brown ant, like a "sugar ant". But I have no idea if they swarm.

Your comment about the rain is appropriate to both occasions (This week and last week).

Thanks for the suggestion.



Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
Sorry I lost your comment in the deep litter of my Email In-Box.
The heavy rain missed us (well I got 250mm over 3 days), but the people just down the hill from me got 280mm in an afternoon (after our 3rd day of rain). Hence the flooding (on top of the creeks being already swollen from our run-off).
It then moved down to Bega, and then it flooded at Wilson's Promontory (in Victoria) another 350 mm effort.
Strange that it was so patchy.
A big effort for "Just an East Coast Low".
Thanks for asking, though.

Mac_fromAustralia said...

What a gorgeous penguin! I'm glad it all ended well for everyone.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Mac.
Its good to know it was on the NSW coast as well.