To breed and feed in close proximity is a hectic liaison within all participants.
I could hardly keep up with my camera in hand.
To many objects in different colours, sizes and noises engulfed my mind.
It wasn’t only the sheer quantity of breeding birds that baffled me.
Just as surprising was the variety of feathered nesters as well.
Purple Swamphens curiously stalk through the high grass.
They breed in reeds around the lake, giving them multiple options to hide and seek their young.
If possible danger approaches, swamphen chicks are hidden amongst the high grass, whilst adult birds indicate a distraction manoeuvre.
Swamphen chicks are rarely spotted.
All I could see was a despicable parent, who kept a sharp watch.
Their plumage exposes a bright colour spectrum in radiant sunlight.
Cute ducklings are never far away.
Being the only duckling alive, parents never let her out of their sight.
A few black cormorants dared to mingle within the nesting jungle but were outnumbered by black dots in the treetops.
For the majority, white-feathered birds took the silver spoon.
Spoonbills are very selective within their breeding grounds and only roost if conditions are ideal.
Spoons of all sizes gathered around me, a spoon-nami unfolded in front of my lens.
Roosting tablespoons develop long white plumes behind their head, which is also marked with a colourful spot just above the eyes.
These spots do look like eyes from a distance.
Teaspoons mingle within the colony and had only one thing on their mind.
Feeding on fish, crustaceans and insects, the spoon-shaped bill is swept from left to right and back again in shallow waters. The beak is opened a few centimetres and potential prey is snapped by a reflex.
Spoonbills keep their neck straight whilst flying.
Ibis are in the same family to spoonbills to mix and match.
They too probe for prey with their beak in a more straight forward kinda way. Examining the wetlands and grasslands, they eat almost anything that gets in their beak.
Ibis prefer to stalk prey on solid ground and are just as opportunistic. Nicknamed the ‘rubbish bird’, ibis are drawn to human junk.Because they can.
Great White Egrets and Intermediate Egrets form monogamous reproductive pairs during each breeding season.
In breeding plumage, delicate ornamental feathers are borne on their backs.
Like a bridal gown, they signal their commitment to reproduce.
A few Cattle Egrets mingled with their larger cousins.
As the name suggests, Cattle Egrets stalk larger herbivores in close circuit.
Picking up any prey that may get out of the hay.
They are the mischievous egret and are also known to visit their neighbour’s bride while she is incubating her eggs.
This illustrates different sized chicks in their nest.
Cattle Egrets create an orange buff-plume on their back, breast and crown during the breeding period.
They appeared like orange safety beacons in trees up high.
No matter what size or colourful plumage, all these breeders had a monumental task to fulfil.
Strategies are similar to all nesting birds here at Dawkins Lake.
Wanna-be fathers build a nest to attract the opposite sex.
It becomes a waiting game for potential mates to show interest.
Some renovations may improve their success. Stick by stick.
Finding the right stick is more difficult than it may appear in this woodland. Most seizable sticks are already taken by other nesters.
And size does matter in this case. Smaller limbs are easier to carry but aren’t very useful.
Transportation of long sticks creates logistical obstacles.
Several birds were preoccupied with refurbishing their nesting site, which turned into a treasure hunt.
One needs to dig a bit deeper. This one may be a bit overachieving, though it’s better than nothing.
The ability to build a stable and suitable nest is a major accomplishment for any bird.
It takes dedication and ingenuity to marvel in these treetops safely.
Though on occasion, this flooded forest turns into a dance arena. Breeding couples often re-encourage their commitments.
A flamboyant performance of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. For a minute or so.
Maybe she wasn’t the right one after all.
What’s a man gotta do?
That’s right, fishing!
All parents had their beaks full to cater for demanding chicks.
It was a vicious frenzy all around.
Feeders hesitantly entered the feeding coliseum for good reasons.
Adult birds returning with a belly full of smelly jelly landed on a nearby branch and prepared themselves.
The babysitter moves aside at the very same moment. He knows what’s to come.
Meanwhile, all chicks hastily gathered around the nesting area for the feeding ritual.
Screaming out for food whilst flapping their wings vigorously, signalled their parents how hungry they are.
As it wasn’t obvious enough.
In doing so, all chicks received the same amount of Omega-3. It was a wild feeding frenzy to say the least and rivalled a game of dodgeball.
The five D’s of ‘Dodgeball’ sure came in handy.
Beaks from all sides and angles vigorously locked onto their target.
Once the adults had shared their fill with their bill, it was best to get out of the nest for their own sake.
Leaving the chicks a little dumb-founded, screaming and flapping.
They won’t stop begging for food either.
All alone, one had no other option than to wait patiently for the next meal.
Or to hang out with siblings.
Meanwhile, some wing flapping strengthens vital flight muscles.
Some couldn’t wait to leave the nest.
But until then, they are left for leafs.
If the hatchlings gained the ability to fly, parents served fly-away food for the brute. If they wanted to be fed, come and get a tasty snack. This urges the youngsters to leave their nests and explore their environment.
It also encourages them to perfect basic aerial skills and eventually be independent and weened.
Until then, a resting spa in the sun was a welcoming change of pace.
Teenagers, which already fled the nest were kept in the loop.
They ganged up in the hood of the underwood.
A pecking order has already been established.
This was the perfect lookout. Not only for them but for my lens too.
It is just a perfect setting in colours and patterns.
The background forest leaves imaginary ghouls freeze.
A perfect hook for the unsuspecting victim.
They looked a bit sassed nevertheless.
Under watchful eyes.
Fauna and flora shine brightly here at Dawkins Lake. Fabulous.