I haven’t come across many places where birdlife is prolific in both, diversity and quantity.
Evans Head surely is one of these habitats.
I have written a few stories about this coastal community and it just keeps getting better.
Pelicans returned from their nesting spots inland and guided their offspring home.
Now at pelican school, the youngsters line up for their final exams.
They haven’t lost their wit to entertain.
And those reflections.
Screeching lorikeets move from tree to tree in search of a delicacy.
There is always something going on.
Twittering galahs amuse just as well.
The fire alarm went off on this pole. I haven’t seen any corellas and only a few black cockatoos this time around.
But my focus this time was about soaring raptors.
It’s not hard to miss this neighbouring osprey family high above. They are excellent fish hunters. Almost every time the adult returned to the nest, a fish was flapping in its claws.
Mullets are surface feeding fish and a preferred target. I have taken photos of this pair before, but nothing like this.
My new super-zoom lens brings me closer than ever. Dark blue skies add remarkably well.
Facial expressions are much easier to analyze as well. This osprey is hungry, bone appetite.
When ospreys are curious about something, they bend their neck and shake their head from left to right. Like an owl.
It’s a curious display for both of us. This osprey may have seen his reflection in my lens.
They have tremendous eyesight.
They are incredibly messy eaters too. A razor-sharp beak is almost too sharp to slice through soft meat.
Standing directly underneath a feeding osprey almost certainly results in a shower of scales. Seagulls and ibis happily pick up smudges tumbling from above.
The beak gets a clean after each meal.
And a full belly scratch doesn’t go astray either. One morning, this adult couldn’t listen to his grown offspring anymore and changed location. This pole was only half as tall and gave me an even closer insight.
I waited 20 minutes for him to fly off.
I am glad I did.
On the western side of this bridge, suburbia extended into Bundjalung National Park.
Mangroves turned this tidal estuary into a vital natural habitat. Young and small wildlife find food and shelter within mangrove roots. This follows the food chain all the way to the top.
They keep a watchful eye out at high altitude. I wasn’t surprised to see up to 7 birds of prey soaring the sky. Intrigued, a paddle excursion unfolded on my inflatable kayak. Once unpacked, I added a few extras. Two fishing rods with different lures. I even caught a couple of flathead. These fish camouflage on the river bottom and ambush bypassing fish or crustaceans. And I took my camera with me off course. Nature gazing and photography whilst kayaking and fishing. I am in ‘Evan’. Four of my favourite activities combined in one. Wind and weather were on my side just as well.
The first object of interest was a low-tide sandbar, which had a keen interest already. All eyes were on me.
I came in peace, but some birds didn’t agree with my intruding behaviour and flew off.
That’s what I sand-banked on. With the sun right behind me, splendid colours unraveled.
Some pelicans couldn’t care less by my doing. Sandy colours add perfectly to this environment.
I left these tired fishermen to their siesta, as I spotted a few eagles in the sky just above the tree line. One landed on a eucalyptus tree on the riverbank. And there he was.
Australia’s biggest raptor sat right in front of me. Wedgetail eagles have almost been hunted to extinction due to their size and an infamous reputation of killing lambs. Mankind at its worst, intimidated by the size. Now that the lambs are silent, wedgies are protected and vital help to farmers. In some parts of the country, 90 per cent of an eagle’s diet was introduced by European settlers and multiplied to plague proportions.
This particular bird was as calm as it could be, sitting on one claw only. Maybe he didn’t see my yellow rubber duck? Needle sharp daggers keep a firm grip on anything. His wingspan would be close to 2.5 meters.
One of the world’s largest flying bird stares right at me from a short distance. I pushed maniyak of the mud, facing him whilst drifting off with the current. Prachtvoll.
This stretch of the river seemed particularly good hunting ground. A lengthy island divides the Evans River and exposes sand flats at low tide on both sides. The main current carved a deep channel along the southern riverbank, flanked with tall eucalyptus trees.
A perfect scenario all along. A pair of sea eagles sat almost motionless. Their plumage gave them away. How about this for a proud pair.
I waded through the mangrove mud to get a better angle on a stable platform.
Both are important factors for photography, even more so with this zoom-zoom.
Just as important for me is not to stress my models. A storm was brewing over the horizon and it was time to float downstream.
By mid-afternoon, all pelicans had left Gilligan Island.
They made their way to McFishy Take-away.
The early bird special had started.
Seagulls had first pickings.
All you can eat buffet.
If you could swallow it.
Others had a surprisingly relaxed approach. Fishermen returned from their outing and kept everyone busy around the filleting table.
Reflecting signs create a bizarre image of colour and patterns.
A very hungry cormorant decided to mix with the big guns.
He had a cunning plan.
Grab a piece of fish and make a dive for it.
He needs to surface to swallow this big piece of fish.
What an action-packed day today was under the rising moon.
I am thrilled.
I wonder what happens beyond Evan Head’s bridge tomorrow.