Sunday, March 11, 2007
I dropped by Orielton Lagoon recently, on the way home from visiting friends. As always, I was armed with a camera, just in case. I scanned the shoreline from around Cemetery Point, noting that there were groups of waders close to the Causeway, and 'the' Royal Spoonbill on Suzie Islet, which seems to be its' prefered roosting site these days, together with several Pelicans. I wandered towards the waders. They turned out to be Red-necked Stint, Golden Plover, and a single Greenshank and I hoped they'd stay put to give me a chance to get a shot or two. They didn't. As I turned back, I noted a Swamp Harrier, still a kilometre away, but coming towards me as it quartered the edge of the lagoon. Time to get myself organised for a photo opportunity! I didn't give myself much of a chance, because over much of the Summer I had similarly prepared myself, but in all cases, to no avail. The harrier was briefly divebombed by 2 of a large flock of Masked Lapwing. Perhaps they were late breeders still having youngish offspring, or perhaps they just couldn't help themselves. They returned to the flock, and the harrier continued towards me, and I shot off the accompanying images. But just as I thought my luck had finally changed, something spooked the harrier and it rapidly climbed and moved away. At first I guessed that I may have been the culprit, but as I looked forlornly at the fast disappearing harrier, I became aware of a sound that I'd heard here on a previous occasion...a radio-controlled model aircraft. Not the usual 2 stroke sound that I'd always associated with model aircraft, but a relatively quieter, but insistent, buzz of a gas powered model aircraft (shown at left). Flown from a nearby paddock, on some of its' orbits it just impinged over the lagoon. Of course, I've no way of knowing for sure whether this was indeed what spooked the harrier, but I did notice that there were no birds to be seen along the shoreline opposite the orbiting model. One model flown occasionally, will probably not impact on the area significantly, but it is something worth keeping an eye on.