Friday, November 27, 2009

Vibrant Gould's Lagoon

I've made a couple of 'pilgrimages' to Gould's Lagoon at Granton this week, largely to get usable shots of Little Grassbirds. In the case of the grassbirds, it's still work in progress, for although I've shown the image at right, I've still got a way to go before I get what I'm after. Grassbirds aside, the visits have certainly been worthwhile, with evidence of a range of birds successfully breeding there.
My first surprise, as I stood watching the grassbirds, some carrying food, flit from reed clump to reed clump, was a family of Eurasian Coot, with four newly hatched chicks. I haven't noted any coot breeding here before, and during my visits this week, I counted a total of 4 pairs with young or eggs. While this may not be surprising given the large numbers often seen around this state, coot breeding in Tasmania is a relatively recent event. As recently as 1995, Bob Green in his "Fauna of Tasmania", reported "only rarely is it found breeding here". Other species with young included Chestnut Teal, Black Duck, Purple Swamphen, and Tasmanian Native Hen. As a local remarked, "they'll probably end up as harrier food", and indeed the local Swamp Harriers frequently patrol the reed beds.
I had received an email from a reader, saying that she had seen a Latham's Snipe at "Gould's", and indicating that it was near the "barking dogs" on the northern side of the lagoon. Not seeing that many snipe in recent years, I thought it was worth a look. Sure enough, as I walked along the track (and despite the accompaniment of barking dogs), I heard the snipe as it flushed and I watched as it sought shelter in the delta of a nearby stream. I sought a better view, but before I got there, a second individual flushed, which in turn flushed the first, and all I could do is watch as they flew the length of the lagoon and pitched down near the main road.
On my second visit (in light rain), and despite my wary approach, I flushed an individual, which once again pitched down in the nearby streamside vegetation. I walked back to the bank above said stream and stood scanning the heavily vegetated far bank. After what seemed ages, and as I was about to venture closer, I realised I was looking straight at the snipe, perhaps 20 metres away! I took several shots, all identical, one shown above. How lucky can you get!. When reviewing the shots on my PC, I realised what an exquisitely marked bird this snipe is--absolutely beautiful. Once again, Gould's Lagoon is worth a visit.


tilcheff said...

Hi Alan,

The Snipe is beautiful indeed! Such a nice photo too.

I laughed out loud when I got to the point where you mention the 'barking dogs'. Just two days ago I was going through my year old photos from Gould's Lagoon. I even took some snaps of the annoying dogs. I love dogs, but they just barked and barked and I had to go away without being able to photograph a very interesting action of a White Cockie harassing a Magpie...

Gould's Lagoon was the only location where I have spotted an Australasian Shoveler too.

Hope you're well

BirdingTas said...

Hi Nickolay,
The only "good' side to the barking dogs is that it appears to put off other dog owners who consider such a reserve as a good place to exercise their pets, even though there are other non critical areas close by. Fortunately, these instances are far less these days. Your quite right about the Australian Shovelers. This is one of the best spots in the state to get close up and personal with them, so to speak. I think at least 2 pairs have attempted breeding here this year, but I've yet to see any young. By Autumn, shoveler numbers often reach 30 plus here, and when surface food is scarce, they even dive for food, an unusual habit for a dabbling species. I have found them breeding at Rushy Lagoon at Sandford. I ommitted to mention that a new hide was erected this week. This replaces one burnt down by vandals. It's an "interesting" design and I would be interested to hear people's comments on it.

Denis Wilson said...

Glad you got your Snipe. Lovely bird (as you say), and very nice image thereof.
You understated your patience (and determination) in standing in the drizzle to get that image.
Well done, Alan.

BirdingTas said...

Thanks Denis,
I do have to say that my patience these days gets ever less--which will come as no surprise to my family and friends! Coincidentally, I thought that I must have stood there for some time, but looking at the camera's EXIF, I now know otherwise. I did stand (absolutely still) and look for the snipe for maybe 5 minutes or so, but I took 9 images over a time span of 41 seconds, and I would have sworn that I had stood there for 20 minutes or more! I guess that's what happens when you concentrate exclusively on one event. The snipe episode was just sheer good luck.

Sebastan said...

What a lovely shot that the snipe, congratulations mate.

BirdingTas said...

Thank you Sebastan, I'm blushing! I was just pleased to actually photograph it. As always, I can see how I could have improved on it--getting much closer would have helped too.