This Great Egret was hanging out with two fishermen beside the Moyne River jetty at Port Fairy.
Usually these birds are observed from a distance as they quietly seek out frogs, tadpoles or other small specimens of water/ swamp dwelling life. Not this bird. It was right beside the fishermen who explained it had trying to steal bait from their fishing tackle all afternoon. At one stage it was standing on one man’s car when he hid the bait inside it. Either a very hungry or very tame bird.
It seems they had decided to share some bait with the bird when it clearly was not going to go seek its own food naturally and of course more was asked for. Maybe another consequence of changing conditions out there in nature.
Dawn on the Moyne River at Port Fairy last September. This was an early morning walk Maggie and I took on the town side of the river. The sun was just rising over Killarney Bay behind the sand dunes. Port fairy is a beautiful little town however all relevant Climate Change scientific predictions have almost the entire town inundated by the ocean in the not too distant future. Whenever I now visit this town of my early childhood and where I first met my wife Jill and reflect on the happy memories I struggle to feel optimistic about Australia and most of the world addressing emissions reduction and restricting the looming dangers of decades of ignorant selfish political inaction on climate change.
This is Australia’s carniverous Musk Duck. These photos show a young bird on the Moyne River at Port Fairy. They are solitary birds and spend almost all their time floating on the water or just below the surface with the bill and head partly above to breathe. They spend a lot of time diving to catch crustaceans and also stalk and grab floating fledglings of other water birds. The duck worlds Crocodile. I have only seen 2 of these in my lifetime. They rarely come out of the water as their legs are barely able to support what is a stocky, heavy body. Certainly not just another pretty duck
Recently we took a short holiday in Port Fairy down on the Victorian South West Coast. This was a favourite holiday place for Charlie and Maggie was keen to explore the town as probably the next Afghan Hound to visit the place since 2013.
In the mornings I had to be up early as Maggie expected to go walking. Port Fairy has a unique location as a fishing fleet and tourist town at the mouth of the Moyne River with a long sand dune parallel on the ocean side for the last 3 kilometres to that mouth. A causeway connected Island on the other side of the river is home to a lighthouse and nature reserve that is a Mutton Bird rookery where thousands nest after their return Winter feeding migration from Siberia. They are late this year, in fact none have arrived yet, the worst scenario being they have all died on the flight. Hopefully they are just late however climate change effects from the feeding grounds in Siberia to rest and feed stops down the East Asian Pacific coasts could mean they have all starved on the way.
The first Haibun is the Port fairy Lighthouse, unfortunately locked up to prevent the latest dance craze.
Secondly another beautiful sunset over Port Phillip Bay from Ricketts Point with a lone seagull adding its voice to natures art.
Third is the Maori art work and totem at the entrance to the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua New Zealand. We were a bit disappointed by the commercialisation and overcrowding inside the spa. We were in and out as quickly as if visiting a casino and opted for a wander along the foreshore of Lake Rotorua.
These three gates tell different stories. The first entices one into a Japanese garden in Brisbane of all places. The second is our old gate at home with Kara letting passing people and dogs know they need to beware. The third is a missing gate at the Griffith Island Lighthouse near Port Fairy. In fact the gate is not all that is missing from the old Keepers cottage, this fence and a few bluestones is all that shows where the settlement stood.
The Port fairy lighthouse, one of the oldest in Australia still shines every night.
Coastal shipping entering Bass Strait from the West is thankful for this guiding light especially on wild winter nights. Bass Strait is one of the wildest and roughest straits in the world with hundreds of shipwrecks mainly from the C19th littering the shallows of its shores and islands.
This lighthouse sits at the mouth of the Moyne River on Griffith Island, an artificially created island that is now a protected nature reserve. Tens of thousands of Mutton Birds, (Sooty Shearwaters) migrate from Siberia to breed here every Spring. In early Autumn the adults depart back to Siberia then a few days later the young ones begin to follow. This is one of the longest bird migrations in the world. many birds die on the flights , and the numbers are now decreasing at an alarming rate along with other migratory Australian birds, some species even now face extinction. WHY? because the resting , feeding sites along the migration routes through SE and Northern Asia are being destroyed by human development or the birds get killed by people. One more example of the natural destruction caused by over population of humans and economic greed, ( an evil and dangerous combination)
This was a beautiful sunset I was lucky to capture at Port Fairy a couple of weeks ago. Down in the town there was no indication of the colour that was unfolding. Luckily I drove up to the beach at Pea Soup and this spectacle unfolded. Why the dragon fire colours in the first image? an astute observer may ask. The answer, my camera flash popped up and I took that photo then closed the flash and kept shooting. Port Fairy is a wonderful place to capture both sunrises and sunsets. On the East Beach sand dunes a view across the bay towards Warrnambool is flanked by Tower Hill and surrounding rises. Across at Pea Soup one looks West along the coast towards Yambuk.
The lighthouse on Griffith island at Port Fairy has been working since the nineteenth century when a busy coastal port operated out of Belfast as it was then known. These days a couple of fishing boats, some tourist day cruisers and private yachts and leisure craft tie up to the wharf. Griffith Island is a fully protected nature reserve and across summer is home to thousands of migratory Short tailed Shearwaters who return from Northern Siberia to nest and prepare for the return flight.