Cygnets in Cygnet

Cygnet is a pretty little town south-west of Hobart (map). It’s on a sheltered bay so it’s a yachting town as well as a farming town. It welcomes tourists, of course, and I know it as the home of a very good post-Christmas folk festival (still going ahead this summer although in a much reduced format).

wire sculpture
Wire sculpture in the courtyard of one of Cygnet’s cafes

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Citizen Science – iNaturalist

The internet and digital photography have opened up wonderful opportunities for ordinary people to get involved in citizen science as observers of the natural world. Online meeting places and forums come and go but the best at the moment seems to be iNaturalist – https://www.inaturalist.org.

It’s a global project and the numbers are huge: 54 million observations by 1.4 million observers from nearly every country in the world when I looked recently. That presents a management problem, of course, which is solved by having countries run independent branches, e.g. https://inaturalist.ala.org.au/

Anyone at all can browse the content of the site but people have to sign up to participate. When that’s done (at no cost and very little trouble) they can upload their observations, help with identifying others’ observations, and join the discussion forums.  It’s a big and complex site but not too difficult to negotiate because it is exceptionally well planned and because there is no need to use most of its functions until you want to. (I have to admit there are some that I haven’t bothered with in the year I have been a member.)

And ordinary people can make very useful contributions to the project, especially if they (we) are outside the big cities.

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Odd bird portraits

These are odd portraits of birds rather than portraits of odd birds, although the Jacana probably qualifies on both counts. I took them on a ride along the Annandale side of Ross River from Aplin’s Weir to the Palmetum a few days ago.

There are always swallows flitting about the weir, resting on the weir wall between excursions over the water in search of insects. I liked the contrast of the small-fragile-soft, but absolutely nonchalant, bird against the massive-brutal masonry. For the record, it’s a Welcome Swallow, Hirundo neoxena, our only resident swallow species.

Welcome Swallows Hirundo neoxena on Aplins Weir wall
Welcome Swallow, Aplin’s Weir

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Noisy garden

We live in a bird-noisy garden and suburb and we are usually suitably grateful. Our gratitude was somewhat strained, I have to admit, when this family of Blue-winged Kookaburras started calling at dawn, but I had enough goodwill left for them to spot them in the top of a neighbour’s eucalypt an hour later and immortalise them.

That’s Dad on the left, with Mum beside him and (presumably) their well-grown chick on the right.

They are very loud when they let loose. So are the Sulphur-crested Cockatoos which often pass overhead and sometimes pause in the Burdekin Plum tree. So are the Curlews which scream at night on our footpath and, at this time of year, the incessantly-calling Koels.

But we would be far poorer without them.

Birds along Ross River

The birds along the Ross River bike paths are a constant pleasure. Every time I ride there, there is something worth stopping to watch and (if possible) photograph. Here are three such highlights, all from the short stretch of river between the Nathan St and Bowen Rd bridges and all within the last month.

Pelicans

We often see one or two pelicans along this stretch of the river but larger groups are not so common. This group on the Annandale bank, opposite the end of Water St, had four or five members when I first saw it, late one afternoon, but more came in as I watched. I caught some of them doing weird things with their enormous beaks.

Pelicans on Ross River
Coming in to land

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