Magic for Lunch

Yesterday, I took an old friend to explore the Len Howard Conservation Area in Erskine, Mandurah, just outside my door. After a morning birding and walking, we ended up here, where there is now an upscale marina, hotel and fancy houses. Sixty years ago when I was a young girl, it was just The Sticks area, devoid of buildings, called that because of the remains of poles stuck in the water to mark the channel. Anyway, we sat down on a park bench to eat our sandwiches. 

This was the calm scene in front of us at the time:

Peel inlet, The Sticks

A  few pelicans in the distance on the water, the odd seagull or tern or cormorant flying past. A water-logged darter climbed up from the water to the beach and hence onto that structure on the left, so bedraggled that his soaked tail swept the ground like a street sweeper’s wet broom. He then hung out his wings and tail feathers to dry…

As always for beachside picnics, a family of magpies, a raven and several gulls grouped around eyeing us hungrily as we ate our sandwiches.

Male Magpie
Female Magpie

When suddenly, out of the blue:

Birds everywhere. Everywhere we looked. Pelicans, several species of cormorant, darters, several species of terns, gulls…

Diving (cormorants, darters), squawking and arguing (seagulls), plunging from a height (terns), snorkelling (pelicans)…
There must have been shoals of fish around to set this off, but it really was extraordinary.
All those white bits in the water are cormorant necks!
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Gradually they began to disperse:

Until finally, they had mostly disappeared, almost as quickly as they had arrived:

A few gulls remained for a while — disappointed I suspect, as being unable to dive, they had missed out on most of the feasting — until they too flew off:

And then we were alone again. But it was ten minutes of pure magic…


Magic for Lunch — 4 Comments

  1. While I'm sure you must be missing Malaysia's amazing jungles, Glenda,I hope you find lots of nice birding to do around Mandurah! Even here in the inner suburbs we are spoilt with a wide range of marvellous birdlife. I wish my eyesight were better so I could see the ones outside my balcony more clearly.

  2. One of the very few good things age has done physically for me, Satima, is to make my distant eyesight better! I can almost do without glasses now, for the first time since I was 14.

    Ok, that's not quite true. At 14 I could read without glasses; not so now!

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