A little while ago I spent a weekend on Rottnest Island trying to get some decent images of these gorgeous little birds. There is a very small population of Rock Parrots (Neophema petrophila) left on the island, although there are more on the mainland. This first image gives a good idea of their small size, with the bird not much bigger than the tufts of grass.
So far, three of the Rottnest birds have been banded (or ringed). The plan is to monitor this group of birds and collect information to help determine the exact population size, whether they are breeding, which parts of the island they use and so on. The researchers wanted some images of banded birds to use for posters asking for sighting information from the public. We managed to find a group of four rock parrots, including the three banded birds, each of which has a metal band on its right leg and a coloured plastic band on the left leg. They were moderately cooperative, allowing me to get some images of them and their bands. They didn’t go so far as to fly into the nets that had been set up in the hope of catching the unbanded bird!
Penguin Island is one of my favourite places to visit near Perth. It’s a bit of a drive from home south to Rockingham but then just a short ferry ride to the island, which forms part of the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. Bridled Terns breed here in summer – it is an awesome experience visiting when they are in residence as they are so close and flying all around you.
The birds and other animals are so much more relaxed than on the mainland making it easier to get close to them (sometime they get too close). I would love to be able to get over to Penguin Island early to get the soft light but as the first ferry is at 9 am I may have to learn how to kayak (and be brave enough to take my camera!).
Pied oystercatcher probing wet sand
Room with a view – nesting Silver gull
Adult Crested tern pair
Snoozing Australian sea-lion
If you’re lucky you’ll spot a wild Little Penguin – the smallest penguin species, found on the southern coast of Australia and around New Zealand. In summer, you sometimes see a couple of penguins hiding under the boardwalks but most of them disappear early in the morning to fish all day, returning at sunset. The island is closed to visitors in winter when the colony (about 1000 pairs) gets into breeding mode. The Little Penguin below is a late fledgling I spotted in the middle of the day – he probably tired of waiting for his parents to return and decided to try fishing for himself. Hopefully he made it to adulthood.
Little penguin fledgling
Pair of Mute swans at Penguin Island
Another unusual sight I came across was this pair of Mute Swans in the sea near the jetty. Mute Swans are an introduced species in Australia; there is a breeding colony at Northam (about 100 km away) but this pair were seen in the Rockingham area for a while.