Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Jack Smith Lake & Above

Over the weekend, Marg and I had been trying to spot some Swift Parrots locally for the Birdlife Australia survey but without any luck. As Monday looked like being one out of the (autumn) box, we decided to go down to Jack Smith Lake to see what we might find.

On the way down, we got a close look at first a Whistling Kite then a Wedge-tail Eagle eating some roadkill on the verge. The wedgie decamped into the neighbouring paddock and proceeded to fly over a big, dispersed flock of ewes and lambs, swooping low over each lamb. The lambs didn't seem too fussed and the wedgie may just have been looking for dead lambs.

A quick trip into McLaughlins Beach produced some 70-odd Crested Terns on the beach plus more fishing in the flat sea, together with 3-4 Australasian Gannets. No Flame Robins along the road but numerous Red and Little Wattlebirds plus this little poser:
Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus)
Jack Smith Lake was fairly dry but we had a good list of birds - Red-necked Avocets (2), Australasian Shel-ducks (16), Black-winged Stilts (8), Hoary-headed Grebes (2), Crested Terns (45 on nesting boxes plus another 50+ on the beach), Nankeen Kestrel, White-eared Honeyeater, Red-kneed Dotterels (8-10) were the standouts.
Crested Terns (Sterna bergii) leaping into the air.
Crested Tern accelerating in ground effect for a fast escape.

Red-necked Avocet (Recurivostra novaehollandiae) on the prowl.
A couple of recent shots of interest:
This White-bellied Sea-eagle (Haliacetus leucogaster)was conveniently soaring the clifss over the lake when I was down there with zoom lens at the ready. We've had a couple of instances recently of honking (mating?) behaviour but none within camera range.
Royal Spoonbills (Platalea regia) on the move.
At last, some clear, still nights to get some astrophotography going. This shot is from an EOS60D with a 50mm f1.4 prime lens running on an iOptron portable tracking mount. I stacked 20 minutes of 45 second f2.5 ISO 500 sub-frames in Deep Sky Stacker together with similar numbers of dark, flat and bias frames.
Antares region of Scorpius plus dust lanes. Antares is the bright star to the left of the dust lanes, Messier M4 is the bright object below it and the planet Saturn is the bright object at lower middle right. There are over 20,000 stars in this picture.
A previous post (Out of the blocks) discussed mountain lee waves (Wikipedia) and showed some photos. I've been filming timelapes of them and decided to share one shot today.

Shot at Coongulla in Victoria looking North where the wave is coming off Mt Wellington (5,400 feet) in an increasing NW wind. Thus, the wave length increases as time goes by. Shot as 10 auto-frames per minute and played at 24fps spanning about a two hour  period.


  1. Interesting post.I enjoyed the astro shot and the cloud video!

  2. Good one JG,
    I'm with Mosura.
    No Swifts, That's a shame. Any Striated Wrens at JSLake?