The last few weeks I’ve been concentrating on the Avon River and I wanted a change. So early one morning I got up so I could be in the wandoo woodland of Mount Ronan’s Nature Reserve as the sun comes up. There is nothing like the first rays of the sun hitting the trunks of the wandoo trees. The golden rays illuminate their pale bark and they all but glow in the warm light.
I got off to a promising start – as I pulled up I was greeted by a mob of kangaroos. They weren’t so keen to see me however and took off into the bush. There was an incredibly loud melodious piping and warbling coming from the tops of the trees. At first I thought it was magpies singing a bit strangely, but after closer inspection I found it was about a dozen grey butcher birds calling out to each other. What was amazing about it was they were all singing the same phrases taking turns with no gaps. You would be forgiven for thinking it was one bird as the performance was so seamless. It was like a choir recital.
Stalking animals in the wandoo forests is hard as the trees shed bark, twigs, branches and leaves in great quantities which means that the ground is covered in a thick crunchy mulch and no matter how hard you try to move quietly you always end up making a racket. The end result is that it is hard to get close enough to take photos. The ideal approach is to sit down and wait for the birds to come to you. After about half an hour I could hear the sound of small birds chasing insects and was rewarded with several rufous tree creepers. A few minutes later and I could see one climbing up the trunks of a tree to foraging for insects and grubs – I’ve never seen one going down they always seem to climb, and when they get as far up as they want the glide down to the ground or the next tree.
As I continued to walk around the forest I must confess that I lost focus as I spotted a couple of orchids. It was annoying that I only had my bird photography rig with me and nothing really suited to photographing very small flowers. From that point on I was trying to watch for birds while looking on the ground for orchids. It is an impossible task.
By 9:30 the best light had gone so I decided to call it a day and walk back to the car. Waiting for me was a female red-capped robin sitting on the fence. She was quite obliging and sat for a while allowing me to take her photo.