Sunday, February 19, 2017

Winton Wetlands

About 30 minutes from the farm is a large wetland. It sits in a depression in the valley where water collects when it rains and it is really huge. Apparently, it used to be dry and people farmed this area. But starting some years back, it has taken to accumulating water and the farmers left. As a result there are lots of dead trees about, the result of having been drowned. These cows, are what greet you at the entrance.

On down the road a few hundred meters is a row of trees that are painted to represent the covering of water that has occasionally happened. You have to be on the road back a ways from the trees to see the image.

We visited on an afternoon when it as 37C and spent most of the time in the car trying to stay cool. We, of course, made immediate plans to return when it was cool...which happened to be the next morning.

While it was hot in the afternoon sun, the best I could do was sneak out for a few images of the stark landscape.

The empty trees and brilliant sky made for vibrant views across the apparently barren plain.

It just looks hot!

But the water makes it green and it is clear that there is life about.

The following morning a front had moved through and the temperature is now almost 20C cooler. We arrived about 30 minutes after sunrise and found birds galore. But the morning over the fields was really marvelous, too.

To the west the moon was setting over the golden colored paddocks.

And toward the east, we find a rainbow colored sky filled with the morning sun teasing the clouds.

To the north east are some low mountatins that help frame the drama in the sky.

And the clouds themselves are really breathtaking in this wide open land.

We saw tons of birds, some new, some old, and some in quantities that amaze the senses. One of the new ones is the White Necked Heron. The birds were rarely within a reasonable shooting distance, so the images suffer from low resolution.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoos were everywhere in numbers that boggle the mind.

And we did, after several hours of stalking this fellows about the reserve, get close enough to a Brown Falcon to actually see him.

The magical things about driving around the place was the flocks of Cockatoos. this birds can't really be said to have a is more a croak/cry. But the large white birds, traveling in flock of 10-30 create a spectacle that is not to be missed.

Even just looking out across the wetlands, the trees are dotted with them.

The description of the sound they make really defies description. The best I can do is this: think of an old man who has smoked all his life. Imagine the sound of those deep raspy coughs that long term smokers have. Now put it through a bull horn. Finally, multiply this by 50 to get the full effect of the flock.

We came across a flock of them out in a field where you could barely see them, but boy could you hear them. I took a short video of this for your edification.

Now imagine drive through a section of forest filled with these birds and the sound of the ute scares them into flight and noise as they seem to continually swarm in front of you. It is like being in a Disney movie filled with (loud) butterflies. Just magical.