Monday, July 19, 2010

Scooter's really scootin'

Scooter paddles on, and is continuing to find his unusual place in the swan world. I have here a variety of photos, followed by an explanation of what I observed the other day when following Scooter along the river bank. Overall, he seems to function OK, but he may find normal swan socialisation a bit of a struggle. I suppose being different is even harder in the swan world than in ours. Pop your cursor over each photo for a quick description. Note that the first two photos are on a different day to the ones which follow.

Scooter's left foot
Scooter and his left foot
Scooter heads north
Pursued by these two
Scooter hangs about, nonchalantly
Scooter heads north again, rapidly
The pursuit heats up
The two search - where did he go to hide?

They found him. Scooter and the two larger swans disappeared into the reeds just north of the Wooden Boat School. I drove the car around to see if I could find them again. It then became clear that the two larger swans were stalking and continuing to chase Scooter. This looked like a territorial brawl. I haven't got photos because firstly I was just trying to find the swans and didn't have the camera in my hand. Then it was too dark to get useful photos of moving swans. What transpired was that Scooter had actually hauled himself out of the water when cornered. He lurched about amongst the reeds (on his one-and-a-half legs), and then sneaked back to the water in between the two other swans. They saw him and lunged at him, whereupon he took off across the river, feet lashing at the water's surface, wings flapping, and nearly taking off. Learned I things two (Yoda). (i) Scooter can move about out of the water quite smartly, when he has to. (ii) Scooter looks like he will one day fly. Cool. Anyway, he's finding his way in the world.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Scooter photos from the weekend

Scooter is still paddling about. He seems to be in the company of a similarly-sized swan, who may be one of his siblings. It's hard to tell now. Scooter is easy to find, he's the one with only one leg that works right. You can see here that most of his foot is gone, and the stump doesn't look the healthiest. I'm hoping to see him have a lash at flying one day. I did see two swans skimming across the surface of the water without really lifting off the other day, but I couldn't tell if one was Scooter.

Scooter - 4th July 2010
Scooter's left foot - 4th July 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Scooter is still paddling about

The swan family is generally dispersed these days. I've seen four of them together at one time a couple of times, but ususally they are fewer. Scooter seems to be largely on his own now. His foot has deteriorated until it's just a few little stubs - it seems to have worn away. Here he was happily preening, balanced on a log beneath the surface. He was even having a snooze balanced on one leg a little later. I'm wondering if he will ever try to fly. Possibly not.

White-Faced Heron

This heron let me get quite close as he fished and foraged amongst the reeds right next to the Wooden Boat School at Franklin. The herons are quite shy and wary, certainly more so than swans and ducks.

White-Faced Heron, Egretta novaehollandiae, Franklin, Tasmania - 15th June 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010


I've only seen Scooter occasionally recently. He was at Franklin this morning though, on his own. I saw a small group of swans further north along the riverbank, and these were probably his siblings. Scooter's foot continues to deteriorate. He's probably best off without it now, although he seems to use it in some way for steering. I note that his plumage has not developed as much as that of his siblings, and he is still relatively brown rather than black, and he retains a fluffiness that the others were pretty much over.

Scooter with injured foot, Franklin - 6th June 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

White-Faced Herons

White-Faced Heron (Egretta novaeholandiae), Franklin, Tasmania - 7th May 2010

There are two White-Faced Herons (Egretta novaeholandiae) who live near the Wooden Boat School. These attractive birds are quite wary and startle easily, and I have struggled to get close enough for usable shots. Obviously need a longer lens! They have a visually lumbering flight, which I note was described by Michael Sharland in 1958 as "heavy", in which their body actually moves up and down in relation to their wings as they slowly flap. It's as if normal birds flap their wings, with their body remaining at a constant height, whereas the herons seem to flap their body up and down between their wings just as much as they flap their wings. Nevertheless, they also fly comfortably from one safe place to another, especially when approached. The two regulars have been roosting on a somewhat under-maintained boat along the jetty which extends to the north from the school.

White-Faced Heron (Egretta novaeholandiae), Franklin, Tasmania - 15th May 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pacific Black Ducks

Pacific Black Ducks, Anas superciliosa, Franklin, Tasmania - 29th May 2010
Pacific Black Ducks, Anas superciliosa, Franklin, Tasmania - 29th May 2010

The Field Guide says the Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) are "common to abundant". I think that means there are stacks of them. The ducks normally flee when I approach, but these ones were content to stay and preen while I quietly lay down to get a few almost water-level shots of them.