Little children and brides can be very scary!

These are mannequins in the windows of Chinese trade stores in the main street of Luganville, Vanuatu’s second largest town on the island of Espiritu Santo. Like apparitions from a Somerset Maugham novel, are they supposed to tempt the customer inside, scare them off, or impose juju curses on potential shop lifters? These mysterious eclectic emporiums sell cheap consumer goods from the industrial factories of Guangzhou, Shanghai, Hong Kong or wherever. Ni-Vanuatu customers browse the merchandise often as entertainment on an otherwise uneventful steamy tropical day. The Chinese shop keepers usually resist my optimistic attempts at small talk and slam the change down on the counter after a purchase, with frightening commitment. The lights inside are often switched off to save money and shoppers must sift through the goods in the dark to find that correct shoe size or the most attractive table cloth pattern. Would you enter a store with one of these mannequins in the window? Absolutely, what other horrors await inside … Screw K-Mart, nothing beats a good Vanuatu Chinese trade store for experiences of the unexpected. 

The Striated Heron (Butorides striatus) is another wader found from mid way down the West Australian coast, all the way around the Deep North and down to the Victorian border. This one was preening on the rocks at Nightcliff. I’m heading bush to Arnhem Land and beyond the reach of the internet for a few days so I may not post again until Tuesday. Hopefully I’ll come back with some images and a story to tell. Enjoy your weekend and stay safe, wherever you are.

Pelecanus conspicillatus, the Australian pelican, is found pretty much everywhere in Australia where we have water and fish. I photographed these birds on the Coorong in South Australia in May. If you take a closer look at the bottom photo one of the pelicans is in mid-manoeuvre —whether he’s cleaning his bill or having a big yawn, it’s quite a sight.

The Beach Stone Curlew (Esacus electus) is in a different genus to the Bush Stone Curlew (Burhinus grallarius) but they share many similarities in size and body shape, call and colouration. While here in Nightcliff they live within a few hundred metres of one another you are most unlikely to see the Beach Stone Curlew anywhere other than in the intertidal zone or somewhere on the beach. Their range extends from mid-way down the Western Australian coast all around the north and down to the border of Victoria. The Beach Stone Curlew has a much larger beak than the Bush Stone Curlew. The Beach Stone Curlew is also found in Malaysia, Philippines to PNG and to Vanuatu in the Pacific.

The Double-barred Finch (Taeniopygia bichenovii) is a social and busy little bird, bustling around in family parties feeding on seeds — mostly grass seeds on the ground, but like others lately joining in the feast of Casuarina seeds on the Nightcliff Promenade. The Double-bar is widespread and common from the Kimberleys across Northern Australia and as far south on the east coast as the Victorian border.

The Northern Rosella (Platycercus venustus) is very much a bird of the Australian Deep North ranging from the Kimberleys across to the Queensland border in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Their populations are patchy but on the high West Arnhem Plateau at the indigenous ranger base at Kabulwarnamyo they are a bird seen almost on a daily basis. They eat a variety of grass and other seeds and particularly like the soft pods of the native croton (Croton arnhemicus). Sometimes up to 20 are seen feeding together.

You don’t expect a wildlife photo opportunity in Brisbane’s CBD when on the way to photograph a wedding. But it happened in a small bit of very manicured parkland off Wickham Terrace in Brisbane. Just beside the path amongst the mulch and irrigation pipes was a very tiny Bush Stone-curlew chick and its parents. The chick hurried over to mum while dad made it plain they didn’t want to be disturbed, putting on a very effective threat display, including sound effects. While the Bush Stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius) is doing well across north Australia, both in town and bush as far south as Brisbane, the latest information from Birdlife Australia is that it is declining in both New South Wales and Victoria. Closer to home, a tragic footnote to my blog on the Bush Stone-curlew sitting on two eggs in the front yard of a religious hostel at the end of my street. On my morning walk today, not far from the nest site, I found the mother bird standing over the bodies of the two tiny chicks on the roadway — victims of traffic and the reliance of BSCs on camouflage. The father bird was standing nearby on the footpath but the mother wouldn’t leave the dead chicks and get out of the traffic. I moved them to the grassy footpath and left the parents to their obvious state of grief.