When you travel you see amazing things. Things so far removed from your normal everyday experiences that you have to do a double-take and stop in awe.
Sometimes they are big things… other times they can be very small. Today’s jaw-dropping experience was tiny… and blue… oh so very, very blue.
It was a little blue bird which, with that typical Aussie panache for gross understatement, the local Western Australians simply call the blue wren. It’s full, and for my money much more appropriate name is the splendid fairy wren.
It is indeed a splendid bird.
We were visiting the thrombolites at Lake Clifton in the Yalgorup Lakes National Park yesterday evening. Along with their close relatives the stromatolites, these archaic bacterial colonies and the calcium deposits they create are the descendants of the earliest life-forms on earth. They were pretty impressive, as were the musk ducks mooching about just offshore.
On the way back to the car I spotted some tiny birds with ludicrously long tails flitting about in the undergrowth. Fairy wrens — but with light fading it was impossible to tell which sort.
The location is only a half hour spin from where we’re staying in Mandurah, so this morning I went back for a closer look.
The car park seemed alive with fairy wrens — a territorial group from the way they were calling and foraging together (as is the way of fairy wrens). Moving through the group I could only see females and non-breeding males. Then whoosh! A streak of brilliant cobalt flashed across my field of view and there it was… a male splendid fairy wren in full breeding plumage. What an incredible little bird. It stayed still long enough for a couple of photos before continuing its incessant foraging, flitting and calling.
It looked for all the world like it had been repeatedly dipped into tubs of metallic blue paint.
Of course the females and non-breeding males are lovely little birds too — but the breeding male is something else again. It certainly made me smile.