What do you do when Frances from Wooleen Station emails "Shelley, budgie murmuration happening at the waterhole, would you like to come up", ok let me think about this!! Haha! Me! Jump in the car and head up, its only 600k away!! Tell you what, the excitement I was feeling before leaving was unbelievable. This is a bird photographers dream moment, Kelvin told me he had never seen me so excited about something before.
I love the road trip to Wooleen Station, it is bitumen until the last 90k or so and even the gravel road is maintained, except when it rain heaps it can be quite boggy. For me, its an easy drive, just enjoy watching the changing landscape, noticing different birds. It is important to stay accountable when driving, not stopping to long and distracted by photographing, as its super important to reach my destination before dark.
I felt excited when the homestead came into view mid afternoon after the drive, briefly chatted with David and Frances then settled into my accommodation. We head off to the waterhole in the late afternoon with some snacks and drinks. Budgies didn't come in, but that was expected. It was beautiful sitting there and I felt relaxed after the long drive. I now knew where to go in the morning. Roll on tomorrow morning, was all I could think about!.
I sat at the waterhole before sunrise and waited. Soon a few budgies flew in (about 25 or so), circling around, then another group joined in and so it went on. It was just me and the budgies and I cannot explain the feeling of complete wonderment at so many birds. Before I knew there were thousands flying. The swooshing sound from them flying, was memorable, just incredible. Trees along the waterhole were filled with budgies and swarms of budgies were down drinking.
It was very confronting as the bird of prey came in to catch a budgie to eat (like the Whistling Kite, below image). I often thought about how the Budgies still came to drink and ignoring the raptors hunting them. The need to drink outweighed the danger present from the raptors. Often a budgie would go to to far out in the water requiring them to try and swim back to land, the Whistling Kite quickly flew down whisking it away to consume in tree on the edge of the waterhole.
I spent two mornings shooting this special event and on the second night it rained and true to David's word, they left with the rain. I was left wanting more, but feeling very happy and satisfied with what I had witnessed the past two days.
The were plenty of other birds around the station, but I focused on the budgies and left the same time as the budgies. The Cockatiels were delightful and came to drink with the budgies, patiently waiting their turn.
Upon writing this, the first of my trips in collaboration with David and Frances at Wooleen Station, was a great success. Just a plug for 2023 trips shortly to be advertised you can go to Wooleen Website to check out if your interested and subscribe to be advised a couple of days before the official advertising starts. Click the button below.