Thursday, 20 March 2008

Emus by the dozen

A lot of farming land in the SW is now used for timber plantations. Thousands of hectares of blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) line the roads between Portland, Coleraine and Nelson. Every day is Christmas on the Princes Highway.

Monocultures aren't usually good for birding, so I wasn't paying a great deal of attention to the road side as I headed south from Dartmoor. But even I couldn't miss this gathering among the seedlings.

Dad and the chicks* were cautious at first, then became increasingly curious about me, the camera and the car. I kept clicking, they kept peering, until a passing truck surprised them and they jogged away.

I saw four more emus on the trip — two adults in another pine plantation and two chicks at Tower Hill. (Possibly a couple of those I saw on the previous visit in January.) That put emus as the fourth most abundant native species on the trip (after Australasian gannets, magpies and long-billed corellas). Something I didn't expect!


* I counted twenty seven in that second photo. Imagine having to keep your eye on that many kids


Mike said...

That's a handsome assemblage. I'd freak if I saw a bunch of emus on the side of the road here in New York, although the sight isn't that uncommon in some parts of Texas where they ranch all kinds of exotic animals.

Snail said...

I never quite understood emu farming. It was a boom industry for a very short while over here until investors caught on that the market isn't reliable. There are still a few farms around --- but they don't beat seeing the birds in the wild. (If a plantation constitutes 'the wild'! How about 'roaming free and unfenced'?)

nut said...

Nice entry and blog. I seem alway to get excited when seeing our larger wildlife in unrestricted bush. Arh, the simple things.

Fabulous pictures. :o)

Snail said...

Hi, nut. I got the surprise of my life when I saw them. One or two, yes. A couple of dozen and then some ... I wanted to tell the teenagered emus to get their hair cut.