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