Ballina is in far north New South Wales, and is, for now at least, north of the worst of the firegrounds. Strong easterlies have helped keep the air relatively smoke-free.
Lots of water, with the Richmond River and North Creek wandering through an ample delta to the sea.
One interesting spot is Flat Rock Beach, the stand-out feature, luckily for the name, being a big flat rock. Always lots of waders and Ospreys.
It is always worth taking shots of the waders, and studying the image. As in similar situations, I thought they were all the same, but it turns out I have, possibly, at least three different birds: Sanderlings, Ruddy Turnstones, and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers. I am confident the middle one is a Turnstone, but the jury is still out on the first and third. Watch this space.
These fellas are certainly enjoying the rock pools on a hot day:
One of the birds in the top right photo is, I noticed, banded. Studies are showing that these birds breed somewhere up in the Arctic Circle, and come down here for the summer.
Some first sighting to take my number of species in Australia, with photos of all bar three, to 271. The Scaly-breasted Lorikeet and Pied Butcherbird are two of these, the former being noisy but very shy and hard to see, the latter being the opposite.
Another hard to spot bird in the bottlebrush was a Brown Honeyeater, featuring a longish slightly down-curved bill, and a small yellow triangle behind the eye. This looks like an old adult female, with the paler feathers under the eye, and a slight yellow gape (leading to the side of the beak).
To round things off there were various usual suspects, starting with the Little Egret, being the only egret which chases prey, wading through the water:
.. a Little Pied Cormorant, looking like it might be very young:
… the ubiquitous White-faced Heron:
..and an introduced Spotted (Turtle) Dove, presumably looking for another for its Xmas song role, the partridge already ensconced in the pear tree:
Lastly, along the river grass, plenty of Eastern Water-dragons:
Other abundant, but much photographed, birds include Rainbow Lorikeets, Masked Lapwing, Noisy Miners, Galahs, and, rarely photographed but much heard, Eastern Koels