Territorial Disputes

Out in the forest this morning and came across a mixed flock of wagtails, thornbills and a number of redcapped robins.

First time I have been able to locate them all together since the nesting season.  Two males were particularly interesting as one smaller one, seemed to want to try its luck on the larger (older) bird.  Where they were was sort of at what I think is the border of two territories. And while it is hard to tell who is who, I suspect that the larger bird is the male of the territory.  He was in the company of the only female present  a bit earlier.

There is an excellent series of article on the net. Papers by Damien K. Dowling, of Melbourne University. And in the paper “Breeding biology of the red-capped robin”, AJZ 2003,51,533-549  he describes the behaviour of males in territorial conflict. His work was done around Mt Terrick Terrick Park, and is a great read on details of nesting and behaviour and success rates.

Today’s males preformed lots of dancing back and forward on a branch, it looks a bit like it is choreographed, and they seem to know their parts well.  In the end, one did the fly away, by slow retreat and in the eventually I lost sight of it completely. Hopefully it will find a reasonable amount of space in the forest, and at least one new territory will be established.

The pair in the area seem to have finalised this year’s breed. Both birds are beginning to look worse for wear feather wise and the moulting probably is only a month  to six weeks or so away.

Red-capped Robin males in territorial discussion. Dominate male in rear.
Red-capped Robin males in territorial discussion. Dominate male in rear.
Male Red-capped Robin territory dispute resolution
Male Red-capped Robin territory dispute resolution

Spot the odd one out

We found a Spotted Harrier at the Treatment plant yesterday pm.

It was hunting along a fence line and in the light breeze seemed even more casual.  My bird reference book calls it flight “languid” and I think that is stretching it.

It seems to have the ability to turn on a blink of an eye and to be able to fold up the wings and then sway its legs down all in one movement which is hard to describe, but seems so effective in putting it on the spot it’s looking for.

I’ve put a few other pictures here on a page.

The local vigilante committee of  Willie Wagtails made it easy to locate the bird everytime it went to ground. Relentless little pursers that they are.

Spotted Harrier and friends
Spotted Harrier and friends.

Also found a couple Spotted Crakes in one of the water channels down near gate #2.  Would have been able to improve the shots as they didn’t seem to be fussed by us sitting but the arrival of a 4WD and slamming of doors sent them both packing back into the grass on the edge.

Here’s a pic

Dorothy also found 4 more off in the distance on a shallow pond in the same area, but too far to photograph.

No nests here I’m telling you

Found this little fellow out and about looking for tucker.   He was  in an area that has not been a redcap territory for a couple of years.   However I think the rain, and the long grass is the large open areas has made his hunting a bit difficult on the ground and he has moved operations into the lighter grey box forest areas where there is quite a bit of open forest floor.  Once he spotted me, we went on a bit of a round circuit of the area, so I am pretty sure  his lady has a nest in the area as well.

But to assure me that there were no nests he did a lot of elaborate cleaning and constant moving about.   His feathers seem now to be getting a bit worn for wear and he is looking a bit on the scruffy side.

Be interesting to see if he maintains the new territory or moves back when the grass dies down over summer.

80-400mm  ISO800 f/8 1/800th.

Red capped Robin Male
Male Redcapped Robin in cleaning mode.

He’s back

Well he actually hasn’t been away, just been busy with nesting duties I suspect.

Also haven’t able to get into the Fenced off  Backpaddock because of “Park Maintenance Operations”.   But today the gate was unlocked and I sallied forth.

This is the Map shelter bird.  He has been conspicuous by his absence – or lack of showing- the past 5-6 weeks, but he seemed to be on food duty today, and I found him about 3 times, so that was good.

In this shot he has just helped himself to a rather large bug and after beating the stuffing out of it, he flicked it down in one gulp.  I think he is licking his beak with his tongue.

One of the things the Parks folk have done is re-set the fence line up near Gellibrand, taking it right through some Swamp wallaby territory.  The little wallabies are now on the outside of the secure fence and open to predators and what not.  All except this little one, who seems to now be cut off from its family in the rocks on the outside.  Not sure how many are affected.

Joe McNally, on being Thankful

Joe McNally is a great photographer. Undeniable.  Joe McNally is a great instructor. Just ask anyone who has been a student.  Joe McNally writes a cool blog.  Check it out.

This is an except from his thoughts on being thankful about being a photographer,  it will make you grab your camera and go out and photograph something.

If it doesn’t,  sell your gear buy golfclubs, you ain’t got it.


So, there you are!

This is a female Red-capped Robin on her nest.  I have been trying to find some sign of them over the past few weeks, without much success. Which is probably a good thing as they have been busy at work.

By a little bit of chance I heard the distinctive call of the male, and followed up to find both male and female on the side of a track, and he was feeding her.  It stopped me in my tracks, and as it happened the nest was in the tree next to where I stopped.

It took me a few minutes to work out that she was trying to get back into the nest, and then I moved away about 50 metres. She immediately settled down on her clutch.

This is her second brood this year, and she successfully got 2 chicks off in late October.

Recap Robin on nest
This a female red-capped robin hard at work on her next litter

Rufous Whistler

This dapper looking chap is a male Rufous Whistler.

There are quite a number of pairs of birds in the Woodlands area this year.  Their piercing cry reverberates all around the park. Most times they are quite furtive, but this fellow let me follow him about until he got into an open area so the light was fine and I could get a clear shot.

Rufous Whistler
Rufous Whistler Male

Buff-banded Rail and young

Most of the time these birds are not only hard to find, but hard to see.  This bird and its mate had brought the young down on to the exposed low-water mud flats and they spent a lot of time feeding, and foraging among the grass overhangs.

A Whistling Kite patrolled down the waterline and she took the young back under the grass overhangs, and here they are just coming out again.

Buff-banded Rail

Black-shouldered Kites at Western Treatment Plant

This pair of kites are roosting on a tree near one of the main roads around the WTP, we were hoping that they might be going to nest, but over the past few weeks we have not seen any indication of intent. Perhaps she is resting after a brood earlier in the season.

Pair of Black-shouldered Kites
A pair of Blackshouldered kites in the afternoon sun.

There are a few extra pictures of Kites in the galleries

Black Shouldered Kite visits Woodlands Historic Park

Some days it is very quiet, and other days are quite exciting.  On the way home after a fairly quite afternoon’s ramble, I discovered a Black-shouldered Kite hunting along one of the main roads past Woodlands.  It was able to catch mice from the roadside verge and spent an hour or more before I had to get on the way home.  Probably was just passing through, but it certainly had no problem locating food by the roadside. It’s biggest problem was avoiding the fast moving traffic when it took off with its latest catch.

There is a few more images in the Blackshouldered Kite gallery

Brown falcon and young bird at Western Treatment Plant

We have been watching a Brown Falcon for about 6 weeks, she is usually agitated and quite agressive swooping over the car and calling aggressively.  We (Dorothy and I) supposed she must have nested close by.

On Thursday 1 Dec 2011, we found the reason why.  She has a newly fledged young bird

This is a shot of them together, she will shepherd it about often flying interference against ravens and magpies.

Brown Flacon and Juvenile
This is our first glimpse of Mother and Child. The young brown falcon is a really rich chocolate and ginger colour

More Brown Falcon Pics in the Brown Falcon Gallery