Now what have we here, Male or female Scarlet Robin

I have been spending some time in the morning looking for the Scarlet Robin.  I am pretty convinced that the calls are from at least two birds.  But.  I haven’t been able to find both birds to confirm.

This bird seemed not to fussed this morning, and with a bit of sunlight to help things along I managed a few reasonable shots.  But look at those black feathers, I am going to suggest it is a Male moulting through.  A few more days and we will have a very dapper looking fellow I think.  Now all I need to do is confirm that the female is there and it will be an interesting summer.

Scarlet Robin in moult. The really dark black feathers are making it most possible this is a male bird.

Raptor evening at WTP

I am really beginning to like the light at the Treatment plant in the late afternoon.  Sun sets way round to the south west and it gives a great cross light along many of the access roads. Particularly where there is a line of trees.

For some reason this evening, the raptors seemed to be at every turn and on just about every tree, post, or fence. Here is a youngish brown falcon, but click the link, for some Spotted Harrier, Brown Falcon, Swamp Harrier and Whistling Kite shots as well.

Many of the young falcons seem to be hanging around together, and we found 5 in just one corner on Paradise road.

We both are pretty certain that a Black Falcon was in a clearing down along 29 Mile Road past the access gate 1. But by the time we had:  1. Noticed it, 2. Stopped the car, 3. got over the oohs and aahs, and then 4. Got serious, it was but a mere black spec in the sky speeding toward Avalon.

More here.

Update: Redcapped Robin young

Went back to check on the Scarlet Robin, and was pleasantly surprised to hear her early morning call in the forest.  Despite a lot of looking, I was not able to locate her, as she was moving about in among the denser grey box undergrowth.

I continued on to an area I have reported on ealier, where a Redcapped Robin male went to a lot of trouble to convince me there were not nests up in that area.  See here

After locating a small flock of Yellow-rumped Thornbills, I was settling to to photograph them when off to my left a Redcapped Robin male, turned up.  And in a few moments a very young juvenile.  All lovely striated waiting to be fed.

It didn’t take the male to long to fulfil that request, and then the young bird was left in a dead, fallen wattle, and the male disappeared.  The young one amused itself taking food off the ground and generally exploring the branches.  After about 10 minutes the male returned and offered up a nice looking orange coloured bug.  Then they both flew over my head, and away.  I scouted round for a few minutes and then found a second juvenile, this one seemed to be a bit more advanced.  The male turned up, shared some food, and then gave a call and the two juveniles followed him across a clearing.  And so did I.  There was another old wattle there and again he left them and disappeared,  coming back occasionally with food.

He seemed to have a scheme on feeding as the first young on the scene did not get the goodies, but he seemed quite particular about which one should be fed.

Then with another call they followed him to the next tree, and a third young one joined them!  So they have had a very successful time. Now he was as busy as a one-armed paper-hanger as he tried to keep them together, find food and move them about the clearing.  No sign of the female.  Perhaps she was off shopping?  Or perhaps she has taken the challenge of another clutch.  Time will tell.

There are a few more photos from the event here.

A lovely little redcapped robin, one of a family of three

Little Eagle aerial performance

This morning while we were out looking for the elusive, but very vocal Scarlet Robin, we were entertained by a pair of Little Eagles in the air.  It would be nice to think that they were at play, but it seemed a very dangerous game they were engrossed in.

The pair are a light morph and a dark morph.  Each seemed to be about as aggressive. It just depended on who got the height.  There was lots of crossing one another’s paths, plenty of frontal attacks and several passes with long claws extended. This shot is about half way through the confrontation and shows the darker bird on its back talons extending up.

It might be courtship, or the two young at play, or perhaps a younger bird being chased away.   In the end the lighter one took a thermal to a height and then speared away to the south.  The darker bird circled a little longer, and then we lost it among the trees.  However it did show up at the carpark  later, but on its own.

Much to learn.

Two Little Eagles that are hard at work vying for best position for attack.

Scarlet Robin female

I have been looking for redcapped robins at Woodlands Park for the last few weeks, there is still a little activity, but they are quite furtive at the moment.

On a very overcast Friday, heard a familiar redcap “tic” and went to look.  To my surprise I found not only a female Redcap, but a Female Scarlet Robin, in moult. Her distinctive call took me a few minutes to figure out, as I would not expect them for another 6-8 weeks at the earliest.  So It was great to see this one bird.  It stayed close to the recapped robin and they ‘tic-ed’ at one another to stay in contract.

What I am unsure of course, is it a visitor, or did it stay over in the park for summer, (I haven’t heard it previously), or is it a juvenile that is on the move to a territory.  Things I guess I’ll never know.

The only pair that wintered over did have a juvenile with them initially in May last year, but I only saw it for a few weeks.

A subsequent trip out on Sunday, confirms it is still there, and as vocal as ever, so that is a good sign.


Spot the Harrier

On a bit of a spur of the moment decision we decided on a trip to the WTP.

We left a little later in the afternoon and the cloudy old morning gave way to lovely filtered sunlight and it was one of those times when it is a joy to be a photographer.

We made a quick detour down through 29 Mile Road and Avalon airfield and were impressed to find a Whistling Kite making its way along the tree lined fences.

We went back up to the 15 W roadside, and after a little bit of hunting about, found not one  but two Spotted Harriers in the late evening sunshine.

One took off to harrass the Australian Shelduck populations, the other continued to hunt in the nearby paddocks.

A number of Ravens took exception to this and harassed it mercilessly.  Then all of a sudden, it turned what can only be described as a cartwheel, long legs swinging out to pendulum around and attack the ravens. Now we have used the word “languid” to describe its usual flight, but this was far from that and would best be described as “Rapid”. In moments it closed the gap to the ravens, who, clever creatures that they are, sensed a change of fortune and with tail between legs headed for the nearest shelter.  A casuarina just across the road.  They all arrived just about the time the harrier did, and it made a near vertical ascent to the top of the tree,and hovered in the breeze for a minute or two before wheeling about, and using the breeze, landed on a fence post just opposite the casuarina.  If the distance had been a little further, no doubt the Harrier would have caught up with them. No   noise from the ravens  It preened for a few minutes and the took off to resume its hunt. The ravens slipped quietly out the other side of the tree and went off to find other things to do.

Had we been a few minutes earlier we might have placed ourselves with the light behind us rather than having to shoot into the light, but the spectacle was worth it anyway.

In a few minutes a prey was located and there was  merry dance around the bushes and finally it settled in to eat.

After a bit of a preen this Harrier took to the evening air to continue its hunt

More pics of the evening here.

Young Little Eagles in a fair breeze

Over the past few months it has become one of my challenges to find where a pair of Little Eagles had nested this season.  I had a rough idea, but heavy chain fences and hard to get to locations had pretty well extinguished any chances of finding the location.  Over the past few weeks things have changed a bit as the young are now on the wing.

Lots of activity in the air today, and we spotted 4 birds.  One was definitely an older bird with lighter colouring and a tail that looked in need of a few feathers.  One other bird was a bit more elusive and could well have been a young bird or perhaps the other of the parent pair.

Two of them were young birds, lovely rich cinnamon and ginger colours.  They are masters of the air already and in a good breeze, they manoeuvred over our location in fine style.  The camera says that the closest I recorded was 35 metres, like it just passed overhead.  One made a pass over some small dense scrub at the end of a dam, and went down to just over the scrub height.  All hell broke loose as the various inhabitants including ducks, grebes, cormorants and a few assorted cuckoos, wagtails and the like took off in all directions with honks, squawks and chatter. It took a trip around the dam to gain height and had a second go, fluttering down like a leaf swaying from one side to the other just loosing height, but this time the wagtail contingent were ready and it got a right royal chattering and dive bombing from the squadron.

A couple of other shots are in the Little Eagle page here.

A very brown Little Eagle in flight over dam
Little Eagle loosing height by falling as a leaf from side to side, legs are down for control.

A post of Pelicans or a Port of Pelicans

Mostly Pelicans get ignored.  Big bird that they are, but after all, seen one, seen ’em all.

Or so I thought.  Now, the question is if we have a ‘flock’ of sheep, and a ‘murder’ of crows, what collective noun do we use to describe a number of pelicans.  Well search as I might, it is one of those things that no-one has ever gotten around to.

Till now.  So I pondered pelicans sit on posts, so a Post of Pelicans?   Or you find them near the beach, how about  A  Port of Pelicans?  And so I’ve taken a step into the universe of naming things and chosen “Port”  Sort of fits ah?

Which brings us to photographing them.  Well, first, as Mrs Beeton would say, “Find your Pelican”, and Western Treatment Plant has more than its fair share of the great lumbering feathered comedians.

Here is one image, but hit the link, you need to see a Port to get a view of their antics.

They may be ungainly on land, but given just the slightest of breezes, these big behemoths of the air make it all look too easy. A wing twist and a turn, drop the legs and water ski to a stop. If its done right, end up on dry land with out getting a feather wet.  And all with that big long beak hanging out the front.

Keep a low profile, we could be mistaken for magpies

Take this link to the Port of Pelicans

Well, the process does work. Redcapped Robin Juvenile

I was woken this morning by a clap of thunder, and looking out – the sky could only be described as dark and gloomy.  But, I had planned a trip to Woodlands, and I started to get the gear into the car and rain fell. Not that pitter patter raindrops of the songs, these were great big blobs, that went not gently on the car, but sounded like hail.  And created great big pools where they landed.  “Might put the rain jacket in,” I thought.

As I drove toward the park, it started to rain, not drizzle or occasional shower, but serious-soak the ground-rain.  And it didn’t look like it would let up anytime soon.  By the time I got to the last roundabout near the park the road was awash. But I pushed on.

At the park it wasn’t much better and the idea of sitting in the car was the go.  Twenty minutes or so and it let up, and the sky just looked leaden.  No point in coming all this way and not at least having a look.

The park along the road is very quiet at the moment, hardly any bird activity, and I wanted to go down through the fenced off “Back Paddcok” to have a look a kilometre or so in as last year many of the fledged robins ended up down there for awhile.

By the time I got into the area, the rain was over, the sky even looked like it might clear up, and so I found a spot near a likely feeding area and waited.

A few freshly fledged Willie wagtails kept me company and amused with their chasing games antics.  A flock of Yellow-rumped Thornbills fed their way through and a large group of Weebills all chattering away. And about then the sun emerged and so did all the young Superb Fairy Wrens, so they have had a good year, I stopped counting after about 10, and mostly because I had lost track of who was who.

Then to my complete surprise and delight, a whirr of feathers and a juvenile Redcapped Robin landed on the branch about 5 metres away.  All in is lovely striated white, brown and grey.  It was completely unconcerned by my presence or the shutter going crazy.  And then the sun came out.

It also had a friend, and they preened and fed and did bird things on the bush for about 10 minutes and then it was all over. The news from all this of course is that all the hard work of the past few months has paid off for the robins and mum and dad can take a well earned rest knowing they have done their bit for the species.

Rather glad the weather improved.

Juvenile Redcapped Robin

D200, 500m F/4,  ISO400, F/4.5, 1/250, WB Auto


And a very busy little Fairy Wren.  I think it wanted to show off its catch more than anything else.

Fairy Wren with breakfast

D200, 500mm F/4, ISO400, F/4.5, 1/1600, WB Auto.