A Scarlet Robin: now he is a male

The degree of change in this bird from just a few weeks ago when I thought it was a female in moult is amazing.   Now he is a dapper chappie with a lustrous Deep Black Head, a shining stand out White Splash and a lovely rich Red chest.

His degree of activity is astounding, he travels across the open areas and through the forest at a great rate of knots and will easily cover 300-400 metres in a single flight.  His territory seems to be greater than a kilometre square.

He is quite vocal and always on the move.  His consort the female Red-capped Robin is still in attendance, but she takes a much more laidback approach, flies a little bit, rests a lot. Hunts closely and doesn’t seem to concerned with his travelling habits.  Occasionally he returns and they ‘tic’ at one another, he will fly all around her, and then take off to other parts of the forest.

The ‘pair’ have been around now for over 5 weeks.  See first report here, when I had the thought he was a she.

A very dapper Scarlet Robin
This young male is now a regular resident in Woodlands Historic Park

Swamp Harrier rapid turn

We watched the Swamp Harrier making its way up the long grass towards us. Every so often it would make a course correction, or swing down to inspect possible prey.  It was so intent on the work that it really didn’t notice two people sitting by the side of the roadway.

As it was close enough to pass over us, it finally saw us and made a swinging attempt to pull away.  The large wings and tail scooped around like a parachute, stopping it dead in the air, its long legs began to swing out, to give it a point to turn on.

The first pic shows the wings and tail coming into action, the second the long legs now acting as a fulcrum to turn the whole body almost completely around.  The crops are unintentional, the bird was simply too close to get it all in the frame.

The next pics in the sequence show a Swamp Harrier disappearing rapidly in the evening light.

Grinning widely we started to breathe again.

Swamp Harrier in a parachute braking turn
Swamp Harrier with tail and wings folding out to slow it down and the legs swinging forward to give it leverage for the turn
Swamp Harrier with legs extended, tail splayed and wings on down beat for a very fast turn
Swamp Harrier with legs extended, tail splayed and wings on down beat for a very fast turn

Dealing with the heat

On a very hot February evening we headed on down to the Western Treatment Plant.  Because of other commitments, it was now or not until a few weeks time.

The day was hot, the birds were hot, and scarce and who could blame them.
Found this Black-shouldered Kite on  a limb near the boat ramp and moved the car into a good position for a shot.  Its wings were spread out from its body in an endeavour to  keep cool.  But it also attacted attention from the local Willie Wagtail harassment team.

As if it wasn’t  hard enough now it had to endure constant bombardment from the wagtails. As a team they are pretty relentless, one distracting while another dives or pulls tail feathers or in this case lands on the back.

Not sure if it was the harassment, the heat or the closeness of the car, but in the end it moved off to the tree line along the road to sit in the shade with another kite that was smart enough to avoid the wagtails and sit in the shade.

Also found a Swamp Harrier working along the river with its beak open scooping in air, and its tongue handing out.

A Black-shouldered Kite being harassed by a Willie Wagtail. This one had just landed on the back of the kite.
Swamp Harrier in the heat
Swamp Harrier flying down the Little River, with its beak wide open and its tongue out. Perhaps trying to keep cool

Scarlet Robin all growed up

Had a pleasant morning in the forest today, plenty of sunshine and not too hot.

The Scarlet and his friend the Redcapped Robin are still in the forest.  He is very active and covers such a lot of territory.  She doesn’t have the same power, and is quite content to rest on a tree, preen and hunt.  He comes back and flies circles around her, and occassionaly she will fly off with him. This morning he made a sweep across the paddock and called from about 500 metres away, but she chose not to follow, after about 5 minutes, he came back directly across the field and landed on a branch above her and there was a few “tick” calls, and he tried again. She looked like she was counting feathers.  6345 to clean and counting. He returned and they hunted on the ground for awhile.

I am not sure what will happen when they discover they are different types of birds.

Scarlet Robin in the morning sunshine

I have set up another blog for Scarlet Robins, you might like to check here.

Scarlet Robin still in residence

Scarlet Robin at Woodlands, moulting into a dapper bird.
Scarlet Robin at Woodlands, moulting into a dapper bird.


First time back at Woodlands since the long Goschen trip.

Within a few minutes I had heard a familiar chirrup of the Scarlet Robin and went to investigate.  I saw it in the distance, and it continued to come closer landing in a tree across the track from where I was.  It is a male for sure. Has a lovely black head, really strong red colour, and that wonderful white spot above its beak.
It has grown quite bold as the week has gone by, and now patrols quite an extensive territory inside the Back Paddock fenced of area.
It does not seem to have a mate, but it is still in attendance with a female Recapped Robin. It is also moulting through and looks a bit of a sight at the moment. They sit together, hunt together and move about together, although it has to be said that the poor little redcaps wings whir quite  bit trying to keep up with the speedy Scarlet.  But they ‘tick’ call at one another.

Also saw today; three black swamp wallabies, so they have managed to get inside the fence in the new area. They seemed very relaxed. So that is good.

Male Scarlet Robin taking time for a good scratch



To the Land of Goschen

It’s a long drive to Goschen, but it has a great reputation among birders for being a bit of a honey-pot.

Our schedule meant we were going in early February, amongst the hottest times of the year and late in the breeding cycle, so we didn’t have much hope of being overwhelmed with birds.

But even though it was windy, hot and humid, with a little bit of patience we were rewarded with a number of interesting birds.

Bee-eaters, Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters, White-browed Scubwrens in abundance, Brown Falcon, Nankeen Kestrel, White-plumed Honeyeaters, and a bunch of the usual suspects. The Black Honeyeater was a dipper, so perhaps next time.

Heard lots of quail but didn’t see a single one.  Also heard a Red-capped Robin but only a few bars of a song and searching led to another no show. Perhaps I just imagine them now?

The Goschen hall held two live Welcome Swallows flitting about inside, and around the inside area and the old stage areas, over a dozen dead birds.  Pretty recent, as they had not deteriorated. There didn’t seem to be any sign of damage to them.  Lots of teacandles on the floor, but no patterns, so the coven weren’t there.   Strange about the swallows though.

While we were driving about, we startled two very large Grey Kangaroos, who in turn startled us by their sheer size and their speed in going away.  Needless to say by the time I had uttered some anglo-saxon expletives, the photo moment was gone. As were the ‘roos.

Here is a Singing Honeyeater.  It seemed to interested in the ‘beeping’ noise from the car when the seatbelt warning was going.

Singing Honeyeater
Singing Honeyeater

Goschen Tennis Court and Hall.

Goschen Hall