Young Miss Heartbreaker

After a busy weekend away from birding we were both looking forward to going back out to Woodlands today.  The weather didn’t promise much and didn’t deliver much either. But on the upside we didn’t get any showers so that helped.

Once we were inside the Backpaddock a family of Flame Robins came by, but quickly disappeared and we lost them.  Mr Mighty made an appearance but for some reason we didn’t get close enough for much worthwhile photography.  After waiting fruitlessly for some other action we toured about the pathways and I found Little Miss Red red-capped Robin.  Perhaps she should be called Little Red-riding Hood.

The sun graciously shone through some cloud and a little bit of extra light helped on the moss beds.  She seemed to be unattached today and was with a small family of female and juvenile Flame Robins.

But as always at the moment, the Thornbill flock flew in, and then out and everyone was gone.  There is plenty of activity, just not sufficient time to get some great photos.

How does she look. Red-riding Hood, with her little red-breast feathers and her brilliant orange red cap.
Female Flame Robin. She seemed to be calling to the family group because they took too flight and followed her departure.
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Guess who’s turning all the boy’s heads?

This little miss, has turned up over the past week or so, we spotted her in the rain, and all remarked about the ‘redness’ of her cap.

The last few days there have been a three male suitors down in the same area.  Very territorial and each of them, trying to drive off the other two. Today, one of them seemed to at least have the dominance and after a few verbal battles and some branch dancing, he moved her up the paddock away from the other two males. Nothing left for them, so they squabbled amongst themselves.

After about five minutes a little grey/brown streak zoomed down the forest and back out among the boys. With some suitable tail-wagging and some scolding tic tics, she got them all going again. One seemed to win out and again two males were left to themselves.

Something new going on all the time.

Mr Mighty and his lady are back feeding in their old quarters from last year.  He doesn’t seem to take part in the domestic worries across the forest.

An unattached female who seems to have all the local males interested
Mr Mighty feeding in a moss bed, very early in the morning, the sun is just starting to advance through the tree line

 

Young Flame Robin, part of a family of 5 birds.

 

One of the “Brothers” three males who seem to hunt as an independent group.

 

 

Robin Flock at Woodlands

Seems like forever since I opened up the WordPress files, but as life does, other things have been getting in the way from getting out to the park.

The past weekend was a washout. Literally.  We went with the Birdlife Melbourne Photography group on just the wettest day.  It poured, showered, drizzled and did just about everything except give up a bit of light and relief for the photographers.  Andrew came along to lend a hand as a guide and that gave us a bit of flexibility about where to look, but in the end, the cameras mostly stayed in the cars and the rain jackets did their job.

Not to say we didn’t find anything with the highlight being a Yellow-tufted Honeyeater and several White-naped Honeyeaters.

Not one to be put off by a few minutes disappointment, I went back out this morning in the super sunshine.  A few of the Flame families were feeding together and several other smaller parties were around the usual spots.

This Red-capped Robin was one of several from the morning, but I liked the backlighting and the good show on his chest feathers.

Second bird is from a small number of independent females that don’t seem to socialise with the other flocks.

This male is on a low branch. I am working on a very low tripod and laying on the ground to get a lower perspective. Get wetter, and muddier, but you see much more from the bird’s point of view.
Hunting in the early morning sunshine on a moss bed. I was laying on the ground, camera on a low tripod, just to get a separation from the background.

Go you little Black and White territorial policeman.

We’re in the WTP.  So is a resting Black-shouldered Kite. It however has made the tactical error of landing in a Willie Wagtails favourite tree.  Or perhaps it was just on patrol, and it’s “Time to move along”

Either way, the immovable object verses the unstoppable energy is on display.

The wagtail made numerous passes at the Kite, its only reaction was to once raise its wings, but I suspect that was just a balance thing more than anything else.

In the end the kite gave ground, and the wagtail, chattering as it went, moved on to the next tree to see if the Magpie was also moveable.  Such is the life of a little black and white location police person.

This was shot from the car with a 500m mounted on “David’s Folly”, a beautiful engineered window car mount that I purchased from Outdoorphotogear.com.

It is made in Germany and really is the best thing. Probably stronger than the car door.  The folly like all follies is that it will do the impossible. But when it comes to holding the camera, keeping it ready, securely attached to the car, and rock steady in mounting, it really is a great piece of kit.  Just people keep stopping to ask, “Looks like you’re ready for anything'”, or “What is that”.  My answer, David’s Folly.

Think I will put up a page to show it in action, then it will be simpler to explain.

Its all about position position position.
Just being the larger bird in a dispute does not necessarily give you landing rights.

Hello Mr Mighty, or I think I might take up photography, seems easy enough

Hello Mr Mighty.  This bird is usually patrolling the territory around the gate at Backpaddock.  He gained a bit of notoriety last year when he appeared on cover of the penultimate edition of Bird Observer in August ’11.

I have not seen him for a few months and was beginning to think he had moved on. Neil A, had sent me a pic a few days back and I was pretty certain it was the same bird.

Armed with that bit of advice, I headed out, and sure enough within a few minutes of searching about, he had come by for a visit. He will tic tic back to my poor examples of toc, toc, tongue click, and of all the birds out there is perhaps the most relaxed.  The give-away 3 white moustache feathers is his particular dress.

So, he hunted about, flew off, came back, it was all very therapeutic.

His lady has the most beautiful ginger/copper cap, and I’m hoping she is going to turn up as well.

Three hours in the bush, one photograph.  Who said photography of birds was tough. (Oh, did I mention the 3 months of fruitless searching?  Not to mention the endless cups of tea?)

 

Mr Mighty with a wing flick on a stump. It is a hunting technique. But he is really just showing off for you and me.

Sunshine in late Autumn at Western Treatment Plant

My friend Dieter and I planned a day down at WTP,  he because he wanted to try out the new D800, and me because I like to go down there.

We left early and beat the morning traffic, and were just getting the gear out of of the camera bags at the turn off to Point Wilson, when an explosive whistle and cry came from directly overhead in the trees, after a few seconds it was obvious it was a Whistling Kite in full voice.  Followed by an equally loud squeal from a Black-shouldered Kite, before both of them came barrelling out of the tree line.  The Whistling Kite being fairly aggressively attacked by the Black-shouldered Kite.

By this time we had the cameras out and were hard at work.  The BSK made a number of fast passes over the struggling for wind speed, Whistling Kite, and it was struck several times by its protagonist.  The shot here shows the Whistling Kite with claws out as it has just defended off the aggro Black-shouldered Kite,  it is possible to see a few loose feathers floating away.

After a heavy pursuit, the Whistling Kite gained some height and speed, and by then it was well away from the tree-line.  The Black-shouldered Kite came back and started a second pursuit of a Goshawk, but it managed to slip away without any thing more damaged than its pride. The BSK, then patrolled the treeline and all and sundry were aware of its stake to territory.

The rest of the day was nowhere near as dramatic, except for a Brown Falcon playing catch me if you can along a fence line.  But I was driving and Dieter was the one working in the new D800.

A Black-shoudlered Kite making an aggressive pass on a Whistling Kite who was doing all it could to defend itself against a constant attack. The loose feathers are from a direct hit by the BSK.

Nice to meet old friends

Today, we with a bright sunny day instore, we went to The Pipemakers Park, in Footscray. It was one of the Heart Foundation “Green Walks in the Park”, and it was nice to catch up with a group of walkers and have a bit of a chat as we sauntered about the gardens at the Pipemakers Park, and then down along the Maribyrnong River.
First time we’d been down there, and the bird life is exceptional.  Two Brown Falcons sailing overhead as we got out of the car.  Looked great.  Also spotted several Eastern Shrike Tits among the bushes, and a host of other smaller birds.  Must take the cameras and a lunch and do it justice.  The gardener guy told me they often have a White-bellied Sea Eagle patrol the river, and there is a pair of nesting Eastern Barn Owls in the area as well.

We then had a date down at WTP, and with a spot of lunch at the Highway Lounge on the freeway, were well on the way to a good afternoon.  The first birds we spotted weren’t even in the Permit area, but were on the roadway outside.  Brilliant Flashes of  Red and Brown, feeding against the black tarmac of the road.  A Flame Robin family group of at least three males, and females and a few juveniles kept us out on the roadside for quite awhile.  On the return journey just as sun was setting they were still there and not that fussed by our presence.

It was Pelican day as well, and no matter where we went the big amusing lumps seemed to sail by in groups or small flocks.

On the way out, we went along Beach Road, and a Black-shouldered Kite was spotted in a tree, eager to make a nice shot, I put the car of the side of the road, and was getting ready when to my surprise, and joy and delight, and  amazement, the familiar “Kar, Kar, Kar”, of a hunting Nankeen Kestrel wafted down on the air.  I was out of the car, and had a dozen frames away, before I had even worked out where it was happening.  She, it was a female, took to a tree in a paddock, and I contemplated following, but after a few minutes, another high pitched scream from her, and she took off. There had to be a male somewhere near.   She flew directly overhead, (it really was like old times), and gave him a piece of her mind, before landing in the tree and gave her begging for food call.  He dutifully took to the air to find dinner for her.  She sat on the tree and watched, and occasionally screamed encouragement, until a demented Wagtail couldn’t stand it any longer and chased her of the tree.

It was so nice to hear her call, and to watch the delicate wind-hover of the male.    I hope they stay in the area, as we have only seen Kestrels there once before.

 

A Yellow-Rumped Thornbill, helping itself to the bugs in the spider web. It got pretty tangled in the web, and eventually had shake itself free.

 

Pelican making final adjustments on its landing approach

 

Female Nankeen Kestrel on a hunting trip.

 

Sunday at Woodlands

Dorothy and I looked out of the window early in the morning, and decided it was just too nice a morning to sit at home and worry about getting ‘stuff’ done.
So we packed a picnic and took off to see what the Robins were up to.  And they certainly were.  We found the cemetery pair within a few minutes. The female must be the hardest working bird in the forest. She had at least 4 clutches this summer, and I counted 9 young that she had gotten off.  Given that she lost at least one nest to Ravens, she really didn’t have a moment to spare.  But she looks quite relaxed and in good nick at the moment.  Her male, is sporting a cute little white feather or two around his beak, giving him a little moustache appearance.

We settled into a favourite spot in the fenced off area and while we waited Andrew and Adrienne  turned up, so  we had a lovely morning with the birds and some great company. The weather couldn’t make up its mind but sunshine probably dominated. The birds are not in a flock yet, each little family group seems to be moving independently.  The three males, “The Brothers” are still together, and it was good to be able to find one, and then quickly find the other two in quick succession.  Mr Cooper-top is sporting his lovely brown feathers.

The Brown-headed Honeyeater trapeze troupe dropped by, and we also were entertained by the four Grey-shrike Thrush as they worked the trees, bushes and ground litter.

By the time we had arrived home it was too cold to work in the garden so we compared pictures from the day’s effort.  Dorothy is about to get a new Nikon 1 V1, the super little mirrorless camera, which just happens to have an adaptor that can attach the DSLR lenses, and that will give her some new opportunities.

The hardest working little bird. She has had a very productive summer, and now is piling on the food, ready for next season.
This boy and his rather shy female put in an appearance, he is now one of three males in the area. They are a bit of a bully to the Red-caps I think.
Mr Copper-top. One of three males that travel together, “The Brothers”.
Another of “The Brothers”. He is nicely positioned against the spider’s web.

A hunting we will go

Friday dawned all lovely and still, with plenty of blue sky and none of the rain of the previous few days.  I was getting a bit tired of pacing the floor and finding other things to do, so it was good to get back into the bush and see if the storms had diminished the robins activities. I needed not have worried, as they were soaking up the sunshine and on the hunt everywhere.

The Brown-headed Honeyeater aerial trapeze team came by for a visit and I’ve put up a page here with their antics on display.

This young lady spent a lot of the morning with serveral other females hunting on their own. They seem to have a different call, a Cheep, Chip, Chip, which must be a location thing. This one seemed to be the noisiest or most persistent caller. Perhaps it was “C’mon girls, let’s go over here.”
Another one from the hunting party