Robins’ Bath Time

There can be no doubt about it, water in small pools is a huge attraction to the small birds. It seems that once one finds a spot for an afternoon tub, the sounds of splashing water brings them all out for their turn.

After some very overcast weather and a bit of rain, I had given up hope of a day in the forest and consoled myself with looking at Bill Majoros’ site Third Bird from the Sun it is a treat and has some lovely photos and information. Worth a visit.

Anyway, by early afternoon the rain had abated, still was overcast, but I had some weekend shopping to do, so on the off chance put in the 3oomm lens and the 1,4 converter and headed out.

I hadn’t gone very far along the track when I came a small pool of water from the morning’s rain, and a flutter of wings and a male Flame Robin leapt out of the water, landed on a branch near me and began to preen.  Interesting, but what happened next was one by one the flock came down to take their afternoon bath too. They are very organised about it, and there is much cheeping and clicking involved in working out who’s turn it is next.  They don’t seem to bully one another for position and each waits patiently for the one to finish. Or steps in at the other end, just hurry things along.

That they enjoy the bath is evident by all the chattering that goes on.  So I watched and pressed the shutter, scolding myself for leaving the big lens and tripod at home- but them’s the breaks.

Toward the end of the session the local female Red-capped Robin turned up and took her place in the line.  Then some Yellow-rumped Thornbills moved in, and a Scarlet Robin,  However the Thornbills fled, and everybody followed. That is the way of a flock.

If I’d of had some sunshine, it probably would have been a red-letter day as it is, I went home with a card full of images and some pretty nice memories.

To fit them all in the page, I’ve added them as a gallery. Click on an image it will go to a larger size and you can navigate through them. Enjoy, I did. And, more importantly so did they.

Woodlands Historic Park robin season


With the ongoing closure of the Backpaddock at Woodlands, the opportunities for following Flame Robin families has been greatly diminished.  I have to admit defeat at this stage, as here we are getting close to the end of the winter over season, and I really only have a few images that I am  satisfied with. Problem is of course not being able to follow the birds as they move across the light Grey Box scrub along the ridge lines in the Backpaddock.
Not that it is doom and gloom as a few parties come out on raiding sessions into the area outside the park, but it’s impossible to predict where and when, so it is pretty much hit and miss.

Also not being able to track the Red-capped Robins movements, it will slow me down a bit when they go to nest, as I don’t have any idea where they are in the territory, and they certainly aren’t going to put up flags.  (Not that I am tracking nests, but rather where it is all happening so I can prepare for shots of the fledged young. I try not to disturb the nesting birds as she will get anxious and abandon a nest at any stage.  I think her main concern is Cuckoos, but Ravens made havoc of several nests sites last year.)

So here is a compilation of the work from about the past two weeks.  Weather has not been kind either.

The female is Primrose, and she has a territory that is outside the backpaddock. She is currently being courted by two males, but I think she seems to favour Lockie, so things will be as previous.  I do hope the younger male finds a mate as he seems most capable of defending himself.  With all the young that were produced in the area past season, it is a ponder as to where they all go.

The Flame males were beginning to call with their territory call the last few days.  They usually are gone in a fortnight or so after that.   They go early, and then the females follow about a week or so later.  But, I haven’t seen very many females, and am assuming they are up on the grey box ridges.

*** The images in the blog are now part of a gallery.  As such if you click on an image it will open them all up in a slide show.  That way you can advance through the photos rather then see them one by one and have to come back to this page for a new pic.  I think it’s more elegant, and I wish I had figured it out earlier in the blog.

Hope you like it.

Sunshiny day at WTP

At last the weather gave a bit of relief, and with an onshore breeze, a resonably low tide at around mid-day, it looked like a good time to re-visit the WTP.
So we loaded up the car, picked up Dieter early in the morning and progressed to see what was happening.

We found a Brown Falcon that has mastered the art of hovering.  Mostly Brown Falcons hover like a house-brick, but this one has been able to figure out the technique.  We’ve seen it down around the Kirk Point area before exhibiting its skills.  A Swamp Harrier had made a kill and had been pursued by a number of Ravens, and had dropped the victim. This Brown Falcon had been somewhat in the middle of it all and was pretty certain that a free feed was waiting somewhere in the grass.  It was completely oblivious to our presence and hunted quite close going over Dieter’s head at only a few metres.  It was a great few minutes to watch.

Further along we came across a Spotted Harrier, ‘Languidly- that’s how its described in all the books’ making its way along one of the small channels. It passed quite close to the car and seemed un-preturbed by us.  It has a primary feather that is loose, perhaps its moulting.

A second Spot turned up with what looks like a Eurasian Coot as its lunch.  The coot can weigh upwards of 1 kilo, so it must have been quite an effort to get airborne, and maintain a steady course.

All in all a good day out with the birds and with plenty of Black-shouldered Kites and Nankeen Kestrels on the wing there was always something to be photographing.

Dipped on the Oriental Pratincole, which is always too far away to get great shots anyway.

Hovering Brown Falcon. It skimmed over the waters edge looking for the prey dropped by a Swamp Harrier. It didn’t have any success in the few minutes we watched. Perhaps the mouse or rat escaped for another day.
Spotted Harrier casually making its way along a water channel at WTP
Another Spotted Harrier, this time with takeaway lunch.

Study in High Key

One of the great delights of photography is the various elements, lighting, and juxtapositions that provide visual excitement and interest in an image.
One of those that brings life, feeling, brightness and subtly of form is High Key images.

The Black-shouldered Kite lends itself to this form as its delicate grey and white matches the requirements.  Then the lighting has to match, and the pose has to be effective and the exposure just about right, and so it goes.

Here is one I prepared earlier.  The bird’s brilliant red eye makes a lovely counterpoint for the high key treatment.

Big Birds up at WTP

It started out as a windy day, and stayed that way.

Good day for big birds we thought as Dieter and I drove down to Werribee. We went too look for the elusive Oriental Pratincole. However the roads were still pretty much awash from the  rain of the last few days, and Austin Road, where the best sighting had been made was literally mud from end to end. When a guy in a four-wheel drive arrived and chatted about the bird and how many 4be’s had been down Austin Road on the weekend,  that was just about it for my little humble two wheel drive milk and bread pickup vehicle. He also announce, ‘there is no hope of me going down there in this. (referring to the 4Be), so that was enough for us to wander on to other roads that were much better suited to the milk and bread pickup.

To our delight we found a Black-shouldered Kite that was hunting just along the roadside and got some lovely views as it came up to the car, circled around and then continued on down past the car. Wonderful.

I noticed some commotion among the silver-gulls and ducks on Lake Borrie, and a sweep with the binos revealed a White-bellied Sea Eagle on a tree. So far away.  Now to get to there we had no option but to go the long way, as the road down along the bay was pretty much closed for the mile and bread van.  In the end it took us about a15 minutes to get round near the trees, and lo and behold the Eagle was still in attendance along with a flock of very angry gulls.  So we had plenty of time to get some reasonable pics before the poor eagle left the demented gulls to their own business.

Australasian Grebe

Seems like forever since I had a chance to put up a post.  Didn’t think, ” Went out got wet, saw nothing”, was going to be a big hit in the blogging world.

With the Woodlands Backpaddock area being out of bounds to mere humans, and especially photographers, while the great Fox hunt is on, the best I can do is put my nose up against the fence like a little kid in a lolly shop and dream.

The new Eastern Barred Bandicoot programme in the park is in full swing.  One of the first jobs is to remove all the ferals that are in there. Notably cats, and foxes. They have done a good job of rejuvenating the fences, so all the remains is to get rid of the last of the more persistent foxes.  My guess based on just sitting and watching, is that there is upwards of a dozen in there.  And my guess, totally untechnical of course is that some of them are breeding. Which would explain the occasional smaller animals I see.  My other non technical guess is my money is on the foxes.  The release of the fresh bandicoot families can not go ahead until they are absolutely certain the area is now free of ferals.  But how long that will take is anyone’s guess.

Meanwhile the Flame robins are still in the area, but our time begins to run out pretty soon as they will be getting ready to move back to the high country by August.

So.  What to do.  Down to the Dam area today with my mate Neil A.  We found a few Flame males and a couple of Australasian Grebes and I was lucky enough to get a reasonable handheld shot of said Grebe. Really like the reflection, and I added just a brush full of contrast to make it stand out more from the water.

Australasian Grebe and reflection
Male Flame Robin who came to my side of the fence for a little visit.