Red-capped Robin mystery solved

With an really nice burst of weather, I decided on a whim, to go to the park early.  Only had about an hour, so I decided to see if I could locate the missing Lochie.

In his “secret hiding’ place, I waited about 10 minutes and along came Will ‘o Scarlet. He was pretty vocal, but very approachable.  And a few minutes later, looking all fresh in the morning Primrose also made her way through the trees, but with a few clicks and D’reet calls as she went.  Next in line was a female Scarlet, so it was looking to be an interesting morning.
Then the familiar calls of Lockie rolled around the openings among the trees.  He was there.  How great.

But the Will was having none of  it, and a quick fly around trees battle began, with the little bloke getting the worst of it I am afraid.  The Scarlet is quite a bit larger, and much much faster and more aerobatic so it was pretty much a one sided battle.  But plucky little thing, Lochie retreated, and then snuck through the tree tops to dive bomb on the Scarlet.  Then he retreated and repeated the performance, before landing away, and giving a cheeky location call.  All this lead to the Scarlet taking revenge, and more tree flying and chest bumping, and wing clicking took place.  A bit of David and Goliath ensued, and a couple more forays through the trees and a few more dive bombing missions kept Lochie in the game.

The Scarlet retreated to the other side of the clearing and Lockie went on to feed and encourage Primrose in her current nest building attempt.

This is a pic I took of him earlier in the season, but just hadn’t gotten around to posting it here.

The wonderful arrangement of bird and web backlit really works well for me.

Lockie and Spider web combination

What gets a Chough all agitated

Remember from yesterday.  See below, if you missed the great missive.

The White-winged Choughs bailed up something on the ground and were very agitated.

On the way back from the long walk around the long paddock, I stopped off at roadway where all the fuss took place, and there in the sun was the biggest lizard.  This one is at least 75-90 cm. And about the size around of my wrist. (These are approximate dimensions only, I had no intention of disturbing it for several reasons. ) I also decided “gardening’ to tidy up was out of the question.

No wonder the Choughs were a bit careful about their interaction.

By the time I got organised the sun had disappeared behind cloud, but I took it anyway.

How old do these things grow?

A mother’s worst nightmare

This little bird suddenly appeared along the track to the backpaddock.  It is (I stick my neck out again in bird id’n, a Shining Bronze Cuckoo), I base it on the fact that it doesn’t have any rufous marks along the tail feather edges. (although it could be a young bird, or moulting, or … ).  There have been a number of Horsfields in the area too, so, I’ll probably get the usual run of emails on why why why.  But in the end, it hunted in the trees, was extremely hungry, and was very successful.  Its hunting technique reminded me of why these birds are so successful at what they do.  It checked every nook and cranny on every tree it flew too.  No doubt it does the same technique for finding a host nest.

No wonder the Thornbills and Robins are so furtive.

Now, I’ve said it before, the arrangement between the Will of Scarlet, the now local Scarlet Robin and a certain female red-cap is interesting to say the least. Just in case the sceptics are having a field day here is one I took today of the redcap, and just as I pressed the shutter, the Scarlet came by.  I didn’t see him of course, as the mirror was up at the time.  It was only when I was editing down earlier tonight, I found his presence in my pic.

The mystery becomes a little clearer or more complicated

Because of a family event, we were on the road early to Ballarat.  On the way back, on my own, I dropped by the park. The weather was sunny and the wind had dropped off.  Nice.

After about 15 minutes, Primrose came by and was quite happy to pose in the sunshine. No sight of Lochie, and I don’t know where he is, and she wasn’t telling.

Also the male Scarlet,  I’ve decided he should be Will of Scarlet,  sort of Robin Hood style. Will of Scarlet came by and was quite vocal.  After about an hour, I saw him fly rapidly into a nearby bush, and another bird emerged out the back a couple of seconds later. At first it was hard to make out, and the light was never going to be great for a photo, but…. Lo and behold..  Its a female Scarlet Robin.  She was in a hurry to feed, and to wing stretch, so I think we might have a nesting function going on.  I hope so.  Anyway that explains the male and his hunt and carry activities. What it doesn’t explain is his attention to the female red-cap.   Or it might just be the birdy neighbourly thing.  More watching me thinks.

On the way back to the car, a small feeding party of White-winged Choughs came by, the light was falling, but they got into a ruckus over a small area on the side of the road. Much calling, squawking, alarm calling and jumping in the air. They also seemed to be intent to keep one another away from what ever it was. When they moved on I had a look and a large ‘shingleback’ lizard has a hole there and he was quite put out that his afternoon in the sun had been disturbed.  Several of the Choughs had white stuff on their wings which is pretty typical of birds that are sitting nest, with young who can now excrete, so there’s another generation of White-winged Choughs in there somewhere. How cool.

Enjoy the moments, we do.

Primrose at close quarters. She was happy to hunt around me, and come back quite close to check it all out. No nesting bump, so I don’t think she has started for real yet.

 

Scarlet Male in the very late afternoon light. Pity about the small branch across his wing and neck.

 

Female Scarlet Robin. As good as I got in the failing light. First time We’ve seen her in about three weeks.

 

White-winged Choughs giving a shinglebacked lizard a piece of their minds.

 

 

 

Back in Town and still around- Scarlet Robin Reappearance

I had to get some prints framed today, and dropped by the printer place.  “No worries, be ready in a couple of hours.” Good. But what to do in the meantime. So…

I thought if I’m going to drive home and find stuff to do, I might just as easily go look for birds. As the weather had taken a particularly fine turn of events, it didn’t take me too long to get the car pointing in the right direction.

Didn’t have a arsenal of photo gear, but reckoned a 300mm and a 1.4 TC would do ok.  No tripod, just a monopod, but it was only for  a look see anyway.

Went down to where I’d seen the Scarlet Robin earlier in the week, settled in and did what I like doing. Waiting. No fidgeting, no walking about, no peering with binoculars. Just. Waiting.

After about 15 minutes, the birds had pretty much returned to normal, and the Thornbills, Fantails and Wagtails were feeding as usual. But no Robins.  Another 15 minutes went by, and a black/white and red blur zipped by about 50 metres away, and at first I thought it was Lochie, but no, it was the Scarlet Male.  I waited, and after about 10 minutes the black/white and red, zipped past my shoulder and landed about 10 metres away, in the sunshine.  This was more like it.

To cut a long story short, I spent about the next hour or so moving closer, and watching him fly away, but then the distances got less, a lot less, and eventually he seemed quite ready to accept my advances.

There was no sign of any female Scarlet, although a lone Red-capped Female did make several appearances.  So I wonder if this might be the same pair from earlier in the year.  Looks like another sitting and waiting job next week.

Male Scarlet Robin in the afternoon sunshine
Male Scarlet Robin, checking me out, and letting me get with in reasonable photographing distance. He was quiet all afternoon, no loud vocals at all.

Around the Sugar Gums at Woodlands

With the backpaddock now devoted to the enjoyment of two foxes, and some soon to be introduced bandicoots, it’s been time to find a new area to explore.

Luckily Woodlands has an abundance of locations and habitats.  On the promting of our friend Richard, we decided on an excursion up into the Sugar Gum plantation.  This is pretty old vegetation these days, and has more than a few species so  we expected a bit of a treat.

On the track in, just about every tree had its own Striated Pardolote in residence, and many of them were happy to come and see what was going on. A small flock of weebills went by also, Would that be a wee flock of weebills?

But the highlight of the day was down in the clearing near the rangers work area.  A number of Dusky Woodswallows were at play in the open area. We sat and watched for about 30 minutes.  Now there are some rules to the games, and that became apparent. One rule is:Everybody find a perch on a tree- not the same tree. Rule two was one by one try to unperch the ones with the best location. Rule three: unperched birds can then try to remove the next most likely location.  The problem with the game is that rule three deteriorates into three or more birds on the one perch squabbling about whose site it is.
Good naturedly they then all fly off for a well earned feed. After some circling of the watching humans, rest momentarily and go back to rule one.

If there was a rule four, it seemed to have something to do with agitating the local Willie Wagtails who were busy getting acquainted.

The walk back to the car uncovered a covered up Pallid Cuckoo.  They had been calling all morning, and this one was close to the working area of a family of Superb Fairy Wrens. It didn’t seem to mind me taking a closer look at it.

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Woodlands and Robins

I don’t normally do updates and bird alerts, but with the Flame Robins gone, and most of the Red-caps on nesting duty, I didn’t expect to find much when I did a quick walk through today.

And I was right.

The Backpaddock gates now carry a new sign indicating poisoning for Foxes with 1080, and the park will be closed for at least another month, which is the middle of October.  And I’ve come to the conclusion that it will be closed for a good while after that.

I do hope the bandicoots are worth it.

Not that it’s a big deal, as I’m off to look for Brown Falcons and Nankeen Kestrels in the far part of the park for the next few weeks anyway.

On the way down the track, I heard the call of a Scarlet Robin. Which stopped me in my tracks.  After all they will have departed. And we haven’t seen any activity from them for about two weeks, so I looked about then discounted it as a call from perhaps a Grey Fantail.

However on the way back, Lockie was in hot pursuit of something, and as I watched, it turned out to be the Scarlet Male. And he didn’t take to kindly to being harassed by a mere Red-capped Robin, so the pursuer, became the pursued, and Lockie retreated in the end.  The Scarlet is so much larger, and quite a bit faster, so the poor red-cap could only call at him from a safe distance.

Now, of course I’m wondering if Mrs Scarlet, – would she be Scarlet O’Hara? is in the area as well.  I can see an early morning start sometime this week to investigate.

 

Travelling to Echuca

The past few days have seen us up around Echuca with the Birdlife Australia, Melbourne Photogroup.

We spent a day around the Kamarooka Forest and then a day out on the Barmah Lakes, and an afternoon along Pericoota Road out of Moama. On the way home the Terrick Terricks  kept us busy for most of the day.

I’ll put a long winded report up on a seperate page when I get organised. But here are a couple of images from the days.

Gums in the flood at Barmah Forest
White-eared Honeyeater at Kamarooka. This is one of a number of birds that were highly agitated by our presence because they were just beginning nesting. I did feel sorry for them.
Restless Flycatcher, called a “Scissors Grinder” because of the unusual noise it makes. This is one of a pair that were performing in the late afternoon sunshine along the banks of the Murray. They were taking the opportunity in the sunshine to bathe, preen and play with one another, would have stayed there for a longer time had it been possible.

 

Chestnut-rumped Thornbill. This wonderful little bird was flitting around the bushes on the climb up to the top of Mt Terrick Terrick. It was always just to far away to get those great shots. But it was a new bird for me, so I was pretty happy.

 

 

Along Three Chain Road to the pie shop

With the weather looking decidedly blah, our plans for a day at WTP were simply scuttled. We (Dorothy, I, and Mr A Nonymous) decided instead on a drive north to Kilmore and along Three Chain Road, which can only be described as a ‘honey-pot’ for birding.  Rain began immediately we set off, but I regailled everyone, with promises of a pie and sauce at Mt Macedon for lunch.

Three Chain Road easily lived up to its reputation, and we quickly had sights and shots of Eastern Yellow Robins, Eastern Yellow Robin juvenile, Flame Robins, male and female, Jacky Winter, a female Hooded Robin, White throated and Brown Treecreepers, and a single Rose Robin. The rain stayed around and we eventually had to go look for a pie shop.  There is an offshoot road along Three Chain Road, that looks like it might go somewhere. Evidence of the previous night’s storm were everywhere over the road, and the clean-up crews were still out as we drove by.
The next turn was so promising.  PY-along. So we were going in the right direction! At the next junction, I abandoned all hope of getting to Mt Macedon, and we went on to Heathcote. The Gaffney’s Bakery just opposite the footy oval is renowed for its fare, and has a number of pie comp awards to prove it.  We settled in for the lamb-tandoori, beef burgundy and beef and onion. Worth the drive any day.  A good pie takes a bit of beating.

So with a couple of cold lamb-tandori’s to pop into the oven at home, we set off down the highway.
The road from Tooborac to Lancefield, was once described by a visitor as “Rock Farm Road”, every paddock has beautiful Tors that make great photo subjects.  The sunlight began to creep out, and we began to stop more often to admire the scenery, and look for birds.  What a pity I hadn’t put any short lenses in, but got some nice tight telephoto landscapes anyway.
Turning off from Sunbury along the backroad to Woodlands, we found a Wedgetailed Eagle being harassed by the local magpie brigade.  To its credit, it just slipped away in the wind.  Nice end to a good day out.

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Larger images here. Three Chain Road.

Here is an image supplied by Mr A Nonymous of the Male Eastern Yellow Robin, feeding the female in the rain.

Too cool.

Photography by Mr A Nonymous (credited)

House building with Emma, the Red-capped Robin

After yesterday’s boon day, it was going to be hard to better it.

But we headed out with high hopes, after all the alternative was mowing the lawn. I’ve always thought if I wanted to mow lawns, I’d have become a green keeper at a golf club, rather than a picture maker.

Found Lockie and Primrose around the park entrance track, and saw a fleeting glimpse of a male Flame Robin but couldn’t get anywhere near it to identify or photograph.
Then a lot of sitting in the sun. Which was nice.  But no birds.

The Scarlet pair are conspicuous by their absence with no loud carolling through the treetops, so I must admit with a small degree of sadness that they have moved on and won’t be staying over to colour up the park with their cheery appearance and happy call.

Our stay over families of Flames are now definitely gone.  No sign of them anywhere today, and we could always count on hearing their clippy little chants.  What we’ve got instead are the calls of a couple of Horsfields Cuckoos and at least one Fantail Cuckoo.
So with the backpaddock still well and truly locked, and the Bandicoots enjoying a very nicely prepared new residence and hopefully the foxes all contained and the echidnas trained not to exit the fence with out permission, our best bet lay in looking for some new areas. And we set out for a bit of an explore.

As it happens we pulled up in the sunshine on  a log to enjoy a cuppa, and a little brown/red streak zoomed past.  We followed its path into a tree, and then multiple branch jumping, and zig-zaging through the branches, we noted it to be a female Red-capped Robin.  “She has a nest”, I confidently announced.   (having seen that sort of behaviour on more than one occasion.)

A few seconds later, and she was busy putting in a new layer on the edge, tidying things up a bit, re-arranging the kitchen, hanging curtains and setting up the entertainment area.  (no only kidding, she’s a bird).

Her mate, Alec, turned up, and he and Emma, (that’s her new name,) both inspected the work in progress, and with the usual nest twittering, approved the operation, and she got on with attaching even more extensions.  He hunted, and no doubt shared some food with her, but I didn’t see that, as it happened behind another thick wattle tree, and I could only hear the twittering.

So, here she is in all her splendour at home. We’ll not go over that way for a few weeks, so it will be interesting to see how well she fares.   I mostly try to work out where the nests are so I can stay away from the area and give her the privacy she so deservers. Hope it all goes well.

While it looks like a pretty secure home, it’s not until you see her wiggling and jiggling to get it to fit her body, that you appreciate how really fragile it all is. Still it seems to work.

Father’s Day among the Robins

 

Late last week we managed to find among the rain and the overcast, quite a large flock of Flame Robins, at the time I guessed that they were being held back by the winds that were blowing North/East. Too hard for little wings to fight that strong headwind.  My informant called the other day and said there is something like two metres of snow in Mt Hotham.  So if they did go up there, there would be nothing to eat.  Not surprisingly then we found the flock on thrusday and spent an hour or so with them among the dashes of sunshine that appeared.

But hadn’t been back since, and with Father’s day, a bbq at Woodlands seemed like the go. Family and kids all being too far away or inconvenienced with other stuff, so we headed out for a quick look and then on to the bbq or so we thought.
Mr Camera Clinic had dutifully repaired the D7000, and to be honest, I was pretty hesitant about working with it again.  But the sunny day helped my mood, and we started to look about.  What we found kept us busy for the next 4 1/2 hours!

Between us we managed to flatten 3 batteries and fill up 3 memory cards.  Now at 16gb that is a lot of images.  I also shot a number of short video clips and that added to the haul.

What we had located was a hunting party of about 3 males, 6-8 females/juveniles, and a couple of young males moulting in.  From the markings and their behaviour it was pretty certain they are not the usual flock we have seen out in that part of the park.  (They were still hunting along the roadway and in the cemetery as we came down).

We eventually ended up sitting on a downed log, and they simply hunted past, around, behind, infront, and then repeated the entire performance.  The challenge was not where to point the camera incase a bird came by, but where to point it next, as the trees became alive with hunting robins.  Lockie came by for a couple of visits as well.

Editing down was going to be the problem, and the few images below are only typical of the days shoot.  At times they hunted so close we were unable to get focus. A pretty exciting way to spend a fathers’s day or any day I reckon.
Needless to say, by the time it was all over, we just came home, and the bbq will have to be another day.

So its seems Woodlands is a bit of a staging area before the trip north.  There are today about 25-30 birds in the general area, and how many might be behind the wire in the back paddock?
The big birds ate so much so quickly, that they had to sit still on a branch to let it all digest for a few minutes, which made it a delight for the photography.

 

 

 

There are a few more over on Flickr.  Click Here