Not a bad morning’s work. Eastern Yellow Robins

Now that the Bandicoot Big Brother House has evicted us, we’ve taken to travelling about a bit more.

Today, we left early, to beat the heat, and set ourselves up in an area where we’d spotted Eastern Yellow Robins before, and waited.  And waited.  it soon became obvious that they weren’t putting on a show today.  We checked a nest site, and it was abandoned, and pulled out. Perhaps the work of ravens or currawongs, or …

We moved further down the tree line, and while we enjoying the obligatory cuppa, I heard the call of one in the open forest behind us.  After a few minutes I’d located both birds.  And quite happy they were to feed and to let us get quite close. The male at one stage flew directly toward my camera position, and just pulled up a the last second, going by my ear so close I could hear the wing whirr.  Spectacular.

He spent a lot of his time feeding her, and she would sit on a nearby branch, and wing flutter, and he would zoom in, and deposit his offering straight into her open beak.  The speed of the transfer was literally blink speed, and I didn’t get any great shots of it happening, either too early or miles too late.

After about 20 minutes of viewing, it became clear that one tree in small strand of trees was getting more attention, and I moved round to look and sure enough, she was busy at work on a new nest. She was quite oblivious to our presence and carried on without any fuss.  Far cry from her relatives the red-caps who will abandon the nest quite readily.

To round it all off, they both came and hunted on the logs in the area where we were sitting, so much so that the camera couldn’t get close focus without me moving back.   Who said photographing birds was tough?

Eastern Yellow Robin just about close enough to reach out and touch.


Eastern Yellow Robin and a big beetle that was taken back to the waiting female


Eastern Yellow Robin nest building. She sort of pokes the bits of bark into one another and it slowly builds up into a shape.



Looking for Kestrels

Its been quite awhile since I logged in here and added some pics.

With the Bandicoot Hilton (aka Bandicoot Big Brother House) (aka Backpaddock) now likely to be inaccessible to mere mortals, the chance to follow the nesting success of the  Red-capped Robins is going to elude me I think.

The only pair I’ve access to is down by the dam, and a week ago she was back building nests again, indicating a lack of success so far.  Just to many Ravens and other egg stealers in the area.

Consequently I’ve been round in the western paddocks mostly looking for the elusive Nankeen Kestrels. To date the score is Kestrels 0.

However I did spend an hour with a large flock of Tree Martins who were hard at work setting up a nesting site.  After a few minutes, they concluded, correctly that I was not a threat and returned to the work at hand, collecting building materials.

They are such agile creatures and can fly to the opening at full tilt, and then brake, just as they touch down.  Up to three at a time were stuffing leaves, grass and other things into the hole, and then after a few minutes would all take a break, and sit about and discuss the progress so far.  Lots of tail flicking and wing waggling is part of the discussion.

On the way back to the carpark, I bumped into the Birdlife Australia Group from the Bayside, and they were out for the day.  I continued on and just before the carpark, heard a very familiar call.  It WAS a Red-capped Robin.  I managed to track him down to a small stand off grey box, and got quite a few sighings, but no great photos.  He didn’t have any company, but I took that as a good sign, she must be on a nest somewhere near. Perhaps he too is an Eviction from the Bandicoot Hilton.

In over 20 years of walking in the park, I have not seen a red-cap in the area near the carpark, so it was  great day for no other reason.

Tree Martin Leaf Delivery
Tree Martins in conference
Red-capped Robin male near Somerton Road Carpark.

Still in town

It’s been a few days since we’ve ventured out.  A few home things being a bit more pressing than normal.

There are a number of birds at nest in the Woodlands Park area, and the main one is the Tawny Frogmouth, near the carpark.  Just down the track a bit, is a Brown Goshawk, and just inside the carpark area is a Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike.  We found anther Brown Goshawk today down by the Sugar Gums, and the only ones that seem to be in recession are the robins.

Not that that is stopping the Will o’Scarlet.  He is like Eddie Everywhere, and came bowling up to meet me in the morning sunshine.
Every-time I see him I amazed at the transformation from the scruffy little chap that first appeared nearly a year ago.

Delightful evening on Gellibrand Hill

I love Friday’s. At the moment, after work there are a couple of hours of daylight, and I finished work early, and popped up to Gellibrand Hill for the evening.

Mostly to see if there where any sign of Brown Falcons and Kestrels.

There are really four distinct birdy areas on the hill, and I choose the one looking down over the paddocks to the airport.  A Brown Falcon put in an appearance, and then a second one and they played in the sky just too far away for great shots.
I also heard the odd kid’s flute, cry of a Wedge-tail eagle. Its a funny noise from a great bird.  It must have been behind the door when great calls were given out.  Or too busy up on the “Bigger Wings” and “Claws” section of the production line.  I grew up in the Mallee, and around the Long Paddock (technical term look it up) they could often be heard with the little wheezy whistle.  I didn’t take too much notice of them in those days,  had other boy things to grow up with.

Anyway my investigation turned up two birds sitting just a bit too far down the hill in the fenced off Bandicoot Hilton.

I had a 300 with a Kenko 1.4 TC on board.  Mr An  Onymous  had been using on his D800, and it came back for a visit. As my Nikon TC1.4 is practically mated to the 500 for life, it was nice to try this out again.  I bought it when I was using the old style 300 F4 AF Lens.   It was  a bit slow to focus, but once locked on it was great.  But for inflight, it left a bit to be desired and I took the AF-S  on a trade at Camera Exchange.  Anyway.  Just a bit too far down the paddock for great, but close enough for interesting.

Also had a half hour with a Pallid Cuckoo pair hunting on the old fence line.  Why don’t they just take that part of the fence out now.  There are no Bandicoots in that part, and I could get easy access down along the paddocks of interest. Or. Visitors could roam down along the open paddocks and enjoy the different atmosphere the open fields offer. (there spoken just like  marketing person). If there is a job available to pull it down, I’ll volunteer.

And to top it off a lovely sunset with a big orange ball on the horizon, and two friendly Kookaburras to share it with.  They were gracious enough to share their nest location with me, and while the sunset wasn’t behind them, I left with their merry laughter ringing in my ears.

Two Wedgetailed Eagles enjoying the evening sunshine
Wedgetail Eagle flying in. Love the expression on the stationery bird.
Wedgetail Eagle flying in. Love the expression on the stationery bird.
Wedgetailed Eagle and some very aggressive Ravens
Pallid Cuckoo enjoying an evening snack.
As the sun sets slowly in the west, the call of the Kookaburra brings another day to a close. Roll the MovieTone music track.

A turn of the season and the Sacred Kingfishers are back for the summer

A walk about down past the carpark at Woodlands at the moment will mostly bring disappointment for the numbers of birds has indeed diminished.  Much nesting going on, so even the Thornbills are quiet.

After a session with Lochie and Will o’Scarlet, in which Will is definitely the bird with the upper hand.  Poor old Lockie with wings flapping raced across the open area near the power-lines, but was mowed down by the speed of the Scarlet Robin. Still he is not taking it laying down. He managed to feed Primrose a few tasty morsels in between bouts of defence against the Scarlet.  So I suspect that she is well into nesting, only seeing glimpses of her among the prickly wattle.

I moved on down to the dam, and an Australian Reed-Warbler has taken up residence. First one, I’ve ever heard there. Being able to see them is either and art or beginners luck.  Did however manage to get a glimpse as it powered from one set of reeds to another. A blue/cyan flash distracted me, and I thought, “Sacred Kingfisher” , it about time they put in an appearance, but scanning across the trees, only revealed a number of Tree Martins, and I put it down to being one of them.

Then a splash, and another flash by and it was definitely a Sacred Kingfisher. That’s considered good luck by the original peoples, so, I took it as a good sign too. It ate something so fast I didn’t get a shot, then it took several splash baths and did some drying off and preening.  The light, and the small twigs and leaves aren’t much help, but at least I got a few records of this lovely bird as it went about its business.

There was a lot of tail flicking, which I interpret as a visual sign to the other mate, but I wasn’t good enough to see it today.
They nested up in the Sugar Gums last year, so no doubt will make the dam a good fishing spot again.

Sacred Kingfishers return to Woodlands for the summer season
After a little snack, time for a bath and a dry off in the sunshine