Rodger’s work on display at Light Factory Gallery in Eltham.

Rodger Scott,  he of “Swallows in flight R Us.”  on Flickr here, has in conjunction with his art group,  Wild4Art has an exhibition of his fabulous paintings at the Light Factory Gallery in Eltham. It runs to the 16th of June, and if you’re in Melbourne, and want a way to fill up a couple of hours then take  the drive out to 21 Brougham Street in Eltham.

Rodger is one of the four artists with work on show, and it was really excellent to spend a morning in the gallery with the works and to contemplate both the makers style, the works and the bird themselves.
The Light Factory has to be one of the most suitable galleries to show this kind of work. It has an amazing high window set that lets light literally pour into the viewing space. Like many of the buildings and spaces in Eltham, it is both highly functional, and also uses a lot of recycled material in construction.

Loved to be able to stand back and see the work as a whole and be able to get up nice and close and personal with the image and feel the character of the bird as each member of the group has found expression.

We, Dorothy, I and Mr An Onymous made the trip over on a rainy day.  The idea was simple,  view the art, have lunch, photograph birds.  No one said anything about the weather closing in and the rain pouring out of the sky.  Exit ideas of walking in the bush.
We settled instead for a table at the “Tea House”, the fabled food hall attached to the Gallery.   After a nice Pie,   I had a Borcastle, But have to say the Bean and Leek bake was going to run a very close second. The others, the usual foccacia etc, and a cup or two of Queen Mary tea, it was obvious the rain had won.  So.  We had another cuppa and then we went home (used to be song about that once  ?)

Well done Rodger, congrats to you and your colleagues for a bold and entertaining exhibition.

No pics allowed!!

A wander about in the Wright Street Grasslands.

Had a chat with Travis, the Bandicoot Hilton concierge, the other day, and he was really excited to announce that they had taken out the last fox from the fenced off area. It had finally taken a bait. (Which is some ways is really cheating don’t you think) Subsequent bait layings had not been taken so it may be that foxy loxy is no more, and the serious business of putting untrained bandicoots into the area can proceed.

Well done.

But, of course that leaves the gates well and truly locked and the area inaccessible for us over the rest of the Flame Robin season. I suspect they’ll be well on the way home before we get past the first of the bandicoot sentries.

So I took a wander today down the other end of Moonee Ponds Creek. It can be accessed from Mickelham Road, and followed back up toward the old quarries.

Didn’t find much, but then my expectation level was pretty low anyway. After all it was simply to see what could be seen.

A Wedge-tailed Eagle was harassed by some Ravens, and then not satisfied they turned their collective attentions to a Whistling Kite, for good measure.

There is a dam just south of the Bandicoot Hilton, and it has a good collection of water birds and today was sporting a Hoary-headed Grebe, (my first in the park) and a very smart looking Zorro bird – Black-fronted Dotterel.

On the way back to the car, I wandered to the wrong side of some pretty thick box thorn, and was amazed to see not one, two, but three female Flame Robins hard at work in the early morning sunshine. Had I known that earlier I might have stayed there and then popped round to the Coffee  and Pie shop, just around the corner.  Mmmm  Lamb, rosemary, curry and vegetable.  But I had the Veggie Pastie and smiled in the sunshine.

Zorro bird at the top dam.
Zorro bird at the top dam.
Two Whistling Kites enjoying the light breezes
Two Whistling Kites enjoying the light breezes
Wedge-tailed Eagle looking for updrafts to gain some height
Wedge-tailed Eagle looking for updrafts to gain some height
Attack of the Ravens
Attack of the Ravens
Outnumbered, this Whistling Kite found it hard to gain space to escape
Outnumbered, this Whistling Kite found it hard to gain space to escape
SItting pretty. Flame Robin female feeding in her own little bit of heaven
SItting pretty. Flame Robin female feeding in her own little bit of heaven

Yet another spin around the Western Treatment Plant

Spoke with Mr An Onymous, and he was pretty happy to take a trip down to WTP.  The weather at the time looked, well, sad, so we waited until the weather person on the telly said, “Fine”, and as she would know, we went with her recommendations. Wednesday.   Would a person with an auto-cue mislead you?

Most will know that I’m a great fan of WTP in the late afternoon.  The light seems to me always to be at a better angle. But, morning light offers s softness that is also hard to resist. And we get to stop off somewhere for a late lunch on the way home.  So, we went in the morning.

The “Clear” skies didn’t eventuate, but at least it didn’t rain. There was little or no wind so the raptors of the field were going to have to work that bit harder to get, and stay airborne.

We went down by the Spit to look perhaps, for Brolgas, perhaps.  But were pretty infatuated with the way the early morning light was playing over the shallow pools, with its soft mellow yellow and orange, so we played creative photographer and enjoyed the moment.

We spotted a Whistling kite on one of the ‘new’ logs that have been placed in the pool, and were just setting up to photograph it when it suddenly took off. As usual we blamed ourselves for setting it to air. But, it circled the pond, and with clear intention swung down and attempted to grasp something from the water.  It missed, so did we, and astounded we watched as it regained height, dropped is legs and swung in for a second pass.  This time the shutters went, but not being a great inflght person, what I got was hardly super. But enough to show the bird meant business. So new sets of rules.  1. Be ready, 2. Always anticipate they may do something unusual. 3. Brush up on inflight techniques.

A couple of Black-shouldered Kites were sitting on one of the many solar panel settings in the paddocks.  The birds ruin the panels by crapping all over them, so the clever people who design these things have added specially spaced spikes to convince the birds to (a) perch elsewhere, and (b), don’t defecate.   Seems like a good idea.  Doubt though that the birds see it as any more than just another challenge in their day, and so have just taken the spikes to be part of the scene.  This pair is really interesting to us, they seem to be a pair that stays together over the entire year. Not just at nesting. They always seem to be in the same area and hunt together.  Today was no exception.

I finally found a flock of Pink-eared Ducks that were close to the road way and accessible. I also learned several things from this encounter.  1. They don’t like intruders. 2. They will return to a perch pretty quickly. 3. With the tripod buried among the grasses they will not be alarmed when they return. and 4. Cars driving along the roadway, put them to flight, and they quickly return. So corollary of  4. is, you get good exit and return shots if you’re sitting in the grass.

Also managed to see several foxes plying their trade. One was  a bit inquisitive about said photographer, sitting in the grass,and took quite awhile to finally disappear along one of its tracks.

Around the beachside to the east of the Little River mouth, the road runs across a causeway, and there is a large log jutting out into the sea. Most travellers through the WTP, will have seen at least once a raptor sitting on this log. Today, the place was filled with a Whistling Kite, devouring its latest catch.  We waited until it took to wing, and then wandered down along the beach to see the remains, a few wing feathers of a Magpie Lark. It had jammed the carcass into the cracks on the branch so it could more easily deal with it.

Just past the causeway we found a small tidal pool with a number of Red-kneed Dotterels feeding and disputing about territory. Then a EE noted a white tail flick in the grass, and out came a Spotted Crake. The Dotterels immediately took umbrage and forced it back into the grasses, then they all took off and to our pleasure the Crake came out to feed.

On toward Borrow an stopping at 15W outflow, I found a Pied Cormorant being fed by its parent.  And then we spotted a Brown Flacon who seemed to have a complete dislike for Whistling Kites. And then to have a Brown Falcon being put off by a Magpie.

Not a bad mornings work. A stop on the way to look for the Northern Shoveller, no such luck,and coffee at the Highway Lounge ended a good morning out and about.

 

Whistling Kite 'fishing'.
Whistling Kite ‘fishing’.
Black-shouldered Kite pair
Black-shouldered Kite pair

 

Pink-eared Ducks at rest
Pink-eared Ducks at rest
Magpie in hot pursuit
Magpie in hot pursuit
Whistling Kite enjoying the fruits of its labours
Whistling Kite enjoying the fruits of its labours
Hoary-headed Grebe in a misty pond.
Hoary-headed Grebe in a misty pond.
Spotted Crake.
Spotted Crake.
I know there's food in here somewhere.
I know there’s food in here somewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a bunch of photographers, add birds, WTP ponds, and sunshine with rain, and what have you got? Cold, Wet Happy birdos

Birdlife Australia, Melbourne Photo Group. (why are these things always a mouthful?) had a day down at the Western Treatment Plant.  Not being a number counter, I’ve no idea how many of us rolled up to the meeting place at Point Wilson Road, but there were more than 4.

Andrew H, He of the Flickr site here, came down with us  as a visitor.  The weather looked, sort of like the weather to stay home, turn on the heater and read a book, or dabble on Flickr, but hey, a chance to catch up with a bunch of dedicated bird photographers beats that any day.

Mr Swallows in flight are Us. (Rodger) was there as well, and among the others me mate  Ian Smissen.  He has a blog over here.  His post on the day’s activity is his 1,000th day of blogging.  Not a bad effort ah?  Pop over and have a look and congratulate him. 1000 days!. (some people will count anything <ggg> ) I was stoked when I got to 100.   He’s got some nice images to accompany the story as well  Well worth the look.

Sonja Ross took us into the plant and a bit of car shuffling got the cars number  to a convoyable size.  One long line of cars over the entire plant didn’t seem like it would work too well.  At the same time, the team doing the initial “Orange-bellied Parrot” survey were in the plant as well, so we promised to stay away from their working area.  My other mate, Helmut, got invited along for the survey group and so we missed one another. Next time. See him here.

Sonja was keen for us to locate, find, discover and photograph a Northern Shoveller that had been reported, here, there, anywhere, everywhere in the plant.  A bird that obviously took a wrong turn on the way to breakfast and ended up at Werribee.

So to the day’s tasks.  As we travelled along Paradise Road, the radio crackled with descriptions of what the lead car could see.  Fine, but by the time we got there, it was an empty paddock.  A call on a Little Eagle, changed to a Whistling Kite, then back to Little Eagle, then to Whistling Kite, and when we finally arrived to see the tree, the bird was hidden behind branches, and the best I could say was ‘It has feathers”.

The next worthwhile was a group of cattle in a paddock, (remember it is a working ‘farm’.) and of course with cattle go, “Cattle Egrets”.  But they took to wing and we didn’t get much of a chance to even get the camera out.

Next the ponds alongside Paradise Road, and a tiny brown fleck on a post got some attention. And the usual banter of Little Eagle, Swamp Harrier, Light morph Brown Falcon, began.  Too far to id.  My shot with the 500, and a bit of patience gave me a Whistling Kite.On to Walsh’s Ponds.  As we passed by the River, a little speck of sunshine peeked through the clouds and the crowds were entertained by a lone Spotted Harrier making its ‘languid’, (I love that word), way along a dry pool.  We were higher than it was, so got some nice looking shots across the top of the bird in flight.

At Walsh’s Ponds.  Here  was the last know sighting of said Northern Shoveller.  But of course that was yesterday, and the bird was no where to be seen.  Among a lovely resting mixed flock, of Red-necked Avocet, Banded Stilts and Black-winged Stilts stood a very drab looking bunch of brown feathers. WIth its head tucked under the wing on the far side it was impossible to even guess what it might be.  The only solution  was to run through the possibilities of what it wasn’t. Light morph Brown Falcon and Swamp Harrier were quickly dismissed.

Then the bird graciously woke up, and showed its head and beak, and the single word Godwit, resounded across the bund. Then to the books to work out, Black-tailed or Bar-tailed or light morph Brown Falcon.  In the end, the straight beak ended the options. Black-tailed for sure. The other option was to phone John Barkla, (he’s in Siberia with the Red-necked Stints. I wonder if his arms are sore from all that flapping?) and get a better description. JB remained unphoned.

From there the road took us up along the run to Borrow Pits.  A few Whistling Kites managed to give Andrew a chance to try out his inflight techniques.

By the time we’d gotten to Borrow for lunch, so had the rain.  And it did.  However, pop on the Driazabone, pull out the deckie, prop up the esky, and get out the thermos with the Earl Grey, and what rain?  Lunch over, the sun came out in abundance, the phone rang and the informant had found the elusive, (illusive?) Northern Shoveller back at the Paradise Road Ponds.  Quicker than you can say “Pack up the Esky”, the convoy was travelling at ‘a safe and practical speed’ on the road back to the ponds.
We decided to take the long way back, and went down to the 15W Outflow and Andrew got some nice Pelican, Pacific Gull and assorted Cormorant shots. As well a few Red-capped Plovers were hard at work on the tide line.

We ambled back past the ‘OBP” observers and down along the beach,  where a Black-shouldered Kite made a pretty site sitting on a post.  Lots of Swamp Harriers in the air by the river, but none close enough photograph. Typical.

Just before we got to the group we passed a small pool with two very accommodating Red-kneed Dotterels, and we had a few minutes to get some great shots of the pair.  On arrival we were informed the Shoveller was now on the other side of the pond. And if you played your binoculars over the distant reeds, you could, with a bit of imagination see the mystery bird. Or was it a light morph Brown Falcon?

Onwards to Beach Road, with the sun diminishing and the rain increasing.  Not to be outdone however Sonja stopped at the Outflow along the Beach, and as the tide was just on the flow, the birds were beginning to work back to the shore.  Time to plant the tripod in the mud, play with the new Wimberley gimbal mount, and wait.  And in the end the Red-capped Plovers and the Red-necked Stints came by.  The Stints are ones that didn’t get their passports stamped for the long journey north, so don’t have any colour, but a nice show of brown and cream feathers looked good.

Down to the last ponds on Beach Road and a beautiful Black-shouldered Kite presented on a post in the middle of the pool.  With the dark You Yang hills behind it looked a treat.

A bird call and then home.  All in all a pretty fine day’s photography, and nice to have some chats with birdos.     Worth the drive.

Easy to see hard to identify. Whistling Kite at Paradise Road Ponds
Easy to see hard to identify. Whistling Kite at Paradise Road Ponds
Spotted Harrier, doing what they do best. Low languid flight.
Spotted Harrier, doing what they do best. Low languid flight.
Black-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit
Pelican on a turn
Pelican on a turn
Pink-eared Duck rearranging its feathers. This is with 500mm + TC2.0
Pink-eared Duck rearranging its feathers.
This is with 500mm + TC2.0
Red-Kneed Dotterel
Red-Kneed Dotterel
Red-capped Plover and worm
Red-capped Plover and worm
Red=necked Stint, who didn't brave the journey to Siberia.
Red=necked Stint, who didn’t brave the journey to Siberia.
Black-shouldered Kite in the misty rain, You Yangs background
Black-shouldered Kite in the misty rain, You Yangs background

A fox with a paddock all to itself OR. Why is the backpaddock closed again mamma? (My momma told me there’d be days like this- Van Morrison)

As of today, Friday 17th of May, a single fox apparently has the run of the Backpaddock until it’s caught.  Don’t hold your breath.

What I’d been predicting for a few weeks has indeed come to pass. The bandicoot Hilton has been once again been made off limits and a big chain and padlock and a sign saying ‘Close for Thanksgiving”  < Apologies to Arlo Guthrie and “Alice’s Restaurant”
My mate Neil A went out today and got in, but the gate was then locked and it was fortunate a passerby came along and phoned the Vic Parks people and eventually a ranger came by with  a ‘tough luck mate’, story, and let him out, otherwise, they’d be looking for a fox and Neil. My money is still on the fox.
So unless the Flames decide the tucker is better on the outside, the White-throated Treecreeper extends its territory or the fox just simply gives itself up, that’s another season I can write off.
For all the money spent on this project, it seems to me just to be a rort to employ or give people some reason for getting more money from the government.
Call me cynical, skeptical and a bit peeved and you’d be playing with the right coloured pencils.
Looks like a few more trips up to Craigieburn for us.
The website by the way does not indicate a closed park.
Rant over.
Oh, in case you’ve never seen a fox.  Here’s one now.
For the folk involved in the great fox hunt. This is what you’re looking for. Good Luck. You’ll need it.
 Please open the gate for the rest of us sometime before the Flame Robin flocks go back for summer.
Fox: single inhabitant of the Backpaddock.  (Not this one its from Werribee, but you get the idea) Oh, along with some fox hunting gear and appropriate handlers.
Fox: single inhabitant of the Backpaddock.
(Not this one its from Werribee, but you get the idea)
Oh, along with some fox hunting gear and appropriate handlers.

Good on ya Joe!

Been keeping up with the Joe McNally blog of late.

Have you wondered, as I, how do the great photographers get inspired and then go on to make great work.

Well enter into Joe’s journey as he reveals his early years as a grad.  And be introduced to one of his most influential instructors.

Also see some great shots, that shows Joe’s ability to reflect the personality of his subject

http://www.joemcnally.com/blog/2013/05/15/a-wonderful-teacher/

Enjoy

 

Catching up with Rosey

Finished my teaching rounds for this semester.  Now have a few spare days on my hands. Oh, that it were really true.

We had abandoned ideas of a day at Woodlands, as the weather man had predicted dire warnings of cold and very cold. So you might grasp my surprise (think I’ve mentioned my suprisability factor before), when the sun came streaming through the window at breakfast. Why miss an opportunity and quicker than you can say, “let’s load the car and go out,” we had the car loaded and were going out.

Did Woodlands on Monday, and the Sugar Gums on Sunday, so we found the car pointing a little more northward and a teensy bit westward, in bound to a bit of scrub that had offered us a good view of a Rose Robin, about a week back.

As we drove along it wasn’t hard to notice the moisture on the grasses in the paddocks, and easily conclude we are but a hair’s breath from a frost.  Which,on arrival at a parking spot, did spring to mind again as EE pulled out a nice pair of gloves and I looked at my poor freezing fingers, and pondered why my gloves, mittens and snow overgloves were securely locked in the garage.

The logic was pretty easy to follow. Walk to last spot we saw the Robin, herein after named “Rosey”, and wait and see if it was just a vagrant passing through or did it have designs on the area.  And wait we did.  Saw some great looking Whistling Kites at a height, they seemed to be playing the typical Kite games, but much much too far away to photograph.  Sitting is something we do best.  I’m a firm believer in the ideas of Jon Young, in his book on what birds know, in which he suggests a single spot sat in time after time for at least 30 mins or so, reveals lots about what is going on in the area.  Going back regularly and consistently  gives  the wonderful pleasure of watching the changes take place, season to season.  Just need to find the place and fit in the time.  Jon never explains that bit.

After about an hour and several very nice warming cups of Earl Grey, I decided a bit of a walk about would be useful, the sun was still maintaining its full strength in the sky, and a walk in the sunshine might give me a better feeling for the geography of the area. Some little young wattle and some very tough looking brush seemed like a good spot to start, but after a bit of walking and waiting, nothing eventuated. Time for more tea.

Back at the sit spot, of course, EE was up, armed with camera and peering into the dark blackwood grove.  And yes, she volunteered, there was a Rose Robin, and it was just over there, near that big tree, advice accompanied by a general wave of free hand.  Peering, peering. A wing flap.  Now I knew. So gathering up the camera/tripod I moved to get some reasonable light in the area.  The little bird was happy to feed about me, and at one stage, sit on a small dead blackwood branch hanging about a metre in front of me.

Then I lost her, and went to look, and startled her in some regrowth leaves. I think she must have been having a rest.  To the top of the trees she took, scolding me as she went.  And I was scolding me too, as startling them is one of the things I try and avoid. (Jon mentions it in his chapter on the ‘Bird plough”.

Now we were back to bird and intruder. Not much hope of her coming down for another visit any time soon. So retire to another cuppa.

15 minutes passed and she made another foray down to the lower branches, and we slowly picked up where we left off.
Then clouds rolled in, the wind took a chilling turn, and it looked like the weather front was upon us. With little sunlight, and no real rain gear, it was time to go.
On the way home I was pointing the car toward a pie shop, but none appeared.  Need a new set of directions.

Hello Rosey
Hello Rosey
Profile from a very relaxed bird
Profile from a very relaxed bird
Just a little sunlight to add a highlight to her feathers
Just a little sunlight to add a highlight to her feathers
When we're this close, its time to stop breathing and enjoy the moment.
When we’re this close, its time to stop breathing and enjoy the moment.

Colour me Red, or a bit White – throated Treecreeper.

Due to some very nice, charming and well meant and encouraging comments on the activities of the blog, I’ve resolved to try and not be as tardy, and get the hot news out when it happens, not two week late all at once. So.

With a small change of plans in the offing, we took the time to go down to the Sugar Gums and have a quick discussion with Jack and Jill, despite much searching, apparently they weren’t having any of it and visitors were off their to do list.  We stuck it out for awhile, but looked like the weather man would be right and so we thought it best to beat the rain back to the car.  On the way back near the Game Keepers Cottage,  (actually the Parks Vic work depot), there is a small stand of mostly blackwood wattle and as we passed by I saw a movement in the scrub.  Which is pretty note worthy on two counts.  1.  “I” saw it, and 2.”Eagle Eyes” didn’t.

By the time I’d get the 500mm attached to the Markins Ball Head and was prepared to do battle, EE had worked out where the bird was, and to our surprise (we are always surprised)  I spend half my life surprised. To find that it was in fact a female Scarlet Robin, apparently of no fixed address.  Try as we might we didn’t sight a male.  And this one looks, well, young.  So encouraged by this, and the fact that the sun had now come out and was warming us up, we decided on a quick trip down Providence Road to the carpark to see what if any of the Flame Robins were doing.  The weather being the weather, changed yet again before we reached the car and was decidedly overcast, which is when the sky went black, and I thought I might be having  turn, but no. The sky was filled with the wingspans of not one, but two very low flying Wedge-tailled Eagles, and their attendant Ravens.  Trying to gain speed and height they circled over the edge of the trees and had the light been with us, I might well have taken some of the best Wedge-tailed Eagles shots of my some what limited career.(yeah, yeah, blah, boring!)

Back to the car and down to the Robins.  And yes, there were a number in attendance, and the three brothers were on the move and we lost them pretty quickly.  We’ve learned that you don’t chase them through the bush, they can outlfly you at about 50 metres a time.

So sitting seems the best option, and then the White-thoated Treecreeper turned up.  On the wrong side of the tree. But, at least its close to the Map Shelter. Speaking of which there is a new schematic of the park on display in the map case. Very interesting reading. Nice to see our taxes at work.

By then the promised hail was just over the horizon and a return to the car was advised and accepted.

Female Scarlet Robin in the Sugar Gums
Female Scarlet Robin in the Sugar Gums
Wedge-tailed Eagle taking its pet Ravens out for a morning flight.
Wedge-tailed Eagle taking its pet Ravens out for a morning flight.
One of the brothers waiting for his mates to catch up.
One of the brothers waiting for his mates to catch up.
A juvenile Flame Robin, portrait. The interesting wash of colour is beginning under around its neck
A juvenile Flame Robin, portrait. The interesting wash of colour is beginning under around its neck
They seek her here, they seek her there, that elusive White-throated Treecreeper is everywhere, Well in this shot, just near the map shelter.
They seek her here, they seek her there, that elusive White-throated Treecreeper is everywhere, Well in this shot, just near the map shelter.
I know, it can't fly, but this little miss was looking so lovely in the sunshine. She's about 70cm tall.
I know, it can’t fly, but this little miss was looking so lovely in the sunshine. She’s about 70cm tall.

A long walk, in the Long Backpaddock

Dorothy was away for the Mother’s Day weekend with one of our girls, so I was left to fend for myself down in the back paddock.

I decided to take a walk over the ridge with the pipeline attached, (because of security reasons that exact location of the pipeline is only know to those in the know, but the signs every 30 metres announcing that a pipeline is underneath,—  and those reading the signs are not meant to meddle with the pipe., Which is fine because it anticipates that anyone wanting to meddle with the pipe, can’t read?–  I’ve always thought was a dead giveaway about where the pipe might be.  But, think about it the signs may only be part of the clever ploy to confuse those who can’t read? )

But I’d barely got on to the ‘roo track up the ridge, when I ran into my first hunting party of Flame Robins.  A family of about 5 birds. They’ve been in the area near the 3 Way junction for most of the week. After a few polite photos, I moved on to the top of the ridge. The weather was indicating rain, and the wind was very strong, so I figured perhaps the Kites and Eagles might be playing in the up-draughts off the hill, but. No.

There is a dry creek bed between the hill with the pipe signs and the rather conspicuous radar town on Gellibrand Hill.  But it does keep a little more moisture than the surrounding rises, so there is a good chance of a bit of bird activity in there. The first thing I spot is a lone little rock wallaby. Now I’ve remonstrated before on the plight of said wallaby, and the fence that runs through its territory.  I just wonder now, if its the only wallaby on this side of the fence. And that worries me, as a single wallaby in an environmental park is pretty much redundant before it starts.

Not to far on I came across a hunting party of Flame Robins,  (total for the day 9 birds),  They were a new group for me, and included a pair of Scarlet Robins, (total now 11).

Onwards down the creek line and my attention was drawn to a lot of noise, and activity among a stand of lovely grey box.  There were two pairs of Red-caps hard at work, more willie wagtails than I can count, and a large flock of Yellow-rumped Thornbills, and some rather noisy Grey Fantails, and a third hunting party of Flames,  4 males, about as many females, and a handful of juveniles,  Flame total now 18+.  Again these were all new birds for me, and one of them was especially well marked with a yellow sash on each side of its chest.

Across the road near the police paddocks, and down by the dam, and another small Flame party in high speed mode.  Total now, 23+

Right down at the south end of the backpaddock is a stand of sheoaks, and a wide open area of grassland. Ideal for bandicoots, and also a major lair for foxes. (Of which of course now due to the many eradication attempts now don’t exist. Except don’t tell the fox(es))

But near the grassland is a nice run of Grey box and black wattle, and here I ran into another small hunting party of Flames and a second pair of Scarlet Robins,  Total now 27+ and 4 Scarlets.

The area down there is good greybox, and the few kangaroos use parts of it as a lay over, there is also because of that a lot of small ground cover saltbush, and it has a particular tiny red berry.  Again I’ve postulated my theory on the use of the red berries by the Robins, but it seemed strange today that all the hunting parties were in areas where the saltbush is in fruit.

I followed the grass lands back toward the north, and just as I crossed the east west track, another family of Flame Robins appeared.  The distinctive markings on one of the males, identifies them as some that were in the park in the early part of April, so total now 33+ Robins.

Henny and Penny came by to see what all the fuss was about, and Henny gave the males a piece of his mind, which when your only 12 gms can’t be very much.

As I walked back along the track near the powerlines down to the dam, a familiar tic tic greeted me, and not more than about 3 meters away was a male redcap, he tic’ed, I tic’ed, and I am half of a mind to conclude its the missing Locky.  He has a cute little white mark on near his beak.  More to tell I suspect.

Tubby little male waiting for the morning sun to get over the trees to warm him up.
Tubby little male waiting for the morning sun to get over the trees to warm him up.

 

First of two Scarlet Robins. Its not Will.I.Am, as the red apron is different.
First of two Scarlet Robins. Its not Will.I.Am, as the red apron is different.

 

A very busy little female down along the creek line, she and her male companion were working with a large family of Flame Robins and Thornbills.
A very busy little female down along the creek line, she and her male companion were working with a large family of Flame Robins and Thornbills.

 

Brilliant male one of four that were working near the police paddocks.
Brilliant male one of four that were working near the police paddocks.

 

Rather interesting bird with a distinctive yellow slash on his chest.
Rather interesting bird with a distinctive yellow slash on his chest.

 

Yellow bugs make the best tucker, just ask this lass.
Yellow bugs make the best tucker, just ask this lass.

 

Another intriguingly marked Red-cap Male. he has tow distinct white feather sets on his face, and his red bib is also showing under his chin. Not seen him ever before.
Another intriguingly marked Red-cap Male.
he has tow distinct white feather sets on his face, and his red bib is also showing under his chin. Not seen him ever before.

 

This lovely guy might well be the missing Lockey, the little white moustache is a giveaway.
This lovely guy might well be the missing Lockey, the little white moustache is a giveaway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I followed the grassslands back north, and saw little else, but the

 

 

A Sunny morning in the Backpaddock with the White-throated Treecreeper.

We had a bit of time on Monday to take the morning to look around the Backpaddock. Haven’t spent too much time out there really as we are just waiting for the Bandicoot Hilton to be declared off limits again, so mostly have been working elsewhere. But. the birds are quite plentiful out there at the moment and we took our chances.

Found a couple of family flocks of Flame Robins, and at one spot some water that gave them some bathing opportunities.   So after a bit of a wait, several species turned up.The highlight of the morning was the female White-throated Treecreeper, she came in bathed and then sat on a tree trunk and preened. Just sat on the wrong side for pictures.

Some Brown-headed Honeyeaters also came by and they entertained us with their antics and frenetic energy in the water for quite a few minutes.

All would have been prefect except my old D7000 shutter packed it in again. Third Time Mr Nikon!!!   I’ve never had a lemon  before but this one takes the cake.   I was going to keep the D2x, and got suckered in to keep the D7000 for its video capabilities, not much point if it doesn’t work.  So, off to the camera hospital for you my lad.

As you probably know the manufacturers play a numbers game on the shutter count, and the ‘Average number before failure”,  the D7000 is rated at 100,000+  As it it a law of averages thing, If’n I’m only getting 5 to 10 thousand then some lucky dude out there is going to get something like 2 million.  Good on ya.

Rant over. Show some pictures.

Flame Robin, male, at a pool of water.
Flame Robin, male, at a pool of water.
This male seem to be on his own. No females or juveniles and he's not hunting with other males.  He's just had a quick splash to dampen his feathers.
This male seem to be on his own. No females or juveniles and he’s not hunting with other males. He’s just had a quick splash to dampen his feathers.
This gorgeous young lass is new in the park and is well inside the Backpaddock fence. Her male has her full attention.
This gorgeous young lass is new in the park and is well inside the Backpaddock fence. Her male has her full attention.
At last. I finally managed a worthwhile shot of this very elusive female.
At last. I finally managed a worthwhile shot of this very elusive female.
A Brown-headed Honeyeater watching its relatives bathe.
A Brown-headed Honeyeater watching its relatives bathe.

Western Treatment Plant morning adventure

Mr An Onymous and I had been talking about a morning visit.  We have the same general thought, that the lighting is much better for photography early in the morning down there, because of the position of the sun along the east west roads.

The idea being to drive the the east end of the plant early, and then make our way back slowly stopping as necessary and with the light behind us, the colour and detail should, all other things being considered, better.  Of course, the birds don’t know about this seemingly brilliant scheme, and continue to be, well, birds.

The big sticking point in the idea is ‘Getting up early in the morning”.  To work successfully we’d like to be down there as close to sunup as possible.  (there are some limitations by Melb Water on what time we can get in, but as Daylight saving is behind us as they say, its not such a big deal). Getting on to the Western Ringroad and going with the traffic flow, however is another thing and we need to leave home ‘early’ which does put undue strain on the old body. Trust me.

The second sticking point is that as we swing in off Point Wilson road and begin the journey along Paradise Road, that we are driving into the sun. Hard on the driver.  Then.

Someone says,  Oh, look over there, its a ….. and of course we need to stop to look, and take photos and the idea of getting to the other end of the plant is rapidly deteriorating into shreds of it former self.

At the moment, there are quite a number of Raptors in the area.  Whistling Kites in large numbers, plenty of Swamp Harriers and Brown Falcons. Not to mention the Black-shouldered Kite, and more.

We found a Black-shouldered Kite on a post, consuming a recent kill. It probably was  Pipit, the few brown feathers and the longer toes pointed that way. But it devoured the whole thing in 1 min and 21 sec, (I checked the times on the camera frames).  I was a bit taken aback, as I was under the impression they were very much a mouse eater, and very little else. This one obviously had not read the field guide!

On a small mudflat among the bushes near the beach, I was sitting on some grass photographing Red-kneed Dotterels, I was just about to make another move closer to the water’s edge, when down the mud flat tripped Foxy Locksy. This was a most handsome and healthy looking animal.  I know. They are feral. I know they create a huge amount of damage. I also know from the activities in the Woodland Historic Park Bandicoot programme, that simply outlawing them doesn’t stop them, and using all the high tech equipment in the world, and working with the best of professionals doesn’t eradicate them. What I didn’t expect was the barrage of comments when I posted the image on Flickr. So thought I’d put it up here too. Just because I can.

We eventually headed down to the Murtcaim outflow, otherwise know as the Spit, or the Western Lagoons, and to our amazement, we found the Four Brolgas that have been reported a number of times down there.  Now, this was a first, for me, to see, and to photograph.  We soon discovered they had no intention of making it easy, and would loft into the air at the first possible moment if we looked like we might approach. None the less with them on their bund and we on our side, we did manage a few worthwhile shots, and Mr O even got some very suitable inflight images.  My in-flight  with the 500mm can only be described as ‘dismal’.  It’s just too heavy.  However, I am pondering a Gimbal type head and that will give me a bit better edge on working with the long lens.  Time will tell.

Whistling Kite enjoying the early morning air. The off shore wind gave them a chance to waft along the edges of the water with little effort
Whistling Kite enjoying the early morning air. The off shore wind gave them a chance to waft along the edges of the water with little effort
Black-shouldered Kite at work in the paddock. It was not having to work too hard as the wind was in its favour. Ours too as the light fell on to the bird.
Black-shouldered Kite at work in the paddock. It was not having to work too hard as the wind was in its favour. Ours too as the light fell on to the bird.
Said Kite with results from hunt.  It appeared to be a Pipit, as the feathers were the first go.  I just couldn't get high enough to have the bird completely against the saltbush backdrop.
Said Kite with results from hunt. It appeared to be a Pipit, as the feathers were the first go. I just couldn’t get high enough to have the bird completely against the saltbush backdrop.
Pelican on a tight turn into the wind. It gave such a nice wing spread.
Pelican on a tight turn into the wind. It gave such a nice wing spread.
The Ultimate Survivor.  Foxy Locksy came tripping down the mud flat while I was sitting in the grass photographing Red-kneed Dotterels.
The Ultimate Survivor. Foxy Locksy came tripping down the mud flat while I was sitting in the grass photographing Red-kneed Dotterels.

 

An adult and juvenile Brolga. The first I've even seen or photographed. Worth the time down, just for this. The elegance of the birds movements are something that really has to be seen to be fully appreciated.
An adult and juvenile Brolga. The first I’ve even seen or photographed. Worth the time down, just for this. The elegance of the birds movements are something that really has to be seen to be fully appreciated.

 

So much to do, so little time to blog

It’s been over a month since I managed to get to the keyboard.  As you’re no doubt aware, I’ve moved much of my photography of birds over to Flickr as http://www.flickr.com/photos/birdsaspoetry/

But nice as it is over there, its a bit hard to have a ramble on about what has been happening with the birds and our imaging.

With the Flame Robin flocks now well back in the Woodlands Historic Park, its been a bit busy for us out there.  Not only that, we’ve been conscious that paddock is going to be locked over again as the “Bandicoot” programme gets underway, so we’ve been busy working in a couple of other locations away from the park (more to follow).

Over the past few weeks, about 4 families of Flame Robins have been in and about the backpaddock and the dam area.  Unlike previous years, the ground is quite dry, and so they are looking further afield for food me thinks.  The Three “Brothers” have made a couple of appearances, and a rather nice family of a male, female and three juveniles have been conspicuous as well as a male, single unattached.   We’ve also spotted a pair of Scarlet Robins who have come into enjoy the park over winter.  Will.I.Am. O’Scalet has had a bit of a run in with them, but it seems to have been settled.

A lovely flock of Sitellas are patrolling the trees, and we’ve seen but not photographed, (to my chagrin), a pair of Golden Whistlers.

Here’s a few from the past couple of weeks.

Primrose seems to have come back into the park, and is currently working with a juvenile bird.  Her mate, Lockey, I am beginning to fear has passed on.
Primrose seems to have come back into the park, and is currently working with a juvenile bird. Her mate, Lockey, I am beginning to fear has passed on.

 

Plenty of activity in small number of Flame Robins across the area, mostly males  and a few juveniles so far.
Plenty of activity in small number of Flame Robins across the area, mostly males and a few juveniles so far.

 

Mr Coppertop, one of the brothers makes his appearance.
Mr Coppertop, one of the brothers makes his appearance.

 

One early morning this lass invited us into the park.  She is one of only a few females we've located so far.
One early morning this lass invited us into the park. She is one of only a few females we’ve located so far.

 

Another of the males that has turned up to brighten up the forest for winter
Another of the males that has turned up to brighten up the forest for winter

 

A large number of Whistling Kites are working in the area. I counted 12 birds up near the radar tower area.  Something must be drawing them in.
A large number of Whistling Kites are working in the area. I counted 12 birds up near the radar tower area. Something must be drawing them in.