Looking around Eynesbury Grey Box forest

The sun came out!   After such a long couple of weeks with very average to almost depressing weather, the sun came out.

And so did the cameras, the themos and the car. And soon we were headed to Eynesbury.
For those who’ve missed part of the backstory, we’ve relocated to a new Villa in Tarneit, near Werribee.  Woodlands is quite the drive for us now, so won’t get anywhere near the same coverage as  when we were local.

Eynesbury is a new housing development out near Melton. Before it was a housing development it was part of a rich pastoral holdings from the late 1800s. Over the years, things have changed and eventually a development group acquired the land and among other things built a golf course in the middle of the forest and have set about developing the estate for golfing aficionados. Its working. Around 600 units have been occupied or in the process of same.

Part of the old property was  largish Grey Box stand which was left untouched as it offered a place for the sheep to shelter after sheering and dipping, etc.  The developers have tried to maintain it and there is quite an ‘environmental’ approach to forest.

Its been the home of some very interesting birds and now at least they are relatively well sheltered.   So we went to take a look.  If we can work the way we did in the Grey Box at Woodlands it might be a fair substitute, less of course the amazing Red-capped and Eastern Yellow Robins.  Still time will tell.

We didn’t have to get too far from the car to find the forest filled with White-browed Woodswallows and some Dusky’s.  Any number of Brown Treecreepers, and a pair of Little Eagles, who raised the anger of the Woodswallow who mobbed the poor eagles relentlessly.

A Brown Goshawk, crashed through the tree canopy and again the ever vigilant Woodswallows were in attack mode.  The speed of the Goshawk and the power of its attack was actually quite phenomenal.  Made me respect them even more, and there would be no escape for an unwary photographer who got in the way of one of these very powerful birds.   I thought it must have taken a hapless Woodswallow, and then thought it might have missed and taken the branch instead, but when I looked at the only image I got, it was a large skink of some sort. Chased by any number of Woodswallows, it disappeared with as much speed and agility as it had appeared.

One of the highlight birds at Eynesbury is the Diamond Firetail.  These little birds travel in small flocks, and seem to feed in the open areas under the Grey Box.   I found a couple, but they seemed very wary of me, and I didn’t get very close.

A second very important bird is the Speckled Warbler, now there is a couple at Woodlands, but they do take a bit of tracking down.    At Eynesbury, it would seem they are going to be just as elusive as I only saw one from a distance on a stump.

While I did a quick scout along a track and Kangaroo pad,  EE stayed by a pool of water on the roadway.     Of course, while I was gone she managed some great views and shots of first a number of Firetails coming in to bathe and then a few shots of a Speckled Warbler in some low wattle scrub.     Oh!!!!

So we thought as the sun got hotter, it was time to go, and down to the Golf-club Cafe we went to enjoy a late lunch and a coffee.  They have a  Lamb and Mint pie on the menu, so armed with that bit of info alone, it would be enough to entice me back.

White-browed Woodswallow
White-browed Woodswallow
Little Eagle avoiding a direct attack from Woodswallow
Little Eagle avoiding a direct attack from Woodswallow
Diamond Firetail
Diamond Firetail
White-browed Woodswallow and very exposed nest.
White-browed Woodswallow and very exposed nest.
Brown Treecreeper
Brown Treecreeper
Brown Goshawk beating a hasty retreat from Woodswallows in hot pursuit
Brown Goshawk beating a hasty retreat from Woodswallows in hot pursuit

 

Rainy Day Werribee, still a pleasure to be out

My mate Lynzwee  (Lindsay to his Aussie mates) from Singapore. (see his Flickr site for great images),  dropped me a note and said, be down your way, and how about going to the WTP.  Now, its probably common knowledge that we don’t need much of an invite, so we fixed a day in his travel plans and waited.

But the weather turned particularly nasty.   Lots of squalls, and incessant rain. Overcast as.  And not so great for photography. But give Linds his dues,  the text Message arrived, “On train to Werribee, see you soon”. So we grabbed all the wet weather gear.   Drizabone, we love you.

Great to see him again, and chat about things, and to my surprise he’d packed a “Black Rapid” camera strap. These are the Rolls Royce of camera straps, and I was very pleased indeed to attach it to the 300mm and get use out of it right away.

Try however as we might with the rain pitching down in what can only be described  as “Biblical Proportions”,  we sloshed along the road to see what was findable. Needless to say not much.  Catch of the day goes to EE (again!) for a very dejected looking Spotted Harrier hiding behind a bush from the wind.  Not the rain, as it was going through everything.   So, See bird. Stop car- without hitting anything, (cryptic joke for those who follow along), and by the time I was able to find the bird in the viewfinder, Lindsay already had 15 shots off and EE was not far behind.  I just got the lens poked past both their heads, and Spotty took to the air.

Further on, we found a couple of Black-shouldered Kites, in a state of drenchedness.  “drookit” I am reliably informed is the Scottish word that best describes the condition.  At first it was thought they were a pair, but on closer inspection one had decidedly ginger brown colours on head and chest, and would almost certainly be a juvenile.

Onwards, the intrepid party sloshed.  Most waders were way out on the edge of the tide, and not seeming to notice the rain. Given off course, we had to get out of nice warm car and walk out 100m or more, we moved on.  Then it was a Swamp Harrier on a post.  I lay claim to  having spotted it first, but really in the rain, no one cared.  It was on my side of the car, so I got a couple of frames off before it too headed into the downpour.
We also located about 8 or more Ruddy Turnstones on  the road up to The Borrow Pits. And then to make Lindsay happy a pair of Whistling Kites meandered past in between showers.

With skies ‘Lowering” by the minute it was obvious, well, it seemed that way, that those dark clouds portended more biblical rain, and we took an early mark and off to the Highway Lounge to dry out, grab a bite to eat, and do what photographers do best in this situation. Talk.

Lindsay was soon on the train and we were soon home to look at the images of the day.

Got it,  Great Egret makes fishing look easy
Got it, Great Egret makes fishing look easy
Red-capped Plovers
Red-capped Plovers
Swamp Harrier sitting in the rain.
Swamp Harrier sitting in the rain.
Golden-headed Cisticola
Golden-headed Cisticola
Sitting out of the wind. The rain penetrated anyway
Sitting out of the wind. The rain penetrated anyway
Black-shoulered Kite very "drookit"
Black-shoulered Kite very “drookit”