Given the really super weather of yesterday, we decided to make an early morning run to the Western Treatment Plant and look for some Brolga that had been sighted. So we went. Early enough for the cold to be, well, bitter. All rugged up we arrived down at the T Section area, and immediately found a number of waders that had not made the trip to Siberia. Top among them was a Curlew Sandpiper in breeding plumage. Even some of the Red-necked Stints that couldn’t get their passports stamped in time were showing the ‘red neck’ for which they are named.
At that early hour of the morning with the sun running almost horizontal across the waters, the mists can be a problem if you are facing toward the sun. But, there in the distance and the end of the road, surely, yes, its two Brolga. Not much photographic to be achieved from an overexposed, blurry shot, so we took the round trip on the roads on the bund and ended up with the ‘sun over your left shoulder dear’, as my Mother used to say.
They were both pretty co-operative, and eventually with a consenting nod, they took to the air to look else where in the Plant.
By this time, the weather man’s dire predictions were beginning to come to fruition and the light was, well, falling past average fast.
We moved up the road and found on Lake Borrie, first one flock, and then a second, of Great Crested Grebe. I’ve only ever seen them in ones and twos, but here were flocks of 15-20 all with their heads tucked back, chests out and bobbing up and down in the water. Very impressive. Also among them was an Australasian Grebe. So in a small area we had all three Grebes. Hoary-headed, Australasian and Great Crested. I’ve been told the Australasian Grebe are not found in the WTP, so this one either didn’t know the rules or had come by to visit with the relies.
We paused for the obligatory ‘cuppa’ and a Swamp Harrier rewarded us by working along the bund on the far side. I was able to watch the patient, and very precise way it works along the reed beds, quickly backing up to check on anything that is out of the ordinary, and could be used for lunch.
A little further on and we came across a drama that was about to unfold. A Swamp Harrier was being harassed by a Little Raven. Now usually this is pretty easy to score, Raven makes a few passes, Harrier ducks and weaves, and in the end both return to normal services as soon as possible.
What made this much more dangerous was the Harrier was obviously in a bad mood and in no frame of mind to be harassed. As soon as the Raven had made its first sweep by, the Harrier dodged and then turned claws out and wings working to cut off the escape of the Raven. Now the purser became the pursued, and the Harrier was more than a match for the twisting turning Raven. Its not the first time I’ve seen this, as I watched a Harrier grasp the wing of a hapless raven some time back and bring it down. Eventually damaging its wing and then despatching it on the ground. There also on the blog is the story of the Harrier taking on a Brown Falcon encounter.
The Raven took to running to the reed beds – Bad Move. This the Harrier’s best working area, so it made a direct and sustained attack on the raven at pretty much ground level. But the Raven did have the ability to turn tighter and faster, and with what can only be called bird luck it made it to the roadway, and the Harrier figured the event was a thing of the past. The Raven also decided that once was enough for the day, and took off across the paddock on the other side of the road. Phew!