Early morning looking for Brogla

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.

See here. The amazing story of the Harrier and the Falcon.

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!

All dressed up and,  well, no where to go. A Curlew Sandpiper in breeding plumage.
All dressed up and, well, no where to go. A Curlew Sandpiper in breeding plumage.
Brolgas on a mudflat
Brolgas on a mudflat
Precision Preening Team.
Precision Preening Team.
Aerial feats of excellence. Swamp Harrier with Avalon Airport in the background
Aerial feats of excellence. Swamp Harrier with Avalon Airport in the background
Great  Crested Grebe. Two large flocks were on Lake Borrie
Great Crested Grebe. Two large flocks were on Lake Borrie
An Australasian Grebe among its Hoary-headed relatives
An Australasian Grebe among its Hoary-headed relatives
Swamp Harrier on the job.
Swamp Harrier on the job.
With a twist of the body, the head is able to examine in great detail the reeds below.
With a twist of the body, the head is able to examine in great detail the reeds below.
Total concentration
Total concentration
A couple of Whistling Kites enjoying the breezes.
A couple of Whistling Kites enjoying the breezes.
Legs up, and the Raven suddenly senses that the tables have been turned.
Legs up, and the Raven suddenly senses that the tables have been turned.
Hmmm what's wrong with this picture.  Harrier in hot pursuit of Raven
Hmmm what’s wrong with this picture. Harrier in hot pursuit of Raven
Well able to predict and react to the twists and turns of the hapless Raven
Well able to predict and react to the twists and turns of the hapless Raven
Time is almost running out for the Raven.
Time is almost running out for the Raven.
Swamp Harrier now feeling stress relief
Swamp Harrier now feeling stress relief
Whistling Kite resting from a hectic game.
Whistling Kite resting from a hectic game.
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6 thoughts on “Early morning looking for Brogla

  1. Wow David, you sure got your ‘money’s worth’ on this trip, what with Brolgas and Grebes, then great dramas in the sky beautifully captured!

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  2. Hi David,
    I have been away for quite a while from Melbourne (and Flickr) but getting your interesting reports while being on the road is always a treat. I have just paid for my next 2 years of access to WTP realising I’m not getting my “value for money”. The brolgas are still on my list of birds to meet there.

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    1. G,day Adam, I have been missing the posts, nice to have you back. The Brolga are usually down the T Section area, or out along The Spit turn off on 29 Mile Road
      I reckon its the best value for money. Beats watching a movie in a theatre and eating junk food

      Like

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