We shared the first meeting with a Jacky Winter and her nest and two lovely nestlings.
As we are about to be away for a couple of weeks it seemed that now was the only time we’d have the chance to see how the Jackys were getting on.
The weather man was a bit ambiguous and we took a very early morning trip out hoping to get a little good weather, and that’s what we got a little.
We soon located the Jacky nest and her two precious little ones and they had grown considerably.
She was elegant enough to let us spend a few minutes with them and feed them as we stood by. The little ones are quite well developed and would move about the ‘nest’ doing wing stretches and preening.
One the way back I heard a Speckled Warbler, and sad to say , hearing is one thing seeing another, but getting a good photo, something else again.
We’ve had a whole range of really average weather of late, and both EE and I were getting a bit tired of being unable to get out for a really good look about. Much changes in a fortnight.
We decided on an early trip to Eynesbury, mainly because of Speckled Warbler. These tiny little songsters are proving to be incredibly illusive for us. We’ve heard them in several places, but have little to show other than a glimpse of a bird flying off into the distance.
Weatherzone showed some pretty nice icons indicating its should be clear from sunup till at least midday, so setting the alarm clock, we were ready for an early start. As we drove up toward Eynesbury, it was obvious the weather was not going to match the icons and it was very overcast. And with no wind, it was pretty much going to stay that way. Still we crossed the road entered the forest and began our search. And within about 10mins had heard the cheery cry of the Warbler, but so far away and no pictures.
The other bird of interest is the Diamond Firetail, and while we got some good views no really great photos.
By late morning the sun had poked through, the Little Eagles were playing the strengthening breezes and a pair of Brown Falcons were playing chase across the treetops.
We took a walk up past the old shearing shed area and then down the track toward the golf course dam.
“There is always a pair of Jacky Winter on this corner, ” I assured EE, but she responded “I would have thought the name ‘Winter’ might have been a clue.”
And then to both our collective surprises a Jacky flew down grabbed a bug and sat in a tree with its usual tail wag.
The Jacky winter is a fine mixture of part Robin, part Flycatcher (they used to be called the Lesser Fascinating Flycatcher), part Fantail, and a touch of Woodswallow. Well it seems like that to me.
They are also among my favourite birds. Their simple colours make a great photo harmony, their clear sounding calls are a delight and they can be very easy to work with, almost completely ignoring the inquisitive human being. On average. I’ve also met a few that are extraordinarily skittish, and I’ve never had much success.
This corner pair fall somewhere in between. We’ve had some lovely interaction and complete disdain on other occasions.
I followed this one across the roadway, and propped against a tree, hoping, she/he? they are impossible to tell apart, would come on back and at least hunt in the area. It immediately headed back across the road, into a tree, and I caught a glimpse of it on a limb with a lot of wing fluttering. Perhaps its going to be fed, thought I, so I wandered slowly in that direction, but by then the bird had moved on. However there was a bump in the branch, and at first I thought it might have been the other of the pair.
Then it dawned on me. “It’s a young one that is waiting to be fed”. But…
When I put the glass on it, what I discovered was a Jacky Winter nest. Now, I’ve seen some pretty tiny Red-capped Robin nests and the nest of a Grey Fantail, but this was even tinier, and not at all well built. The two young were already overcrowding the nest. And the one thing they seemed to be able to do was to crouch down, and hang on. So at a quick glance it didn’t look like either a nest nor any young birds. Very clever.
But it is tiny.
After a few minutes the first of the adults and then the other came in and poked food into the open mouths, and there was no sound from the young and apart from putting their head up, no real movement either. Very clever.
I concluded from the size that they were about a week from fledging, so perhaps another trip will be needed to see the young birds in action.
Only spent enough time to get a few shots, like to leave them to themselves unless I’m invited to stay, and there wasn’t time for introductions.
On the way back to where we’d left our gear, I heard the Warbler and managed a few shots of it. One of them in the clear. What I didn’t expect was to be harassed by 3 or 4 very agitated Superb Fairy Wren males and several females. The males getting up very close indeed to try and attract my attention and then I noticed why. They had recently fledged 3 or 4 young birds and were trying to protect them. I managed a couple of quick shots of the young with their very short tails.
Lindsay (to his Ozzie Mates), dropped me a note on his scheduled visit and I found a day that looked suitable. Not that we had many options.
So as the Banjo said. We went.
The weather map showed no cloud at all when I checked, but when we got to the Pt Wilson Road it was pretty certain the map was wrong. So we suffered the usual grey sky pics. And kept our eyes up for an elusive Sea-eagle.
Lindsay had about 4 birds that he really wanted and we managed to add Brolga. A pair were sitting in the grass on the far side of a pond, and at first everyone jumped to conclusions “She’s nesting!” but change the ‘n’ to an ‘r’ and you’d be much more likely to be right. So it was. When we swung by on the return journey, they both had moved quite a long way down the bund.
And then we saw them have an altercation with a handful of Cape Barren Geese, and the geese didn’t bother to stick around and argue.
At the moment the Whiskered Terns are hunting prodigiously and obviously productively. So we spent quite a little time working at really close distances with them as they swept along the mouth of the Little River.
And to top it off in the distance a Sea-eagle took off. Too far.
I was using the 300mm f/4 lens and was surprised to remember how fast it was at grabbing focus. I must remember to put it back on the D2Xs and it will really sing.
The sun came out and we had a really fine afternoon and some good results. On the way back we stopped for the ‘traditional’ coffee and Banana Cake at the Highway Lounge, and then as we were near swung into the Werribee River Park, but it was pretty quiet. But on the way out three of the young Kestrels were hunting in the evening sunshine. Lindsay was hanging out the window trying for that ‘best’ shot. The bird obliged by dropping off the post on to the road, but I think the af on the D7000 might have found the roadside more attractive. At least that’s how I interpreted his response.
Here’s a days sample See Lindsay’s Page sometime soon for his version.
We dropped him at the railway station after a day of much mirth and frivolity and some great birding and excellent photo opportunities. Seeya next time mate.
Took a bit of a look at the date on the last missive here and its been a while. A long while. Could regale you with stories about this and that getting in the way, but reality is I’ve just been putting it off, and lots of good activities have become lost in the mists of time, (well at least 6 weeks anyway).
One reason has been the weather. It has been drifting from unkind to downright ugly as any of my Flickr shots will show.
Sat by the tv last night watching the weather icons, (no not the presenter@!!!!), and thought, if that wind stays and the cloud moves across bet that the morrow will be a lovely clear morning till about midday. What do you reckon, a trip to Enynesbury? I asked. EE responded, not until I see what the weather is like in the morning. Fair enough.
In the meantime I packed all the gear and waited till the blue sky showed through the window. We were going!
One of the reasons to journey out there is the Diamond Firetail and the impossible “Speckled Warbler”.
As it turns out, we saw both, and photographed badly the Warbler, but it was enough to enthuse us for another run.
Rather than ramble on about walking in a grey box forest, and seeing Little Eagles with a rabbit, and all the other things that I never got the camera on, here are a few we did see.