Working in the early morning mists

Last Sunday, the weather people, correctly, predicted foggy morning. That was enough to send us to the Office.

Not only did we get some grand misty moody shots, but caught up with Kitty and Kalav – the Brave.
Kitty now has settled on the nest and he is still bringing food on demand.

The Brown Falcon came and gave us quite a lovely half hour or so sitting and preening waiting for the sun to break through.
And some fine little Superb Fairy-wrens stopped by to entertain us.
Art Morris has been writing a bit of late on High Key portraits, and the mist gave both an ideal light and an excellent backdrop to play the little birds against.

Enjoy

To wing. Brown Falcon on a mission
To wing. Brown Falcon on a mission
A party mouse, bringing its own streamer decorations to the event
A party mouse, bringing its own streamer decorations to the event
The dramatic pose as the sun broke through
The dramatic pose as the sun broke through
High Key Wren
High Key Wren
Game of hide and seek
Game of hide and seek
More high key.
More high key.
Whistling Kite, waiting for the fog to lift
Whistling Kite, waiting for the fog to lift
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Mousing with Kalav- the Brave

No one needs to be told that today was a cold day.  Oh, 14degrees feels like 3.7, so the weather dude said.  3.7??? Now how can you predict that accurately?
Anyway it wasn’t even close in the strong winds running in to the 50+kph, it felt more like -3.7 say -4, whose going to quibble over whole numbers.
Cold. When the wind rips through a Driazabone jacket, I’m here to tell its COLD.

Had a date with Kalav -the Brave.  He was going to be in a lot of trouble hunting in this wind.  But, did you notice Brave in there somewhere?

By the time I’d arrived, he’d already decimated one part of the hunting ground and had moved to new premises.   Seemed more interested in keeping Kitty well supplied than in a silly old dude in a Drizabone pointing a lens at him.

4 mice, in 10 minutes.  And all within a stones throw, (not that I threw stones at  him) of where I was hunkered down behind the the fencepost, the only protection around.

Onya bloke.  You deserve a rest for a few hours.

Steadying in the wind was a real effort
Steadying in the wind was a real effort
On target
On target
At lift off
At lift off
One foot technique
One foot technique
Tucking up the mouse
Tucking up the mouse
Oh, Kitty, where are you, Kitty, Kitty.
Oh, Kitty, where are you, Kitty, Kitty.

Wandering In Woodlands

Bet you thought you’d never see that head line again ah?

We needed to go to the Melbourne Airport.  For the geographically embarrassed that is about ohhh? 15 mins from Woodlands.  So.

Why don’t we leave early, have a look at the Red-caps and then go to said airport?
We did

Which was pretty amazing as we met Nina out there and she had had a good morning seeing among other things a Fantail Cuckoo.  The carpark near the cemetery was abuzz with Thornbills and so many Grey Fantails.  So after farewelling Nina, we set off for Red-cap country.

And we found a couple of female birds quite quickly, but no male.  Then a couple of Rufous Whistler females seemed to be having  a tiff over a male, and he happily responded with his usual “Echong” call. All very nice.
Enter stage right a Shining Bronze Cuckoo, and things were looking up.

Till.

The rain came. As come it must.   By then we’d ventured into the (in)famous Backpaddock, only to discover its still a quiet place for birds.

More time with the Red-caps, and I began to wonder if one of them at least might be the previous season juvenile having just moulted in as she has a very tiny red cap.

By now, the rain was winning and the coffee shoppee at Greenvale was inviting, then off to the birdless airport we adjourned.

Red-capped Robin Female
Red-capped Robin Female
They always seem to be able to take that little bit of extra time to pose the best possible way
They always seem to be able to take that little bit of extra time to pose the best possible way
Wing over action. Seems to me that its main purpose is hunting to perhaps scare insects into moving
Wing over action.
Seems to me that its main purpose is hunting to perhaps scare insects into moving
It certainly gives a great look at the wing patterning
It certainly gives a great look at the wing patterning
Eeee Chong
Eeee Chong
Rufous Whistler Female
Rufous Whistler Female
Our very smallest bird. A Weebill.
Our very smallest bird. A Weebill.
Always a pleasure to find a Pardalote
Always a pleasure to find a Pardalote
How about I pose here by the spider web. Yes, but turn around a bit more. Oh.
How about I pose here by the spider web. Yes, but turn around a bit more. Oh.

Alan Hartup – a selection of nature photographs

A must see if you are in the area.
Curly was a most magnificent gentleman, and so freely shared his knowledge of the area and of the wildlife.

Natural Newstead

A wonderful exhibition of nature photographs by leading amateur photographer and longtime resident of Newstead, Alan Jesse Hartup (1915 –2004) will be opened at the Newstead Railway Arts Hub on Saturday October 10th at 3pm.

This exhibition is largely of bird life in Newstead and the surrounding districts, from Alan’s vast array of black and white photographs and colour slides. This selection of 20 works of black and white and prints from colour slides, spans over 60 years of Alan’s impressive output. Beginning with his beloved 35mm Voigtlander camera, he progressed to the brilliant level of work he achieved with his Mamiya and Rollieflex 2¼ square cameras and his great ability with dark room techniques.

Alan has been represented widely in amateur circles and has been a central figure in promoting, selecting and judging photography in Victoria and interstate. In preparing for this exhibition we have been reminded what…

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One day in the sunshine

Its been said, that I’ve lost my bird karma, and over the past few weeks, probably my weather karma as well.
Can’t recall a good day in the sunshine, so we’ve been, as we say on Flickr, practicing.

I’ve been keeping an eye on a pair of Black-shouldered Kites at The Office. (Werribee River Park).

And today, with some sunshine, I needed a place to practice,  I’d been reading John Shaw and he seemed to have some pretty fine results using the Nikon 3D tracking, so thought I’d give it a go. Never been one of my favourite settings, I do have to concede.

Knowing I only had a few minutes, I grabbed the D7100 with the 300mm PF.  A pretty nice combo now I’ve made some focus adjustments care of Reikan’s FoCal software.

After a little messing with some distant falcons and Black Kites, I was about to return home when sailing over the trees came a Black-shouldered Kite with a mouse, and pretty much immediately pursued by a female crying out for her food.

That was enough for me to drop into the open paddock, (among all the stinging nettles as it turned out!!! – that wasn’t in John’s book!), and see  him come in with several mice over the next half hour or so.

Here’s a selection.

Alley Oop, Black-shouldered Kite style.
Alley Oop, Black-shouldered Kite style.
He followed her back to the feeding perch.
He followed her back to the feeding perch.
Well fed, its time to get on with the important house renovations
Well fed, its time to get on with the important house renovations
Where is the nest again?
Where is the nest again?
Ahhh so that is where you are working
Ahhh so that is where you are working
Mouse eye view of the male leaving for a hunt
Mouse eye view of the male leaving for a hunt
What's that I see, oh, just another mouse dinner
What’s that I see, oh, just another mouse dinner
“Hold still will you, we are going to be on WordPress, and I don’t want to mess it up.

With Great opportunity comes Great Responsibility

If you’ve been following for a while, and have a bit of a memory, you might recall that I put up a story of an aggressive Scarlet Robin Carpark attendant that took to the “mirror bird” reflected in the car.

See here  scarlet-robin-attack-of-the-mirror-birds

Well time has moved on, so has the Scarlet Robin, but the carpark as it turns out is still there. So we pulled up there the other day hoping to find a few interesting bush birds as there is good piece of grey box forest on the far side of the fence.

What we didn’t expect, of course was to set up by the latest iteration of the Carpark attendant.

The “Blue Flash” Car Inspector.   He came out of nowhere and immediately took to the mirror bird in the far side car mirror.  EE said, if the window was down,” I could touch him.”

Next he proceeded all along the front windscreen, (I’d gotten myself and the 300mm lens out of the car by this time. Then on to the drivers side door and gave that a right hammering.

On looking at the shots, he does look like a young male who is just moulting-in to breeding plumage, the few grey feathers are still showing. So perhaps he is now the chief breeding male and needed to be sure he was in fact the only one in the area.

After about 10 minutes or so, he flew off across the carpark chattering at all the watching females and lesser males.  They seemed to giggle at his arrival and they all took off back into the scrub.

Here is a selection.

DWJ_2134 DWJ_2137 DWJ_2117 DWJ_2110 DWJ_2101 DWJ_2103 DWJ_2087 DWJ_2088

Tip toeing round nesting sites

Just down the road from our favourite Scarlet Robins, a pair of Eastern Yellow Robins have also decided that an early start to Spring means early nest building.

This one, I practically walked into, despite being told at the time, “It’s just there on your left, you are TOO close.”

Oh.

Gathering materials
Gathering materials
She always takes a different approach to the site
She always takes a different approach to the site
Nestling nicely among the bark and sheltered by some wattle
Nestling nicely among the bark and sheltered by some wattle
Each piece is carefully set in place.
Each piece is carefully set in place.
Its all held together with cobweb which is wiped from beak, head and wings.
It’s all held together with cobweb which is wiped from beak, head and wings.
Choice little bits needed to fill in spaces
Choice little bits needed to fill in spaces
Even a bit of decoration
Even a bit of decoration
And the site supervisor arrives on time with morning tea.
And the site supervisor arrives on time with morning tea.
Pondering where to put the widescreen tv?
Pondering where to put the widescreen tv?

Getting an early start on Spring

Visiting one of our favourite pairs of Scarlet Robins, we found that she was hard at work on a new project for the season.

At first she didn’t seem to happy about disclosing the nest, and it was probably we concluded because although we couldn’t see it, it must be in the area we were standing.

That move  away opened up possibilities and within a few moments she was whistling while she worked.

I have grave doubts this will be her first successful nest, but its all a matter of numbers to  her,  keep trying until she has a brood off. Good luck.

All in a day's work.
All in a day’s work.
The site inspector came by to offer some food topup, and to handle any technical questions.
The site inspector came by to offer some food topup, and to handle any technical questions.
The importance of each piece is pondered before she lays it in place
The importance of each piece is pondered before she lays it in place
Its all bound together with spider web which she brings in around her beak, head and wings. Its then a matter of wiping it all into the correct place.
Its all bound together with spider web which she brings in around her beak, head and wings. Its then a matter of wiping it all into the correct place.

Something old, some thing new

Just thought I’d share where I am with the updated site.
And to be honest, I’m not.
So after a couple of false starts I’m learning to live with this layout.
Hate the huge text header, but like the page layout.

Moving navigation and the drop down sidebards to the RHS seems a good step forward. The little ‘Folder’ Icon holds most of the sidebar stuff previously so if you want to see Flickr shots they are now under there.