A Tale of Brown Falconery

“Your beloved and your friends were once strangers. 
Somehow at a particular time, they came from the 
distance toward your life. Their arrival seemed 
so accidental and contingent. Now your life is 
unimaginable without them"
John O'Donohue

Years ago, the very first Raptor that I seriously made contact with in my beginnings of photographing birds was a pair of Brown Falcons.

The amazing birds were resident in the Backpaddock Area at Woodlands Historic Park out near the ruins of Cumberland Homestead. They were a very patient pair, and over the seasons I had quite a bit of time sitting in their territory while they carried on their falcon business.  And I managed several seasons with them when they nested, but the friendship changed to a very polite “Do Not Disturb”. The female taking umbrage to my intrusions more than once and on one occasion passing close enough by me to hear the wind on her feathers. They managed at least three young over the time I was actively with them.

I learned so much about the life of Brown Falcon from this pair.  Some things that have stuck with me.  They are as happy, and confident on the ground hunting as they are in the air.  Once I saw them do a dance routine display, not unlike Brolga, but perhaps without the elegance, as two big fat chooks jumping round each other is probably a more apt visual description.  They seem to have a territory completely mapped. A wing flap and a turn away is not some random movement, but rather quite a deliberate move to a location, which may not be in the direction of the first movement.  They are masters of the low level flight.  And if they can move behind bush or grasses, or perhaps along a creek or channel line, or roadway water runoff, they take that as first option.

Catching things is not about “Oh look, food” and going for it. Everything is planned to be a minimum of effort, often many minutes take place between spotting and finally attacking food. And I really suspect that both the approach and the exit are carefully planned.

They can hover in the air like Kestrels, although “Hover like a brick” is probably more accurate. Still in a good breeze, they can sit quite motionless, but mostly its a hard wingflapping to keep station.

Continue reading “A Tale of Brown Falconery”