Eynesbury Gems—Episode #1

Eynesbury township just a few minutes from Melton, was established around a golf-club. Part of the deal concerns a stand of Grey Box Forest, that is in close to original condition, or perhaps, well established with old trees and understory, might be a better description.
It was used until the mid 1950s as a pastoral area, and the forest was used to run the shorn sheep from the shearing sheds in the area.

Many long term readers will know that its been noted that I have Grey Box sap running in my veins and a visit to the Eynesbury Forest is enough to rejuvenate the lowest of my spirits.

The local Eynesbury Conservation Group, you can look them up on Facebook, conduct a walk on a Sunday morning every two months. Usually led by the award-winning Chris Lunardi, a local identity; EE and I make it a point to turn up if at all possible.

Much to see in a day, so we cheated, and went back for a second look the following day.

Here are some of the Gems of the Forest.1811-28_DWJ_6412.jpg
Little Eagle, one of a pair. And try as I might I’ve not been able to locate their current nest site.

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Peregrine Falcon, a new bird for me at Eynesbury, this one is working on short wings with quick flutters. Target— Tree Martins that are nesting in the forest. We found at least one carcass to confirm its skills.

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A fledged Jacky Winter. Not from our usual pair, but one of two young birds on the wing. Well done Jacky

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A trip through the Greybox will always be accompanied by the trills from the many Brown Treecreepers in the area. A threatened species, so its good to see them so active in the forest
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At the lake, an Australasian Grebe was nurturing at least one new addition to the family

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Big, bold, noisy and hungry. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are working in the wattles that have seeded

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“Our’ Jacky Winter young. The nest is near falling apart, and the young still have a few days to go to fledge. Jacky made it quite clear today, that we were not welcome. So we moved on quickly

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Normally at this time of the year the forest would be ringing with the calls of hundreds of Dusky Woodswallows. Again, it is feared they are in decline, and this is the first season we’ve seen so few. But those that have come down, have wasted no time in getting off their first batch. This pair are feeding two young

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Two Black Kites were in the air having the best time on the strong winds. it really deserves a blog page of its own to describe and show the antics of this couple of birds, but two should do eh?

And finally two of the Tawny Frogmouth from the Children’s Playground park. Other photographers, you know who you are Lyndell, seem to be able to get them on days when they are low down, in the open and all together. They seem to be quite happy to sit in the trees while kids play about on the swings and climbing things just metres below.

Another episode to come I think.

 

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Saturday Evening Post #007

I was really keen to put up yet another Wagtail Nursery set, as we’ve several along the river at the moment.

But perhaps a change is a good thing, so here’s a Swamp Harrier.
Perhaps the most challenging of the raptors that we work with.  These birds are have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to humans, and most often what we see is the white tail feathers of a Swampie disappearing in front of us.

This one came up the paddock toward us, but was searching for an updraft and as soon as it reached it the bird rose at a great rate with hardly a flick of the wings.

Which caused me to ponder that little bit, that how do they sense where the updrafts are happening?  Eagles, Pelicans, Kites, Ibis and many others seem to be able to work their way along and then rise with the thermal.

Unknown, but still things that make going out and watching a most pleasing experience.

 

‘tails free along the river

Here’s a story I’ve been waiting to tell. It’s the followup from last Saturday Evening’s Post.

EE and I have been searching along the trees at the Werribee River for a pair of Tawny Frogmouth and their young.  Thanks to a friendly tip from a member of BirdLife Werribee, (formerly Werribee Wagtails), we were able to eventually make the connection.
What we also discovered.  We in that phrase meaning EE spotted. What we also discovered was several pairs of Willie Wagtails that had all gone to nest about the same time, and within about 50m or so of each other.

To our delight one pair were only  a metre of so from the little walking track.  Little and Walking in that sentence are more an euphemism for—gaps among the scrub.

For as many afternoons as we can fit in, we’ve been dropping in to see how they are going. And the last day or so, in spite of the drenching weather,  they have flown!

Here is the visuals of the story unfolding.  Quite a few shots, but it takes about 14 days to hatch, and about 14 days to fledge.  You can take a lot of pictures of a nest on a stick in that time.

Good luck littleuns, hope to see your tails flying free for a long time.

Click on each image for a larger view

1811-08_DWJ_2850.jpgTaking a snack to work. This one is still sitting eggs

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The casual work approach

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First sight of the little featherless, blind young

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A couple of days later and Mum is sitting on the tucking them down and look at the size of her ‘eyebrow’. A very upset bird.

1811-11_DWJ_6296.jpgMore hi power food going in

1811-15_DWJ_6545Several days later and the first signs of wing feathers sheaths are beginning to show.

1811-15_DWJ_6629.jpgSnuggling down over the young to keep them safe from view1811-15_DWJ_6632.jpg
In spite of her care, one of the young pokes out the back to see what’s going on

1811-17_DWJ_4295.jpgNow they are really developing a full set of feathers

1811-17_DWJ_4301.jpgMore food going in.

1811-19_DWJ_4820.jpgTrying to distract me by pretending to be an injured bird.

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Each day brings them closer to fledging

1811-21_DWJ_5123.jpgFledging day.   Not more than 10 minutes later all three were on the wing.  The poor old nest is beginning to suffer from their activities and the heavy rain the night before

1811-21_DWJ_5285.jpgAnd here we are young ‘tails on the move

1811-21_DWJ_5321-2.jpgSee Mum, I can fly. I can fly.

Saturday Evening Post #006

Hope you like the new site. I like the design as it will work well on pads and phones. Each block will be in a single line down the page, and as there is a limited number of posts on the front page, it shouldn’t go on and on and on forever.
It also seems that unless I ante up some cash and take on a ‘paid’ site then anyone on my mailing list for blog updates will get emails which include ‘clickbait’ ads for stuff you don’t need.

Not my fault I cry, but it does mean that come the new year I’ll have to take a paid site to get rid of the problem.  And I see any such intrusions into people’s trust and relationships as INTRUSION.

Also get ready to see lots of photos of Willie Wagtails at nest.  After what has been a very slow start by the Wagtail community to the increase of their species, they seem to have thrown everything at it the past couple of weeks.  Even a stroll around our morning walk site has revealed 3 pairs hard at work, and we weren’t trying hard.  Add another 4 or 5 pair at The Office, and its certainly going to be a busy wagtail season anytime soon.

Look at the eyebrow in the header image. That is one annoyed Willie.

And on a positive note, a check on our local Tawny Frogmouth young this afternoon reveals they have flown.  Well done Tawnys.

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This one is so busy that it took a snack to work while it was doing its share of nesting duties.  The eggs hadn’ t hatch this time last week.

Saturday Evening Post #005

The Werribee Mansion was built by the Chirnside family back in the late 1880s.  They were  pastoral dynasty that reaped significant profits and the Mansion was among one of their many extravagant projects.  They also maintained a deer park, in the vicinity of the suburb Deer Park. Makes sense right?

They also were members of the Acclimatisation Society, that set out to import species into Australia to provide sport hunting, and included foxes, rabbits, alpacas, pheasants, sparrows and thrushes. It’s a long painful list that we still pay for among decimation of native species. 

One part of the gardens was turned into an ornamental pond. However because of the quality of the sandy river soil, the lake was mostly left empty as it drained quickly.  It was only ever topped up when ‘important’ guests were in residence.

It is interesting to walk among the huge trees in the garden and contemplate that the layout, and those who conceived it, was for another generation. Now stately and immaculately maintained by Parks Vic, it is a pleasure to wander the gardens and see locals and visitors enjoying the grounds.

The Ornamental Pond is still there and is always filled with water these days.  Which makes it a home for freeloading ducks, coots and waterhens and the like. Some, such as grebes and cormorants and egrets have to ply their trade among the frogs, bugs and small fish that seem to be in abundance in the lake.

One Great Egret is regularly found there.  I’ve named it ‘Grace’, for Graceful and Gracious.  Not habituated, but neither afraid of humans, this bird works the pond and its verges and also spends time preening on the trees and small island in the area.
Which makes it a most interesting photo subject.

So much so that I have become quite clued to its body language and can often predict a flight, and a flight path, and sometimes, predict a landing point.
Given the right sunshine, the richness of the dark shadows among the trees, and a hint of luck, a very happy hour or so can be spent by the pond.
Thanks to the foresight of the ‘landed gentry’ who would know doubt be horrified to see common folk picnicking or conducting weddings on their lawns.

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