Saturday Evening Post #78 : Brightening up a Cold Dreary Day

I first met this bird and his good lady, while I was working the Backpaddock at Woodlands Historic Park.
In those days I’d often bump into a birding friend, Ray, somewhere along the track.
Ray had been walking the Woodlands area for quite a number of years and knew just about every honeyeater spot, robin territory, Brown Falcon feeding area, and eagle’s lair over the park. I used to think that a White-throated Treecreeper announced his presence in the area.
He graciously shared his wide knowledge of the park, and most of what I knew about the various robins at Woodlands was handed to me by Ray.

We would occasionally catch up at the gate entrance to the enclosed Backpaddock—this is in the days before it became the infamous “Bandicoot Hilton”— and its usefulness to the birds waned; what I learned from that is that is if you mess with one part of the ecology to satisfy one species, don’t be surprised if things go out of kilter elsewhere.

As we stood near the little map shelter talking, Mr. Mighty would come and sit on one of the close branches, and listen so it seemed, to our discussions.  He would turn his head, fly closer, walk along a branch to get nearer and occasionally add a cheery, “drrrt, drrrt, drrrt”, call to the conversation.

His territory extended from near the gateway some 50-60 metres into the open Grey Box forest beyond. It was not unusual to sit on a log in the area and within a few minutes Mr. Mighty would drop by for a visit. So over several good seasons I managed some interesting moments with him, and the good lady, and their offspring. It wasn’t unusual for her to build 3-5 nest sites and pretend to be working on them all, mostly I guess to kept predatory ravens, magpies and cuckoo-shrikes confused.
She would, however, lose several nestings to these relentless marauders. Perhaps as many as 5 clutches would be started, but only one or possibly two would be successful.

Those who go back to the days of Bird Observers and Conservation Australia, (BOCA) might remember seeing this shot as the penultimate cover of Bird Observer (Aug 2011, No. 870) the quarterly magazine of BOCA just before the merger to form BIrdLife Australia.

During the past week, I’ve been rebuilding my photo database and among other surprises managed to find a folio of Mr. Mighty.  Put a smile on my face.




Mr. Mighty
The little white facial cheek feather is the best id marker. (Apart from his confiding nature) When this was published, it was reversed,

8 thoughts on “Saturday Evening Post #78 : Brightening up a Cold Dreary Day

  1. Lovely to see the handsome Mr Mighty! Indeed, you change an area to suit one form of wildlife everything else comes off second best. I can understand their reasoning but it seems a bit like tunnel vision to me! I guess Woodlands is on the closed list for now but there should be some Robins around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi David, the Robin population at Woodlands has been decimated. Reasons unclear. At the height of the drought in the 90s there were upwards of 30 pairs of Red-caps across the area. Several pairs of Scarlets were either permanent or semi-nomadic, and during a winter sojourn for the Flame Robins, I counted over 70 in feeding in one area.
      Now the numbers are zero, or occasional birds.
      It was an area we used to visit several times a week. Wouldn’t bother wasting the fuel to go there now, (if we were able.)


  2. What a beautiful shot of splendidly named Mr Mighty. Let’s hope the inhabitants of Woodlands are enjoying the peace and quiet of relatively few planes roaring overhead, and perhaps few if any humans walking around in there also.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Eleanor, funnily enough, although the aircraft are a nuisance to the average birdo out there, the birds never were bothered. I spent a season with a pair of Kestrels that were right in the landing path.
      The backpaddock gets closed for ‘Park Maintenance’ fairly regularly, (Mostly on the week that I foolishly journey out there,), not sure what maintenance is being done, but I do have my suspicions.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful memorable experience shared with Mr Mighty David. Great memories, and at the roots of BirdLifes’s beginnings. Love the photo, we sadly have not seen our one family of Red Caps for many months now, wondering if the heavy smoke drove them away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Morning Ashley, my first major forays into bird photography were with the very gracious pairs of Red-capped Robins at Woodlands. In those days, I think it was pretty much beginners luck. It was easy to sit and watch a winter flock of robins, thronbills, sitellas, fantails and more move through an area, as they all feed from different zones over the feeding area.

      We are currently hopeful of a couple of visiting flame robin familes returning for winter, but at the moment are housebound so will have to wait. Which shouldn’t be such a problem, as the birds will arrive and then spend about a month working out the best feeding areas, before settling in. We’ll see.

      Liked by 1 person

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