Interludes: Let’s Be Careful Out There

The title is a quote from a tv show of the 1980s.

The Duty Sergeant would remind his team as they left the daily briefing, ‘Let’s be Careful Out There.”

In these days of rampant pandemic it still seems like good advice.

However being careful out there applies to some birds as much as it did to the police in “Hill Street Blues

Longer term readers may recall that two years ago we spent quite a bit of time with a Brown Falcon pair as they nested.  Cassia, of Cinnamon, provided us with some excellent insight into the nesting and feeding habits of their lives.
Unfortunately we were unable to follow up with them last season due to travel restrictions.

However with a change in limitations we have now been able to revisit the park, and after a couple of futile attempts,  EE pulled the proverbial Brown Falcon Nest out of a Hat.
He had been hunting close into the nest in the open paddocks and seemed to be having some success, however we missed the food exchanges and were unable to determine a possible nest site.
It was not only us that were taking an interest in the falcon’s presence.  Australian Magpies took them as ‘easy’ targets and each time one of the birds flew, a flotilla of maggies were in hot pursuit.
Mostly the magpies are fast enough, and the falcons don’t put in that much effort to get away, but today it was quite obvious that the falcons were not going to broach harassment, and each time the magpies drew in close, the falcons put effort into the wing strokes and powered away. Not something I usually see.

Cassia does indeed, Need to be Careful Out There.

Here is a small selection of the morning’s activity.

This is the male, he is lighter in colour. He is doing his best to hover over the grasses
Action TIme. A quick drop on to some prey below
Mouse delivery. Unlike Black-shouldered Kites, he carries the prey in his beak.
The male: Time for a scratch on the wing.
Sitting waiting for an opportunity to pounce. His yellow cere and eye ring are noticeable id markings. HANZAB notes that yellow cere may be a sign of age and is more prevalent in males. This bird might be at least 15 years old as we’ve seen him over a number of seasons.
Heading out for another catch
This is Cassia, of Cinnamon and her nest with at least two young. They are only recently hatched, perhaps in the past few days.
The magpies decided that Cassia was not going to sit quietly anywhere in their territory.
Maggie closing in.
She is well aware of the challenge, and is about to power away.
This is the first time I’ve seen a falcon put in the effort to evade the charging magpies. I think she has the better of them in a vertical climb
Stretching out. The magpies might have the advantage on a downhill run or across a level field, but in this case she just lifted up faster than the magpie could manage.
The male avoiding two enraged Little Ravens

13 thoughts on “Interludes: Let’s Be Careful Out There

  1. Wonderful to see Cassia again, David. And great to know she has young in the nest.
    I guess it just gets to the point where the Falcons tire of the harassment and choose to fire the turbo-charger.
    A beaut series of images.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Eleanor, well truth be told, it was EE that spotted and worked it all out. Me, I was on the far side of the paddock and missed most of the opportunities to gather clues.
      Hopefully we’ll be able to make the most of the location, it is very high up, so not as accessible as the previous nesting. But the food exchange trees might be in the sunlight.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A wonderful series of captures David, the Maggies are certainly not to be messed with, especially at this time of year. Love the clarity of your shots, I find it difficult to get such sharp pics even using sport settings. The Brown Falcon is one of the most attractive birds in full sunlight, I miss seeing them in the Capertee Valley. Again it is the wife that have the spotting gift, as it is with us also, I jokingly say to people ‘she’s the spotter and I’m the shooter’. Enjoy your freedom my friend, we have just been ordered to 2 weeks isolation, as my wife had a close contact with a Covid positive person, so our freedom lasted 2 hours having breaky at the Nasho cafe on Wednesday, and here we are home again. At least it will give the crowds time to clear, as my hair continues to grow and I look more like my teenage days, which may not be a bad thing if I feel like I look. We are hoping we can go away after this but they are worried about low regional vaccinations, but they are only just realizing, as my friends up the coast have been telling me for some time, that there are so many anti-vaxers and conspiratists up there that many are just not getting jabbed. Many changed there tune down here when they saw there mates and families devastated. Facebook and YouTube and all those media platforms have a lot to answer for allowing these fake news people to make so much money from these sites, which they themselves are also profiting from. Enjoy your weekend !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. G’day Ashley, Thanks for that. The D500 is particularly good at nailing a subject against a plain sky backdrop. I don’t normally shoot mutli-burst so each image is a re-acquired focus. I don’t get as many images on the card, but those I do are generally sharp. 🙂
      The mess that is covid restrictions is now its own pandemic. It is getting to the point of the cure being worse than the disease.
      I hope that your family close encounter passes quickly.
      My local GP has been closed for 2 lots of 14 days due to people coming into the surgery with Covid and not disclosing their condition.
      I was off to get the car serviced the other day when I got a phone call to say, “Don’t come, we are are in lockdown, and need Deep Cleaning.” Innocent people suffer because of the actions of others.
      I am sure that a number of small businesses won’t reopen. Can’t believe my local hairdresser will reopen. He had only just taken over the business when the first lockdown began.

      I read an interesting thought by Dostoyevsky In Brothers Karamazov
      “The one who lies to himself and believes his own lies comes to a point where he can distinguish no truth either within himself or around him, and thus enters into a state of disrespect towards himself and others.”
      Certainly seems applicable to the antivaxers.

      We were also lamenting today, even if we had freedoms, the weather has been so unpredictable, its likely we’d not have been out much anyway.

      Stay Safe

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful shot of the faclons, Dave. I saw one flying around Brimbank Park last Tuesday, I got some shots, but really, it was too high up to get anything that would do justice to the bird and certainly nothing anywhere as good as your results.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rodger, It was great to be out in the sunshine and just a little bit further from home 🙂
      The ones at the WTP probably spoil us all by being accessible on fence posts.
      Else its a very Brown moment to be high and travelling fast.


  4. Terrific shots of the Magpies vs Falcon action. I particularly like the one with Cassia’s lovely spread tail and the Magpie in ideally symmetrical full spread directly underneath her. The one of the male solo, especially against the light, are awesome too. And the “powering away” shot is so fabulously dynamic! Great to have your reports from such events.
    In my part of the world I also observe magpies and ravens attacking the local swamp harriers and, recently, a kestrel. Alas, too high for any decent shot with the bare 500, while 1.4 TC makes me struggle to get them in focus.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Adam, thanks for dropping by.
      I was pondering if the tail spread is a bit like the cable-ties that bike riders use, or perhaps to give the impression of a ‘bigger’ bird, not that it would bother said magpie I guess.
      I can’t confirm this, but I also wonder if the Falcon because of its unusual wing action of ‘over arm’ can use that to an advantage to climb faster vertically than a maggie. On a straight run I think the maggie would win hands down, as they so often do, but being forced to play catchup with a rapidly climbing falcon might just be beyond them.
      Something I do intend to look for in any future encounters.

      At the Office we used to get the pair playing across the sky around the river cliffs, but of course we haven’t been out for awhile.
      Usually, as your encounter, it is too high and too far away to be much more than a fun thing to observe.

      I too have trouble with the TC1.4 and focus acquisition on the 500PF. I think its partly the weird focus acquisition of the D500. The subject is either on the centre spot, or the camera searches for another subject. The tracking with lock, does seem to have little tolerance for moving off subject. I do have one of the function buttons set for “Group” and probably used that here. It at least holds by virtue of the settings.
      (PS Group was one of the finest settings of the old D2S series, and could be set for either ‘close’ or ‘distance’ to give an option on when it would change focus.)

      Cassia, of Cinnamon, is a pretty people aware bird and while hardly cooperative at least she will allow some close interaction.

      hope to catch you Along the Track sometime (soon)


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