Grebes On Show

We have as they say, been having a bit of a lean time with our birds of late.  Seems the weather, the season, the food, the  lack of time in the bush, all have contributed to a fairly, well, lean period.

We were all prepared to enjoy a season with a pair of Jacky Winter, but due to unfortunate circumstances, perhaps bad weather, they lost the clutch a few days from flight.  A local Tawny Frogmouth clutch came, and went, and so did the various Magpie-lark families.  So its been a bit of a well, you know, lean time.

We have been watching a pair of Australasian Grebes at the Werribee Mansion Ornamental Lake, and they have had as similar story of clutches started, but not completed.
So it was quite intriguing to watch the pair in breeding plumage potter about on the water, but not really get much accomplished.

Then a couple of weeks ago, we found they had begun again to ferry weed and mud about and had a platform securely in the reeds.

And today we took a few minutes to go see how things had progressed and, well, they had progressed.

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The Secret Life of a Little Aussie Grebe

I suppose that many of us have at one time or another tried to photograph a diving water bird.  If for no other reason than the challenge.  The problem is they don’t wave flags, or seem to indicate that they are about to dive.  Like Pooh bear, they just do.

I was sitting watch a pair at the Werribee Mansion Ornamental Lake the other evening and again the need to try to catch one on plunge overwhelmed me and I started out trying to get that moment.  30 frames later, it was obvious, well at least to me, that said Grebe was pretty slick at getting underwater.

But, the more I watched, the more interesting it all became.

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What about a day at the Office?

With the sun-shining,  oh, yes, it did!  We decided on a trip to The Office.  This area of the Werribee River Park looks over the floodplain between the old sandridges and gives a pretty spectacular view if nothing else.  On a good day its possible to see the raptors at work.
Unfortunately today was not to be one of those days. And with no sign of the usual Flame Robin family we decided to walk up to the Werribee Mansion and have lunch there.
Usually the area along the golfclub is also a haven for small birds, but the gums must be slower to flower this year and only a handful of resident Red-rumped Parrots were located.
Still the sun was shining and we had a fine chicken panini and coffee. So to look at the Ornamental Pool, and our first real chance to find some birds.   Top of the list was a pair of Australasian Grebes and what appears to be their sole surviving chick. They had three earlier in the season.  They were pretty protective and this one seems to be doing well a good sign.

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Australasian Grebe

Seems like forever since I had a chance to put up a post.  Didn’t think, ” Went out got wet, saw nothing”, was going to be a big hit in the blogging world.

With the Woodlands Backpaddock area being out of bounds to mere humans, and especially photographers, while the great Fox hunt is on, the best I can do is put my nose up against the fence like a little kid in a lolly shop and dream.

The new Eastern Barred Bandicoot programme in the park is in full swing.  One of the first jobs is to remove all the ferals that are in there. Notably cats, and foxes. They have done a good job of rejuvenating the fences, so all the remains is to get rid of the last of the more persistent foxes.  My guess based on just sitting and watching, is that there is upwards of a dozen in there.  And my guess, totally untechnical of course is that some of them are breeding. Which would explain the occasional smaller animals I see.  My other non technical guess is my money is on the foxes.  The release of the fresh bandicoot families can not go ahead until they are absolutely certain the area is now free of ferals.  But how long that will take is anyone’s guess.

Meanwhile the Flame robins are still in the area, but our time begins to run out pretty soon as they will be getting ready to move back to the high country by August.

So.  What to do.  Down to the Dam area today with my mate Neil A.  We found a few Flame males and a couple of Australasian Grebes and I was lucky enough to get a reasonable handheld shot of said Grebe. Really like the reflection, and I added just a brush full of contrast to make it stand out more from the water.

Australasian Grebe and reflection
Male Flame Robin who came to my side of the fence for a little visit.