A Trip in the Grey Box at Eynesbury

Been a long time between posts, I know.  Hope you remember me!

But the excuse—I’m going to use—is that we just haven’t been doing much that is reportable.

Long term readers may remember that the blog was originally set up to record the bird activity at Grey Box forest at Woodlands Historic Park.  Quite a few things have changed, in the park, and in my birding life, and in my life since those humble beginnings.
It has been said more than once, sometimes kindly, others not, that I have Grey Box sap running in my veins. Put me in a stand of Grey Box and my heartrate, breathing and all other out of contol faculties calm down.
So when EE said, casually, ‘Why don’t we go to Eynesbury”, on a sunny morning, before you can say, “We’re off” we were!

After all the rain, Eynesbury Grey Box looks a treat.  Plenty of green and still good water laying about in the usual dry water courses that cross the forest.

We had hoped to see Speckled Warbler, Diamond Firetail, Sacred Kingfisher and Jacky Winter.  In descending order of importance.
We also had hoped to hear the forest ringing with the sounds of Dusky Woodswallows that regularly return to nest in the area.
However Grey Box is not always forthcoming and in the end we had to admit, that today was not going to be our day.

But here’s a small selection of the action.

Plenty of Tree Martins. Just about every available hole had its families.

 

A new Brown Falcon for me. A dark morph male used to work in this area, but time has allowed a new encumbant. The same technque however was being used.
It would glide from one perch spot to another and pick off a recently fledged starling or martin along the way.

 

Satisifed, it had plenty of time to digest its meal before making another foray

 

That looks like a suitable meal.
We often think of Browns as being a bit lumbering or labouring in flight. But, given the right conditions they can put on a turn of speed and manoeuvrability that rivals their more agile cousins

 

Just what ever small pond needs. Maned Duck. I still think Wood Duck is so much better.
I also suspect she was out for a bit of stretch from nesting as he was sole guardian of the pond as we returned

 

The Brown Treecreepers are feeding the first of their young, and look to be having a good season.

 

Getting all your duck(lings) in a straight line.
At first we thought they must have been orphaned, but the male Chestnut Teal quickly came out and gathered them all up.
This is another ephemeral pond, and the first time I’ve seen water in it in over 10 years

 

Galahs are also fledging their recent young.

 

This was the find of the day. The little Aussie Battler has set up a nest in a tiny, narrow arm of the main lake at Eynesbury. It’s right by a walking track, and she didn’t seem at all concerend at our presence.

 

A bit of a show-off.
There are several captive peafowl at the Old Homestead. Hard not to resist a look at those amazing tail markings. Excuse the rubbish bin.

Moments: Enterprising Grebe

A headsup for anyone making the trek out to Eynesbury Grey Box forest at the Golf Club.

In the main lake an enterprising pair of Australasian Grebe have taken advantage of a downed sapling with its branches in the water, and have setup home among the twigs and leaves.

I only managed one shot of the eggs, and I suspect there are four.  Everytime the sitting bird leaves the nest, it pulls the loose green weed over the eggs for security.

Hopefully we’ll get a couple more visits to see how things progress.

 

A secure home with a view
They take turns in sitting
Hard at work keeping the nest it top working order
Hard to get a clear shot among the branches.
Making sure the eggs are well concealed before taking a dip
They seem to be quite large eggs for such a little bird

 

 

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.

Continue reading “Grebes On Show”

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.

Continue reading “The Secret Life of a Little Aussie Grebe”

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.

Continue reading “What about a day at the Office?”

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.