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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You Yangs Interlude: Some Days are Diamonds

Been a bit frantic with a number of projects the past week or so, and have a bit more to add to Studio Werkz.
EE suggested a bit of a break from serious bird photography, and an early morning at the You Yangs Park sounded about right.

Continue reading “You Yangs Interlude: Some Days are Diamonds”

Woodswallows on the wing

We were pondering what to do for new years eve.  Not being the standing around with glass in hand yelling at someone over loud music sort of folk, nor having the need to declare some new resolution, such as “Take more photos in 2014” or drunkenly exclaim, “I’ll photograph every species in Australia, in 2014”, we decided on a quiet evening.  Besides, I’ve seen a few new years come and go now, and apart from ripping down the old ‘last year’ calendar and gleefully putting up the new one, not much changes.

We in the end picked on a picnic in the forest with Karen, Jimmy and Ginger (recently named as the story will show).

There is also the family of Dusky Woodswallows, and while EE settled in with the Robins, I went a looking for the Woodswallows.  To be honest, I thought they’d be on the wing by now, and it was a pleasant surprise to find that the three chicks were still in the nest, or should that be very over crowded nest. Much preening wing polishing and down removal was going on.  The parents kept up a steady supply of food, and in the end I thought it was just another day in Woodswallow land.

Till one of the parents dropped in on the top of the post, and the largest of the chicks proceeded to climb up the shard of wood to meet it.  After much begging and wing fluttering, the adult flew away, calling softly as it went.  The young one attained the top of the stump, and did a couple of quick wing flaps, and a few more straighten up those feathers, flapped once, and … was gone!

So much so that I’d taken the shot of it wings extended, and when the mirror on the camera came down, there was not bird to see!

The other two looked on in amazement, then decided there was so much more room in the nest and settled down to have a nap.   The parents had other ideas and more food arrived, more cleaning and flapping and eventually the second one flapped to the top of the stump, and simply jumped.  Oh, flap, flap, flap, and it sort of sailed down to the ground, then hopped from branch to branch on the ground trying to figure out what to do.  More food was the parental response.

Meanwhile back at the nest.  No way was the third one moving. Much discussion ensued with the parents, and they got a lot of cheek for their trouble. Mostly I suspect in Woodswallow for “You don’ t image for one moment that I’m going to leave the security of this nest!”.

Try as they might it remained stubbornly in the nest. But in the end, of course, the need for food became greater and it reluctantly took its place on the top of the stump.  And waited.   So did I. And after what seemed hours, (it was probably only 5 minutes), it too made its first journey on the wing.  To the delight no doubt of the parents.

They of course had now created a new problem for themselves.  Three young birds with no navigation skills spread out over 100m of the forest and they still needed constant attention and food.  When I left, they were doing the rounds with supplies.

Not that they were hard to find, the young put up quite a wail when they were on their own.

Another day in Woodswallow Land.  Three sitting pretty at the nest
Another day in Woodswallow Land. Three sitting pretty at the nest

Climbing up to sit with the parent.
Climbing up to sit with the parent.

One wing flap away from freedom
One wing flap away from freedom

Where'd he go. Magic.
Where’d he go. Magic.

Now we've got plenty of room again let's settle down for a nice nap.
Now we’ve got plenty of room again let’s settle down for a nice nap.

More food, that should get you going.
More food, that should get you going.

Let's discuss this mum!  I stay here you bring the food ok?
Let’s discuss this mum! I stay here you bring the food ok?

On the cusp of adventure, but just not ready to make that leap of faith.
On the cusp of adventure, but just not ready to make that leap of faith.

Out of the nest and ready to explore the world
Out of the nest and ready to explore the world

Better than fireworks, and we watched the evening sunset and finished of the picnic (which really means a couple of nice cups of Earl of Grey.)

Sunday Morning in the rain

I’d wanted to take a longer walk up to the Sugar Gums and see what was happening, but time was always beating me. So this morning I left early. Something nice about the bush as the sun rises, and it all begins to come alive.
But, the further I walked, the darker the clouds became until it was obvious that it was, well, raining.

I’d  done the boy-scout thing and packed the “Driazabone” and it is, so wasn’t too fussed.

As I stood under a tree trying to keep the camera dry, Will O’Scarlet came by in the rain  for a visit.  He looked like a good trip though the spin-dryer was in order.

Not much at the Dam, so I went on up to the Gums.

In the rain I found a collection of Dusky Woodswallows and finally made a few sharp images of them.

But in the end, the rain was the winner and I retreated back to the car.  Passing the Brown Goshawk and her three chicks and waving to the Tawny Frogmouth family.

Inside the car was, well, dry.

Will O’Scarlet in the rain. He come bounding through the trees to check me out, and once he’d figured it was me, moved on to other more important activities, which I presume included drying off.

 

Dusky Woodswallow hunting in the rain.

 

Dusky Woodswallow, hiding behind the branch. Not sure why, but it slipped itself down low and was looking very attentively into the trees, I didn’t spot anything unusual, but it was certainly trying to keep out of sight.

 

 

Around the Sugar Gums at Woodlands

With the backpaddock now devoted to the enjoyment of two foxes, and some soon to be introduced bandicoots, it’s been time to find a new area to explore.

Luckily Woodlands has an abundance of locations and habitats.  On the promting of our friend Richard, we decided on an excursion up into the Sugar Gum plantation.  This is pretty old vegetation these days, and has more than a few species so  we expected a bit of a treat.

On the track in, just about every tree had its own Striated Pardolote in residence, and many of them were happy to come and see what was going on. A small flock of weebills went by also, Would that be a wee flock of weebills?

But the highlight of the day was down in the clearing near the rangers work area.  A number of Dusky Woodswallows were at play in the open area. We sat and watched for about 30 minutes.  Now there are some rules to the games, and that became apparent. One rule is:Everybody find a perch on a tree- not the same tree. Rule two was one by one try to unperch the ones with the best location. Rule three: unperched birds can then try to remove the next most likely location.  The problem with the game is that rule three deteriorates into three or more birds on the one perch squabbling about whose site it is.
Good naturedly they then all fly off for a well earned feed. After some circling of the watching humans, rest momentarily and go back to rule one.

If there was a rule four, it seemed to have something to do with agitating the local Willie Wagtails who were busy getting acquainted.

The walk back to the car uncovered a covered up Pallid Cuckoo.  They had been calling all morning, and this one was close to the working area of a family of Superb Fairy Wrens. It didn’t seem to mind me taking a closer look at it.

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