A Day at the Farm

Tis true to say that EE and I haven’t been down to the Western Treatment Plant for quite a number of weeks.  The weather, health things, family events and perhaps a touch of sloth just seems to have gotten in the way.

My photo mate Neil, sent me a note about his last weekend trip, and we decided if the weather opened up a bit, we’d at least drive down 29 Mile Road for a looksee.

So this morning after a couple of Tai Chi class sessions,  we loaded up with lunch, a cuppa or two of Earl of Grey and of course the essential cameras and headed out in the warm sunshine, (and to tell all the story, the rather crisp wind as well).

Before we reached Beach Road junction, we spied some Flame Robins, but they wanted to work far out in a paddock, and we could only get glimpses.

Further on down, and a trio of Black-shouldered Kites were keeping the mice on their toes.

And as we sat with lunch at the first corner on the 29 Mile Road, a Spotted Harrier wafted by making some very nervous Swamphens.  As we entered the T Section area, we were looking for Brolga as Neil had sighted them here at the weekend, but we lucked out.

Next we found a single Flame Robin female that was working around a puddle of water on the roadway.

Looking up, I heard the familiar call of a Black-shouldered Kite with a mouse, and as we looked a Black Falcon swept in from no where and after a little evasion from the Kite, the Falcon secured the prize and took off with the erstwhile and very angry kite in hot pursuit, but to no avail.  The Black is just that good in the air.

As we drove back out, lo, the very Brolga had turned up in the first pond and were busy preening, we shared the last of the Earl of Grey and enjoyed their unconcerned wardrobe adjustments.

So for a first day back at the farm, it was a most enjoyable and profitable time.

The fur flies as the Kite prepares lunch
Fast food
Spotted Harrier at work over Swamphen pool
Australasian Swamphen with impeccable table manners
Golden-headed Cisticola
Female Flame Robin
Black Falcon speeds in on a free lunch
Easy to see why the Kite has no hope of winning this battle
Having lost its mouse, it did at least give the Falcon a parting swoop.
Preening Brolga
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What a Difference some Sunshine Makes

Been beavering away here at the Website trying to find ways to improve the overall look and experience of visiting, and trying to give expression visually to the site’s dedicated title. “Birds as Poetry”.

Sometimes its easy to find clever words to describe a moment in time with the birds, or to cover over the fact it was just another day on the job making images of very fine birds. But that is not the visual feel.  And above all I guess my main goal for the web pages.

Been doing as you’ve probably gathered a bit of introspection on what the bird stories should show, how relevant that is to those who have graciously signed up to follow along here and at the same time not making it so esoteric that even I find it hard to reach those heights of expression.

And at another level, the pure old photographic know how and application needs to still satisfy both viewer and creator.  And of course in this day and age wrestling with the ever-advancing technology that so readily leads us onward with banners waving from one vantage point to the next, without even taking the time to notice the journey across the plain.

Along with photography, poor writing and a love of Russel Coight’s All Australian Adventure tv shows (skits please), I also offer Tai Chi as another of my dizzying weaknessess.  What I like most about this ancient (art) is the definiteness of purpose and deliberateness of movement. And in that is the edge of my photography with the birds, and hence the constant need to find expression of Birds  as  Poetry.

Continue reading “What a Difference some Sunshine Makes”

Them’s fighting words to a Cisticola

The last burst of sunshine for a week or so according to the weather prognosticators, the icon ladies, and the general look out the door.

So with just a little light left we decided to go looksee along 29 Mile Road.
No Kites. Orion has hunted the area dry it seems. (Perhaps those Olympian gods can now justifiably enjoy their umbrage.)

Lot of noise on the fence line just off the road.  A small family of Golden-headed Cisticolas were intent on something.

And putting it all together after the event, I do believe I might have stumbled on a Cisticola version of “The Gunfight at OK Corral

Seems that two males were going at it with a will, and all the family came out to see the event.

One of the major tactics it turns out is a lot of Ztttt Zttt yelling, and wing waving and turning and flicking of tail.  This last technique is done with back to the opponent so they get to see  just how serious you are.

Hard to work out in this little melodrama who was Wyatt Earp, and who was the various Clantons, but none the less the seriousness of it all can not be overlooked.

After about 10 minutes of dancing along the fence, turning and twisting that little tail and much Zrrrtt Zrrrt calls, one flew off leaving the other one the undisputed King of the Post.  Well at least that is the way I’m writing it.

Enjoy

This town ain't big enough for the two of us.
This town ain’t big enough for the two of us.
Don't let fear hold you back, I'll meet you on the fence, pardner.
Don’t let fear hold you back, I’ll meet you on the fence, pardner.
How's this for a view?
How’s this for a view?
I've often thought that birds have individual control over the feathers and now I'm sure.
I’ve often thought that birds have individual control over the feathers and now I’m sure.
Good but, what about this.
Good but, what about this.
Round two
Round two
And the winner is?
And the winner is?
The king and undisputed Stump Champion.
The king and undisputed Stump Champion.

 

 

Taking the early morning run to Western Treatment Plant

With the weather man predicting only more heat wave conditions, and the WTP being closed on Total Fire Ban days because of OHS issues, and good on ’em as far as I’m concerned.  Don’t want to be driving around in the heat trying to find birds hiding from the heat

We found a bit of a break in the hot days, and decided and early morning start was the best thing.  Rather than cover the usual spots we headed down to  southern end, known among birders as 29 Mile Road, T Section or the Spit. Also Murtcaim(n) and Pond 9.  The Brolgas had been seen among the ponds there and we thought it a good look see.

Here’s the way the day progressed.

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Found one of the Spotted Harriers up in the early morning mist.  That’s Avalon Aircraft Repair workshop in the distance.

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The second young one also put up, and we got some good views even if the light was against  us.

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Golden-headed Cisticola came by to be sure we weren’t thinking of taking over its territory, and gave a us a good lecture just to prove its point.

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We did manage to find the Brolga engaged in team precision preening, but they were too far away, and the heat haze even in the early morning was a curse.

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A strong breeze really surprised these Golden-headed Cisticola, nearly blowing it off the rail. The leaning into the wing and wide stretch of the legs was all it could do to prevent it being swept away.

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Another great find were a pair of Cape Barren Geese, they did a great little head nodding performance before taking to the air.    I always feel a bit sad when I’ve partly been the cause of a bird taking flight.

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No such feeling with Swamp Harriers.  This bird had no intention of letting us get close under any circumstances and led us on a merry chase along one of the bunds, flying a brief spell, sitting until we caught up, and then wafting on down the road a hundred metres of so.

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At the moment, there is alway a Whiskered Tern or two to keep photographers amused and waste lots of time trying to nail that elusive best tern shot.  Its not that the birds don’t try hard enough.

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And that pair of Geese just would not sit still when we were around.

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My bird id skills let me down sometimes and the little grass birds are a good example, but this is a Horsfields Bushlark  (I hope).  It adopted a different technique to stay on the post, by crouching down.

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Back along the Point Wilson Road, one of the young Spotted Harriers had returned to the nest tree for a bit of a spell.

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And down along the rocks, the Sharp-tailed Sandpipers were ready to get down to work when the tide lowered a bit.

By late mid morning, the temp was up, the heat haze was reducing very expensive lens to the quality of my Mum’s Box Camera and coffee and a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich (not a bad alternative to a poi.), at the Highway Lounge. How could I resist

Tripping along to The Treatment Plant

It had been awhile since we’d made a pilgramige to the WTP, and Mr An Onymous had wanted an opportunity to try out the new lens. All 300mm of it.

So it seemed in view of the really hot days, an early morning and then somewhere nice for lunch and a coffee, preferably inside and with air-conditioning made a lot of sense.

We went down along the area east across Little River from the Bird Hide.  The track takes a bit of a run along the narrow edge between land and sea, and usually has a 50metre section that is, well, rough. Its just a collection of rocks that the waves pound remorselessly. As such, ok with the Landcruiser and the high clearance, but nigh on impossible in the little car. However on this trip we discovered that the water rates had been making good use of themselves and the kind people at WTP had managed to get a surface over the short section and it is among the best parts of the roads down there. Excellent. Thanks to all as it save me heaps of time not having to double back to get around the former rough area.
We parked and waited. No Sea-eagles, but a pretty obliging Golden-headed  Cisticola with its nesting activities kept us busy for quite awhile.  We even parked on the new tarmac, and photographed waders as they worked among the rocks and sand. Nice one.

Down near the area called The Borrow Pits, we came across a couple of recently flown Black-shouldered Kites.  Guess they’ve only been out a week or so, still have the beautiful cinnamon and ginger chest and head feathers.  Mum and Dad are still providing food and it was interesting to watch a couple of food passes.

And on the way back some Whiskered Terns entertained us with their antics as they swept along the bunds catching the tiniest of insects.

And the big lens proved its worth with the shot of the day an Australian Hobby in brake, dive and turn mode with all the feathers out, and the tail spread at different angles as it made an amazing change of direction. My lens missed it completely. But.   More power to him.

We’re off  again to Goschen at the end of the month.

Brown Falcon at hunt in the early morning light.
Brown Falcon at hunt in the early morning light.

 

Hobby at remarkable speed turn.
Hobby at remarkable speed turn.

 

Golden-headed Cisticola with nesting materials
Golden-headed Cisticola with nesting materials

 

Two juvenile Black-shouldered Kites waiting for Mum to arrive with a mouse. They had just spotted her coming and began such a racket.
Two juvenile Black-shouldered Kites waiting for Mum to arrive with a mouse. They had just spotted her coming and began such a racket.

 

Red-necked Stint and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers at the 'new' water crossing at WTP
Red-necked Stint and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers at the ‘new’ water crossing at WTP