You can tell, dear reader, when its a quiet birding day. And that I’m down at the Point Cook Coastal Park. When the tide is in, the cormorants, Little Pied and Pied mostly, congregate on an old abandoned pier that orginally served the first Chirnside Homestead in the area.
Now it’s a shadow of its former self, but regularly used by water birds as a safe haven for resting, preening and establishing relationships.
And when there are no other birds on show, well, I settle down on the sand, and watch the comings and goings. Always some new thing to see.
It says something about the whole day in general when, we set out to find some Flame Robins at Point Cook Coastal Park, and end up spending half an hour with a single Pink-eared Duck.
The plan was to have a look around the old homestead area and see if we could locate any Flame Robins that usually turn up for their winter holiday at the beach. And if we were really lucky, perhaps a Pink Robin, or two—that would be nice.
We met Bernie the ranger on the way in, and he (of the sharp eye), said he’d not seen the usual suspects so far this season.
Friend of mine once said in conversation as we chatted about my time in the bush, “Bird photography is pretty easy, you just sit in a deckchair and photograph any birds that happen to come by.” And today, for once, he was right. Thanks for the advice John.
Mr An Onymous had looked at the weather maps, the weather forecasts, the icon ladies and I guess in the end, just plain looked out the window, and declared we should take a trip to Point Cook Coastal Park on Friday. Sounded good as we’d not been out that way since the end of the Flame Robin season, most of the birds were well on their way back by mid of September.
What a difference to mood a bit of sunshine makes.
We were looking for a day out at the Point Cook Coastal Park with Graham Harkom and the Meetup Bird Photography Group, and as usual Graham managed to put on a picture perfect day.
We arrived in good time to find the park gates still locked, and so we stood around discussing the day’s activities and soon enough the gate was open. Just as well we were a little late starting as a few late-comers thought they’d arrived on time.
Within a few moments of getting out of the car, EE had discovered “Brown” the resident Brown Falcon, and he seemed quite happy to sit in the sunshine. Then, for reasons falcon, he took to the air and patrolled along the treeline by the carpark. Much of course to the chagrin of every magpie in the area. So we started with some good views of Brown in being harassed by first one, then another magpie.
Through the gate and along the track out to the Monument, we also managed some Flame Robins, White-fronted Chats and a particularly good view of several Striated Fieldwrens.
From there we wended out way back along the beach-line and found a small flock of Blue-winged Parrots sunning themselves on the fence-line. And we managed to get some pretty good shots for the photographers. Then one of our more alert spotted a flash of red, and a Flame Robin males spent the next ten minutes entertaining us flying from fence to track to feed. He seemed the least concerned by our presence and again it was a photo opportunity.
Add a couple of Whistling Kites, and several Black Kites that seemed quite taken by our presence and made low passes to get a good look at us. Perhaps they were doing a “People Count” or a “Camera Type Count”. Whichever it was nice to see the sunshine glinting on those rich deep brown wings.
By the time we’d made it to the Homestead area, the tide was well in, several Australasian Gannets were working in the waters further out, EE managed some White-faced Herons, and Pacific Gulls while she had waited for us to turn up.
A large flock, (300+) Little Black and Pied Cormorants were working on a fish shoal out beyond the reef, and every-time the shoal moved a large black mass ascended to the air to catch up with. Very impressive.
A walk back to the car through the farmland revealed some more Flame Robins, several White-browed Scrubwrens and a loud-voiced Singing Honeyeater.
After lunch a few of the group continued round to the RAAF Lake Lookout and spent some time at a pond with circling Welcome Swallows. Where are you Rodger Scott!!
Graham then spotted first one, then a second Little Eagle at work over the Lake, and we were discussing the presence (or lack of) Goshawks, when over the treeline a bullet shape with longish tail appeared and at first I’d picked it for a Goshawk, and we were both amused we’d been discussing the same. Then as the bird drew closer, it pulled up its wings in a most ungoshawk manner and revealed itself as a Peregrine Falcon, and it was most intent on making the Little Eagle’s life just a bit miserable. Several close stoops had the Eagle moving on thank you.
Thanks to Graham for organising the day, and to all the grand folk who turned up to add such a delightful companionship to a glorious sunny day. Really, after the past week or so, the weather just seemed to make the air sing.
Brown Falcon, being seen off by an Australian Magpie
Brown Falcon, being seen off by an Australian Magpie
Was chatting with a birder friend, and I mentioned the Point Cook Coastal Park, and he said, that he didn’t plan to go there much as most of the birds were pretty common, and only occasionally was a Plover or a Pratincole enough to take the trip down there.
When we relocated home a couple of years back, Point Cook was on the top of my list as a suitable place, and to be honest, it was second, third and a close run fourth on the list. And of course the logic was it was but a few minutes from the Coastal Park of the same name, and it would be neat to roll out of bed, and stroll on down to the park.
In the end, much wiser heads than mine (EE as it turns out) found us the place that ‘we’ wanted and Tarneit took on our new home address.
But every so often when the light is right, and sometimes when its wrong we venture down to the Coastal Park. And surprisingly, many of the common birds down there have become a bit like friends.
So today we went, not to count, nor to get our lists up, nor necessarily to capture the best bird photos ever, but to visit some friends.
Our friend the Brown Falcon was in the carpark area, and we enjoyed some time with it, as it hunted quite casually from the fence line. Also found a number of Flame Robins that have made the park their winter beach residence.
And of course the usual Pied, Little Pied and Great Cormorants down on the old jetty. They gave us some pretty impressive flight displays while we sipped on a fine cuppa.
Then the local White-faced Heron, and the pair of Pacific Gulls cruised by hunting on the out-going tide. And to our amusement, a pair of Black Swans how have obviously just coupled up were making interesting subjects as they hunted together on the gentle rolling outgoing tide.
As we walked back to carpark, the air literally filled with raptors.
At one point we had all up at the same time, Little Eagle, Black Kite, Whistling Kite, Brown Falcon, Australian Hobby and Brown Goshawk. I was hoping that the resident Spotted Harrier would make an appearance, but we had to be satisfied with those six.
We stopped along the road to look at some Flame Robins bathing in a tiny pool in a paddock, and some ‘new friends’, came over to say ‘hello’. So we spent a few minutes becoming acquainted with several chesnut horses.
We might not have added any ‘new’ birds to our list, but we had as the Sans Bushman said, “Recognised some birds,and built a tiny connection with them, that is growing into a thread”
Pied Cormorant on landing approach
Open water, easy landing.
Flame Robin, I suspect the colours suggest a first year male moulting in.
Is that another photographer pointing a lens at me?
Time to go
Brown Falcon. I thought it was going to sweep along the fence. But it simple jumped down to take a lizard
The couple that eats together stays together.
After you. Oh no I insist, after you.
The always dependable Pacific Gull
White-faced Heron, racing to shore so as not to lose its catch in the water.
Flame Robin about to pounce
Brown Falcon on a turn
Just came by to say hello. One of several horses that welcomed a thoughtful touch. EE was ready to oblige.