My local bird group, BirdLife Werribee, or more affectionately known by the previous name, “Werribee Wagtails” has for many years been doing bird surveys once a quarter at various sites.
This weekend we surveyed the Mt Rothwell Conservation and Research Centre just to the north of the You Yangs range.
To quote Peter Sellers from “Balham Gateway to the South”,
—It is exciting work and my forefathers have been engaged upon it since 1957—
The previous few days of rain had managed to get past the You Yangs rainshadow and give the area decent drink. As we assembled, we were joined by a group from BirdLife Australia, Ovens and Murray.
And the bush seemed to respond to our enthusiastic banter as we walked over the various tracks that lead through the park.
To say we’ve had a run of weather of late would be to guild the lily somewhat. Lack of sunshine, and howling southerly winds have been much more the norm. Add to that the best of fast moving squalls with intense rain, and well, its enough to make you roll over and pull the donnah up even closer.
So with a touch of sunshine peeking through the breakfast room window, EE and I decided on a quick trip to The Office. Image our surprise when we found Mr An Onymous out there as well. Put it down to the call of the Osprey. However she wasn’t in residence so we had to content ourselves with lesser subjects.
When it comes to nesting and bringing on a new clutch, Willie Wagtails seem to go from one extreme to another, in more ways than one.
The weather can take a turn and dash the plans of quite a number of nesting pairs. And around the Werribee River area at the Office, they all seem to start within a day or two of each other and a change of weather takes out most of the nests. That has happened once already this season.
Plucky little birds, just shake off the wet feathers, take a wagtail deep breath and start again.
The Werribee BirdLife group had their monthly outing yesterday and visited the Western Treatment Plant.
The weather has been predicted to be sunny and hot, so it was with a touch of bemusement that we headed off down the highway in the fog!
But it did give us a lovely cool morning, so the sulking photographer in me just had to make do for awhile.
Travelling with the Wagtails (Werribee Birdlife in a former name), is a fun experience. There is a great deal of knowledge of the birds, and the area, and the social activity makes for a fun filled and well fed day.
We went down to the T Section, an area that is fast taking on hero status as a Red Phalarope has come down to visit over. Perhaps to the uninitiated a bit hard to spot, but once seen the frenetic activity of the bird makes it reasonably easy to locate. And especially if the tour leader. (D Torr esq.) lines it up in the spotting scope at the start of the activity.
We’ve been up around the Newstead area this past week. Went up for the annual Werribee Birdlife (Formerly Werribee Wagtails) camp out.
On one afternoon in the RIse and Shine Bushland area we were quietly travelling through the forest, when I was pretty sure I’d heard the familiar “Peter, Peter Peter” of Jacky.
So we stopped and eventually I reckoned it about 500mm further down so we went to look. No doubt about it, a Jacky Winter, and quite vocal, and very busy. The EE spotted a pattern of flying into one tree, and a few minutes later announced, like some magician about to pull a rabbit from a hat. “Look, she is building a nest!”.
Now of course you have got to have seen a Jacky Winter nest before to have any idea what you are looking for. Mr An Onymous who was with us peered into the trees, scratched his head, got out his ever dependable Nikon binos and looked again. “Where?” Which is a pretty good question as Jacky doesn’t exactly go in for high class up market building. If there was one of those ‘reality building’ shows for birds she’d be among the bottom of the backyards.
And there on a tiny Y in branch was an almost imperceptible bulge. And pretty soon Jacky confirmed that by adding some more spider web to hold it all together.