Just like meeting old friends

Wow, over a month. What a lot of stuff happens that keeps you from the things you’d like to be doing.
We had a couple of weeks away back up on the family acres, mostly family things, and I have to admit to not even bothering to take a camera.   And its not been much better since we returned.  So there hasn’t been much to report.
I do have a backlog of a few earlier trips to slot in here, but thought we’d start with the You Yangs.

Our friend Merrilyn (see her blog here), mailed me that she’d seen a Red-capped Robin on a track in the Big Rock area. That was enough to get the gear loaded in the car.

It’s no secret to the erstwhile longtime reader that Woodlands Historic Park was our ‘second’ home.  In fact my association with photographing the birds at Woodlands goes back a number of years predating this blog. As I was able to roam over quite a bit of the area, I spent a goodly amount of that time working out which birds where nesting, and where territories might be found. The local Red-capped Robin population also accepted me, and a number of them came to be on good speaking terms, and would come out to see what I was upto anytime I wandered through.

But, as we’ve moved, all that is pretty much ancient history.  We’ve be able to locate a couple of areas locally, but none the rival the freedom of being a few minutes away such as Woodlands offered.

Oh, yes, the You Yangs trip.

We set out to have a look at the Red-capped Robing, and despite much searching were Not successful.  He might have been travelling through, or he might have been resting in the bush just behind me.   So not sighting yet. We also looked for Eastern Yellow Robins and only found a couple of pair. Not unusual, as they have most probably taken a new batch and are quietly feeding them amongst the thicker scrub in the area.
What we did find was quite a few Scarlet Robin juveniles.  These lovely birds are very distinguished by their motley feather set as they moult out juvenile and take on first year feathers.

My long time reader will recall that about this time, several years back one such bird turned up at Woodlands and for a few weeks I thought S(he) was  female, but within  few weeks the beautiful glossy black revealed a very handsome male.   So it was like meeting old friends when we came across several family groups of Scarlets. Some still unidentifiable as males or females, and some quite well advanced into first year dress.   What was interesting, in the 4 major locations there were at least 4 or 6 such young.  And we think that it was only a sample of the numbers of Scarlets that have been successfully hatched this season.

At Woodlands one of my all time favourite birds and a particular interest to my mate Ray, was a single female White-throated Treecreeper. For a number of years she seemed to be on her own. One season I found a male, and later a juvenile, but she went back to her single ways the following year.  So it was quite a surprise to encounter a White-throated female, and see her disappear behind a tree trunk. When I looked, there was a nest in the hollow of a tree, and her one young offspring perched on the side of the opening.  Just like meeting an old friend.

At a large tree near the Ranger’s Office, there is usually one or two Tawny Frogmouth, but they’d been absent for quite awhile. But we went to look anyway.

They were back, along with at least one young one.  Again at Woodlands there are a resident pair near the carpark, so again it was like meeting old friends.

Here are some shots from the day.

Somehwhere in there is a male Scarlet Robin, just waiting to get out.
Somehwhere in there is a male Scarlet Robin, just waiting to get out.
White-throated Treecreeper
White-throated Treecreeper
White-throated Treecreeper.
White-throated Treecreeper.
Lovely to see these birds are back in residence.
Lovely to see these birds are back in residence.
Big wing stretch for a young bird
Big wing stretch for a young bird
Jacky Winter on a pose. This is my Eynesbury friend, but though it fitted here too.
Jacky Winter on a pose. This is my Eynesbury friend, but thought it fitted here too.

Along Three Chain Road to the pie shop

With the weather looking decidedly blah, our plans for a day at WTP were simply scuttled. We (Dorothy, I, and Mr A Nonymous) decided instead on a drive north to Kilmore and along Three Chain Road, which can only be described as a ‘honey-pot’ for birding.  Rain began immediately we set off, but I regailled everyone, with promises of a pie and sauce at Mt Macedon for lunch.

Three Chain Road easily lived up to its reputation, and we quickly had sights and shots of Eastern Yellow Robins, Eastern Yellow Robin juvenile, Flame Robins, male and female, Jacky Winter, a female Hooded Robin, White throated and Brown Treecreepers, and a single Rose Robin. The rain stayed around and we eventually had to go look for a pie shop.  There is an offshoot road along Three Chain Road, that looks like it might go somewhere. Evidence of the previous night’s storm were everywhere over the road, and the clean-up crews were still out as we drove by.
The next turn was so promising.  PY-along. So we were going in the right direction! At the next junction, I abandoned all hope of getting to Mt Macedon, and we went on to Heathcote. The Gaffney’s Bakery just opposite the footy oval is renowed for its fare, and has a number of pie comp awards to prove it.  We settled in for the lamb-tandoori, beef burgundy and beef and onion. Worth the drive any day.  A good pie takes a bit of beating.

So with a couple of cold lamb-tandori’s to pop into the oven at home, we set off down the highway.
The road from Tooborac to Lancefield, was once described by a visitor as “Rock Farm Road”, every paddock has beautiful Tors that make great photo subjects.  The sunlight began to creep out, and we began to stop more often to admire the scenery, and look for birds.  What a pity I hadn’t put any short lenses in, but got some nice tight telephoto landscapes anyway.
Turning off from Sunbury along the backroad to Woodlands, we found a Wedgetailed Eagle being harassed by the local magpie brigade.  To its credit, it just slipped away in the wind.  Nice end to a good day out.

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Larger images here. Three Chain Road.

Here is an image supplied by Mr A Nonymous of the Male Eastern Yellow Robin, feeding the female in the rain.

Too cool.

Photography by Mr A Nonymous (credited)

White-throated Treecreeper hard at work

So many places to go, so much to do, so little time.

When I first started looking at birds at Woodlands, I ran into  a birdo, Ray, who shared with me a lot of his knowledge of the area. One bird he pointed out was the White-throated Treecreeper and its distinctive call. It is alway such a pleasure to hear them, and find them among the trees.  The one Ray and I would find was a female, and for several seasons she didn’t seem to have a mate, then last season she turned up with a mate and eventually produced two young.  But since then I have only be only to find the female.

I heard her calling in the long creekline off Gellibrand Hill, and after a few minutes was able to find her hard at work. After following her about for about 15 minutes, I didn’t find any mate or young, so she might be back on her own.  But nice to see her again.

Also ran into a family of White-winged Choughs.  Or more accurately they found me and sped off with great alarm calls.  But then they settled down to feed and I was able to get within lens distance.  Lighting wasn’t so good, and I was hoping to get some pics of them with the lovely wings spread out.  But no such luck.  They are such a a dumpy looking bird, yet they seem to glide about as if on gossamer.  They have an elegance about the way they touch down for landing.

This one was in preening mode.