A Trip in the Grey Box at Eynesbury

Been a long time between posts, I know.  Hope you remember me!

But the excuse—I’m going to use—is that we just haven’t been doing much that is reportable.

Long term readers may remember that the blog was originally set up to record the bird activity at Grey Box forest at Woodlands Historic Park.  Quite a few things have changed, in the park, and in my birding life, and in my life since those humble beginnings.
It has been said more than once, sometimes kindly, others not, that I have Grey Box sap running in my veins. Put me in a stand of Grey Box and my heartrate, breathing and all other out of contol faculties calm down.
So when EE said, casually, ‘Why don’t we go to Eynesbury”, on a sunny morning, before you can say, “We’re off” we were!

After all the rain, Eynesbury Grey Box looks a treat.  Plenty of green and still good water laying about in the usual dry water courses that cross the forest.

We had hoped to see Speckled Warbler, Diamond Firetail, Sacred Kingfisher and Jacky Winter.  In descending order of importance.
We also had hoped to hear the forest ringing with the sounds of Dusky Woodswallows that regularly return to nest in the area.
However Grey Box is not always forthcoming and in the end we had to admit, that today was not going to be our day.

But here’s a small selection of the action.

Plenty of Tree Martins. Just about every available hole had its families.

 

A new Brown Falcon for me. A dark morph male used to work in this area, but time has allowed a new encumbant. The same technque however was being used.
It would glide from one perch spot to another and pick off a recently fledged starling or martin along the way.

 

Satisifed, it had plenty of time to digest its meal before making another foray

 

That looks like a suitable meal.
We often think of Browns as being a bit lumbering or labouring in flight. But, given the right conditions they can put on a turn of speed and manoeuvrability that rivals their more agile cousins

 

Just what ever small pond needs. Maned Duck. I still think Wood Duck is so much better.
I also suspect she was out for a bit of stretch from nesting as he was sole guardian of the pond as we returned

 

The Brown Treecreepers are feeding the first of their young, and look to be having a good season.

 

Getting all your duck(lings) in a straight line.
At first we thought they must have been orphaned, but the male Chestnut Teal quickly came out and gathered them all up.
This is another ephemeral pond, and the first time I’ve seen water in it in over 10 years

 

Galahs are also fledging their recent young.

 

This was the find of the day. The little Aussie Battler has set up a nest in a tiny, narrow arm of the main lake at Eynesbury. It’s right by a walking track, and she didn’t seem at all concerend at our presence.

 

A bit of a show-off.
There are several captive peafowl at the Old Homestead. Hard not to resist a look at those amazing tail markings. Excuse the rubbish bin.

Moments: Enterprising Grebe

A headsup for anyone making the trek out to Eynesbury Grey Box forest at the Golf Club.

In the main lake an enterprising pair of Australasian Grebe have taken advantage of a downed sapling with its branches in the water, and have setup home among the twigs and leaves.

I only managed one shot of the eggs, and I suspect there are four.  Everytime the sitting bird leaves the nest, it pulls the loose green weed over the eggs for security.

Hopefully we’ll get a couple more visits to see how things progress.

 

A secure home with a view
They take turns in sitting
Hard at work keeping the nest it top working order
Hard to get a clear shot among the branches.
Making sure the eggs are well concealed before taking a dip
They seem to be quite large eggs for such a little bird

 

 

Grebes On Show

We have as they say, been having a bit of a lean time with our birds of late.  Seems the weather, the season, the food, the  lack of time in the bush, all have contributed to a fairly, well, lean period.

We were all prepared to enjoy a season with a pair of Jacky Winter, but due to unfortunate circumstances, perhaps bad weather, they lost the clutch a few days from flight.  A local Tawny Frogmouth clutch came, and went, and so did the various Magpie-lark families.  So its been a bit of a well, you know, lean time.

We have been watching a pair of Australasian Grebes at the Werribee Mansion Ornamental Lake, and they have had as similar story of clutches started, but not completed.
So it was quite intriguing to watch the pair in breeding plumage potter about on the water, but not really get much accomplished.

Then a couple of weeks ago, we found they had begun again to ferry weed and mud about and had a platform securely in the reeds.

And today we took a few minutes to go see how things had progressed and, well, they had progressed.

Continue reading “Grebes On Show”

The Secret Life of a Little Aussie Grebe

I suppose that many of us have at one time or another tried to photograph a diving water bird.  If for no other reason than the challenge.  The problem is they don’t wave flags, or seem to indicate that they are about to dive.  Like Pooh bear, they just do.

I was sitting watch a pair at the Werribee Mansion Ornamental Lake the other evening and again the need to try to catch one on plunge overwhelmed me and I started out trying to get that moment.  30 frames later, it was obvious, well at least to me, that said Grebe was pretty slick at getting underwater.

But, the more I watched, the more interesting it all became.

Continue reading “The Secret Life of a Little Aussie Grebe”

Sunday Sunshine at Eynesbury

The monthly Bird Walk at Eynesbury rolled around and the calendar clicked over the last Sunday in the month, so we looked out the window, and sure enough Sunshine!
So Sunshine, we headed out to Eynesbury to catch up with the group of locals in their exploration around the Grey Box forest.

Chris had initially planned on being away, and asked another local, Leigh, to take the day.  As it turned, Chris turned up anyway.  Nice to catchup.

The sunshine added to the recent rain made the open areas around the housing estates glow in most impressive green with lots of new growth coming on.
So we set out for a looksee along the river gorge to the east.  In times past before the housing establishment, a small creek drained water outward the gorge and as it tumbled over the rocky edge a wonderful waterfall would suddenly appear.   And. Today was such a day.  The little creek has now been somewhat controlled to a drain-way through the estate, but in the last few hundred metres runs over the rocky ground, forming little pools as it goes.   Then. Taking is self to the edge, it plunges down the 30 or so metres to empty into the creek, that runs toward the Werribee River. And spectacular it would be too in full flood and great light,  but I was just a bit late  as early morning shadow hid the sparkle of the water.

For a birding day, it was a bit quiet, even for me and my missing bird karma as Mr An Onymous puts it.

We did manage a fine Eastern Yellow Robin, an Eastern Spinebill and a couple of Crested Shriketits as we strolled along one of the forest tracks.  And so another birding morning came to a close, lots to talk about, plenty of things to share about the few birds we did see, and to get a perspective of the area from Leigh’s point of view.   He has been in the area almost since its inception and gave a fine running commentary of points of interest along the way.

EE and I took a cuppa by the lake, and then headed down to see the Tawny Frogmouths in the local park-area.  See the May report for details.   Sure enough, dependable as clockwork there they were. One has added an additional extra piece of camo to the perch as a branch has broken off higher up and now obscures the perching branch very well.

Off to look for Flame Robins, but no luck there either, and it was time for home,  just as we went past the old shearing shed area a small shape darted into the tree.  A Speckled Warbler. And to make its point is warbled away quite merrily.  Just about managed to get off a couple of shots before it was gone.  Looking at it the shots, it’s no wonder they are so hard to spot given the wonderful markings on the feathers that blend into the scrub so well.

Thanks to Leigh and Chris for the day, and also to everyone who turned up and enjoyed both the sunshine and the birds.  Looking forward to the July Sunday.

Australasian Grebe
Australasian Grebe
Dusky Moorhen enjoying the sunshine too.
Dusky Moorhen enjoying the sunshine too.
Maned Duck, showing his lovely rich body feathers and his daper litle mane.
Maned Duck, showing his lovely rich body feathers and his daper litle mane.
Eastern Yellow Robin, on the move
Eastern Yellow Robin, on the move
Veiw down along the creek. So wonderful to see the water flowing.
Veiw down along the creek. So wonderful to see the water flowing.
The wonderful "Eynesbury Falls", such a treat.
The wonderful “Eynesbury Falls”, such a treat.
Spot the Tawny Frogmouth
Spot the Tawny Frogmouth
Oh, there you are
Oh, there you are
Speckled Warbler. A great find for today
Speckled Warbler. A great find for today