EE and I went to the Office a couple of mornings ago.
As we were walking over the river bridge we were discussing the small number of Dusky Woodswallows that had nested in the area. And how they were now probably well on their way north.
When to our surprise, as much as anything, we heard the calls of them as hawked for insects in the sky overhead.
Like Choughs they are very community dependent, and its not unusual to see dozens of them sitting on the one branch all jostling for the best position. These are no exceptions. However with good grace the birds make room for one another, even if it means flying off and relanding.
They were still feeding young ones, so I concluded they must have had a late season nesting before the cold weather sets in.
Eynesbury township just a few minutes from Melton, was established around a golf-club. Part of the deal concerns a stand of Grey Box Forest, that is in close to original condition, or perhaps, well established with old trees and understory, might be a better description. It was used until the mid 1950s as a pastoral area, and the forest was used to run the shorn sheep from the shearing sheds in the area.
Many long term readers will know that its been noted that I have Grey Box sap running in my veins and a visit to the Eynesbury Forest is enough to rejuvenate the lowest of my spirits.
The local Eynesbury Conservation Group, you can look them up on Facebook, conduct a walk on a Sunday morning every two months. Usually led by the award-winning Chris Lunardi, a local identity; EE and I make it a point to turn up if at all possible.
Much to see in a day, so we cheated, and went back for a second look the following day.
Here are some of the Gems of the Forest. Little Eagle, one of a pair. And try as I might I’ve not been able to locate their current nest site.
Peregrine Falcon, a new bird for me at Eynesbury, this one is working on short wings with quick flutters. Target— Tree Martins that are nesting in the forest. We found at least one carcass to confirm its skills.
A fledged Jacky Winter. Not from our usual pair, but one of two young birds on the wing. Well done Jacky
A trip through the Greybox will always be accompanied by the trills from the many Brown Treecreepers in the area. A threatened species, so its good to see them so active in the forest At the lake, an Australasian Grebe was nurturing at least one new addition to the family
Big, bold, noisy and hungry. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are working in the wattles that have seeded
“Our’ Jacky Winter young. The nest is near falling apart, and the young still have a few days to go to fledge. Jacky made it quite clear today, that we were not welcome. So we moved on quickly
Normally at this time of the year the forest would be ringing with the calls of hundreds of Dusky Woodswallows. Again, it is feared they are in decline, and this is the first season we’ve seen so few. But those that have come down, have wasted no time in getting off their first batch. This pair are feeding two young
Two Black Kites were in the air having the best time on the strong winds. it really deserves a blog page of its own to describe and show the antics of this couple of birds, but two should do eh?
And finally two of the Tawny Frogmouth from the Children’s Playground park. Other photographers, you know who you are Lyndell, seem to be able to get them on days when they are low down, in the open and all together. They seem to be quite happy to sit in the trees while kids play about on the swings and climbing things just metres below.
We were pondering what to do for new years eve. Not being the standing around with glass in hand yelling at someone over loud music sort of folk, nor having the need to declare some new resolution, such as “Take more photos in 2014” or drunkenly exclaim, “I’ll photograph every species in Australia, in 2014”, we decided on a quiet evening. Besides, I’ve seen a few new years come and go now, and apart from ripping down the old ‘last year’ calendar and gleefully putting up the new one, not much changes.
We in the end picked on a picnic in the forest with Karen, Jimmy and Ginger (recently named as the story will show).
There is also the family of Dusky Woodswallows, and while EE settled in with the Robins, I went a looking for the Woodswallows. To be honest, I thought they’d be on the wing by now, and it was a pleasant surprise to find that the three chicks were still in the nest, or should that be very over crowded nest. Much preening wing polishing and down removal was going on. The parents kept up a steady supply of food, and in the end I thought it was just another day in Woodswallow land.
Till one of the parents dropped in on the top of the post, and the largest of the chicks proceeded to climb up the shard of wood to meet it. After much begging and wing fluttering, the adult flew away, calling softly as it went. The young one attained the top of the stump, and did a couple of quick wing flaps, and a few more straighten up those feathers, flapped once, and … was gone!
So much so that I’d taken the shot of it wings extended, and when the mirror on the camera came down, there was not bird to see!
The other two looked on in amazement, then decided there was so much more room in the nest and settled down to have a nap. The parents had other ideas and more food arrived, more cleaning and flapping and eventually the second one flapped to the top of the stump, and simply jumped. Oh, flap, flap, flap, and it sort of sailed down to the ground, then hopped from branch to branch on the ground trying to figure out what to do. More food was the parental response.
Meanwhile back at the nest. No way was the third one moving. Much discussion ensued with the parents, and they got a lot of cheek for their trouble. Mostly I suspect in Woodswallow for “You don’ t image for one moment that I’m going to leave the security of this nest!”.
Try as they might it remained stubbornly in the nest. But in the end, of course, the need for food became greater and it reluctantly took its place on the top of the stump. And waited. So did I. And after what seemed hours, (it was probably only 5 minutes), it too made its first journey on the wing. To the delight no doubt of the parents.
They of course had now created a new problem for themselves. Three young birds with no navigation skills spread out over 100m of the forest and they still needed constant attention and food. When I left, they were doing the rounds with supplies.
Not that they were hard to find, the young put up quite a wail when they were on their own.
Better than fireworks, and we watched the evening sunset and finished of the picnic (which really means a couple of nice cups of Earl of Grey.)
After a couple of days of what can only be described as ‘typical’ Melbourne weather, the clouds eased off a bit, and the biting chill was gone from the wind. So we both ventured out to see what the rain had done in the park.
We quickly found a number of Thornbills and Pardalottes who were enjoying hunting in the sunshine.
Also found a few robins Scarlet is still there and his Red-capped consort has taken on a particularly brilliant orange/rust coloured cap.
A small group of Dusky Woodswallows were enthralled with a small lump on a tree high up and spent a lot of time squabbling and mobbing one another, for what we suspect was a pool of water built up in the node on the tree.
And a lovely Redcapped Robin male danced by and posed against a freshly built spider-web. Pity the light was just overcast at the time as the web would have glistened in the sunlight.