Been pondering anew, my approach to Bird Photography, again. Yes dear reader, tis that time of year again for tinsel, things red and white, muzak that dumbs the mind at the shopping centre and of course my annual “where is my photography going to bend in 2019”. But
Fear not, this is not that blog.
Great gasps of relaxation and sighs of relief heard across the ‘blogosphere’.
I really wanted to get the remainder of the shots from our Eynesbury excursions, (incursions?) out.
So rather than belabour, here is the best of the rest sort of feature.
There is still one more chapter to put up, but I’m going to do that as a Snapshots type blog as it concerns our favourite Jackys and their now well fledged young. Might even get that done the next few days.
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.
All good tales have a protagonist and of course the antagonist. From Romeo and Juliet to Jane Eyre, or a Hitchcock movie, the ‘player of the first part’, has always to experience the consequences of decisions.
So as our hero the Little Eagle made its way across the paddocks in the sunshine, oblivious of the dangers, it was soon to learn that not all skies are clear, blue and free.
Blogging 201 assignment for this week is Setting the Scene.
As it turns out, I was gearing up to reflect on a day at the Office yesterday.
The weather turned Kind. Really Kind. The kind of Kind, where the cameras practically pack themselves out of the cupboard and into the car, and sit there going, “Well…..” “Well…. are you ready to leave yet.”
We left early, and decided to take the longer walk down to the river behind the golf course. This is really old river flat, and the river makes a distinct “U” for several hundred metres and then a fine “S” movement that provides for some great old river flat dissected by the flow of the water. Water bird can abound, and there is still some good grass and tree cover to make life entertaining for the smaller bush birds.
Its a long way for EE to walk, but stoically she lead on.
The Office for the uninitiated is an area along the Werribee River a few kilometres from the mouth at Werribee South. It cuts through the rich river soil and in places the cliffs are 30-40 metres high. The big birds – think raptors- enjoy the wind currents coming up the ramparts and I do believe a good case could be made that there are certain areas where its better, and a sort of ‘flyway’ or navigational line is drawn. They seem to favour coming and going along those locations.
You just know its going to be a good day when as you drive in a Black-shouldered Kite is hunting close to the carpark, and just inside the walking track, Bernie the Brown Falcon is loafing in a favourite tree.
Next up a Little Eagle made several passes along one of the ‘flyway’ paths. The Ibis, both White and Straw-necked use the same paths on the way to the feeding grounds along the river.
We sat with a family of Superb Fairy-wrens, and I will tell more of that tale on another blog, and were entertained by the feeding antics of a few Crested Terns. (another blog post methinks)
It was pretty awe-inspiring to be sitting by the river, dangling my feet over the river bank and sipping Earl of Grey, and enoying the time time in the sunshine with such a group of bids. And all less than 10 minutes from home. A most amazing place.
Easy day, easy photography, easy birds, and Just Another Day at the Office really.
The sun was shining and the clouds, ominous in shape and colour were moving slowly enough for me to conclude that I’d get an hour or so of sunshine. Interested in the Flame Robins at the Office so down I went.
As it turned out the clouds and the rain moved faster than the traffic along the way, but even so, I managed a few minutes in the sun. No Robins.
Just as I was turning for home, out of no where two Little Eagles decided to song and dance across the sky.
I’ve probably said it before but the Office offers one great advantage when the birds are up. On the top of the ridge that overlooks the old river plain, its possible to get eyeball to eyeball, and in this case it was pretty much so. The two battled it out pretty much at viewing height.
Now, I’m not sure if I’m looking at two birds in dispute over a territory arrangement, or a pair with bonding in mind. The amount of wing turn, claw defence and the like, along with the plaintive ”pee, pee” whistle of the birds didn’t help either. In the end I just enjoyed.
Hope you do too.
Lovely dark plumage on this bird. ( a Juvenile perhaps)
Spiralling down from a position of height.
The lower bird has passed right by to take the underside position
Looks dangerous but no contact was made
Much turning and twisting at close quarters
Making a circuit for another pass
Keep up slow coach
One of the advantages of the Office is being able to view almost looking out on the bird.
Taking a rest in the sunshine in a tree right across the river plain.
Sometimes you can always tell when a raptor is in the air. The birds go quiet, or there is a series of warning calls ring across the forest. Or, the local magpies and ravens go into high gear agitation and speed across the sky in pursuit of nemesis.
The latter was the case the other morning. A local Little Eagle had been out and had collected itself a pretty fair meal, and was carrying it home tucked in its crop. See the flickr shot here.
A little while later, the ravens and magpies were on high call and in hot pursuit. The day was very windy, and it favoured the highly manoeuvrable and speedy ravens, so the poor Little Eagle copped a right pounding. The wind gave the ravens a great climbing speed and they were able to outclass the raptor. It on the other hand couldn’t get advantage as it had to keep losing height and changing direction. It’s plaintive ‘peep’ call is pretty pathetic.
For some reason, Little Eagles seem to cop it from everyone. Its diet rarely would include taking birds but it seems to get the rap from all the birds. Such is the way of life on the wing.
Also hard to get them all in frame when you’ve only got the big lens handy and the wind is blowing a gale and wrenching it out of cold old hands.
This morning while we were out looking for the elusive, but very vocal Scarlet Robin, we were entertained by a pair of Little Eagles in the air. It would be nice to think that they were at play, but it seemed a very dangerous game they were engrossed in.
The pair are a light morph and a dark morph. Each seemed to be about as aggressive. It just depended on who got the height. There was lots of crossing one another’s paths, plenty of frontal attacks and several passes with long claws extended. This shot is about half way through the confrontation and shows the darker bird on its back talons extending up.
It might be courtship, or the two young at play, or perhaps a younger bird being chased away. In the end the lighter one took a thermal to a height and then speared away to the south. The darker bird circled a little longer, and then we lost it among the trees. However it did show up at the carpark later, but on its own.
Over the past few months it has become one of my challenges to find where a pair of Little Eagles had nested this season. I had a rough idea, but heavy chain fences and hard to get to locations had pretty well extinguished any chances of finding the location. Over the past few weeks things have changed a bit as the young are now on the wing.
Lots of activity in the air today, and we spotted 4 birds. One was definitely an older bird with lighter colouring and a tail that looked in need of a few feathers. One other bird was a bit more elusive and could well have been a young bird or perhaps the other of the parent pair.
Two of them were young birds, lovely rich cinnamon and ginger colours. They are masters of the air already and in a good breeze, they manoeuvred over our location in fine style. The camera says that the closest I recorded was 35 metres, like it just passed overhead. One made a pass over some small dense scrub at the end of a dam, and went down to just over the scrub height. All hell broke loose as the various inhabitants including ducks, grebes, cormorants and a few assorted cuckoos, wagtails and the like took off in all directions with honks, squawks and chatter. It took a trip around the dam to gain height and had a second go, fluttering down like a leaf swaying from one side to the other just loosing height, but this time the wagtail contingent were ready and it got a right royal chattering and dive bombing from the squadron.