Been a bit frantic with a number of projects the past week or so, and have a bit more to add to Studio Werkz.
EE suggested a bit of a break from serious bird photography, and an early morning at the You Yangs Park sounded about right.
Still in the Little Visits Mode:
The monthly Birding Walk at Eynesbury was on again today.
We drove into the Grey Box forest in the warm sunshine, and slowed down to enjoy the play of the light among the trees. It has rained overnight and there was that wonderful distinct crispness to the air and the whole forest seemed to sparkle in the moment. The great Grey Box stood soaking up the light and the tones of the light playing over their trunks was a delight to see.
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.
We’ve had a whole range of really average weather of late, and both EE and I were getting a bit tired of being unable to get out for a really good look about. Much changes in a fortnight.
We decided on an early trip to Eynesbury, mainly because of Speckled Warbler. These tiny little songsters are proving to be incredibly illusive for us. We’ve heard them in several places, but have little to show other than a glimpse of a bird flying off into the distance.
Weatherzone showed some pretty nice icons indicating its should be clear from sunup till at least midday, so setting the alarm clock, we were ready for an early start. As we drove up toward Eynesbury, it was obvious the weather was not going to match the icons and it was very overcast. And with no wind, it was pretty much going to stay that way. Still we crossed the road entered the forest and began our search. And within about 10mins had heard the cheery cry of the Warbler, but so far away and no pictures.
The other bird of interest is the Diamond Firetail, and while we got some good views no really great photos.
By late morning the sun had poked through, the Little Eagles were playing the strengthening breezes and a pair of Brown Falcons were playing chase across the treetops.
We took a walk up past the old shearing shed area and then down the track toward the golf course dam.
“There is always a pair of Jacky Winter on this corner, ” I assured EE, but she responded “I would have thought the name ‘Winter’ might have been a clue.”
And then to both our collective surprises a Jacky flew down grabbed a bug and sat in a tree with its usual tail wag.
The Jacky winter is a fine mixture of part Robin, part Flycatcher (they used to be called the Lesser Fascinating Flycatcher), part Fantail, and a touch of Woodswallow. Well it seems like that to me.
They are also among my favourite birds. Their simple colours make a great photo harmony, their clear sounding calls are a delight and they can be very easy to work with, almost completely ignoring the inquisitive human being. On average. I’ve also met a few that are extraordinarily skittish, and I’ve never had much success.
This corner pair fall somewhere in between. We’ve had some lovely interaction and complete disdain on other occasions.
I followed this one across the roadway, and propped against a tree, hoping, she/he? they are impossible to tell apart, would come on back and at least hunt in the area. It immediately headed back across the road, into a tree, and I caught a glimpse of it on a limb with a lot of wing fluttering. Perhaps its going to be fed, thought I, so I wandered slowly in that direction, but by then the bird had moved on. However there was a bump in the branch, and at first I thought it might have been the other of the pair.
Then it dawned on me. “It’s a young one that is waiting to be fed”. But…
When I put the glass on it, what I discovered was a Jacky Winter nest. Now, I’ve seen some pretty tiny Red-capped Robin nests and the nest of a Grey Fantail, but this was even tinier, and not at all well built. The two young were already overcrowding the nest. And the one thing they seemed to be able to do was to crouch down, and hang on. So at a quick glance it didn’t look like either a nest nor any young birds. Very clever.
But it is tiny.
After a few minutes the first of the adults and then the other came in and poked food into the open mouths, and there was no sound from the young and apart from putting their head up, no real movement either. Very clever.
I concluded from the size that they were about a week from fledging, so perhaps another trip will be needed to see the young birds in action.
Only spent enough time to get a few shots, like to leave them to themselves unless I’m invited to stay, and there wasn’t time for introductions.
On the way back to where we’d left our gear, I heard the Warbler and managed a few shots of it. One of them in the clear. What I didn’t expect was to be harassed by 3 or 4 very agitated Superb Fairy Wren males and several females. The males getting up very close indeed to try and attract my attention and then I noticed why. They had recently fledged 3 or 4 young birds and were trying to protect them. I managed a couple of quick shots of the young with their very short tails.