A Day in Grey

Astute reader that you are, you’ll have recalled that the last posting here was a trip to Eynesbury for a visit to some Woodswallows at Nursery.

Decided on a whim today, to take another trip to the same spot not that we expected to find the Woodswallows still on nest,  but y’know, perhaps we might be lucky.

Well time, tide and Woodswallow fledglings wait for no photographer, and they had indeed taken to wing. Now of course it was a new challenge.

But there is something relaxing indeed about a pot of tea, (Earl Grey- see the connection?)  in a Grey Box forest.  So we sat.  And slowly the forest began to reveal those hidden secrets.

Over there, Tree Martins, still feeding young.  On the other side a pair of Rufous Whistlers who entertained with their calls.  More Brown Treecreepers than you can count, and most of them either at nest, or ferrying food for demanding young.

And my favourite find. Jacky Winter. The pair near out sit spot had two young and were keeping them up in the tops of the trees, but we still had enjoyable encounters.

Off to look for Matilda the Pacific-black Duck who has taken over a hollow, and to my surprise, she was still domicile, but only her carefully crafted wing tip feathers were showing her presence.  Must be close for her now.  I’ve no idea where she is going to lead them to water, but the nearest must be about 2km away through the scrub.

In the same area, lo and behold a second pair of Jacky Winter, with two well advanced young. I’d be betting these were the same birds we photographed in the area last year.    One of the adults adjusted to my presence in a few minutes and continued to feed and preen quite closely. Then it (she?) sat down on the ground a few metres away and “sun-hazed” and quite went into a trance.    Satisfied I was no danger, it allowed some fine portraits to be made.

And the I heard the wheezy call of a Diamond Firetail watching the portrait session.

As we started for home we came across the White-browed Woodswallows feeding some young, and then a family of  Brown Treecreepers looking after their growing juveniles.

Of course no trip to Eynesbury would be complete without a sighting of the elusive Speckled Warbler, and to both our delights one flew by as we walked back to the car, and then began to feed on the small slope nearby.  No close approaches with this bird, so my score of great photos of  this little dude is still intact. Zero.


Jacky WInter
Jacky WInter Juvenile
Thanks for the food Mum!
Tree Martin
Jacky WInter,Juvenile
White-browed Woodswallow, fledgling
Diamond Firetail
Diamond Firetail
Brown Treecreeper
Speckled Warbler



Nursery days at Eynesbury

When I was a little tacker, The Gould League of Bird Lovers conducted a range of programmes at primary schools, intended mostly I think now with hindsight to stop young boys from stealing eggs  during the spring season. “Bird Nesting”, t’was called, and the eggs were kept in small containers lined with cotton wool, and each, well, each had a story of “Daring-do” in how it was retrieved. Often from tall trees, or so it seemed.

Being a bit on the scared of heights side of things, it now seems appropriate to tell, that I never collected a single egg. But used to marvel at the tales of those who did.

Not that I didn’t go out with intent.  If I lacked the means, I certainly did not lack the enthusiasm.  Which I suppose taught me by some empirical osmosis the signs of a nesting bird.  Jon Young makes a point of having a “Sit Spot” in which you return to day after day, season after season, and learn the lore of the land in that spot.

Today, of course we are much to busy to have a 30min break with the birds, and would have to travel distances to get anywhere like open bush.  So we do it a bit vicariously, squeezing a few minutes here or there. One reason I always enjoyed my closeness to Woodlands Historic Park was the ability to slip in and out at a moments notice and stay in touch with the birds in their territories.

Like riding a bicycle, the signs of birds and their ways may not be a honed skill anymore, but I found today, that I can still pick some of the tell-tale signs.  Which brings  us to Eynesbury Grey Box Forest.

Within a few minutes of arriving at a small clearing in the area, it became apparent that there were some White-browed Woodswallows (among others) that were engaged in their breeding programme.  Just where the nest was, high, low, open, exposed or secretive, was at that stage bit of a mystery, but again some latent skills began to yawn, stretch and point. “Over there”, saith I.  Where said EE. Well it took a few more minutes of close observation, and finally there it was.  And what a view.

Talk about a bird with a sense of design and location.  This one ticks all the boxes. The local realestate folk would be proud. Long sweeping curves, carefully crafted. Magnificent views, a shot flight to the shops, and an enclosing verandah.  A must for the aspiring home-maker.  A Winner by any standards.

White-browed Woodswallows, share the nesting duties, each one sitting for 15-20 minutes or so, and then relieved by the other partner who sits on a branch close by, and in what can only be Woodswallowese, calls out, “Hurry up, its my turn to sit now.”


Something, told me, straight away that this bird was nesting
Something, told me, straight away that this bird was nesting
The Ultimate Room with a View
The Ultimate Room with a View
View from the South Side
View from the South Side
View from the East Side, showing the exclusive verandah
View from the East Side, showing the exclusive verandah
Waiting for its turn to move on to the nest
Waiting for its turn to move on to the nest