From the Field Notes Book: Nesting

We finally managed a day that at least started out looking sunny, but it did deteriote. However no rain. Bonus!

A short stop to catch up on our local Willie Wagtails nesting. All seemed well, and as this pair have been washed and blown off the branch in their past two attempts, it is heartening to see them back on the job.

We also walked about part of the Werribee Mansion precinct and EE managed to spot at least four Wagtails at work on various stages of nesting.

The Hobby pair have also shown they have been able to weather the various weathers that have been given them and have two rather well developed young chicks on the nest. Given the days of constant rain, and exceedingly high winds its says a lot of for these birds to have survived. I had, I must admit begun to think they might have abandoned the project.

EE was at her alert best and found four nesting sites. It seems the Willies have figured out the dreadful weather might be gone, and are keen to make up for lost time.
Willies have, it seems two major nesting strategies. I’ve noted over the years that its possible to find a pair building a nest on a branch out in the open. No surrounding cover. In your face. I’m here, “This is Me!”
The second strategy is one of the furtive, hide-away in the deepest part of the a thickly covered bush or tree and, Ha! Let someone try and find us in there. I once had one that had nested in what can best be describes as the very centre of a Prickly Wattle bush (Acacia paradoxa) Each time getting into and out of the nest damaged some feathers. The clutch was well protected from self-serving Ravens and other thieves. They fledged three young.
And occasionally there is one that just seems to go for location, location, location, a bit like Goldilocks. Not too open, not too hidden.

I have to say that over the years, each method has had its successes and failures, so its hard to conclude one is better. I think it just depends on how stubborn the pair are.

Went to look for Seraphema and see if she was still in residence. Along the way came upon a White-faced Heron that seemed to have started a nest, but wasn’t sure if it should be completed. There was lots of calling disussion among the pair, but not much building. Time will tell.
And EE managed to locate a pair of Magpie larks engaged in the fun of building their mud house. The male popped down on the ground for a quick snack or two with his black apron all covered in mud flecks.

And so to the business in hand. The male Hobby deposited a catch into Serpaphema’s waiting claws and a few minutes later she headed to the nest.

After a feed, the two young climbed to the top of the nest for a look about and a wing-stretch.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, here comes a small essay.

And just as I was leaving I found a young Red-rumped Parrot sitting on a fence line. The soft light seemed to grace those lovely young colours


Enjoy

Not sure if you’ve seen this, but here is a link to an ABC story on a Raptor Rehabilitation Centre.
Birds of Prey Rehab

Little Visits: The Tale of Wagtails

Some things, as the credit card ad points out, Just can’t be purchased.

On our Kingfisher quest, we’ve crossed the paths of several Willie Wagtail pairs at nest.  Not all of them are successful.  But the agile and relentless little birds only try the harder. Most will, within a few days of loss, be hard at work on the next nest.

We found a pair that have survived with three happy little young—without any catastrophe.  I don’t normally publish nesting photos of Wagtails until I am sure that they have been successful. No point in raising hopes and then seeing the nest disappear.  The Wagtails take it as part of the cost of doing business, we humans seem to take the devastation personally.

A recent fledging of three out of four young Peregrine Falcons at 367 Collins Street is a case in point.  The fb page had thousands of words of anguish at the loss of one of the young that succumbed before flying.  Angry, “Why didn’t ‘they’ Do Something” posts seemed to miss the point that the parents had managed a magnificent feat in fledging three fat healthy young.  It was as if people had lost their favourite teddybear when young and now had a reason to express their own personal loss.
But.
I digress.

It takes the Wagtails about a week to build the nest, about 14 days to hatch and about 14 days to bring them to wing.

This pair had a nest quite low down on a tree trunk that had only recently fallen in a previous storm. Some Wagtails seem to nest in quite secretive behind-the-leaves locations, and others take what seems to be the risk of exposing their work to the world. Such was this pair.

Several days back we’d seen the first of the young ‘branching’, so no doubt they would be on quite mobile when we checked again today.  To add to our difficulty a light rain persisted in falling.  However, the little tackers were quite dry and feisty safely under the leaves of a tree.

Well done, all round.

Sitting Pretty.

Just a couple of days old.

Not ready to fly, but the wings are starting to come away from the sheaths.

High Protein Rocket Fuel going in.

Filling them up keeps the adults busy all day

Testing the well developed wings. Not long to go now

Small nest. Growing birds. Time to take to the surrounding branches for a little extra space.
No doubt they all flew this day.

Out of the rain in the dry under a tree

Ready to explore the world.

Developing that Wagtail stare is a must

A neat little package. Ready for anything.

‘tails free along the river

Here’s a story I’ve been waiting to tell. It’s the followup from last Saturday Evening’s Post.

EE and I have been searching along the trees at the Werribee River for a pair of Tawny Frogmouth and their young.  Thanks to a friendly tip from a member of BirdLife Werribee, (formerly Werribee Wagtails), we were able to eventually make the connection.
What we also discovered.  We in that phrase meaning EE spotted. What we also discovered was several pairs of Willie Wagtails that had all gone to nest about the same time, and within about 50m or so of each other.

To our delight one pair were only  a metre of so from the little walking track.  Little and Walking in that sentence are more an euphemism for—gaps among the scrub.

For as many afternoons as we can fit in, we’ve been dropping in to see how they are going. And the last day or so, in spite of the drenching weather,  they have flown!

Here is the visuals of the story unfolding.  Quite a few shots, but it takes about 14 days to hatch, and about 14 days to fledge.  You can take a lot of pictures of a nest on a stick in that time.

Good luck littleuns, hope to see your tails flying free for a long time.

Click on each image for a larger view

1811-08_DWJ_2850.jpgTaking a snack to work. This one is still sitting eggs

1811-08_DWJ_2869.jpg
The casual work approach

1811-11_DWJ_6266.jpg
First sight of the little featherless, blind young

1811-11_DWJ_6274.jpg
A couple of days later and Mum is sitting on the tucking them down and look at the size of her ‘eyebrow’. A very upset bird.

1811-11_DWJ_6296.jpgMore hi power food going in

1811-15_DWJ_6545Several days later and the first signs of wing feathers sheaths are beginning to show.

1811-15_DWJ_6629.jpgSnuggling down over the young to keep them safe from view1811-15_DWJ_6632.jpg
In spite of her care, one of the young pokes out the back to see what’s going on

1811-17_DWJ_4295.jpgNow they are really developing a full set of feathers

1811-17_DWJ_4301.jpgMore food going in.

1811-19_DWJ_4820.jpgTrying to distract me by pretending to be an injured bird.

1811-19_DWJ_4913.jpg
Each day brings them closer to fledging

1811-21_DWJ_5123.jpgFledging day.   Not more than 10 minutes later all three were on the wing.  The poor old nest is beginning to suffer from their activities and the heavy rain the night before

1811-21_DWJ_5285.jpgAnd here we are young ‘tails on the move

1811-21_DWJ_5321-2.jpgSee Mum, I can fly. I can fly.

Saturday Evening Post #006

Hope you like the new site. I like the design as it will work well on pads and phones. Each block will be in a single line down the page, and as there is a limited number of posts on the front page, it shouldn’t go on and on and on forever.
It also seems that unless I ante up some cash and take on a ‘paid’ site then anyone on my mailing list for blog updates will get emails which include ‘clickbait’ ads for stuff you don’t need.

Not my fault I cry, but it does mean that come the new year I’ll have to take a paid site to get rid of the problem.  And I see any such intrusions into people’s trust and relationships as INTRUSION.

Also get ready to see lots of photos of Willie Wagtails at nest.  After what has been a very slow start by the Wagtail community to the increase of their species, they seem to have thrown everything at it the past couple of weeks.  Even a stroll around our morning walk site has revealed 3 pairs hard at work, and we weren’t trying hard.  Add another 4 or 5 pair at The Office, and its certainly going to be a busy wagtail season anytime soon.

Look at the eyebrow in the header image. That is one annoyed Willie.

And on a positive note, a check on our local Tawny Frogmouth young this afternoon reveals they have flown.  Well done Tawnys.

1811-08_DWJ_2869.jpg

This one is so busy that it took a snack to work while it was doing its share of nesting duties.  The eggs hadn’ t hatch this time last week.

News Flash: Important Update: Tale of a Wagtail A revisit

Took a stroll tonight to look for the little lone Wagtail of my previous post.  A bit harder to find as its well on the wing.

So turned to go back for a fine cuppa of Earl of Grey with EE, my favourite person.

As I passed by the old tree that had held the nest, I stopped just to see how dilapidated it would have become in the past few days.

Double take Time !!!

Was that a tail I saw on the nest.  Stop, rub eyes, look again.

Yes.
She has added a new coat of web to the nest, set up the wide-screen tv, remodelled the Kitchen, and laid eggs and was about to do her part for Wagtail lineage.

In what must be about the fastest turn-around between clutches, this lady means business.  No doubt they’ve figured that one can sit the eggs, while one administers the young fledgling to maturity.

And if the nest worked once. Well!!!
This time I refrained from yelling my best advice across the paddock to her. Including the fact the next few days are going to be in the high 30s C.  I don’t think she considers it good wagtail advice.

Time will tell how it all goes.

Nicely setteled in.  The next addtion to the family is on the way. Persistence and Patience have your way.
Nicely setteled in. The next addtion to the family is on the way. Persistence and Patience have your way.

The Tale of a Wagtail

When it comes to nesting and bringing on a new clutch, Willie Wagtails seem to go from one extreme to another, in more ways than one.
The weather can take a turn and dash the plans of quite a number of nesting pairs.  And around the Werribee River area at the Office, they all seem to start within a day or two of each other and a change of weather takes out most of the nests.  That has happened once already this season.
Plucky little birds, just shake off the wet feathers, take a wagtail deep breath and start again.

dsc_2863

Continue reading “The Tale of a Wagtail”

A Little Wag Tale

Over the past few weeks along the river area at Werribee River Park, (The Office), we’ve been waiting for the Willie Wagtails to get into their nesting season.
Normally quick off the rank for a bout of nesting, the Wagtails around The Office seem to have been particularly slow in making the first move.
Not that I blame them, as about 8 pairs we worked with last year, built a nest early, and were washed out with rain.  They rebuilt, only to have a second storm cell come though about a fortnight later and once again wash them off the branches.   After a couple of weeks they started again, and as luck would have it, a third storm ripped through and again devastated their efforts.  By the fourth clutch, we were well into summer and most seemed to raise this round.  At one stage there were over 30 young juveniles all flitting about together as mum and dad worked on a fifth clutch.

This year, they seem to have taken the approach: Wait till the storm season is behind us.

And about two weeks back, we were thrilled to hear the nesting call of as many as 8-10 pairs as they worked away building in various locations from highly concealed among the leaves, to desperate, out in the open. Nothing is going to get us.
But.

dwj_1106

Continue reading “A Little Wag Tale”

What about a day at the Office?

With the sun-shining,  oh, yes, it did!  We decided on a trip to The Office.  This area of the Werribee River Park looks over the floodplain between the old sandridges and gives a pretty spectacular view if nothing else.  On a good day its possible to see the raptors at work.
Unfortunately today was not to be one of those days. And with no sign of the usual Flame Robin family we decided to walk up to the Werribee Mansion and have lunch there.
Usually the area along the golfclub is also a haven for small birds, but the gums must be slower to flower this year and only a handful of resident Red-rumped Parrots were located.
Still the sun was shining and we had a fine chicken panini and coffee. So to look at the Ornamental Pool, and our first real chance to find some birds.   Top of the list was a pair of Australasian Grebes and what appears to be their sole surviving chick. They had three earlier in the season.  They were pretty protective and this one seems to be doing well a good sign.

Continue reading “What about a day at the Office?”

Willie Wagtail

DWJ_4921 - Version 2
Not sure if you know. But if you click on the image it will go to a larger size Click a second time and it will go to full size. Worth it to see the priceless expression here Enjoy

This is Gate Willie.

It has a territory by the main gate at Paradise Road entrance at Western Treatment Plant.
His (?) job in the world is to give lectures to all those who would dare to open the gate and enter the Paradise Road area.
and a good job he does too.

Wagtail Construction Zone Update

As reported previously, all three wagtail pairs lost their nests (would have been eggs at that stage), about 2 weeks back.  Not sure how, but the number of Kookaburras, Ravens, Grey Shrike-thrush and other predators would have made short work of it all.

So the good news of course ,is you can’t keep a good wagtail down, and after a little searching in the morning we found all three hard at work and one who had really jumped the gun and had the nest, and the chicks, at least two, hatched.

Well done Mum’s.  Let’s hope for a little more compassion from your neighbours.

Just a step ahead. This one is feeding some very tiny beaks just visible.  She also took away a feces   sack
Just a step ahead. This one is feeding some very tiny beaks just visible. She also took away a feces sack

Hard at work still, but again the nest is really well stitched to the branch.
Hard at work still, but again the nest is really well stitched to the branch.

Repelling Boarders. This bird was taking no chances and would have just about been impossible to get out. No doubt the little claws are gripping very tightly inside. Not the extra strong binding to the branch on this one.
Repelling Boarders. This bird was taking no chances and would have just about been impossible to get out. No doubt the little claws are gripping very tightly inside.
Not the extra strong binding to the branch on this one.

 

Young Little Eagles in a fair breeze

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.

A couple of other shots are in the Little Eagle page here.

A very brown Little Eagle in flight over dam

Little Eagle loosing height by falling as a leaf from side to side, legs are down for control.