Interludes: Let’s Be Careful Out There

The title is a quote from a tv show of the 1980s.

The Duty Sergeant would remind his team as they left the daily briefing, ‘Let’s be Careful Out There.”

In these days of rampant pandemic it still seems like good advice.

However being careful out there applies to some birds as much as it did to the police in “Hill Street Blues

Longer term readers may recall that two years ago we spent quite a bit of time with a Brown Falcon pair as they nested.  Cassia, of Cinnamon, provided us with some excellent insight into the nesting and feeding habits of their lives.
Unfortunately we were unable to follow up with them last season due to travel restrictions.

However with a change in limitations we have now been able to revisit the park, and after a couple of futile attempts,  EE pulled the proverbial Brown Falcon Nest out of a Hat.
He had been hunting close into the nest in the open paddocks and seemed to be having some success, however we missed the food exchanges and were unable to determine a possible nest site.
It was not only us that were taking an interest in the falcon’s presence.  Australian Magpies took them as ‘easy’ targets and each time one of the birds flew, a flotilla of maggies were in hot pursuit.
Mostly the magpies are fast enough, and the falcons don’t put in that much effort to get away, but today it was quite obvious that the falcons were not going to broach harassment, and each time the magpies drew in close, the falcons put effort into the wing strokes and powered away. Not something I usually see.

Cassia does indeed, Need to be Careful Out There.

Here is a small selection of the morning’s activity.

This is the male, he is lighter in colour. He is doing his best to hover over the grasses
Action TIme. A quick drop on to some prey below
Mouse delivery. Unlike Black-shouldered Kites, he carries the prey in his beak.
The male: Time for a scratch on the wing.
Sitting waiting for an opportunity to pounce. His yellow cere and eye ring are noticeable id markings. HANZAB notes that yellow cere may be a sign of age and is more prevalent in males. This bird might be at least 15 years old as we’ve seen him over a number of seasons.
Heading out for another catch
This is Cassia, of Cinnamon and her nest with at least two young. They are only recently hatched, perhaps in the past few days.
The magpies decided that Cassia was not going to sit quietly anywhere in their territory.
Maggie closing in.
She is well aware of the challenge, and is about to power away.
This is the first time I’ve seen a falcon put in the effort to evade the charging magpies. I think she has the better of them in a vertical climb
Stretching out. The magpies might have the advantage on a downhill run or across a level field, but in this case she just lifted up faster than the magpie could manage.
The male avoiding two enraged Little Ravens

Saturday Evening Post #143 : On Country

I was pleasantly pleased to see the other day that Australia Post is encouraging people to add the First Nation’s Traditional Place name to their address fields in letters and parcels.  Here is a map that is a start on the journey

I had the fortune I guess as a small lad to grow up in a Murray River community and was friends with a several of the local young boys.  Now to my memory there never was much talk about being ‘on’ or ‘in’ Country, but truth be told I might have missed it anyway.

What is memorable now, with some much older and better pondered hindsight is that the lads, whether hunting, swimming or messing about in the bush weren’t all that fussed about being ‘in or on’.  It came to me later that they, ‘were’ country.  Moving with an ease and confidence that was as eternal as the trees, rocks, bushes and animals.

It is more than just an acceptance of the area, it was a spiritual connection, not so much in the mystic, but rather in embracing they were part of the environment. No doubt more wiser heads than mine can explain all the elements, but I’ve noted over the years the same kind of ‘spiritual connection’ among many cultures and religions.  Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Dao, Buddhist and many others. The clear connection between themselves and the land around abound. Not only at some higher form, but the simple integration of action with belief.

#Kneetoo’s family worked the Hay Plain and Lachlan River areas, and Bill, my Father-in-Law had developed a very respectful relationship with the Dadi Dadi and Mari Mari traditional owners of the area. The family stories of their connection and how the locals would turn up at one of Bill’s camps, says much about both.

Did any of it rub off on to me?   Well a quick story.  When I was around 17 or 18, one of our city relatives came to visit over the summer holidays.  We decided to go for a bit of an exploration along the Murray River bank near home,  a place I have to say that I did know quite well.   It didn’t take me long to pick up a kangaroo pad, or slip through the riverside scrub, but my city born and bred relative found the going quite difficult.   We also waded across the River at a point where during summer the shallow water ran over a long clay secure bottom.  I didn’t stop to look but simply crossed.  He, hesitated. Lookrd, and then gingerly took each step as if it might be his last. But by the end of the day, his grin from being in the grove with the around was as wide as the flowing river.

Full disclosure.  When I first moved to the “Big Smoke” I stayed with them for about a year and he was able to do the same thing for me among the backstreets and parkways around his home.  A learning experience.

When we walk the Eynesbury forest with the award winning Chris Lunardi, he won’t let me lead a walk.
“I’ve watched you walk off the track and then disappear before my eyes,” he’ll say.  “Then twenty minutes later, about a kilometer down the track you’ll suddenly re-appear on the side of the track.  It’s eerie!”
But then again.  I like Grey Box forest. It’s been said, kindly and not so kindly that I have Grey Box sap in my veins. 🙂

My first few seasons at Woodlands Historic Park were not years of bird photography.  I walked the paddocks and the hillsides as a Landscape Photographer.  Even had the kit. The header image while taken on a digital camera, is in fact firmly attached to a whacking great tripod that I used to use with a 4×5 inch Linhoff Super Tecknika camera.  Standard fare of my early trade.

This one was in the early mists of mid-winter.  One of my fav times for those moody landscapes.
The creekline is Moonee Ponds Creek, –Woiworung Country—and the rich red sand in the foreground was much prized by the builders in Melbourne during the building boom around 1880-1900s.  The locals would fill drays from the creek and transport them to the building sites.  So I didn’t have to do much work on the image to keep that richness intact.

I’m guessing I don’t roam as much as I used to, much preferring these days to have a Jon Young ‘Sit Spot’ and watch the interactions of the trees, birds, animals, clouds and winds on a much more macro level.  Each. To his own.

Wathaurong Country