Sunday, December 13, 2009

Heyfield Birdwatchers - December '09

G'day Bird Watchers,
A small group braved the coolish wind and the start of the 'silly season' to have our final outing for the bird year at our spiritual home, the Heyfield Wetlands. The emphasis for the day was not so much on the birds but more about reviewing some of our exploits and speculating about the upcoming new year.

Purple Swamphens and Eurasian Coots had babies in the reed beds just in front of the information centre building.

On one of the back ponds we disturbed a family of Black Ducks from their feeding around the edges and they immediately swam under the direction of their parents toward a stump in the middle.

As they gathered around the stump, they packed in very close and even put their heads under the water. The parent birds swum off a bit but kept a close watch on the young ones.

To the naked eye, the stump looked like, well, a stump!

Very clever that, I thought.

Seasonal best wishes, felicitations and salutations to the lot of you. Hope to catch up with everyone again next month - yep, that's right, you don't get annual leave in this group!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bird On The Limit

Yesterday I had to meet Glen at the Traralgon station at 430. I left home, (30 minutes from Traralgon), about midday. When I got to Traralgon I was about 4 hours early, so I had to find something to do! "I wonder if the camera and binoculars are in the ute? Yep, that was lucky, might as well check out Morwell National Park to fill in some time." Does anyone believe that little story?

In a quiet moment on one of the tracks I heard some little bird calls that I couldn't quite recognize. It wasn't quite the 'zizz, zizz, zizz' of the White-browed Scrubwren, more a deeper 'zizz-it, zizz-it, zizz-it'. I moved a little off the track and stayed in one spot for a time and eventually caught sight of a pair of much smaller birds than the 'scrubbies'.

I followed them quietly for a time to get a better view and eventually caught up with them in a spot where I managed a picture or two...

They were Brown Gerygones. Not a common bird to see in our neck of the woods, being just about at the southern limit of their range. Sweet little bird. And, they were being surprisingly accomodating of my presence. Looking about I discovered why.

Could it be? I sat and waited for some time and eventually, after numerous March Fly and mossie bites, one of the birds obliged with a visit.


Strewth, look at the time, Glen's train is only 20 minutes away. In my rush back to the ute in the car park I foolishly disregarded the patches of stinging nettles - I was in shorts too.

There's a beaut fish and chip shop just about next to the station, so it was 'sea-food and vegetables' and a cappachino for dinner. But where? The Traralgon Res of course.

We sat among the waterbirds for a while, then strolled around the track as the sun got low. At one point a Butcherbird going butchers and a Willie Wagtail joining in, drew our attention to a Black-shouldered Kite on top of its lookout tree.

A nice conclusion to a beaut afternoon.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Small Tale of Woe.

G'day Blogworld,
This morning I decided to forgo the usual Thursday game of golf and head for the hills. I've been wondering what some of the favourite foothill gullies are like after the recent bit of rain, so I went up to 'Owl' Creek.

On the way I drove past numerous paddocks like ...

and this ...

Lots of farmers are making hay while the sun shines at the moment.

For those first two pics I opted to set the camera on auto 'Landscape'. I was satisfied with the results, got back into the ute and proceeded on to my destination.

After scrambling down the rock face to the creek bed, one of the first birds I saw was a Red-browed Treecreeper. Pretty unusual, and a first for me. Up with the camera, click, click, ... and the bird was away. You know what the 'woe' bit is now don't you? I'd left the camera settings on Landscape! *#@&%#*!

I assure you all, it was a Red-browed Treecreeper - true dinks.

Ah well, just on a bit I came across a family of White-browed Scrubwrens and with the camera settings changed, I fired away.

There is always a mob of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos roosting in the lower part of this gully and as you approach they scream 'blue murder'. As I moved up toward the rocky gorge, they continued their raucous screeching which made trying to pick other bird calls a fruitless exercise.

In a brief lull of quiet, I managed to hear the 'rusty hinge' call of the Gang-gang Cockatoo and I happened to locate a pair high up on a limb. These birds of course readily feed in parks, gardens, (and golf courses), where they can be very accommodating, allowing you to approach quite close. However, seeing them in this more natural environment I reckon they can be just as endearing, even at a distance.

Well, it's hot and windy here now and that means there are greens to be watered, I'd better get moving.