Monday, December 31, 2012

Whistling The Dog

 G'day Readers,

I took the opportunity of some bright light and no wind yesterday to try for some wetland landscapes near Sale for a small exercise I’m doing at present.

Lake Guyatt and the Sale Common are two favourite sites that I am drawn to when I want a wetland fix to contrast with my normal dry bush, (very DRY at present), habitat around home. Guyatt in particular is interesting – right on the edge of town, very popular with walkers, picnickers, dogs, etc – and still the birds come. The scene below is one from yesterday and amongst the ducks, Freckles mind you, there were Latham’s Snipe, Ibis, Gulls, Dotterels, etc.

While getting some shots at Guyatt, a young family pulled up for a picnic breakfast-lunch and the two older children began feeding the gulls. As the birds began to approach closer and closer, the children became frightened and Dad’s immediate response was, “Let’s frighten them away – shoo, shoo”. A game then began of enticing the gulls in with scraps then shooing them off as they got closer! I was biting my tongue.

I put some time in at the Sale Common next. This wetland has been inundated for quite a period lately and the walking tracks are only just drying out after several months of being submerged. Ducks, Darters, Cormorants, Coots, Egrets, Herons, etc, were all enjoying themselves and I was quite impressed with the list of bush birds I was seeing and hearing – Rufous Whistler, Sacred Kingfisher, Pallid Cuckoo, both Pardalotes, Crimson Rosella, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, etc.

Satisfied with the morning’s walk, I purchased a coffee and retired to the Powder Magazine and sat under the shade of some old Peppercorn trees. To my delight a pair of Shining Bronze Cuckoos began to call and display to one another. They were always in deep shade or behind some foliage but eventually got a couple of acceptable views of a bird I have certainly heard more often than seen.


Today's heading of course pertains to the call of the Shining Bronze Cuckoo.
See ya,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Some of the Hazards of ...

... bird surveying!

G'day folks,
I spent this morning helping Martin and Duncan with a survey on a block of land at Marlay Point on Lake Wellington. Thought I might run you through a couple of the hazards involved when bird surveying.

As nearly every birder knows, when there is an interesting bird to look at closely, or a positive ID to be made, etc, the subject will nearly always be backlit....

Not a problem thinks I, I'll turn 180 degrees and head into the grassland with the sun behind me ...

Oops, think I might just head back out on to the track for a bit and stick with the others!

Not really hazards, hey? Especially when you are out with great company on a nice morning seeing some great birds ... hovering Kestrels, diving Terns, startled Qail, inquisitive Cisticolas, etc.

It was Martin's tern, [sic], to bring morning tea, so we had coffee and apple scrolls down where there were piles of birds er, birds on piles ...

PS: In case you are wondering -
Great Egret and White-faced Heron.
Tiger Snake.
Common Tern.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gluepot 2012 - A Selection

G'day Readers, (if there are any left),
Just to keep Blogger from shutting down my account through lack of activity I’ve gone back to a few birds we came across in Gluepot Reserve on our visit back in September.

The White-fronted Honeyeater was quite numerous as they can be apparently. They like the drier arid country and follow the flowering of the desert plants.

At one bird hide I caught up with what I call the Gluepot Grey Currawong. They are much bigger and darker race than our Gippsland birds and lack any white in the wings – hence their alternative common name of Black-winged Currawong.

As close friends might appreciate I have a passion for the ‘small bush birds’ – wrens, robins, thornbills, pards, etc. One species we are seeing less and less of around these parts is the Hooded Robin, so it was nice one day to stalk a small family for a half hour or so to get some nice views of the male and the female.


Probably the iconic parrot of Gluepot, the Mulga Parrot, would often surprise me as they flew up from the low shrubs on the ground just in front of me. Their camouflage is very effective. I managed a shot of a pair at one stage and the more subtle tones of the female are as attractive as that of the brighter male in my book.
That’s your lot for now.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dawson Again

G’day Blogworld,
Still alive here in Gouldiae-land. Busy as all heck but this morning I ducked out to that piece of private bush at Dawson again. I’ve been keen to keep an eye on a Wedge-tailed Eagle’s nest on the block and John gave me the heads up that he’d seen a pair of wedgies in the vicinity when he was cutting hay recently. Nest was quiet but the wedgies did appear while I was under the tree. At first they didn’t see me but the moment I moved to get a better view with the camera they were off.


I’ll keep trying on that one I think.

I’ve never known a block of bush to be so full of Rufous Whistlers. They were calling all morning from all over the place. I’d estimate at least 4 pair in the vicinity.

Unusually, I ticked a Pallid Cuckoo by sight before I heard it. I don’t recall hearing its call all morning.

White-winged Trillers were busy too. I think I’ve only ever seen one or two individuals at a time in the past but this morning there was at least half a dozen birds chasing one another in the tree tops.

Back to the watering.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Little Time Out (and about).

G’day Readers,

A couple of days ago, Pop took Nan to the railhead in Traralgon so Nan could ride the iron horse to the big smoke for her dose of granddaughter spoiling. Pop went on to the Morwell National Park for an hour or two.

Last year I struggled to find a decent example of the Butterfly Orchid that grows in there. Currently there are plenty of small ones just starting but I did manage to find one well advanced with at least a couple of dozen flower heads. We are well endowed with terrestrial orchids around here, but this - I think - is our only epiphyte.


As I was struggling with the low light conditions and trying different camera settings, I became aware of a party of small birds that seemed to be checking me out. Dare I hope that it would be those Brown Gerygones? Are they still here? Although described in the literature as sedentary and common, they are just about on their southern limit around these parts so it is always great to come across them.

Bingo! And I think the population has expanded – they seemed to be everywhere.

After chasing the ‘jerry-gones’ for a bit, time was slipping away and there was still a couple of fairways to cut before dark. On the way home a farmer at Seaton was carting in some of his hay bales and disturbing a huge mixed flock of sulphur-crested cockies, corellas and ravens. As he drove through them they would all take off, some landing again directly behind the tractor, others flying off to some distant lookout trees.



… back to that mower.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Xanthorrhoea minor and Heteronympha merope

G’day All,

We have nearly a dozen surviving Minor Grass Trees in the bush between the 14th and 15th fairways. I say ‘surviving’ because quite a number have been ‘mown’ into submission by the boys on the roughs mowers. It is only after heaps of whingeing that they have stopped cutting so deep into the bush. Now if your ball goes in there, the saying is, “That’s where elephants go to die.” Fine by me!

Anyway, a few of the Minor Grass Trees have suddenly sent up their flower spikes and actually come in to bloom. We’ve had flower spikes before, but seldom any flowers. We’re having a great season.

I ventured in with the camera today and took some shots. While doing so, the variety of visitors to the nectar factories was remarkable, including a number of Common Brown Butterflies that were shouldering each other away for a position.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Oriole at Nest

G'day Blogworld,
A few postings back I was bemoanig the fact I'd not been able to see an Orioles nest on the golf course despite them visiting every year.

I have a small 'drink station' set up in a favourite patch of box bush behind the workshop. I check it from time to time when sharpening, adjusting, greasing, etc starts to get borinig. Yesterday happened to be a day I took the camera to 'work' and so I spent a casual half hour around the drink trough.

First in was a juvenile Olive-backed Oriole.

After a bit another Oriole started approaching cautiously but to my surprise it bypassed the watering point and headed straight for a nest - directly above me!

Didn't stay long - that's me and the bird. I had to get back under a machine and the bird just looked inside then flew off again. Nice to know it is there, I can keep an eye out for perhaps some more entertainment between sharpening. "What's that noise?" I hear you ask. That's the noise of grass growing!!!!