Monday, January 21, 2013

A Day Off Work

G'day World,
I managed to have a day off last Friday. We closed the golf course due to the colour of the sky ...

We got out of it pretty lightly just here. No flames anywhere near the house. Others in the district were not so lucky unfortunately.

A couple of times I had plucked up some courage to grab the camera but mostly I was fighting a sickening feeling in the stomach. It was wonderful to have son-in-law Nick beside me for much of the day.

At one point when it was obvious the paddocks a couple of km away were ablaze, the wondeful sound of 'chop-chop-chop ...' was heard - not a bird but the first of the observer helicopters appeared in the distance.

I'm not a Vietnam vet, so to me it is a wonderful sound. Then the big guns arrived and got to work ...


 They were going right over our heads as Nick and I stood on the roof. We could feel the water dripping from their snorkels.

John G out at Coongulla has sent me some pics of the approach of the beast to Glenmaggie.

 The map below was published by the CFA on Saturday at some time - I've lost track. The golf course, and home, is about halfway between the southern boundary of the fire and the township of Heyfield. You might be able to see a small green rectangle just below the fire limit line. At the time it was 46 000 hectares. A wind change swung the thing away from us late in the afternoon and it's gone back up into the hills above Glenmaggie and is now something like 60 000 hectares in size.


I've been a bit slow to get this report out. My ISP has a wireless tower at Seaton from which I get my signal. The tower has survived but they lost power in the middle of Friday. The signal was fine on battery power through-out most of Saturday but then the batteries failed. Aussie Broadband has only just now been able to get to the site this afternoon with a generator. Now I've got heaps of emails to attend to!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Green Pine-cone For Brekfast Anyone?


I heard this family communicating as they flew overhead, even above the noise of the quad-bike when I was out watering early yesterday morning. I went home for the camera – just in case – and a little later, halfway down the 14th fairway, they were having breakfast.

Mum ... 

Dad ...

And the kid who seemed a bit disenchanted with the menu ...


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Three Nocturnals

G’day Readers,
One of the consequences of trying to keep a golf course green during a heat wave is that often it is far more convenient to do much of the work at night. Apart from being extremely uncomfortable trying to work in 40+ degrees, any watering is quickly evaporated. A beaut side-effect of this is that sometimes I will come across a few nocturnal patrons on the course.

Friday night for example I spotted a Ringtail Possum and a Sugar Glider in the same tree. An errant sprinkler had saturated the lower trunk and branches of a tree beside a tee and the Possum and the Glider were taking the opportunity of a cooling drink after a stinking day. They were on adjoining branches for some time and I was hopeful of them getting together for a shot, but that didn’t happen.

Just at the end of my night’s effort, the headlights of the bike caught a glimpse of a grey shape on a low branch just near the pump shed. I turned the spot on to see a pair of Tawny Frogmouths looking down at me. By the time I got the camera into position, etc, they’d separated and moved higher. They flew about in the same patch of trees for a bit but I was too tired to wait for them to come down a little lower and my camera/flash struggled to get anything very sharp. Nice to see ‘em, but!


Friday, January 4, 2013

Duncan's Patch

 G'day Blogworld,

Yesterday DF and I had a small job to do in Maffra. We ended up at the Macalister Swamp Reserve right on the edge of town, one of D’s favourite wetland places.

He’d promised to show me Red-kneed Dotterels, Lathams Snipe, Nankeen Night Herons and Spotted Crakes. Duncan would make a good scent hound. When we arrived at the swamp, he walked me straight to each of those species in turn. It was as though he’d pre-arranged it somehow.

The beautiful little Red-knees were on the first mud patch, (which is shrinking dramatically in our present weather pattern). There was a party of seven and Duncan says he has counted a dozen recently, the most for this locality in many a year. We watched them for some time as they bobbed their heads and dashed about probing for muddy delights.

We sprung a couple of Snipe before the master spotted one sheltering from the heat in the shade of some reeds. It’s always nice to see these long distance travellers and I always marvel at how they apparently don’t get that enormously long bill stuck in the mud or tangled in the reeds.

Moving right on, a Nankeen Night Heron took off and sought undisturbed refuge elsewhere in the reed beds.

The next mud patch, right beside a popular walking track, was the favourite location for at least one pair of Spotted Crakes. We saw several of these nomadic waders indicating that again the good season has resulted in an increased population.

Well that was the end of Duncan’s list but he failed to include the Great Egrets, Reed Warblers, Little Grassbirds, Blue Wrens, Swamphens and Coots of course, various Ducks, Pelicans … and just around the next corner a lovely pair of Royal Spoonbills.

Nice one DF, a great little interlude in a busy day – thanks.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

David's Hobby

 G'day Readers,
One of the joys of birding is to unexpectedly come across kindred spirits and that happened just the other day when I was trying to capture some images of the Shining Bronze Cuckoo in my previous entry.

A couple approached me at the Powder Magazine in Sale and asked what I was chasing with the binoculars and camera. As usual, I began to wonder do I just say, “A bird”, or do I say, “A Cuckoo”, or do I even say, “A Shining Bronze Cuckoo”. To my absolute delight, David and his wife were as passionate about the avi-fauna in the district as I am.

We looked at the Cuckoo and some of the images I’d managed, listened to its call and chatted for some time. David related the story of a Hobby devouring a meal on the nature strip in the middle of Sale back in February this year, (oops, last year), and said he had some pictures, would I like to see them? Wow, they arrived today – beautiful. I now have some great pictures of a Hobby to replace the ones in my mind of a dark bird zooming through the background.

(All pictures by David Crouch of Sale)




Thanks David, wonderful shots of an uncommon bird.