Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Avian Duplicity

The Mortimer Picnic Ground is situated just within the Bunyip State Park near the western boundary. The picnic ground is reasonably well appointed with parking areas, tables, fireplaces and a drop toilet. There are several walking tracks, bridle paths and maintenance vehicle roads that head out from the reserve.

The park is close to the junction of the William Wallace and Diamond Creeks both of which are lined with a variety of ferns and other typical wet temperate forest species.

The Mountain Grey gums are the stand out tree species in the reserve.

Both creeks are lined with water ferns, tree ferns, swordgrass, Pomaderis, Prickly Currant Bush and similar species, (including some stinging nettles I discovered!).

Rufous Fantail plus …?
After exploring small sections of a couple of trails I put the billy on and scanned the creek line through the bins. I ticked quite a few different birds but the one that caught my eye was the Rufous Fantail. At least a pair of birds seemed to be flying in and out of one particular patch of scrub – worth a closer inspection.

I got close enough to see one bird had food in its beak. Keeping an eye on where exactly it disappeared to, I soon found the nest just over the water.

As is plainly visible, it is a VERY large Rufous Fantail nestling – I don’t think - has to be a cuckoo species. Obviously we have some brood parasitism going on here, (YouTube video link). I’m a little ambivalent about this. The fantails have naturally lost this round of young in their rearing cycle. Perhaps they had an early season rearing anyway? Maybe they’ll try again once the cuckoo has fledged?

The cuckoo parent on the other hand has been very clever and I’m just as delighted to see a cuckoo in the bins or the camera as I am seeing a fantail. So, I’m feeling a bit dismayed for the poor fantails but a bit excited to see which breed of cuckoo they will raise! If I can manage to keep an eye on things I’ll post the results here.

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