Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lake Hattah - Apostlebirds, Regent Parrot

Apostlebird (Struthidea cinerea)
There are not many places in Victoria where you can see Apostlebirds. The day picnic area and campground at Lake Hattah is apparently a pretty reliable spot.

I think the genus name comes from "Struth it just took my sandwich!" as they are quite keen around a picnic table.

I visited a few weeks ago and was hoping to camp at the Lake Hattah campground. Late Hattah is a flood plain lake. It is often dry but when flooded supports Red gum bushland. Currently there is a program of deliberate environmental flooding to keep this habitat healthy. Several roads and camping areas are closed as a result.

My first visit became a brief reconnaissance mission due to some pretty blustery rain storms that were coming through. It was good to catch up with these guys though at the picnic area.



iPhone shot - another bird has just left the table. Note the flooded trees in the background
The road to Lake Hattah Campground
Spirits improved when I spotted a Regent Parrot (female or immature) up high among the red gums in the lake. Gotta love a "Lifer" from a picnic table!

I only lasted about 10 minutes at the picnic area before retreating to the shelter of the car. In addition to observing the Apostlebird and Regent parrot I also saw Little corella, Hoary-headed and Great-crested grebe, Grey teal, Pink-eared duck, Crimson rosella (the yellow form). This was all from the (partial) shelter of the picnic tables or the car!

As my kids pointed out the pictures above are of the exact same location grebes heading one way, Pink-eared duck the other within seconds of each other!

Little corella
Crimson rosella (Yellow form) Platycercus elegans flaveolus
Back in the car .... good conditions for birding don't you think ....?



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Bird On!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Grey fantail nest building, Phillip Island birds

Grey fantail, Phillip Island
Such a song - often heard but I'd not watched one singing close up before. The bill really opened wide for the highest silvery notes at the end of each song phrase
"I think I might build something of greatness ..."
Foundations, 50cm from a previous nest (last year's?) about a metre off the ground
Poor view of the arrival of another load of some fibrous plant matter.
What's good on TV? Spider webs of course
Sticky stuff though!

This nest building requires some agility! There was much rapid fussing around the edges.

The next shots were taken one day later and the nest has taken greater shape. It gets tested for size ...




The all important interior design cannot be ignored
One week later ... Voila! What a fine creation. Pizzey describes the fantail nest as a "beautiful small grey cup, tailed like wineglass without a base".

This one's wineglass stem is a little off!
A peak inside reveals a single egg which is not shown well in this iphone shot
I wonder if I'll find a second egg soon.

Sharing with Wild Bird Wednesday

Bird on!

Monday, October 13, 2014

The intriguing Musk Duck - Swan Lake, Phillip Island

Musk duck sit low in the water "platypus like". The presence of the leathery flap under the bill indicates that this is a male
As Pizzey says "A very strange duck". This one was swimming and diving quite close to our vantage point at Swan Lake's northern bird hide. The flow of "water off the duck's back" was quite impressive.





That tail flick again in case you missed it....!



This female bird was giving itself a belly rub (the back half of the bird is twisted belly-up)
Little black cormorant - love that eye colour!
Black swan
As usual there was good numbers of Eurasian coot

We surprised a Royal spoonbill who left the water to perch somewhat precariously on the ti-tree.
A very curious Brown thornbill was actually too close to the camera!

In the bird hide Welcome swallow chicks were excited by a camera flash until a "grown-up" came to settle things down 

Bird on!