Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Night Herons @ Blackie Lake

There are (to my mind) remarkable numbers of Nankeen night heron at Blackburn Lake currently. It has prompted me to examine the Eremaea sightings for this species which reveals that they are not sighted for much of the year and most likely seen from late spring through summer.

Nankeen night heron (immature)
Blackburn Lake, 16 September 2011

Nankeen night heron at Blackburn Lake
Graph generated by Eremaea website

I have always found them a bird that is not readily seen even when they are present. Even when trying hard (for me) I would generally only pick up one or two. Lately however there have been days on the water's edge when it feels like they are the dominant species with much posturing and flying around. An Eremaea list from 15 November 2011 from Richard and Margaret Alcorn records no fewer than 12 sightings.

The photo below is taken on a day when I sighted seven night heron, four of which are in shot:

Night heron at Blackburn Lake
18 November 2011
Spring is certainly a lively time at Blackburn Lake for birding (more images from 18 November):

Little pied cormorant

Pacific black duck

Little black cormorant

Monday, November 28, 2011

Big fans of the beach!

One day I will take a decent photo of a fantail. Today is not that day but did enjoy good views of Grey fantail right down on the beach walking east from Silverleaves, Phillip Island today.

Also seen were Hooded plover, Red-capped plover (recently nesting AT Silverleaves beach), Crested tern, Masked lapwing and Superb fairy-wren to name a few. As well as ibis and great cormorants flying over there wes also two sightings of Royal spoonbill.

The purpose of the walk was to visit the site when the Grand-parents came across Pied oystercatcher hatchlings (nearly stepped on them apparently) last weekend (20 November). Here's Harry's picture.

Pied oystercatcher hatchling
Photo H. Farthing

Today at low tide, approaching from a distance I did see a ball of fluff running for cover through the binoculars (just the one). I was then taken aback by the sight of a Pied osytercatcher actually walking towards me!

Hmmm, am I getting warmer?

A couple of flight displays (swoops) told me I wasn't really wanted and I moved on.

Later in the day we also enjoyed views of a flock of Yellow-tailed blacks (12) moving through the banksia and Latham's snipe (9) enjoying a temporary wetland as we started the drive back to Melbourne. These photos taken from the car in Honeysuckle Grove, Silverleaves:

Snipe @ Silverleaves
Around 6 birds in this view alone

Latham's snipe, 7.40PM EDST

Seeing snipe here was very much a chance sighting and will probably result in continued slow-driving past wetlands behaviour for many years to come!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Common bronzewing calling

To me a little sense of mystery surrounds my sightings of Common bronzewing.
It was a few years of birdwatching before I even identified one. I must have seen or heard them before my birding existence - I was in their domain after all. It is probable that unless you're some sort of "birder" seeing a bronzewing does not even register in one's consciousness.

Common bronzewing (male)
at Hochkins Reserve, North Croydon
Mysterious because having not been aware of them before, they then "appear" in the parks of suburbs in which I live and work.
I identified the bird a few times before I ever heard them call. Then one day I heard it - the booming but soft and deep resonating repeated "oom". I couldn't see the bird, I didn't even know it was a bird. I remember a woman passed. I explained and queried. She heard also and declared "Owl!" (I wish). Eventually I worked it out.

Common bronzewing - the female colouring
Blackburn Lake
Mysterious because on the one hand they are elusive and yet not. In a place I regularly pass I will make a single unexpected sighting and then not again for many, many months. Yet their call can be readily heard over 100m away and once heard they can usually be tracked down - what a give away! Also they are just as likely to frequent the picnic spots of forested areas, wandering calmly through the car park - they even visit the bird feeder in my father-in-law's suburban deck!

I remember enjoying watching this bird at the car park at Badger Creek Weir and was able to record some video of it calling (perhaps would have been better if the camera wasn't set to a fixed focal point just beyond the bird).

Having also seen a male bird display from a distance I know I would also enjoy a closer view of that fanned tail .... and perhaps a few shots.

Anyway .... now for the Brush & Flock bronzewing varieties!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cracking pardalote views

Enjoyed cracking views of this female (or immature) Spotted pardalote at Blackburn Lake yesterday. Also recently arrived in town are a few Sacred kingfisher and Musk lorikeets. Amongst the regulars there are also a few cooperative Chestnut teal and some less cooperative Mistletoebird (hence no pictures).

Personally, Sacred kingfisher and Mistletoebird were not birds I'd seen at Blackie Lake until a few weeks ago. It is a pleasure to see them regularly at the moment (I gather it is hoped that the kingfishers may nest).

                                        Spotted pardalote                                          

                                    Sacred kingfisher                                    

When backlit by sunshine the colouring changes
(it happens to be a different bird, same day)

                                                       Musk lorikeet                                                      

                                                            Chestnut teal                                                         

                                                     The carp are huge!