Friday, September 11, 2015

Lake Mournpall, Hattah Lakes NP

Mulga parrot (male) near Lake Mournpall
This post from a trip in October 2014 could have been my Unfinished Symphony! I have just come across the "draft" commenced before a blogging break. It features shots from a memorable overnight camp at Lake Mournpall camping area in NW Victoria.

Australian ringneck (the Mallee version)
& another
Lifer and target species (for obvious reasons)! Major Mitchell's Cockatoo was a highlight.
Major Mitchell's cockatoo. The Birds in Backyards page has an impressive list of regional alternative names ...
This cockatoo is also known as Leadbeater's, Desert, Major Mitchell or Pink Cockatoo; Cocklerina, Chockalott or Wee Juggler
Another MMC - wouldn't quite oblige with a full crest display to show the yellow band.
Blinkin' stick keeping it real! Splendid fairy-wren

Chestnut-rumped thornbill
and again
Spotted pardalote giving me some tongue

The well-appointed Lake Mournpall campground

Dawn at Lake Mournpall from the campground - this is October 2014 the lake was pretty full due to environmental flows
Great crested grebe
Typical spinifex - no definite sightings for me of those rarities Striated grass-wren and Mallee emu-wren
"All for the driver" I've not really been proud of a car before but I was so proud of my little AWD Impreza getting me to these places!

Bird on!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Watching for Shorebirds' Return, Phillip Island

We have had a cold and pretty wet winter in southern Victoria and it certainly doesn't feel like Spring yet. However I did manage to enjoy a beach walk to see Phillip Island's Rhyll Inlet at the weekend. This was in the late afternoon light during an hour or two of sunny and still conditions. I made my way to Observation Point and made these .... well .... observations!

In the breeding season, a pair of Pied oystercatchers generally hang around east of Silverleaves. I tried hard to get some  background in this shot. It shows French Island on the other side of a very calm Westernport Bay. The hills behind Grantville form the distant horizon.
Clicking for the enlarged view reveals Pied oystercatcher Red Flag 5E
Two endangered Hooded plover have paired off once again at the eastern end of Silverleaves beach. Meet current local "Orange Flag PW above Silver band"
Among the fascinations for me is the anticipation of what shorebirds will be present at the sandy spit that is Observation Point. Here are a few Curlew sandpiper among the Red-necked stint. In the foreground is an out of focus Red-capped plover 
Red-necked stint
A Double-banded plover in full bleeding plumage always stands out in the crowd! "Shouldn't you be in New Zealand?"
I am always on the lookout for Godwits, Whimbrel and Eastern curlew. Three Eastern curlew arrived while I was watching but I saw no Godwits which I found unusual. There was more than the usual number of ducks and I had some difficulty sorting the species as they kept their distance. I was impressed with the number of Australian shoveler, a species I generally don't see a lot of.

Eastern curlew, the hills between San Remo and Anderson in the background.

Several Australasian shoveler amongst the Grey and Chestnut teal. It might be worth a click for the enlarged view as the male shovelers have an amazing colour scheme. 
Great cormorant are generally outnumbered by Pied cormorant at Observation Point
This Australian pelican flew low across the surface of the water for at least 100m! I love watching that. It seems to be heading towards San Remo where the pelicans get fed each morning
My happy shadow - Observation Point at high tide (iPhone panorama). Westernport Bay to the left, Rhyll Inlet to the right
The return trek - I'm about to get wet and painfully cold feet!!
All worth it!
Bird on!

Nesting time, Blackie Lake

In addition to my friends the Spotted pardalote pair who are nesting in the bank of a creek at Blackburn Lake several other species were seen to be making plans the other day. Today's pictures feature a few birds that nest in tree hollows such as Australian Wood Duck and Rainbow lorikeets.

Pair of Australian Wood duck Chenonetta jubata checking out this hollow trunk. I have not seen this but I gather that the ducklings first "flight" is to jump from the nest often several metres up a tree! 

Male Australian Wood duck
Female Australian Wood duck
Having seen off several competitors for this potential nesting site these Rainbow lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus  ....
... proceeded to explore its potential. 
Eastern rosella Platycercus eximius were also seen at Blackburn Lake this day. They also nest in tree hollows. This one of a pair was too busy looking gorgeous among the flowers to be looking for tree hollows! 
Linking with Wild Bird Wednesday

Bird on! 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Pardalote time, Blackie Lake

Well it's been so long I have to familiarise myself with the post editor! It was the return of the Spotted pardalotes to ground level that did it.

In November 2011 I had my first close encounters with Pardalotus punctatus. Some pictures I managed (with an old lens) were fashioned into the banner for this blog and the avatar for a few networking accounts (Instagram and the like).

Earlier this week I was at exactly the same spot - crossing the Billabong Bridge at Blackburn Lake - and came across a pair tending to this year's nest. It was great to see them again and I just happened to have my camera!

Spotted pardalote (male) Pardalotus punctatus Blackburn Lake
I observed:

  • that seeing the the male bird from above demonstrates how it gets its name - so many spots!
  • that both male and female birds work at the nest - generally taking it in turns
  • that the entry to the nest in this instance was perilously close to the water level of this urban creek. I'm sure it would be prone to flooding

I would like to find out:

  • whether these two birds are the same as the 2011 pair
  • how long that tunnel is and whether it is designed to withstand rises in water level 
  • whether Spotted paradalote return to the same nesting site (regardless of success)

I really relished the moment and am looking forward to keeping an eye on them. This newspaper article also celebrates the pardalotes at this time of year.

So many spots! Pardalotus - spotted like a leopard, punctatus - spotted bird 
Spotted pardalote (female) carrying a little something for the nest
I tried to capture the precariousness of the situation with this iPhone shot. The entrance to the tunnel (oval) was hidden amongst the weed we call Wandering Jew Tradescantia fluminensis. This waterway is upstream from Blackburn Lake proper. Suburban stormwater flows in here and the creek is subject to massive fluctuations in flow.

We'll see how they get on!

Bird On!