Sunday, 21 April 2013

Trip to the Wimmera

Last weekend a drive to the Wimmera to celebrate a birthday. Always good to go back to the dry country to enjoy a change of scenery and very colourful birds. While we have a great diversity of birds most are shore birds and mostly subdued colours
Inland Victoria is very dry at the moment while they wait for an Autumn break.With very little surface water many birds are attracted to garden water sources such as a bird bath.
While enjoying a quiet red wine we also enjoyed some visitors
Blue-faced honeyeater an occasional visitor

Crimson Rosella

Superb Blue Wren
Bronze-winged pigeon
White-plumed Honeyeater
Crested pigeon

Rainbow Lorikeet

The trip home down the Henty Highway ran alongside the beautiful Grampians National Park.
Travelled through the extensive damage caused by a massive fire which burnt for weeks.
Amazing how our bush regenerates
No regrowth for this wattle , wait for the rain and seed germination

Eucalypts already reshooting

Amazing grass trees seem to love a fire

A bit further down the road it was easy to see the controlled burning program close to the Grampians

Closer to the Western District and into red gum country and more birds
Sulphur-crested cockatoo


beautiful old red gums


Friday, 29 March 2013

Walk along the beach

29th March
  After unusually hot weather (for us) and then a strong Westerly change swinging to the South at the same time there is a full moon, made for an interesting walk. The water reached the dunes leaving behind large deposits of seaweed.
 Did not expect any birds to have survived these conditions so left camera home. Just took binoculars and a GPS to verify positions of some previous sightings.   A VERY BAD MOVE.
 First sightings 2 adult Hooded Plovers and 5 fledged chicks which flew a short distance when disturbed by an unleashed dog.
 Second sighting a little further down the beach 2 more adults this time with 4 fully mature chicks. Hard to distinguish from parents.
 We could see both groups so it was not double counting. The second group was disturbed by a local noted for her liking of skinny dipping.

Other birds of note at the moment  -- Nankeen Night Heron feeding on a plague of black field crickets along the wharf area. There is now quite a colony nesting in trees close to the water. Pied Oyster catchers have juveniles and Ruddy Turnstones for some reason in breeding plumage.

Family of Hooded Plover

Juvenile & adult Pied Oystercatcher

3 adult and 4 young chicks

Nankeen Night Heron

Ruddy Turnstone

Sooty Oystercatcher

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Shore Bird Count

17 / 2 / 2013
  A magnificent morning to walk along Port Fairy coastline. Very low tide and a  gentle breeze off the water.
Not many birds apart from the usual residents
Hooded Plovers have had a successful breeding season to date. The pair that we have been monitoring have apparently fledged their two chicks and are showing signs of wanting to nest again.
A pair further down the beach have 4 chicks several weeks old and look good. Most unusual to have 4.
Another pair may have a nest
Fortunately these beaches are isolated, very rocky and not used by large numbers of visitors.

A highlight for us was finding a female Red-capped Plover and nest. We have not seen these birds on these beaches for 2 years. Once quite common.

Female Red-capped Plover

Male Red-capped Plover

Red-capped Plover nest

Friday, 15 February 2013

Hoodies survive

Small Blog today. Been occupied elsewhere.

Our last visit to the beach to look at progress of "our nest" found 2 adults recently banded by Birds Australia. One with an orange flag on the left upper leg and one with an orange flag on the right upper leg. There were also 2 chicks well feathered and close to flying

Weather conditions have been fine for humans but rough for new chicks.
Very strong S/E winds with considerable sand drift and exceptionally high tides with water reaching to within meters of the dunes.

2 nests and adults further down the beach seem to have disappeared. Reports from friends observing other sites record the same problem.

Tomorrow is the official count of Shorebirds so it will be interesting to see what is further down the Coast. Hopefully some photos .

One interesting contact from friends in Horsham who were travelling along a road near Patchewollock (in the Mallee) was a sighting of 68 Mallee Fowl feeding on spilt Canola grain along the roadside. Exciting for birdos as the bird is regarded as vulnerable in Victoria. All adult birds so where were the young and how did the birds know the grain was there?    ( Perhaps they use Twitter or Facebook)

Mallee Fowl

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Hoodie Chicks arrive

Hoodie Chicks arrive.

I almost feel like a father again as the pair of Hooded Plovers successfully hatched 3 chicks on The Australia Day weekend.
They endured amazing weather which included 40degree+ heat , strong South Westerly change, sand blasting, marauding Gulls, raptors and inquisitive terrorists (tourists) with unleashed dogs.
The battle continues to protect these tiny chicks through to fledging. No wonder they are a threatened species.

Hooded Plover and 2 chicks

Assassin Gulls waiting for a feed

Hooded Plover & 1 chick

Unleashed dogs are a problem, but not this one

Black-shouldered Kite, also hungry

Swamp Harrier looking for dinner

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Brolgas in Victoria

Always walking away
Tending the nest

Should this be fenced ?

Sewerage farm as a last resort
Following a query expressing surprise that Brolga are in Victoria I have added the following information.
References used include :   Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority
                                               Birdlife Australia
                                               Dept. of Sustainability and Environment
                                               Pizzey & Knight Field Guide Birds of Australia

  The Brolga sometimes known as the Native Companion (features in some Indigenous art) is a tall silver/grey native crane up to 1.3 m tall  .

  Annually post breeding the birds congregate in large flocks where it is famed for intricate dancing displays prior to moving to isolated nesting sites.

  They prefer to live in well vegetated wetlands, flood plains or isolated swamps where it feeds on a wide variety of wetland plants, insects and amphibians.

   The brolga was once widely spread through Tropical and Eastern Australia but is now regarded as vulnerable in NSW, Vic, and SA.
 Numbers are secure in NT, nth Qld and north WA. Where large flocks are not unusual.

   Populations have been steadily reduced since European settlement.

   In the Western District of Victoria numbers have dwindled to about 500 birds.  It was only in the 1980’s that it was realised that the Brolga were in trouble and moves were made by bird groups and dedicated landholders to improve habitat.
   At that rate of loss it is possible that the birds would have died out in our children’s lifetime. They are still vulnerable because 53% of wetlands have disappeared through –
-        drainage of swamps & wetlands
-       poor management, overstocking, plantation expansion
-       introduced animals such as foxes and cats

                        - Lets hope they survive

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Some favourite birds

Wednesday16th Jan
Some of my favourite birds . Mostly under threat because of human intervention.
Major causes are loss of habitat through inappropriate development such as clearing, building too close to the foreshore and  beach activities. Some other examples are horses, unleashed dogs and quad bikes. Another major problem is the spread of foxes and uncontrolled cats.
Sadly many of these birds will not survive for your grandchildren to enjoy.
Red-capped Plover


Crested Tern

Pied Oystercatcher

Australasian Gannet

Red-capped Robin

Monday, 7 January 2013

Short-tailed Shearwaters

Short-tailed Shearwater, commonly known as Mutton Birds because of its fatty flesh and oil content.
 Once heavily hunted but now protected in Victoria.
A migratory bird that circumnavigates the Pacific but returns to Southern waters each year to breed.
The Colony on Griffiths Island and Pea Soup at Port Fairy are rare mainland colonies. The majority of nesting burrows are on off shore Islands in Bass Strait.

A visit to Port Fairy in the Summer will be rewarded with the experience of many thousands of birds returning at sunset to feed chicks