White-browed Babblers are doing well again after another successful breeding season. I’ve seen family parties in a number of locations recently, along Mia Mia Track, in the Sandon State Forest, and at the Rise and Shine.
This group can be seen every morning foraging near the start of the Nature Trail at the Rise and Shine. Watching them is always a delight as they search for food amongst fallen wood and along tree branches – stopping for a ‘yarn’ on a regular basis.
White-browed Babblers, Rise and Shine, 9th March 2014.
Enjoying the morning sunshine.
Babblers in a playful mood.
Fork-tailed Swifts Apus pacificus are a somewhat unusual visitor to central Victoria. Like the larger White-throated Needletail, they often appear in front of summer thunderstorms, flying fast in search of insects caught in convective updrafts.
I spotted a small group yesterday, north of Bell’s Lane Track at Welshman’s Reef, high up and apparently without any accompanying needletails – they often form mixed flocks.
Fork-tailed Swift, Bell’s Lane Track, 10th March 2014.
The silhouette is unmistakable – the cigar-shaped body, boomerang wings and deeply forked tail confirming their identity. While only rarely seen in the district I’m sure they pass through often, especially when storm clouds form to create perfect conditions for feeding. The fact that we see them rarely is from lack of observation, rather than visitation!
An unmistakable silhouette.
With summer nearly over they’ll soon be heading off on a remarkable journey – back to their breeding grounds in the Himalayas!
This is a curious image … I suspect the bird is transferring an insect from feet to mouth!
It’s been a dry, hot summer at the waterhole … not much reason for birds to visit, until a sudden downpour last week left a meagre puddle in the bottom.
It doesn’t take much though to attract the local birdlife – Diamond Firetail, Fuscous, Brown-headed and Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters, Peaceful Dove and even a pair of Crested Shrike-tits stopping by for a look (but not a drink).
This immature Eastern Rosella caught my eye – it lacks the rich colours of the adult but is handsome nonetheless.
Immature Eastern Rosella at the waterhole on Mia Mia Track, 9th March 2014.
Cautiously drinking its fill.
This young bird lacks the rich colours of the adult.
Eastern Rosellas are just as abundant as their crimson cousins in our local woodlands, but do display a penchant for open farmland as well.
Wedge-tailed Eagle (immature), Moolort Plains, 7th March 2014.
For many birdwatchers, the Black Falcon Falco subniger, is an elusive and charismatic species – a highly sought after tick. On the Moolort Plains west of Newstead they can be seen regularly, sometimes at close range, as this set of photographs proves. The first two shots were taken on my first pass, while the third was captured about thirty minutes later, right on dusk. The falcon was on a favourite perch both times.
Black Falcon, Moolort Plains, 7th March 2014.
Eventually I got a little too close!
Black Falcon in the golden hour.
For a look at some larger images of this beautiful raptor, visit my Flickr gallery – Birds of the Newstead district.
A late afternoon trip to Cairn Curran yesterday allowed me to witness an absolute feeding frenzy. Although I missed the start of the action, it appears a raft of Little Black Cormorants stalking fish in the shallows, had been joined by a small flock of Silver Gulls. They teamed together, the cormorants in a tightly knit group and diving in unison for fish, with the gulls hovering above to snatch any offerings.
Little Black Cormorants, Silver Gulls and Australian Pelican in feeding convoy, Cairn Curran Reservoir, 7th March 2014.
A group of Australian Pelicans roosting on a nearby mud island eventually twigged to the opportunity and headed off to join the party – small groups landing in the thick of things where the fed on the hapless fish.
The resting pelicans taking off to join the action.
One group landed right amongst the feeding gulls and cormorants.
Raft of Little Black Cormorants with Silver Gulls.
Caspian Terns, of which I counted at least seven (the most witnessed at one time on the lake), were happy to feed nearby – plunging regularly after fish. The action lasted for over 30 minutes, leaving me in awe of the cooperative effort of the birds and wondering how many fish met their demise.
Caspian Tern (non-breeding), Cairn Curran, 7th March 2014.
Ecosystems come in all sizes and configurations.
This small bush dam, near Muckleford Gorge, is in retreat – but still a haven for life. Blue Skimmer Dragonflies Orthetrum caledonicum, could be seen hunting energetically last weekend, with evidence of their previous lives under water, when conditions were cooler and wetter.
Bush dams, such as this one near Muckleford Gorge, are magnets for insects at this time of year.
Blue Skimmer, Muckleford Gorge, 2nd March 2014.
The spent nymphal cases of dragonflies were common amongst the cumbungi.