Category Archives: Raptors

Winter migrant

No, not this Brown Goshawk … seen earlier today at Butterland (Thanks Greg!).

The blog will be quiet for a week or so … I’m heading north in search of Rainbow Bee-eaters and some of their colleagues.

Brown Goshawk @ Butterland Newstead, 4th July 2019

Ducks, hollows and owls

It’s the middle of winter and Australian Wood Ducks are starting to think of breeding. At this time of year it’s common to see pairs alighting in River Red Gums around town and calling to each other as they stake out potential nest sites. This species, sometimes mistakenly called the Maned Goose, nests in tree hollows – River Red Gums are especially favoured. Some hollows are already taken. – Southern Boobooks are year round tenants!

Australian Wood Duck (male), Newstead, 22nd June 2019

Australian Wood Duck (female)

The male showing off its distinctive mane

Southern Boobook … evidence of successful hunting last evening between the nostrils!

A Brown Falcon afternoon … sort of!

A journey around the Moolort Plains yesterday threatened to be dominated by Brown Falcons. They are a nice raptor, but not in the same league as a number of rarer plains inhabitatnts.

The first four images below are all Brown Falcons – all different individuals seen as I did a long loop from Cairn Curran, through Baringhup West and then back to Joyce’s Creek via Cotswold.

It was only on the final leg that I got some welcome variety – a pair of White-bellied Sea-eagles over Long Swamp (perhaps shuttling from Cairn Curran to Tullaroop Reservoir), a few Nankeen Kestrels and single Black-shouldered Kite. Finally, just west of Joyce’s Creek a scatter of Crested Pigeons drew my gaze to a Peregrine Falcon hunting along the basalt escarpment above the waterway. The camera just managed to capture a distant image as the bird departed north at ‘peregrine velocity’!

Brown Falcon near Picnic Point, 15th June 2019

Brown Falcon #2 @ Baringhup West

Brown Falcon #3 @ Boundary Gully

Brown Falcon #4 @ Moolort

Peregrine Falcon @ Joyce’s Creek

Down south

The country changes is quite a pronounced way as you head directly south of Newstead. Around Yandoit the vegetation blends from typical box-ironbark species, such as Grey Box and Yellow Gum, to a mix of Messmate, Candlebark and peppermint. This transition coincides with some different landscape features, such as the scoria cone of Yandoit Hill … a great spot to observe raptors like the Brown Falcon featured below.

Yandoit Hill with Mount Franklin beyond, 1st June 2019

Brown Falcon, Yandoit Hills, 1st June 2019

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Yandoit Hill with Drooping Sheoak

Silent witness

This set of images documents an amazing event that I was witness to last weekend.

Visiting a small dam along Golf Links Track I noticed two Little Pied Cormorants perched near the water. As I slowly positioned myself to photograph one of the birds it flew off and began circling the dam, steadily increasing its height with each pass. Suddenly from high above a Little Eagle appeared in a stooped dive to snatch the unwary cormorant [The first, sadly blurry image, was taken moments after the strike].

The Little Eagle tumbled earthward with the cormorant in its talons and landed just out of sight below the dam wall. As I moved quietly in the direction of the birds the eagle spotted me and took off, no doubt reluctantly relinquishing its prey. The cormorant  made its way slowly to the top of the dam wall, clearly bloodied and traumatised by the encounter. After a few minutes it summoned the energy to flap back to its original perch as the Little Eagle circled high overhead.

I was so engaged in the event that I didn’t think about my role in the event until later. Clearly my arrival created the opportunity for the eagle, while my interest in the result provided an opportunity for the cormorant to escape … its immediate fate unknown.

Little Eagle and Little Pied Cormorant, Golf Links Track, 28th April 2019

The Little Eagle … sans cormorant

The Little Pied Cormorant – traces of blood are visible on the breast and feet

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Looking forward

The Loddon River upstream of Cairn Curran is a sad sight at present – it has retreated to a series of disconnected pools and these are disappearing rapidly as autumn continues to be dry and unusually warm.

I’m looking forward … hoping for a restorative flow!

Loddon River @ Newstead, just upstream of the highway bridge, 13th April 2019

A Whistling Kite patrolling the river corridor

On dusk at the lake

This juvenile Wedge-tailed Eagle provided a thrilling sight, right on dusk, at Cairn Curran last evening.

Its parents had earlier left the same perch … Tarrengower-bound.

Wedge-tailed Eagle, Cairn Curran @ Joyce’s Creek, 13th April. 2019

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