To the people of the Kulin Nation, to which the Dja Dja Wurrung People belong, the Wedge-tailed Eagle is Bunjil.
“Bunjil is the creator being who bestows Dja Dja Wurrung People with the laws and ceremonies that ensure the continuation of life”*
Whenever I see one of these magnificent birds, such as this old adult on the plains, I reminded of how special this ancient land is.
Wedge-tailed Eagle, Moolort Plains, 14th March 2017
* Source: Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Recognition Statement
Sadly, the aboriginal names for many of our native species are not well-known … the Brown Falcon Falco berigora is a notable exception.
This beautiful, if sometimes clumsy falcon, is widespread across the continent. Usually flighty, this one posed nicely for the camera … as I sat admiringly in the car!
Brown Falcon, Moolort Plains, 13th March 2017
Postscript: For more information on the origin and use of the word berigora click here
With gathering storm clouds last evening the raptors were alert and watchful. This Brown Falcon was spotted at a high perch on my way out to Picnic Point.
Brown Falcon, Moolort Plains, 10th February 2017
Storm clouds over Muckleford Plateau, 10th February 2017
Some nice birds on the plains last evening … hopefully a cool change will allow a little more activity in the coming week … on the part of the photographer at least!
Swamp Harrier (juvenile), Newstead, 10th February 2017
Galahs @ Picnic Point
Red-rumped Parrots @ Picnic Point
Whistling Kite @ Picnic Point
We rarely get Laughing Kookaburras in the home garden, so I was pleased to see one on a regular basis over the past week.
It might be a double-edged sword though. Take a look at the images below – there are a couple of clues that point to my concern. Notice the small tuft of feathers in the birds bill and the wet body feathers. The kookaburra was spotted perched above one of the bird baths where I suspect it was taking the opportunity to ambush small birds arriving for a drink. While I didn’t catch it in the act I’m confident about my hypothesis!
Laughing Kookaburra, Wyndham Street Newstead, 29th January 2017
Another ambush predator dropped by the day before – a male Collared Sparrowhawk. This beautiful raptor is quite common around Newstead and is largely dependent on a diet of small bush birds.
Male Collared Sparrowhawk
Along the Rodborough at Joyce’s Creek, just before you cross the creek itself, you arrive in the Plains country. The transition is marked by a tiny roadside remnant of native grassland – a drift of everlastings, some lomandras and a scattering of one of my favourite plants, the Blue Devil Eryngium ovinum.
I’ve often stopped at this site to have closer look and I’m glad I did again yesterday. A Little Button-quail, a signature species of native grasslands like the Blue Devil, exploded from a small depression near my feet.
Blue Devil, Rodborough Road Joyce’s Creek, 31st December 2016
Moments before this photograph was taken a Little Button-quail was tucked away in here!
I’ve not recorded a Little Button-quail locally before, although I’ve seen them in more distant places over the years – most recently on a trip to Lake Mungo in November. They are much smaller than either Brown or Stubble Quail, two similar species that are often seen (or more likely heard) on the plains. Apart from the size difference a distinctive feature of the Little Button-quail are the white flanks that can be clearly seen when the bird is in flight.
A little earlier I’d been watching a Little Eagle hunting in typical circling pattern. While this lovely raptor hunts mainly rabbits I imagine the odd Little Button-quail falls victim, especially when numbers rise in good seasons.
Little Eagle near Moolort
I’m pleased that I was able to pay a visit to Frogmore Swamp this afternoon. This fabulous wetland, dominated by Cane Grass Eragrostis infecunda, is drying rapidly unlike the last time it was full over the summer of 2010/11. Back then it held water throughout 2011 and there were some interesting birds to be seen, including rarely seen migratory waders such as the Wood Sandpiper and Double-banded Plover. This afternoon the most conspicuous birds were ibis, Sacred and Australian White Ibis, along with a bevy of ducks – Grey Teal, Australian Shelduck and Black Ducks.
Frogmore Swamp is a special place in a special landscape.
Brown Falcon, Moolort Plains, 11th December 2016
Frogmore Swamp – looking east towards Mount Tarrengower
Australian White Ibis
Looking north across the Cane-grass
Straw-necked Ibis roosting amongst the Cane-grass
Mixed flock of Australian and Straw-necked Ibis