Category Archives: Raptors

Pick on your own size!

The Peregrine Falcon is the world’s fastest bird and one of the most powerful.

Renowned for preying on flying birds of similar size to themselves; such as pigeons, ducks and parrots, they are known to occasionally taking even larger birds.

I was excited yesterday to receive a call from our friends Ken and Liz at Werona. Lucky Ken had witnessed an adult Peregrine strike, then ultimately kill an Australian White Ibis, a bird more than twice its size. Realising that it would be unable to carry such a load I made a dash to Werona in the hope of seeing some action. Sure enough when I arrived the calls of a young Peregrine could be heard in the company of its parents. Over the next hour or so we looked on in awe as the adults made a series of visits to the unlucky ibis to remove flesh for the expectant youngster perched nearby.

Peregrine Falcon, Werona, 2nd February 2020

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Not so lucky for the ibis!

The Peregrine on its prey

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Diversity is good

Yesterday’s afternoon jaunt across the Moolort Plains was rewarded with a diversity of observations. My close-up views of a Horsfield’s Bushlark contrasted with frustratingly distant glimpses of a Spotted Harrier and a party of Black-tailed Native-hens around a rapidly shrinking pool along Boundary Gully.

Horsfield’s Bushlark, Moolort Plains, 19th January 2020

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Black-tailed Native-hens at Boundary Gully

Spotted Harrier @ Boundary Gully

Picnic Point raptors

Picnic Point, on the western shores of Cairn Curran, is always worth a visit – it’s a good spot for a variety of raptors. I was pleased in this sequence to capture a Whistling Kite utter it’s iconic call. If you aren’t familiar with the call of the Whistling Kite I’m sure you will have heard it in the soundtrack of many an Australian outback movie!

Brown Falcon, Picnic Point, 8th January 2020

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Whistling Kite

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Transformed

This Little Eagle has featured a few times in recent weeks. Not so long ago it was a fluffy white eaglet, now it’s almost ready to leave the nest, transformed into a fully fledged rabbit hunter over a matter of weeks. The rich  chocolate underparts are a distinctive feature of young Little Eagles. Also prominent are the feathered tarsi, a characteristic this species shares with the Wedge-tailed Eagle – the only two Australian raptors with fully feathered legs.

Juvenile Little Eagle, Joyce’s Creek, 2nd January 2019

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Nearby I enjoyed watching Black-winged Stilts feeding in the shallows of Joyce’s Creek. There are around half a dozen present – their gentle ‘yapping’ calls have been a feature of most visits in recent months.

Black-winged Stilt @ Joyce’s Creek

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Queuing up …

The birds have been queuing up at the bird baths over recent days.

Interesting to see Brown Thornbills turn up. They are occasional garden visitors and reasonably common in the surrounding bushland, wherever there is decent understory. A flock of Brown-headed Honeyeaters pass through several times each day – they provide the warning when a hunting Collared Sparrowhawk zips through or the local Square-tailed Kite appears overhead.

Brown Thornbill, Wyndham Street Newstead, 30th December 2019

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Crimson Rosella (sub-adult)

Crimson Rosella (immature)

Brown-headed Honeyeater

Square-tailed Kite hunting over Newstead, 31st December 2019

Peerless songster

We’ve had some interesting birds around the garden in recent days.

A Shining Bronze-cuckoo has been calling regularly, plus we’ve enjoyed Mistletoebirds, Striated and Spotted Pardalotes, Musk Lorikeets and Fuscous Honeyeaters. A Square-tailed Kite has sailed over regularly in search of wattlebird nests and Black Kites are ever present.

This male Rufous Whistler has been around since early spring, but has just started calling again recently. I suspect its first breeding efforts have concluded and he’s thinking of a second effort. The song is extraordinarily beautiful, typically starting before dawn and reaching a crescendo by mid-morning, with another burst late in the day.

Male Rufous Whistler, Wyndham Street Newstead, 14th December 2019

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Summer evenings … golden light

Summer evenings bring a golden light to the plains country.

I was idling, enjoying the beautiful contrast from Black Kites, Galahs and Straw-necked Ibis, when a Peregrine Falcon appeared to disturb the dusking peace.

Black Kite, Moolort Plains, 11th December 2019

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Straw-necked Ibis

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Peregrine Falcon