Category Archives: Raptors

Summer and winter ‘collide’ at the ‘Shine’

In central Victoria spring can be a brief interlude between winter and summer.

Earlier this week at the Rise and Shine I was watching a pair of Hooded Robins engaged in courtship, the pair sitting close together on low perches with the female wing-fluttering and vocalising towards the male. As I watched this display a party of Flame Robins moved through, presumably heading south and ‘uphill’ after their winter sojourn in the box-ironbark. Meanwhile a Square-tailed Kite, one of our warm season migrants, floated above the treetops nearby. White-winged Trillers were also showing off, but sadly eluded the camera.

The ‘Shine’ is a wonderful vantage point from which to observe these seasonal transitions.

Male Hooded Robin, Rise and Shine, 4th September, 2019

Female Hooded Robin

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Hooded Robin (pair)

Male Flame Robin

Square-tailed Kite

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List: Hooded Robin, Scarlet Robin, Eastern Yellow Robin, Flame Robin, Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo, Square-tailed Kite, Spotted Pardalote, White-winged Triller, Brown Treecreeper, Weebill, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Brown-headed Honeyeater.

Sad sight

I’m not in the habit of photographing ‘road kill’, however, I often stop to examine specimens encountered on my travels. The Brown Falcon (pictured in the first image below), came off second best in an encounter with a vehicle at the weekend. Freshly killed, its mate (presumably) was perched nearby … a very sad scene.

Road killed Brown Falcon, Moolort Plains, 27th July 2019

Its partner perched nearby

Another individual seen on the same trip … Brown Falcons are the most abundant raptor on the plains at present

Recent arrival

The Black Falcon is an enigmatic bird in my experience.

They appear, as if from nowhere, in most years to breed on the Moolort Plains. Swift and powerful flyers – note the form and posture below – they are wary of people but will sometimes allow a close approach. This handsome individual was spotted late today, approaching dusk.

Black Falcon, Moolort Plains, 25th July 2019

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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