Nothing terribly original here … but these two species have been lining up in front of the camera in recent days, demanding to be seen!
Jacky Winter, Newstead Cemetery, 6th July 2018
Nankeen Kestrel (female) near Walkers Swamp Moolort Plains, 7th July 2018
Male Nankeen Kestrel on Clarkes Road, Moolort Plains
A different male in the same area
It seems there has been a small influx of Black-shouldered Kites onto the Moolort Plains in recent weeks.
This species, along with the Brown Falcons and Nankeen Kestrel, are very fond of house mice and perform a wonderful ecosystem service in rodent control.
Black-shouldered Kite near Frogmore Swamp, 4th July 2018
One of a pair near Joyce’s Creek enjoying a meal of Mus musculus
On my Sunday outing, with a blisteringly cold southerly howling over the plains, I decided to stop at a small plantation just north of Frogmore Swamp. Despite passing this spot dozens of times in the past this is the first time I’ve ever stopped. I’m glad I did.
A feature of the site is a large Lemon-scented Gum that is flowering profusely at present. As I endeavoured to identify the birds feeding amongst the flowers – Rainbow Lorikeets, White-plumed Honeyeaters and Red Wattlebirds – another honeyeater nearby caught my eye … it was a Singing Honeyeater. Over the following 15 minutes I spotted a number of them, perhaps half a dozen in all. This is only the second time I’ve observed this species on the Moolort Plains, although I suspect this is largely due to me not actually looking hard enough!
Singing Honeyeater, Moolort Plains, 17th June 2018
Looking at the Birdata website revealed a scattering of sightings in the general area (shown by the red circles on the images below – click to see a larger view), but with a total of 12 observations made at this plantation alone! The stronghold for Singing Honeyeaters is further north – in fact it’s one of Australia’s most widespread birds, inhabiting a range of habitats across the continent, favouring semi-arid shrublands, especially where there are small copses of trees. I think this plantation was probably established in the mid 1980s by Project Branchout, one of the pioneering revegetation initiatives that pre-dated Landcare.
Observations of Singing Honeyeater in central Victoria from Birdata
12 sightings of Singing Honeyeater have been made at this small plantation, with another sighting just to the north near Baringhup.
Perhaps against my better judgment I made an early morning trip today across the Moolort Plains. The temperature gauge in the car was showing 6 degrees C and with a strong southerly blowing conditions could best be described as bitter!
This gorgeous female Nankeen Kestrel was the highlight, sheltered on the lee side of a mullock heap at Baringhup West. Two further individuals were seen in close-up on my way home to cap off a worthwhile trip.
Nankeen Kestrel, Moolort Plains, 17th June 2018
A different individual … this one’s a male.
… and the third – another male
This female Nankeen Kestrel provided a few moments of enjoyment for the observer on the weekend. This species is by far the most abundant raptor on the plains at present.
Nankeen Kestrel, Moolort Plains, 10th June 2018
Adult Black-shouldered Kites are glorious birds … but they are quite possibly overshadowed, ever so slightly, by the juvenile version.
Young Black-shouldered Kites are distinguished by subtle rufous-chestnut coloured plumage, especially around the head and neck, unlike the adults which are a ‘raptor in monochrome’.
Juvenile Black-shouldered Kites, Rodborough Road Moolort Plains, 3rd June 2018
What started out as a quiet drive across the plains got interesting when I spotted this adult Wedge-tailed Eagle, perched on a fence post beside the road.
It departed soon after I managed a couple of hasty snaps and led me to its mate in a nearby Grey Box. Magnificent as always!
Wedge-tailed Eagle, Moolort Plains, 3rd June 2018
The pair at the perch