Category Archives: Moolort Plains

Zebras on the plains

These tiny finches probably escape the attention of most visitors to the plains.

Small flocks of Zebra Finches can be encountered at any time of year and as they are quite mobile you can see them at a number of sites with suitable habitat.

They spend much of their time feeding on seeds on the ground but like to have cover, patches of Tree Violet are especially favoured, to retreat into when disturbed. The sexes are different, the males are more strongly marked and coloured – with an orange cheek patch, fine barring on the neck above a black breast patch and finely spotted rufous flanks. Both male and female have a bright orange bill. These birds were spotted near Picnic Point, part of a flock of approximately 25.

Zebra Finches, Picnic Point, 1st August 2017

A pair cosying up – male at left

A delightful find on a winter afternoon!

At the silos #3

This ‘pair’ of Black-shouldered Kites were another highlight of my visits to the Moolort silos during the week.

There were actually three birds in the party, two adults and an immature bird, possibly one of last seasons offspring. I watched them for almost 15 minutes as they sparred and parried in what appeared to be a mix of courtship and combat. I’m not at all sure about the purpose of these antics.

The immature bird is distinguished by the dark plumage around the throat and neck.

Black-shouldered Kites, Moolort silos, 31st July 2017

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At the silos #2

Competition for perches was fierce amongst these Nankeen Kestrels – these two look like adult females judging by the rufous tail and upper parts.

Nankeen Kestrels, Moolort silos, 31st July 2017

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At the silos #1

A tip from a reader led me to the Moolort silos last evening. I hadn’t been there for some time and was delighted to see not one, but eleven Nankeen Kestrels, using a variety of high perches from which to launch frequent forays into the surrounding landscape in search of prey. Three Black-shouldered Kites and a Black Kite capped off a nice jaunt.

Nankeen Kestrel, Moolort Plains, 31st July 2017

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Lift off!

A Brown Falcon lifting gently into the air … one of a number seen on the plains last week.

Brown Falcon, Moolort Plains, 27th July 2017

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One less mouse

Raptor numbers have been below average over the past 12 months, with very few Black-shouldered Kites sighted, and no sign of a Spotted Harrier or Black Falcon since early in the year.

I took a drive across the plains yesterday and was heartened by the number of Nankeen Kestrels, including this female, hunting successfully with its mate near Cotswold.

Nankeen Kestrel, Moolort Plains, 26th July 2017

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It’s a female … the fanned tail showing the distinctive chestnut colours

Bunjil takes flight

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

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* Source: Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Recognition Statement