These two Nankeen Kestrels, last featured on the 28th November, are growing fast. They are now almost fully grown and look very much like the adults – the fine dark streaks on the crown and breast a feature of juvenile birds.
Nankeen Kestrels, Moolort Plains, 10th December 2017
Caught by a puff of breeze
The ducks are certainly enjoying the moister weather at present.
I cam across this family of Pacific Black Ducks yesterday on the plains, milling around on a small irrigation re-use pond. There were nine ducklings in total, with one nervous and protective adult keeping close company.
Pacific Black Duck, Locks Lane Moolort Plains, 1st December 2017
Showing off the green speculum to advantage
Three of the nine ducklings
Until yesterday I’d never managed a photograph of this little bird. It’s a Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis.
Common across the Moolort Plains they are heard more often than seen – at this time of year their rollicking calls from high in the sky are a feature of most of my excursions.
Eurasian Skylarks are similar to a number of other grassland/farming country specialists, the Australian Pipit and Horsfield’s Bushlark, both natives. A key difference is that the skylark has a larger, narrower bill than the bushlark but not as fine or long as that of the pipit. Skylarks have a very prominent crest which they often raise – bushlarks do have a small crest but not nearly as impressive. Click here to learn more about bushlarks and here for the pipit.
Eurasian Skylarks were introduced to Australia from Britain in the 1850s, another in the litany of errors performed by the ‘acclimatisation movement’. Since then they’ve established across much of the continent.
Eurasian Skylark, Moolort Plains, 28th October 2017
One of the nice things about getting home from a holiday is the chance to catch up with ‘old friends’.
Nankeen Kestrel (female), Moolort Plains, 27th October 2017
Along with most of our other local residents, Galahs have commenced their spring breeding.
This female and its partner have secured a nest site high up in an old dead eucalypt on the Moolort Plains – a favoured site that has been used regularly over the years.
Female Galah at the nest hollow, Moolort Plains, 1st September 2017
The nest tree – looking north-east towards Tarrengower
The female arriving back at the nest
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!
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