A home of grass and spider webs…

Taking a long slow walk around the Baldry Circuit at Green’s Bush, I am still finding many birds hard at work building nests and feeding young. Some of the early starters like the Pardalotes, Rosellas and the Eastern Yellow Robins are just about done with many new juveniles now flitting amongst the branches waiting for a free feed from their parents. Another group are just starting their breeding duties. A pair of busy Grey Fantails were flying in and out of the lower branches of an Acacia. The material they were collecting was a mix of finely shredded dried grass and spider webs interwoven into a small goblet shape that the Fantail could barely sit in. A fantastic little structure fit for purpose for just a few months and then will disappear.

Grey Fantail, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

Grey Fantail building a nest, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

Grey Fantail, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

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Grey Fantail, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

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Grey Fantail, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

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Grey Fantail, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

Off for more spider-web

Further around the track I found another Eastern Yellow Robin’s nest that appeared to be done for the season. It was empty inside and I waited for a while nearby to see if any Robins visited but none appeared. It is also made up of finally stripped bark and spider webs as well as decorated with bits of moss and lichen – great camouflage. The nest was in plain sight (if you could recognise it) next to the the path in a low prickly bush.

Eastern Yellow Robin nest, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

Eastern Yellow Robin nest, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

Orioles and Kingfishers

It was great weather on the weekend, warm, sunny and not too windy. I spent a few hours at Green’s Bush seeing what the warmer weather had brought into the forest.  At the car park I heard and found my first seasonal visitor: the Olive- backed Oriole. It was high up in a tall Eucalyptus calling and quite difficult to see with its camouflaged plumage.  Its very distinctive call helps to pinpoint it in the upper canopy. Towards the end of a nice long walk around the full Baldry Circuit at Greens Bush I found this Sacred Kingfisher intently watching the ground. I usually hear this species rather than see it: it makes a short sharp triple bark. It is a tiny bird, hunting insects and small lizards, pouncing from perches like the branch below. It is the first time I have seen one at Green’s Bush. I only found it because I was looking for birds nesting or roosting in tree hollows and saw the bright blue plumage against the dark tree bark. 

Sacred Kingfisher, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

Sacred Kingfisher, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

Sacred Kingfisher, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

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Olive-backed Oriole, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

Camouflaged Olive-backed Oriole, Greens Bush

Ruffled Feathers

On the way back down the hill from the quarry and watching the Falcons I walked along the Pardalote Path to look for any new nesting activity. On an overhanging branch above the path I found a Kookaburra staring intently into the nearby bushes. He ignored me as I walked up and under the branch and as I turned around to see what he was looking at he was dive bombed by a pair of Red Wattlebirds. Maybe the Kookaburra was a bit too close to their nest and they were trying  to get him to move along. As they attacked, the Kookaburra would fluff up its feathers to appear larger and more fearsome. It didn’t really work with the Wattlebirds but did make for an interesting photo.

Kookaburra, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Kookaburra, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Kookaburra, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

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Family Falco Peregrinus

On my last visit to Moorooduc Quarry I watched as the Peregrines flew across the water and retrieved cached food. One of the falcons flew to a ledge where I suspected it had chicks. I returned to the quarry on Tuesday afternoon and immediately spotted two good size Falcons standing on the ledge watching me. At first I thought they were adults due to their size but on viewing with my binocs I saw the mottled colouring and realised that they were juvenile falcons. I spent some time watching them and then thought about where the parents might be. I turned around to look up at the quarry cliffs and the tall trees and behind me found an adult just staring at me. It soon lost interest as I was too far away to be a threat to it or its chicks. Looking further around the rim I found the other parent high up on a tall gum keeping guard. Four Peregrines in one site visit! – you can’t get much better than that…I am looking forward to dropping in again soon to watch their progress and early flights.

Juvenile Peregrine Falcons, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Juvenile Peregrine Falcons, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Juvenile Peregrine Falcons, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Juvenile Peregrine Falcons, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Peregrine Falcon, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Peregrine Falcon, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Peregrine Falcon, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Peregrine Falcon, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Murder mystery at Moorooduc

Its not everyday that you stumble onto a fight to the death between birds. I have seen many squabbles between ducks, coots and honeyeaters and of course one sided battles between birds of prey and their victims. But I have not seen a fight to the death between small beautiful songbirds.

I often hear Spotted Pardalotes in the various forests that I explore.  I even get the occasional visitor in my inner city suburb. They have a distinctive call and I more often record them in my logs as heard rather than seen. During spring when they are building their nesting burrows and attending eggs and chicks they become much more visible at the lower levels of the forest. I have a good spot at Moorooduc Quarry  where I can find, observe and photograph the Pardalotes. On a recent visit I walked along my regular burrow track and found a two male pardalotes fighting on the ground. I couldn’t tell which one was the intruder or the burrow owner. The fight resulted in the death of one of them and the other continued to attack until I removed the pardalote when the victor had flown to a nearby branch. I wanted to check the dead bird for the injuries. There was no blood or obvious wounds except both eyes were missing. Once I removed the dead male pardalote and stood back I waited to see whether the other would return – I was still trying to figure who owned the burrow. Probably 5 min later the male returned to the area with a female closely behind. They moved around the area and finally the female ducked into the burrow. My guess is that the victor was the intruder and he brought his mate to inspect this prime position. I had no idea that this beautiful tiny bird had such ferocious fights to the death.

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

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Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Spotted Pardalote battle

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

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Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

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Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

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Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

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Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

The victor looking at me like I was next on his hit list…

Pardalote nest, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Pardalote nest burrow

Pardalote nest track, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Pardalote nest track, Moorooduc Quarry Reserve, Mt Eliza, Vic

A late breakfast at the quarry

After the Peregrine Falcon took off from the cliff I watched it circle the quarry a few times and then land at the top of the cliff, under a bush on another side of the quarry. It came out a few seconds later with the remains of a kill in its beak, flew halfway across the quarry and while flying transferred the kill to its talons. It then  landed on a large tree branch for a late breakfast. This is the second time I have seen the falcons at this site retrieve cached food. The previous time the adult falcon used the cached food to entice a fledging to fly up to the branch for a feed.

Peregrine Falcon, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Peregrine Falcon, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Peregrine Falcon, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

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Peregrine Falcon, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

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Peregrine Falcon, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

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Hunting the Hunter

With every visit to Moorooduc Quarry in Mt Eliza, I expect to find the pair of Peregrine Falcons that have been calling the quarry home for years. It may take a little bit of time to dig out the falcons from the cliff faces or the over hanging trees but I am rarely disappointed. I find my own roost spot and just wait and keeping watching the cliffs and trees. On this occasion I thought I would not have the time to wait but as I was turning to go I saw a bit of movement on one of the cliffs and found the Falcon (below) as it was about to launch itself into the quarry.

Peregrine Falcon, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Peregrine Falcon, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Peregrine Falcon, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

The Peregrines colouring is very effective for blending into the blue stone cliffs.

Peregrine Falcon, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

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Peregrine Falcon, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

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