Category Archives: Bird Behaviour

Front View, Rear View

For a small bird that is brightly coloured during breeding season, the male Superb fairy-wren is a noisy bird that likes to alert everything nearby that a stranger has come close or into its territory. It is a curious bird that will pop up onto a branch, have a look at the potential danger and then disappear quickly back into low foliage. Over winter, spring and early summer, I have been paying extra attention to these little birds, participating in the study to gauge the male’s transition to full breeding plumage each year. We are supposed to track what plumage stage each bird is in that we find as we walk our favourite areas. The species has a defined territory making the little tribe (2 to 6 birds) easier to find each time. The study has made it more interesting finding this quite common bird. Usually I just record it as a day or site tick on my list and then ignore it. Having to study the individual family groups for a 15-20 minutes session, identifying the sexes, plumage phase types, general activity and any interaction between groups makes it much more interesting. A by-product of this stationary watch means I see others birds as they fly by or pop out of the nearby scrub.

Superb Fairy-wren, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Superb Fairy-wren, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Superb Fairy-wren II, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

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A yellow-tailed Vandal

As I sorted out my camera gear out for my weekly walk around Green’s Bush I heard a crunching in the trees above my car. Several Yellow-tailed black cockatoos were tearing into the branches of a Blackwood tree. Cockatoos will often attack tree branches (and houses) to keep their every growing bills trim and to find insect larvae boring into the wood.

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Male YTBC with pink eye ring

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater

One of my favourite birds is the Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, a colourful, gregarious bird with a very distinctive call.  It has a confiding nature and the juveniles can be quite curious. When I made a phishing noise the young one photographed below came in closer for a look at me and then started to call. The Birdlife Australia site describes the call as jerky, musical “liquid and guttural gurgling jumble”. Looking at the bristles below the ear I noticed that there are a few yellow ones – the sign of a young bird. Now that I am often carrying recording gear. I hope to record the species quite soon. I have found an area of the southern section of  Green’s Bush where I occasionally hear  the species.

Juvenile Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic,

Young Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic,

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic,

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Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic,

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Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic,

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Using the Bassian Thrush flush zone

While an early start at Green’s Bush means a good chance of finding Bassian Thrush it also means a lot less light available for the photo. The long lens needs a good amount of light for a nice clear photo.  While taking the series of the thrush collecting nesting material I crouched as low as possible to the ground and slowly pushed the bassian using its own flush distance zone to move it into better light. This is the distance that it will allow me to approach (about 5-7 metres) without flying off or moving up the path. If the Bassian does not feel threatened it will just walk up the path away from me and continue to feed to collect material. I move a few metres forward and it moves forward. Crouching down I found I could get inside the usual zone but it was hard on the knees.

Bassian Thrush, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Bassian Thrush, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Bassian Thrush, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

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Bassian Thrush, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Bassian Thrush collecting nesting material

Bassian Thrush, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

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Bassian Thrush, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

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Walking along Elster Creek

I often stroll along the Elster Creek and up into the old golf course. I have started to take photos of the transition from a 9 hole public golf course to a wetlands. So far it is still much the same with a few trees removed and the grass growing longer. I will post up some images once things start to happen. New layout designs should be issued in March.

The evening is a great time for good light and finding fairly relaxed birds preening and having a last feed.

Crested Pigeons, Elster Creek, Elsternwick, Vic

Crested Pigeons, Elster Creek, Elsternwick, Vic

Crested Pigeons, Elster Creek, Elsternwick, Vic

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White faced heron, Elster Creek, Elsternwick, Vic, 21 July 2019

White faced heron, Elster Creek, Elsternwick, Vic

Bath time for a Great Egret

With the slow wilding of the local ex-golf course into an extensive wetlands and woodlands, more birds are spending time in the existing Elster Creek lagoons. One of the semi-regular visitors is the Great Egret below. The egret hunts along the creek during the day and in the evening flies to the larger lagoon for a quick bath and a preen.

Great Egret, Elster Creek, Elsternwick, Vic

Bathtime

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Stranger Danger

 

The tracks around Green’s Bush are full of nests, juveniles and adults frantically feeding their nestlings. The Eastern Yellow Robins are all along the circuit walk hunting within their territories and alerting their mates when an intruder walks along. The Robin has a number of alert calls and this one was making a piping call and keeping an eye on me as I walked underneath. I must have been near the nest as it did not fly to a lookout a bit further away as they usually would when I try to photograph them.

Eastern Yellow Robin, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park

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