Category Archives: Bird Behaviour

Flying visit along the coast

Over spring I have been working on a garden down the Mornington Peninsula, trying to rediscover and restore the original veggie and garden beds. On the way home I popped into a few new spots along the way –  Highfield in the National Park and the McClelland Sculpture Park in Langwarrin. The Superb Fairy-wren was displaying its near eclipse plumage (last of its breeding/summer plumage). As I parked my car at the Sculpture Garden, I heard a weird bird call that I did not recognise (of course I assumed I had discovered a new species or at least a lifer) and it turned out to be a begging young Butcherbird. I watched as a parent returned a few times with little morsels for the hungry beggar. Notice the deadly little bill hook that the Butcherbird will use as part of its bird hunting weaponry.

Superb Fairy-wren, Green's Bush (southern), Vict

Superb Fairy-wren, Mornington Peninsula National Park: Highfield, Vic

Juvenile Grey Butcherbird, McClelland Sculpture Park, Langwarrin, Vic

Juvenile Grey Butcherbird, McClelland Sculpture Park, Langwarrin, Vic

What ya doing Dad?

With the weather turning milder this week I thought a walk at the local Fitzroy Gardens might make a nice change to lurking in the Chinatown laneways looking for new street art. I did not expect much other than a nice walk and a short bird list. I did find the usual urban park birds and a few surprises, a kookaburra being an unexpected highlight and a pair of Pied Currawongs – adult and juvenile. Being around lunch time the adult Currawong was cleaning and preening itself along the small rainforest creek that runs down the centre of the park. I spent some time filming the Currawongs with my iPhone. The Currawong was using chunks of dirt and getting deep into its feathers for a good clean. It then would hop over to the creek and have a deep vigorous wash. After a drying preen on a nearby branch it would start again on a different area of its feathers. Meanwhile the young Currawong was making small calls and watching intensely trying to figure it all out. When the adult flew off it stayed and had a go at picking in the dirt but it seemed to think it was looking for food rather than good chunks to use for cleaning. I have seen birds washing, preening, sand bathing before but never selecting chunk of dirt to use as a scrub in those hard to reach places….

click image to watch video clip

Every nook and cranny

While walking around my usual Green’s Bush circuit I noticed many Crimson Rosellas exploring every tree hollow on the older growth Eucalypts. A few went right inside the various cavities after a cursory glance, and several flew off quickly when an occupant was discovered (most likely a brush tailed possum or sugar glider). I found a pair really giving this hollow a thorough inspection. One did all the inspecting while the other stood guard on a nearby branch – he spent the time watching me on the trail and shaking his tail feathers now and again and quietly squawking. I assumed the other took this as a signal to be alert but not alarmed.

Crimson Rosella, Green's Bush, Vict

Crimson Rosella guarding his mate while she explored a potential nest hollow, Green’s Bush, Vict

 

Crimson Rosella, Green's Bush, Vict

Crimson Rosella inspecting the hollow 

Potential nest hole, Green's Bush, Vict

Potential nest hole – looking well used but too small for a possum.

Crimson Rosella, Green's Bush, Vict

I found another Crimson Rosella looking for something in a dead tree. it was very focused and just ignored me as I walked under it. , Green’s Bush, Vict

A Crowded Corner of Greens’ Bush

After  a few weeks away from Green’s Bush I went back to see how the site of the 3 nests was going. The Golden Whistler nest had not developed but the Pardalote burrow was still fresh and active while the Striated Thornbill nest was being maintained and looked in good shape. I stood and watched the Pardalotes coming and going and noticed that there were two Eastern Yellow Robins hunting in the same area. I saw a Robin fly to a nearby branch and pick up an insect from its mate, wolf it down and then fly into a small Pittosporum  bush nearby. The binocs showed the adult sitting in a fresh nest beautifully camouflaged with living lichen. When the sitter flew off for another feed, I snuck through some tall bracken and found a clear angle to get a few shots.

Eastern Yellow Robin nest, Green's Bush, Vict

Eastern Yellow Robin nest, Green’s Bush, Victoria

Eastern Yellow Robin, Green's Bush, Vict

Eastern Yellow Robin

Eastern Yellow Robin, Green's Bush, Vict

Eastern Yellow Robin II

Spring at Greens’ Bush

For various reasons I have not taken many/any photos on recent visits to Greens Bush. The weather has been cold and wet, it has been quite dark in the forest and most importantly not many birds have sat still long enough to take a decent image. I no longer blast away at any bird and hope that there is a shot in there somewhere. The hours post processing are not worth the result. I try to take only a few shots and get the setup right while stalking the target. This often results in failures and no shots but does save time at the computer. On Saturday I was determined to shoot something rather than just carry the heavy gear around. While the birdlife was abundant and the forest was quite noisy there were not many birds near enough to shoot. What I did find was three different species’ nests all within a few meters of where I had stopped for a breather. For nearly 30 mins I watched as a Golden Whistler returned to a particular bush with more nesting material. The female seemed to be doing all the collecting and building with the colourful male inspecting now and again and standing guard in the next tree. While just standing there I saw a pair of Spotted Pardalotes on a branch just above my head. It took a few moments to realise that they were not being friendly but getting a bit stressed because I was standing next to their burrow. I moved away and straight away they flew down and into the burrow. Turning around at a new bird call I saw a pair of Striated Thornbills flying into their nest, a tennis ball size clump of soft material and spider webs. Spring has started and nesting season is in full swing. I will re-visit in the coming weeks and hopefully see more progress and take a few pics.

Spotted Pardalote near nest entrance, Greens Bush, Vic

Spotted Pardalote near nest entrance

Spotted Pardalote nest entrance, Greens Bush, Vic

Spotted Pardalote nest entrance – a burrow

Striated Thornbill nest, Greens Bush, Vic

Striated Thornbill nest camouflaged inside an over-hanging Eucalyptus branch

Golden Whistler nest (just starting), Greens Bush, Vic

Golden Whistler nest (just starting) – will be more of a traditional cup type nest.

Black Olives for Crimson Rosellas

Once I harvested as many olives as I could process from our little front yard Olive Grove in Rosebud I left the rest for the birds. Previously I had not noticed many birds  feeding on the olives. This year a number of species have enjoyed the late season fruit. I have seen Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Little Corellas, Silvereyes and now a pair of Crimson Rosellas. I was packing the back of my car only a few feet away and these guys just ignored me. The fruit is very ripe and starting to shrivel so must be quite edible even with their raw bitter flavour.

I have read that most parrots/cockatoos are left handed. The fellow below was right handed, grabbing and eating the olives using his right foot. It was windy at times and he did very well to hang on and feed at the same time.

Crimson Rosella, Rosebud, Victoria, 30 July 2017

Crimson Rosella, Rosebud, Victoria, 30 July 2017

Crimson Rosella, Rosebud, Victoria, 30 July 2017

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Winter is moving on…

With a month still to go of winter, I am already seeing signs of the coming spring   and breeding season at Green’s Bush on the Mornington Peninsula. Each time I stay down the coast I visit one of my favourite spots and see what has changed or who is stopping by. This morning I saw good signs of an early spring – Australian Wood ducks flying around inside the forest with several landing on branches and looking into tree hollows for suitable nest-sites. These strange ducks nest in hollows in trees near water very early in the breeding season. I also found a Fan-tailed cuckoo exploring for potential nesting targets along a ridge line above a rainforest creek. It seemed to be following a mixed feeding flock of thornbills and fantails. I usually find the Fan-tailed cuckoo buy its very distinctive call but this one was very quiet and stayed above the foraging thornbills. I saw it several times as I moved along the trail. (another thought is that it is last season’s chick and it is still following its adopted parents hoping for a free feed  – I will have to do some research).

Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

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Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

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