I drove down to the Flinders Ocean Beach today, also called Mushroom Reef due to the shape of the exposed reef at low tide. It is part of the Mornington Peninsula National Park. It was high tide and I walked along the sand looking for Hooded Plovers and other waders.
A birding minute or two at Flinders Ocean Beach
Singing Honeyeater in the strong wind, Flinders Ocean Beach, Flinders, Vic
Flinders Ocean Beach, Flinders, Vic
Second Cove, Flinders Ocean Beach
Juvenile Hooded Plover (without the signature black hood)
I walked along Elster Creek and into the wetlands a few weeks ago and watched a large Heron circle the wetlands and land in the shallow water. It attracted my attention as it was larger than usual and had a different flight shape – I had first thought it was a white-faced heron, but it did not look right. I moved along the edge of the wetlands until I could get a better view and was surprised to find a White-necked Heron. The first I have seen locally. I have usually seen them much further inland. While watching the heron two more came from behind the reeds and were immediately harassed by the roosting Silver Gulls. The local birds are not used to this large Heron and were dive bombing the herons when they moved around the wetlands hunting. When spooked the Heron raises its neck feathers in an aggressive display to make it look bigger and meaner. The three herons hunted around the small lake for the day and then moved on. I have not seem them since. There are many reports of this species around Melbourne at the moment and I believe that after a good breeding season further inland to the north they are now moving around as the inland wetlands dry out in late summer.
White-necked Heron, Elster Creek Wetlands, Elsternwick, Vic
Silver Gulls were harassing the Heron as it hunted in the shallows
Serendip Sanctuary at the base of the You Yangs, South-West of Melbourne, is a good place to practice your bird and animal photography. I like to visit the sanctuary a few times a year and see what wild birds have turned up. The Bush Stone Curlew and the Scarlet chested Parrot were in a walk through aviary along with many other species that are quite used to people. The Bush Stone Curlew uses it stillness and camouflaged plumage and freezes when threatened or nervous. While walking through the aviary we had to wait for the bird to stop freezing and move out of the way. It had to be hunting insects as it did not have to walk on the track we were on. The Scarlet-chested Parrot is rare in Victoria and usually found in inland Australia. The Magpie Geese are actually wild and are often found at Serendip especially when the water levels are higher. They are not the prettiest bird around – remind me more of a vulture than goose. Apparently they are very good eating in Northern Territory.
Bush Stone Curlew, Serendip Sanctuary, Lara, Victoria
I read about creating “birding minutes” a while back (and eventually I will find the article/blog and reference it). The concept is about recording a site and the experience of that moment, the conditions, location and sounds of the local birds. For my first minute I thought I would use my iPhone and a Rode mic but it did not turn out well so in future I will record using my Zoom and the Rode mic. I recorded my 1st Birding Minute last weekend at Greens Bush on the Mornington Peninsula. It is a favourite spot of mine for an early morning walk amongst varied forest and rainforest vegetation types and usually has many birds but on this occasion it was very still and quiet.
When I visit Braeside Park I always look in a few key spots for one of my favourite birds – the Tawny Frogmouth. Around the carpark there is open area and plenty of medium sized trees that the frogmouths like to roost in during the day. They can be hard to find due to the habit of staying very still and elongating their body to look like a dead branch stump. I have been seeing a pair in the carpark for the last 5 years so knew they were here somewhere. It was hot and I was standing in small grove of Wattles in the shade while I was trying to figure out where the pair could be when I looked straight into the eyes of a frogmouth. I found 2 roosting at head height in front of me and when I turned around to move away so I wouldnt be so close I found another. These were the grown chicks from the pair that I usually see in this area. ( I photographed a parent sitting on the nest last year. )
In the action no-action pose
Blending right in
The 3rd frogmouth and I would guess a parent as it just ignored me as I almost stumbled into it at head height while moving away from the other two – the breeding pair in this area of the Park are used to people and their cars.
Rename a native rodent from water-rat to its aboriginal name “Rakali”, and you can change the public view on an ignored animal. A family of Rakalis on the St Kilda break water has been semi-tamed via a local fisherman feeding them bait, fish and little cheese snacks. The Rakali has a varied diet and can be quite aggressive in its hunting. I have seen one kill an injured Pink-eared duck at the Werribee Treatment Plant.
St Kilda pier and break water is a good place to get up close and personal with the Rakali family as well as the nesting and roosting Little Penguins. On this visit most were still out hunting and I only found one Penguin down a rock crevice burrow.
Little Penguin, St Kilda break water, Victoria
Rakali, St Kilda break water, being fed a snack (notice the rear web feet)