The Brown Falcon of 29 Mile Road

Two thirds of the Elwood Birding Crew aka Port Phillip Birders along with our regional member from up Knox way joined for a day at the pooh farm and surrounding roads. It was cold and grey with dim lighting but the number of raptors along the various roads was surprising and we kept our car windows down, and the heater, gloves and beanies on. We cruised the roads and lagoons, watched and photographed Brown Falcons, Wedge-tail Eagles, Kites and Kestrels. What better way to spend a cold winters day….dont tell Mary.

Brown Falcon, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Vic

Brown Falcon, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Vic

Brown Falcon, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Vic

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Red-kneed Dotterel with red knees

I like it when a bird species has an identifying feature listed in its name, it makes birding just a fraction easier. Before the Spotted Crake did his dash across the small shallow lagoon a few Red-kneed Dotterels worked their way along the edge looking for small insects on the water.

Red -kneed Dotterel, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Vic

Red-kneed Dotterel, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Vic

Red -kneed Dotterel, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Vic

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Red -kneed Dotterel, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Vic

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Red -kneed Dotterel, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Vic

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A bold Crake

Spotted Crakes are often seen skulking around the muddy edges of wetlands usually very close to cover so a quick dash can get them back under cover and invisible again. I saw this particular Crake late one sunny afternoon at the small lagoon near the bird hide along the coast at the Treatment plant. He was walking quite boldly across the lagoon to the other side. Though as the sun dipped a bit he made the sudden dash back to the other side and straight back into cover.

Spotted Crake, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Vic

Spotted Crake, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Vic

Spotted Crake, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Vic

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Spotted Crake, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Vic

A quick look round and straight at me…

Spotted Crake, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Vic

…reached the other side for a peek around the salt-bush…

Spotted Crake, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Vic

…and a mad dash back again – the next few seconds later he actually took off in a low flight..

A Little Grassbird enters stage left.

During my last visit to the Treatment Plant, I stopped the car while driving around the Western Lagoons and filmed  a Spotted Crake that crept out of the salt bush and heath to have a drink and check for easy prey. Just to the left of the Crake a Little Grassbird also popped out to check in the tidal mud for prey. These birds are often heard at wetlands and seen when they flit low across the water to the next clump of reeds but I dont often see them clearly for a shot. The Little Grassbird’s scientific name Megalurus gramineus means “grassy large-tail” due to its large broad tail and preferred habitat.

Little Grassbird, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Vic

Little Grassbird, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Vic

Little Grassbird, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Vic

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Starting Winter at Southern Greens Bush

I re-visited the Southern section of Greens Bush yesterday.  Winter has just started here but the mornings are already quite cold. Luckily the beginning of the track is quite open and I could warm up a bit in the sun. The first few birds I saw threw me a bit as I tried to identify them. They turned out to be Brown Thornbills that were still puffed up from the extra air in their plumage to keep warm over night. They were little puff balls and looked a lot larger than normal. Walking through the mature Banksia forest I could see a bird on one of the dead trees in the distance. Trying to sneak a bit  closer I found an Australian Hobby (also called a Little Falcon) perched in the morning sun surveying the territory for breakfast.  I walked a bit too close and it took off along the ridge line and down into the forest. I bit further along I found a Grey Shrike-thrush keeping an eye out for the falcon. It was so focussed on the sky that I managed to walk right up to it and take a few images.

Australian Hobby, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park

Australian Hobby, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park

Australian Hobby, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park

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Grey Shrike-thrush, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park

Grey Shrike-thrush, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park

Grey Shrike-thrush, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park

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Old Faithful…

Recently I stopped by Braeside Park to look for the reported Long Toed Stint, a tiny, rare, migratory shorebird.  It was fairly easy to find with the help of other birders all  lined up with their scopes looking for it as well. Eventually we found it working the mudflat on the main lagoon with a few Sharp-tailed sandpipers, a Pectoral sandpiper (another rare shorebird) and a bunch of Red-kneed dotterells. The Stint became my 350th Lifer and 348th Vic Tick.

On the way back to my car I checked the car park area looking for the pair of Tawny Frogmouths that can usually be found in the trees around the cars. I found them on a low branch taking a bit of late afternoon sunshine. Always a favourite find in any location and a nice way to finish the successful twitch.

Tawny Frogmouth, Braeside Park, Vic

Tawny Frogmouth, practicing its “just a branch, nothing to see here” pose,

I knew they had to be there somewhere…

Greens Bush is a great habitat for many bird and animal species and I am building a good list of birds but only a few mammals: Swamp Wallaby, Grey Kangaroo and a lone koala. I felt sure that there would be Antechinus (small marsupial hunter) somewhere in the National Park and it took 5 years to finally see four in one day in a small section of the forest in mid-summer. The pair below were running and chasing each other up the trunk of an old tree and along a dead branch. At one point the larger of the two (female?) carried up small branches/grasses in its mouth to what I assume to be a nest. The female can live several years while the male does not live past his first breeding season having mated until organ failure. Watching the energy of these two chase and wrestling up the tree trunk I can see how it might not end well for the male.

Brown Antechinus, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Brown Antechinus, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Brown Antechinus, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

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Brown Antechinus, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

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Brown Antechinus, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

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Brown Antechinus, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

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Brown Antechinus, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

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