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

II

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Spotted Pardalote battle

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

IV

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

V

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

VI

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

VII

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

II

Peregrine Falcon, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

III

Peregrine Falcon, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

IV

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

III

Peregrine Falcon, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

IV

A chorus of Corellas

On an evening walk along Elster Creek and into the golf course recently I came across this little band of Long-billed Corellas. They were searching for seeds and working the grass for roots. I love the sound of the Corellas and will search them out along the creek. I have to find the birds to clearly ID them as I can’t tell the difference between Little Corellas and Long-billed by the calls. Even in flight it can be difficult unless you can spot the red/pink chest splash and red around the eyes

Click to play a recording by Andrew Spencer

 

Long-billed Corellas, Elster Creek (golf course), Elsternwick, Vic

Long-billed Corellas, Elster Creek (golf course), Elsternwick, Vic

A Scarlet irruption at Green’s Bush…

I have re-visted the new part of Green’s Bush a few times now, learning my way around and seeing what different birds are located in the various types of vegetation. While walking down from a higher ridge line I heard what I assumed was a Rose Robin. It sounded much like a Rose Robin just without the 2 note call at the end. I logged it as a Rose robin “heard” and hoped that I would be able to sight them before I moved away from the area. Half way around the circuit I heard the call with the 2 note ending and found a small family of Robins working the low branches of Sheoaks. After a few pics I moved onto another section with a large amount of flowering mistletoe hanging from the Eucalpyts with several bird species working the flowers  for nectar. I had already seen a few mistletoe birds so when I saw the flash of red I assumed another bright male mistletoebird. I was extremely surprised to see so much red on the bird….I could not think of anything else other than a Scarlet Honeyeater, a species I have only seen well on last year’s trip to Mallacoota near the NSW border in far east Victoria. I tracked the Honeyeaters across the Eucalypts for a while and as I had tuned into their call I released that the shortened Rose Robin call I had been hearing was actually the Scarlet Honeyeater. To my ear the calls were very similar. Later at home when reviewing the images and then checking the Facebook Bird Vic and eBird sites, I noticed that a number of people had been reporting sightings around Victoria. It seems we are in the midst of an irruption, an unusually high number of birds migrating to the extremes of their range. Last weekend I went back and saw more of the Scarlets, this time around the carpark enjoying the flowering Teatrees and overhanging mistletoe.

Rose Robin, Greens Bush (southern), Mornington Peninsula, Vic

Rose Robin, Greens Bush (southern), Mornington Peninsula, Vic

Rose Robin, Greens Bush (southern), Mornington Peninsula, Vic

Rose Robin II

Rose Robin, Greens Bush (southern), Mornington Peninsula, Vic

Having a scratch

Scarlet Honeyeater, Greens Bush (southern), Mornington Peninsula, Vic

I thought the flash of red in the flowering mistletoe was a male Mistletoebird.

Scarlet Honeyeater, Greens Bush (southern), Mornington Peninsula, Vic

Scarlet Honeyeater

Scarlet Honeyeater, Greens Bush (southern), Mornington Peninsula, Vic

II

Scarlet Honeyeater, Greens Bush (southern), Mornington Peninsula, Vic

Scarlet Honeyeater calling, with several others nearby responding.

I got a lizard for lunch…

When visiting Ma and Pa Kettle at the family estate in Moorooduc,  I often stop by Moorooduc Quarry to check out a few of my favourite locals. At the moment the Eastern Yellow Robins, the Spotted Pardalotes and the Peregrine Falcons are nesting. On the way to the Pardalote spot where I like to watch the to’ing and fro’ing of the pair I found this Kookaburra softening up his lunch by giving it a few whacks on the branch. He was not concerned by me walking by and stopping to take a few shots. He just watched me for a bit and then continued to soften lunch.

Kookaburra, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Kookaburra, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Kookaburra, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

II