Searching for the Hooded

Recently I spent a few days down the coast working on the beehives and the garden. Each morning I visited a different spot on the Peninsula for a bit of bushwalking and checking on the local birds. On the third day I decided to revisit Flinders Back Beach – the scene of an old financial crime – I got my camera wet in strong winds and drizzly rain. $650 later my camera was repaired and a $40 camera rain cover purchased – lesson learnt. On this occasion it was again drizzly and the camera cover went straight into action. By the time I was on the beach it was sunny. Almost immediately I found a small mixed flock of Red-necked Stints and Double banded Plovers. After a while, watching, counting and photographing the flock, I walked  around the point looking for the resident Hooded Plovers – now becoming rare on many beaches in Victoria due to increased disturbance, natural predation and people walking their dogs off lead. I usually see a few Hoodeds but this time I only found one adult. I hoped that a few more were tucked down into the beached kelp out of the cool winds.

Hooded Plover, Flinders Ocean Beach, Flinders, Vic

Hooded Plover, Flinders Ocean Beach, Flinders, Vic

Flinders Ocean Beach, Flinders, Vic

Flinders Ocean Beach, Flinders, Vic (the hooded plover is in the pic)

Double banded Plover, Flinders Ocean Beach, Flinders, Vic

Double banded Plover – can be tricky to see until they move

Double banded Plover, Flinders Ocean Beach, Flinders, Vic

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Double banded Plover, Flinders Ocean Beach, Flinders, Vic

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Hooded Plover, Flinders Ocean Beach, Flinders, Vic

Hooded Plover stretching its wings

 

A forest walking companion…

One of the first birds I see when I enter the forest at Green’s Bush is the Eastern yellow Robin. I watch it as it moves forward away from me down the track to the next tree trunk around head height. It keeps an eye on me and watches the ground for its next meal. It is an ambush hunter. From behind it is quite camouflaged and I often fail to see until it dashes forward but front on it is a beautiful vibrant yellow. I usually find them in pairs in territories around the track, my record for sightings is 14 along a 3.8 km circuit. At the moment there are quite a few juveniles coming into colour and moving around the forest.

Eastern yellow Robin, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Eastern yellow Robin, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Eastern yellow Robin, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

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Eastern yellow Robin, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

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Eastern yellow Robin, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Eastern yellow Robin in its usual hunting pose…

Yellow-rumped Thornbills at Easter lunch.

I spent Easter Sunday at my parents place in Moorooduc, an hour south of Melbourne. Between chainsawing fallen tree branches after the last wind storm and Easter lunch, I heard soft trill calls and noticed a feeding flock of small birds moving through a group of trees. I grabbed my camera gear from the car and stalked the little birds with the bright yellow rumps. I try and wander around the various sections of the farm looking for new species. The small farm is starting to build quite a bird list. I added two new species  – the Yellow-rumped Thornbills below and later a pair of Cape Barren Geese landed in a nearby paddock.

Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Willowind, Moorooduc, Vic

Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Willowind, Moorooduc, Vic

Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Willowind, Moorooduc, Vic

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Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Willowind, Moorooduc, Vic

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Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Willowind, Moorooduc, Vic

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Swamp Rat of Tootgarook

While returning from my exploration of the fringes around the Tootgarook Swamp and photographing Striated Fieldwrens and Golden-headed Cisticolas I stood at the edge of the track looking into the swamp and my eye caught some movement at my feet. It was a native rat – an Australian or Eastern Swamp Rat (Rattus lutreolus). It is the first time I have seen a native swamp rat. I have seen and photographed Rikalis (native water rats) a few times but never a swamp rat. It took me a little while to convince myself I was not looking at the standard European black or brown rat. Its behaviour was odd – it seemed to totally ignore me no matter how close  I got and only reacted when I made a decent noise (dropping to my knees with all my gear clanking around me). I saw that it had a deep wound on its side – it looked to be healing but may have resulted in unusual behaviours. With the raptors circling above I doubt it will live long coming into the open. While ignoring me it fed on small grass seeds and dug up roots at the base of the grass.

Swamp Rat, Tootgarook Wetlands, Tootgarook, Vic

Swamp Rat, Tootgarook Wetlands, Tootgarook, Vic

Swamp Rat, Tootgarook Wetlands, Tootgarook, Vic

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Swamp Rat, Tootgarook Wetlands, Tootgarook, Vic

The tail is much shorter on a Swamp Rat compared to a Black Rat.

Swamp Rat, Tootgarook Wetlands, Tootgarook, Vic

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Tootgarook lookout

I saw a few bird species working the fruiting thorn bushes near the Tootgarook swamp. Along with the Striated Fieldwren and I found small groups of adults and juvenile Golden-headed Cisticolas feeding on insects and hiding in the thorn bushes. One would sit at the top of a bush and keep lookout while the rest would feed. The young one pictured further below must have been fresh out of the nest as it was quite clumsy in flight and when trying to land between the thorns.

Golden headed Cisticola, Tootgarook Wetlands, Tootgarook, Vic

Golden headed Cisticola look-out, Tootgarook Wetlands, Tootgarook, Vic

Juvenile Golden headed Cisticola, Tootgarook Wetlands, Tootgarook, Vic

Juvenile Golden headed Cisticola navigating the thorn bushes.

Striated Fieldwren – Tootgarook Swamp

Trying to get access into the Tootgarook Swamp and wetlands can be quite tricky. The swamp is located between Rosebud and Rye in Tootgarrok on the Mornington Penninsula. The proposed fresh water wetlands have been a battle ground between local environmentalists and developers trying to bulldoze the swamp and create yet more suburban housing. At this stage the local action groups are winning out and the developers are being delayed. Hopefully this will continue until the full community gets behind the creation of a protected wetlands. I have been visiting and exploring around the fringe of the swamp areas trying to find the best access spots. One of the higher vantage points is via a closed road that leads to an old dumping area that is located between the sports ovals and the swamp. I spent some time looking for the beautiful and melodic Striated Fieldwren and found a quite a few along the edge of the dumping ground.

Striated Fieldwren, Tootgarook Wetlands, Tootgarook, Vic

Striated Fieldwren, Tootgarook Wetlands, Tootgarook, Vic

Striated Fieldwren, Tootgarook Wetlands, Tootgarook, Vic

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Striated Fieldwren, Tootgarook Wetlands, Tootgarook, Vic

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Striated Fieldwren, Tootgarook Wetlands, Tootgarook, Vic

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Striated Fieldwren, Tootgarook Wetlands, Tootgarook, Vic

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Striated Fieldwren, Tootgarook Wetlands, Tootgarook, Vic

Protest vote

Green’s Bush Eastern Spinebill

During late Summer I have been spending most weekends walking around the various sections of Green’s Bush. Near the entrance to the Baldry Crossing Circuit I found this Eastern Spinebill feeding along the creek.

Eastern Spinebill, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National park, Vic

Eastern Spinebill, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National park, Vic

Eastern Spinebill, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National park, Vic

Eastern Spinebill, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National park, Vic