Stockyard Point near Jam Jerrup in Western Port Bay is a good spot for some high tide wader watching. Once the tide rises many of the waders move across from feeding on the exposed low tide mud flats to the sand spits for a bit preening and sleeping. One of the many species found here is the Australian Pied Oystercatcher, a fairly common bird found along the coast. Not so common and in fact not previously reported in Victoria is the (NZ) South Island Pied Oystercatcher. The SIPO is very similar looking to the Aussie version but with shorter legs, longer bill and different white plumage on the back and underwing. In late June a keen eyed birder spotted this NZ vagrant, and since then many birders have taken the long beach walk to the point to twitch for the SIPO. On the day we trekked to the point, we spent many hours on the spit, met quite a few birders, found the South Island Oystercatcher (lifer 346) and photographed many other waders. In winter one does not expect to see many waders in Victoria but we were amazed at how many different species had over-wintered in the south rather than fly back to Siberia to breed. A few of the experienced birders suggested that it was due to a very good breeding season in the north in 2016 and that 1st year birds tend to over-winter rather than fly back north. It was long day, standing for 6 hours, exposed to bitingly cold southerly winds, at times wet, but it was one of the best days of birding I have seen.
Stockyard Point Twitch, Jam Jerrup, Vic – a brief sunny respite from the cold and winds
Hundreds of over-wintering waders at Stockyard Point
Eastern Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwits
Bar-tailed godwits landing on a sand spit at high tide
6 species in this shot: Red-capped plover, Red knot, Curlew sandpiper, Red-necked stint, Terek sandpiper, Double-banded plover.
South Island Pied Oystercatcher (left) and Australian Pied Oystercatcher
Posted in Birds, Victoria
Tagged Australian Birds, Bar-tailed Godwit, Bird Photography, Eastern Curlew, Nature Photography, SIPO, South Island Pied Oystercatcher, Stockyard Point, Terek Sandpiper, Twitch, Twitching, Victoria, Western Port Bay
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
Posted in Victoria, Bird Behaviour
Tagged Australia, Australian Birds, Bird Behaviour, Bird Photography, birds eating olives, Crimson Rosella, Nature Photography, Olives, Photography, Rosebud, Victoria
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
Posted in Bird Behaviour, Victoria
Tagged Australian Birds, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula, Photography, Nature Photography, Australia, Bird Photography, Fan Tailed Cuckoo, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Winter, Spring
I visited a new site on the weekend. The Seaford Wetlands: a remnant of the old Carrum Carrum Swamp that extended from Mordialloc right around the bay to Frankston. What is left of the old swamp is still the largest natural wetlands left within the Port Phillip and Western Port catchments. I walked through the wetlands from the rear of the Seaford North Primary School and over to the other side where I found a small line of trees and bushes that had a number of birds working the grass area for seeds and insects. Amongst the birds using the fence line as a lookout for insects was a Flame Robin.
Flame Robin, Seaford Wetlands, Seaford, Vic
On the weekend I made a return visit to the Jawbone Reserve in Williamstown. It was cold and windy but at least a sunny winter’s morning. The highlight of the walk was photographing Yellow-rumped Thornbills. They can often be found feeding in a busy twittering mixed species flock working the mid and lower levels of the forest canopy. I also see them feeding on the ground picking at what I assume to be small insects in the grass. On this occasion a flock of nine Thornbills were moving along the grass fringe near the Jawbone lagoons. I kept trying to intercept but they just worked around me at a distance of 20 feet or so. They seems to be moving along with the wind direction so I moved around and in front and let them work up to me. I tried sitting but they moved away so I just stood still as I waited for them to drift toward me. This seemed to work and I was generally ignored. At one point they were only several feet away and did not seem bothered by me at all. This was the first time I have had such a close look at this species. Usually I just hear their chittering in the forest and see a flash of yellow rump as they fly away.
Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Jawbone Nature Reserve, Williamstown, Vic
Usually a shy bird, the Grey Shrikethrush is a woodlands and forest skulker, feeding in the low to medium forest canopy. It is often heard and fleetingly seen. I do see and hear it quite often in the various reserves along the Peninsula but never long enough to get many images. At Cape Schanck several seem to have become semi-tame due to the picnic table leftovers.
Grey Shrikethrush, Cape Schanck, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic
Waiting for the tables to clear….
Posted in Birds, Victoria
Tagged Australia, Australian Birds, Bird Photography, Cape Schanck, Grey Shrike Thrush, Grey Shrikethrush, Mornington Peninsula, National Park, Nature Photography, Victoria
I have been spending a bit time down in Rosebud over the last few months and have started exploring different sections of the Mornington Peninsula National Park. Cape Schanck is the most southern point of the Peninsula and juts out as the meeting place of the wild Bass Strait and Western Port Bay. One of my favourite times visiting the site was during rough southerly conditions and watching Gannets, Shearwaters and Albatross fly by the coast. On this occasion it was fairly mild and many visitors were enjoying the sunny winter conditions. One of the bird species often found in the area is the Singing Honeyeater known for its beautiful and melodic songs.
Singing Honeyeater, Cape Schanck, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic
Cape Schanck boardwalk and lighthouse, Mornington Peninsula National park, Vic
Posted in Birds, Victoria
Tagged Australia, Australian Birds, Bird Photography, Cape Schanck, Cape Schanck lighthouse, Mornington Peninsula, National Park, Nature Photography, Photography, Singing Honeyeater, Victoria