Tag Archives: Bird Photography

Twitching at Stockyard Point

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

Stockyard Point Twitch, Jam Jerrup, Vic – a brief sunny respite from the cold and winds

Waders at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

Hundreds of over-wintering waders at Stockyard Point

Waders at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

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Waders at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

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Eastern Curlews and Godwits at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

Eastern Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwits

Eastern Curlews and Godwits at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

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Eastern Curlews and Godwits at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

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Eastern Curlews and Godwits at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

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Godwits landing at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

Bar-tailed godwits landing on a sand spit at high tide 

Waders at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

6 species in this shot: Red-capped plover, Red knot, Curlew sandpiper, Red-necked stint, Terek sandpiper, Double-banded plover.

Oystercatchers_SIPO at Stockyard Point, Jam Jerrup, Vic

South Island Pied Oystercatcher (left) and Australian Pied Oystercatcher

Black Olives for Crimson Rosellas

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

Crimson Rosella, Rosebud, Victoria, 30 July 2017

Crimson Rosella, Rosebud, Victoria, 30 July 2017

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Winter is moving on…

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

Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

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Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

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Blue-billed, Pink-eared, Black-fronted, Wet-birder

I have made a few return trips to the Jawbone reserve lately. While quite exposed to the cold south-westerly winter weather, it is a place that allows fairly easy access to many birds. Typically I can find up to 50 species. A long but easy walk along the lagoons and scrub land, and the lagoons are narrow so at times a photographer can sneak up quite close. The secret is to not make eye contact and look like you are doing something else – they always seem to know when you are trying to get close and focus on them. The birds here are used to people running, walking and biking along the paths and edges of the lagoons even closer than we were and they were totally ignored…

Pink-eared Ducks, Jawbone flora and fauna reserve, WIlliamstown, Vic

Pink-eared Ducks, Jawbone flora and fauna reserve, WIlliamstown, Vic

Pink-eared Ducks, Jawbone flora and fauna reserve, WIlliamstown, Vic

Pink-eared Duck amongst Grey Teals

Pink-eared Ducks, Jawbone flora and fauna reserve, WIlliamstown, Vic

Pink-eared Ducks spooked by a White-bellied Sea-Eagle drifting along the coast

Blue-billed Duck, Jawbone flora and fauna reserve, WIlliamstown, Vic

Male Blue-billed Duck, Jawbone flora and fauna reserve, WIlliamstown, Vic

Blue-billed Duck, Jawbone flora and fauna reserve, WIlliamstown, Vic

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Birder in the mud, Jawbone flora and fauna reserve, WIlliamstown, Vic

Birder in the mud – sometimes you have to get cold, wet and muddy for the shot

Black-fronted Dotterel, Jawbone flora and fauna reserve, WIlliamstown, Vic

Black-fronted Dotterel watching birders lying in the mud.

Flame Robin of Carrum Carrum Swamp

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

Flame Robin, Seaford Wetlands, Seaford, Vic

Flame Robin, Seaford Wetlands, Seaford, Vic

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Flame Robin, Seaford Wetlands, Seaford, Vic

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Tracking the Jawbone Thornbills

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

Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Jawbone Nature Reserve, Williamstown, Vic

Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Jawbone Nature Reserve, Williamstown, Vic

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Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Jawbone Nature Reserve, Williamstown, Vic

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Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Jawbone Nature Reserve, Williamstown, Vic

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Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Jawbone Nature Reserve, Williamstown, Vic

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Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Jawbone Nature Reserve, Williamstown, Vic

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Not so shy skulker

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

Grey Shrikethrush, Cape Schanck, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Grey Shrikethrush, Cape Schanck, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

Waiting for the tables to clear….

Grey Shrikethrush, Cape Schanck, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic

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