I often stroll along the Elster Creek and up into the old golf course. I have started to take photos of the transition from a 9 hole public golf course to a wetlands. So far it is still much the same with a few trees removed and the grass growing longer. I will post up some images once things start to happen. New layout designs should be issued in March.
The evening is a great time for good light and finding fairly relaxed birds preening and having a last feed.
A flock of Gang-gang Cockatoos have been seen throughout the local suburbs, visiting parks and looking for food. They are usually found around inland mountain forests not along bayside beach suburbs. While walking my dog, I found four in a tall gum tree along the creek behind my house. They were squabbling with the local Magpies and Currawongs. I rushed home to get my camera gear to see if I could get a few shots of my first local sighting and only my third sighting in the last 10 years. The flock had moved on but I did find a lone female Gang-gang feeding on green seed pods in the lower branch of a large tree at the other side of the old golf course. I watched for a while as she ate green seeds and then napped briefly, roused and ate more. After 30 mins or so the other members of her flock flew along the creek calling, she joined them and they headed further down the coast. I have not seen them since.
Gang-gang Cockatoo, Elster Creek, Elsternwick, Vic
With the slow wilding of the local ex-golf course into an extensive wetlands and woodlands, more birds are spending time in the existing Elster Creek lagoons. One of the semi-regular visitors is the Great Egret below. The egret hunts along the creek during the day and in the evening flies to the larger lagoon for a quick bath and a preen.
With the closing of the Elsternwick golf course and planned conversion to a wetlands and open parkland, the unmaintained grass of the old fairways is growing long and seeding. This is already bringing more bird species to the area to enjoy the seeds, including a small flock of Long-billed Corellas.
Long billed Corella, Elster Park North, Elternwick, Vic
After failing to find the Tawny Frogmouth’s nest, I got a few more directions and went back the next night to Elsternwick Park (North) and found it. It was in an obvious position and quite visible when you knew where to look and what to look for. The nest was more robust using more materials than I seem this species use before. I photographed the Frogmouth from a few angles, waiting to see whether the nesting parent would open its eyes. I moved to the front of the nest and took a few images and checked the back of the camera looking for clear shots and exposure when I noticed two yellow eyes looking out at me from the parent’s belly. Turns out the chicks had already hatched and were quite large. I only saw one chick moving about and it was quite curious about me. At one point it even had a good stretch of its wings. After a few shots I left them in peace to enjoy the late afternoon and get ready for evening’s hunting.
Tawny Frogmouth on nest, Elsternwick Park North, Elsternwick, Vic
I heard from a friend that there were nesting Tawny Frogmouths at the old Elsternwick Golf Course, now formerly called Elsternwick Park North (and wetlands). I spent some time looking for the nest with no luck. But I did find one of the pair roosting nearby. He was very relaxed and wasn’t by bothered by me at all. He did open his eyes and watch me for a minute while I stumbled around a bit trying to get a clearer shot below him. As it was dusk the sun was right in the worst possible position. These are one of my favourite birds, nocturnal, unafraid, and sit still for a photography to go nuts. They are also invisible to most eyes unless you are looking for the grey coloured lump in a tree that does not quite belong.
Tawny Frogmouth, Elsternwick Park North, Elsternwick, Vic
There has been a lot of media lately about local magpies diving bombing posties and kids going to school. A friend even had a nasty scratch on her face from an attack. I have lived in my area for many years and have never been bombed by the local maggies. I have read that they are very territorial but can actually recognise human faces in their territories, up to 25 distinct people. To play it safe when I walk past a magpie in the streets around my house I take my hat off and give them a clear view of my face. I have done this since I read the article on facial recognition. I reckon it works. I photographed this female (or juvenile, a mottled grey back indicates a female or juvenile) while walking my dog yesterday. She gave me a good long look and then went back to searching for grubs and other tasty morsels in the grass below a pedestrian bridge over the creek behind my house.
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
Since February we have been seeing juvenile Nankeen Night-herons roosting and hunting along Elster Creek. Good conditions inland and locally over the spring and summer has meant good numbers are appearing. The juvenile has brown and white streaking to help with camouflage while building up their survival and hunting skills.
Juvenile Nankeen Night-Heron, Elster Creek, Elsternwick, Vic
I walked along Elster Creek and into the wetlands a few weeks ago and watched a large Heron circle the wetlands and land in the shallow water. It attracted my attention as it was larger than usual and had a different flight shape – I had first thought it was a white-faced heron, but it did not look right. I moved along the edge of the wetlands until I could get a better view and was surprised to find a White-necked Heron. The first I have seen locally. I have usually seen them much further inland. While watching the heron two more came from behind the reeds and were immediately harassed by the roosting Silver Gulls. The local birds are not used to this large Heron and were dive bombing the herons when they moved around the wetlands hunting. When spooked the Heron raises its neck feathers in an aggressive display to make it look bigger and meaner. The three herons hunted around the small lake for the day and then moved on. I have not seem them since. There are many reports of this species around Melbourne at the moment and I believe that after a good breeding season further inland to the north they are now moving around as the inland wetlands dry out in late summer.
White-necked Heron, Elster Creek Wetlands, Elsternwick, Vic
Silver Gulls were harassing the Heron as it hunted in the shallows
A friend has been tracking the Eastern Rosellas that have been nesting in the golf course along Elster Creek. He is studying the plumage variations from newly fledged through to adult by photographing and observing three generations of local birds. The Rosellas managed to raise 4 chicks and all seemed to fledge but in recent sightings only two are being regularly seen. The area has roaming foxes, cats and dogs and the birds often feed on the ground. The juveniles are inexperienced and too trusting of approaching danger. Over the last few days I have been looking for and photographing the Rosellas to see how they progressing. They have favourite roosting and feeding spots and make feeding calls to each other – a lovely piping sound. They are one of my favourite local birds.
Platycercus eximius – meaning “excellent broad-tail”.
Eastern Rosella, Elster Creek, Elsternwick, Vic, 5 Dec 2016
When the Eucalypts start flowering in summer the Musk Lorikeets start arriving in good numbers along Elster Creek and in the trees at Elsternwick Lake. Lorikeets are highly mobile and will follow flowering eucalypts all over the state. The muskies have a distinctly different call to the locally common Rainbow Lorikeet. I walked over to the lake on the weekend with a birding friend and we followed our ears to the red flowering gums. A few of the Muskies were low enough to photograph, most shots were of their typical pose – upside down and head into a flower.
Scientifically known as Glossopsitta concinna meaning “elegant tongue parrot” – due to the way it feeds on pollen and nectar rich flowers.
A sunny late afternoon walk along the creek produced the usual array of local birds, many with new families. We watched a pair of Long-billed Corellas feeding on grass seeds and later found a snoozing Cockatoo. It turned out to be One-eye, the partner to an escaped or released Cockatoo still wearing a cage leg ring. This couple has now bred in the same tree two years in a row and currently there are several chicks inside the big gum where we found One-eye.
Long billed Corella, Elster Creek, Elsternwick, Victoria 19 Nov 2016
Sulphur crested Cockatoo, Elster Creek, Elsternwick – the cockatoo was fast asleep, enjoying the evening sun.