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