Over February and March many of the large Sugar Gums and Red Flowering Gums along Elster Creek were in full bloom. This brought in many additional nectar loving birds to the area. Musk Lorikeets turned up in large numbers to join the local populations of Rainbow Lorikeets and around 10 Little Lorikeets joined in the flowering frenzy. Each species make distinctly different calls when flying and feeding. It was great to stand near the trees and learn and pick out the different calls. I had never seen Littles in the area before and it was wonderful to be able to add the new species to my local lists and even photograph them (though that did take quite a few walks along the creek to finally get them).
Play to listen to Little Lorikeets. (plus a bit of Rainbow Lorikeet and a begging Noisy Minor chick)
Musk Lorikeet, Elster Creek, Elwood, Victoria
Spot the second one?
Little Lorikeet – a very small bird with fantastic camouflage and a bzzzt type call
Little Lorikeets – well suited to life in the green foliage of gums, following flowering trees around Victoria – who knows how they realise trees are flowering so far from their usual haunts…
Walking along Elwood beach on the weekend, I noticed a wedding taking place on the balcony of the Elwood Sailing Club. Having only taken a few photos of a starling I was itching to photograph something a bit different…it was an interesting viewpoint to shoot the ceremony…
Walking today with Ron, a fellow photographer, along one of the main roads near my place, I saw a low object speeding down the bike lane on the road. Something about it did not look right but at the time we were talking about the local chimney designs (as you do)…the object sped past and noticed that we were watching and laughing, so he did a big u-turn, waved us on to take photos and sped off again down the road…
I have been hearing Black-Faced Cuckoo Shrikes for a few weeks now and seen them flying over Elster Creek and along my street with what seemed to be mouthfuls of food. Last night I finally found, a few hundred meters down the road, their nesting/roosting area, a juvenile and its parents. A return visit this evening and I found two juveniles and short while later two parents turned up with the evening meals. This is not a very common bird for the inner suburbs – it is much more common in the drier country to the north. While I was photographing the Cuckoo Shrikes a new neighbour drove up and started to chat about what I was doing (nearly getting run over by the cars coming home from work). As it turned out Mady has a pet Rainbow Lorikeet called Arcus (Latin for Rainbow). She brought her out and I took a few photos (after Arcus took a climb around my neck and shoulders and bit my finger)
Black Faced Cuckoo Shrike chick waiting patiently for a parent to bring a meal
Juvenile Black Faced Cuckoo Shrikes
A bit of a stretch of the wings while waiting
A meal finally brought in after a few hours of waiting…
Mady and Arcus – both new to the area…
Arcus likes to get into places like eyes, mouth and nostrils…
Mady and Arcus III
Mady and Arcus IV
Arcus seemed curious when Mady’s hair blew around…
A beautiful spring evening in Elwood, I got home early enough today to go for a walk along Elster Creek to the golf course lake. While ducking wayward balls (only 3 near misses today), I spotted a pair of young colourful male Red-rumped Parrots feeding on grass seeds at the base of a raised tee box – I assume young as they did not fear me at all as I sat down to take a few pics and when I laid right down they actually moved in closer and fed only a few feet away…
With only a few days to go until Spring officially starts, the local trees and Ducks are right on schedule. A late afternoon walk along Elster Creek to see what was about started with trying to find the Lorikeets I could hear in the flowering tree that hangs over the fence in my backyard into the creek. The Rainbow Lorikeets were feeding on the small white flowers and seemed to be enjoying the sun. They allowed me to get quite close before they flew onto the next flowering tree.
Rainbow Lorikeet, Elster Creek, Elwood
At the local wetlands lake I ran into a birding friend Gio, and we walked along the banks together planning our next day trip into the bush. We came across a family of Wood Ducks that had nested nearby and were now raising 10 checks. Wood Ducks have quite large families and I think it is needed as quite a few chicks are taken by many predators. Wood Ducks are usually pretty calm around people and just wander back to the water if you approach but these adults were much more nervous of us and took to the water straight away.
Female Wood Duck and Chicks, Elster Creek
Is the male Wood Duck sticking his tongue out at me?
I heard about this pair of Tawny Frogmouths last week and had a chance to look for them late last Sunday evening – I found them but it was too dark to take any pictures. After a week at work and a morning of rain I finally just got back from observing them again and taking a few pics. They are still one of my favourite birds to photograph. This pair is a bit unusual in that they are roosting in an exposed spot over the road near a suburban intersection in a large plane tree without any leaves. They still have decent camouflage with their colouring but just stick out a bit to a keen observer. I have added these guys to my local birds page.
This Crested Tern appears to be a regular visitor to the Elwood Beach Stone Pier. I saw him when I visited the beach recently to take shots across Port Phillip Bay. The Tern is tagged with a metal band. It must be a good hunter – whenever it went up to look into the water for fish, several waiting Silver Gulls followed it very closely – hoping to steal his catch. I failed miserably to take any flight shots as he was just too close for my lens (and skill level) and I was shooting wildly, staggering around the pier like a drunken sailor. After a while he rested on the stone wall and waited in hope that a fisherman would throw some bait his way.
Even when the light is average and the camera and lens being used are setup for shooting birds you can still take images that can test your ability to find something unusual. On a recent walk along Elwood beach with a friend I took a series of shots of the dark clouds and gloomy weather with the occasional burst of sunlight breaking through. I had previously rejected these images but after seeing Ron’s treatment of similar images I thought I would revisit them. Using Lightroom and tweaking the levels I gave these yachts off Brighton’s coast a bit of an other worldly look…
Click on the image for a larger view:
Yachts racing on Port Phillip Bay off Brighton and Elwood Beach.
On the weekend I walked down to the beach with my photography mate and neighbour Ron. We watched the weather come across the bay and took photos of the Jacobs Ladder that was created by a break in the clouds and the sun coming through over Williamstown.
Jacobs Ladder over Williamstown from Elwood Beach – 18 April 2015
I had read in a “Friends of Elster Creek” newsletter that a little Grassbird had been seen at the Elster Creek golf course lake. I thought I would try to track it down and see what else was making the lake its home…The Grassbird is a secretive little bird that lives in tall reeds and lake side vegetation. Rarely seen but easily heard with a distinctive call that can be mimicked. I tried calling and it responded by flying over to the nearest reed bed and looking for the potential intruder. I think it was a juvenile as it did not have the strong colouring of an adult and did not make any calls of its own in defence of its new territory.
Little Grassbird II
Many of the tall gums along the creek and at the golf course are flowering. The trees are full of birds – Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets and Red Wattlebirds. The Musk below took a while to find as I could hear him well (his call is quite different from the local Rainbow Lorikeet) but I could not see him. The Lorikeets are well camouflaged to help protect against predators.
A bird found in high numbers everywhere. Another gregarious species that can overwhelm a country town with their sheer numbers, noise and appetite. I found these guys digging up roots under large pine trees. Due to their numbers and generally easy going demeanor Galahs are a favourite of many raptors
Walking home I found a pair of spotted doves and took a shot of one to try and see the neck feathers a bit better.
I often walk around my area looking to see what new birds may be passing through. I can find up to 35 species in my area – I back onto a creek (officially a storm water canal) that has been revegetated with native planting and this has had the effect of bringing in more birds to the area…there is quite a list building.