Tag Archives: Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

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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Enjoying Jawbone photography

With an abundance of birds that are fairly used to people, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve along the Williamstown coastline is a good place to practice bird photography.

Australian Magpie, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown, Vic

Australian Magpie, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown, Vic

New Holland Honeyeater, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown, Vic

New Holland Honeyeater

New Holland Honeyeater, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown, Vic

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Hoary-headed Grebe, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown, Vic

Hoary-headed Grebe

Crested Pigeons, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown, Vic

Crested Pigeons feeling the early morning cold

Blue-billed Duck, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown, Vic

Blue-billed Duck

A yapping Pink-eared Duck

Also called a zebra duck, the Pink-eared Duck is a beautiful bird that sits low in the water, filter feeds with its distinctive bill, flies and gathers in very large flocks and yaps or whistles when disturbed or in flight. An added bonus are bright pink ear coverts made up of 9 pink feathers  – this pink patch becomes more pronounced and colourful as the bird matures.   The ones I watched seemed to have a light pink patch rather than the full dark pink so maybe they were testing each other in a youthful gathering. The duck are thought to mate for life. I often see many in huge flocks (10,000s+) at the pooh farm. There were 50+ at Jawbone on the weekend and due to the width of the lagoons I managed to get fairly close without spooking them too much – a very difficult thing to do at the pooh farm where they spook much more easily due to the number of raptors cruising for a meal. We noticed that as they yapped  they lifted their head as part of the display, making the fleshy part of the bill more visible. It is a very odd but beautiful duck – one of my favourites. (post edited after a bit more research and ref checking – see comments below)

Pink-eared Duck, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown

Pink-eared Duck, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown

Pink-eared Duck, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown

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Jawbone and Native-hens

I have not explored the Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve in Williamstown for some time. I dropped by on Saturday and went in search of a few birds that I had not seen in a while including the Black-tailed Native-hen. Amongst the Swamphens and Moorhens I found two Native-hens and for the first time got a few images. I have only seen them a few times before. They run to cover and seldom fly so I was surprised to see this one flying a short distance  – I realised that I had cut it off from the safety of the lake. The Native-hens are generally quite timid and these two ran back to the water when I paid them too much attention. All the birds feeding on the grass were happy to ignore the joggers, cyclists and dog walkers passing close by but as soon as you looked at the birds using binocs and cameras they spooked. Jawbone is an excellent site for a good variety of birds, great for beginners to get a close look at the various species and good for photography. Covering most of the park along the coastline I can easily pick up 50 species in a few hours. A good place to get your yearly lists going.

Black-tailed Native-hen, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown

Black-tailed Native-hen, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown

Black-tailed Native-hen, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown

A jump and a skip….

Black-tailed Native-hen, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown

…and into flight to get back to the water…

Sunbaking at Williamstown’s Jawbone

A recent  Port Phillip Birders day trip to several south western birding sites started with a morning stop at Williamstown and the Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve. It is a favourite spot of mine with many  resident bird species with quite a few drop-ins and seasonal visitors. The wetland lagoons are narrow and accessible. It makes for good photographic opportunities. It is a very handy location for beginner birders as the birds are generally used to people passing nearby and don’t panic and fly away. It is where I started to learn more about the waders and coastal shorebirds. On this occasion it was cool and quite windy but we still managed to clock up over 50 species and take a few nice pics. The highlight was a group of 16 or so Brown Quail sunning and grooming themselves along one of the main paths. I have often seen Brown Quail here but not close and not so many. The images below show just how well camouflaged they can be – they just blend into the dry brown grass. When spooked a bit they jump up and scurry off into deeper cover. I have still yet to see one fly.
Brown Quail, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

Brown Quail, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

Brown Quail, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

Well camouflaged amongst the dry grass

Brown Quail, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

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Another highlight was a New Holland Honeyeater that seemed happy to ignore us and allow a close approach for photos. It spent 20 minutes hunting for insects from a few perches close to the path.

New Holland Honeyeater, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

New Holland Honeyeater

New Holland Honeyeater, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

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New Holland Honeyeater, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

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Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown

Jawbone  Reserve is an easy to reach Marine and Park reserve along the shoreline of Williamstown. It has many water and heathland birds and a good list of 50+ species can be gathered in a few hours. Some of the bird visitors are seasonal but most are there all year round. It is an excellent site for beginners (birders and photographers) as the birds are generally used to the passing traffic and will ignore anyone on the paths. If you walk along the edge and stop and use a camera or binoculars they can get a bit edgy and some species will fly off or move away. Careful observations (and quiet calm movement) will result in rewarding sightings and photos. At low tide the outer lagoon drops right down exposing sand and mud bars and thousands of waders can cover the area. A birding scope is needed to get clearer views further out.

Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown, Vic -  looking west towards Altona

Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown, Vic – looking west towards Altona

Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown, Vic - looking out into the Bay across the lagoons and tidal flats.

Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown, Vic – looking out into the Bay across the lagoons and tidal flats.

Sharp tailed Sandpiper

Sharp tailed Sandpiper

3 Shags on a Rock - Little Black, Little Pied and Pied Cormorants

3 Shags on a Rock – Little Black, Little Pied and Pied Cormorants

Mid Day Siesta - Swans, Stilts & Cormorant

Mid Day Siesta – Swans, Stilts & Cormorant

Royal Spoonbill

Royal Spoonbill

Blue Billed Duck

Blue Billed Duck – one of only a few true diving ducks amongst Australian duck species.

Blue Billed Duck - male with Blue Bill and the female. The female Blue Billed can often be mistaken for the rarer and endangered  Freckled duck.

Blue Billed Ducks – male with Blue Bill and the female. The female Blue Billed can often be mistaken for the rarer and endangered Freckled duck.

Great Crested Grebe

Great Crested Grebe

Black Winged Stilts - well named

Black Winged Stilts – well named. In the strong wind they did have a little difficulty in maintaining their balance. When scared or flying they make a sound like a small barking dog.

During high tide at Jawbone many of the water birds move onto the sheltered lagoons including hundreds of Swans. When I visited this last week, there were a number of swans with neck tags. Previously I have researched what the tagging meant. If you see a swan you can go to the http://www.myswan.org.au site and log the bird. It is part of a study and research program. Once you log the swan via its tag you can get a bit of a history of it and where it has been. I once asked a researcher about the tag as I thought it might be a bit cruel but was advised that it does not bother the swan and is actually quite loose. The swan’s neck is quite thin and half of it’s width is actually feathers so the tag fits well. I logged the swans below.

Black Swan P45

Black Swan P45

Black Swan S75

Black Swan S75

Black Swan R47

Black Swan R47

Black Swan R45

Black Swan R45

Black Swan F09

Black Swan F09

Chestnut Teal

Chestnut Teal