Tag Archives: Pooh Farm

Hare of the T-section

I don’t often see Hares in the wild. I have seen two now at Werribee  and both were a surprise…once when it came down a dirt track towards the car I thought it was a fox, then a small dog but then it raised its ears and I saw it was a hare.

The hare below was just sitting and enjoying a bit of sun on a cold winters day. When the birds alert went up that a raptor was cruising by it seemed to recognise the call and became much more aware and started to look up and around.

I had to check Wiki to learn more about it: Long-eared, and long limbed, Hares are fast runners, typically living solitarily or in pairs. Hare species are native to Africa, Eurasia, North America, and the Japanese archipelago. Hares do not bear their young below ground in a burrow as do rabbits, but rather in a shallow depression or flattened nest of grass called a form. Young hares are adapted to the lack of physical protection, compared to a burrow, by being born fully furred and with eyes open. They are able to fend for themselves soon after birth where rabbits are born blind and hairless.

Hares are swift animals: The introduced hare found in Australia (Lepus europaeus) can run up to 56 km/h and can leap up to 3 m (10 ft) at a time.

During a spring frenzy, hares can be seen chasing one another and “boxing”, one hare striking another with its paws (probably the origin of the term “mad as a March hare”). For a long time, this had been thought to be male competition, but closer observation has revealed it is usually a female hitting a male to prevent copulation.

Hare, Western Treatment Plant, T-section, Werribee

Hare, Western Treatment Plant, T-section, Werribee

Hare, Western Treatment Plant, T-section, Werribee

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Hare, Western Treatment Plant, T-section, Werribee

well suited for a life above ground, fast, wary and camouflaged

Spring is fast approaching…

Many birds are busy at the moment. Potential nest sites explored, claimed and defended, nest mounds are being constructed and the recent mild weather has convinced several species to start the nesting cycle now.

The two mounds below were found in the first T-section lagoon at the Western Treatment Plant. I was surprised to see that they were fairly close to the road and in a large and fairly exposed lagoon.  Very happy to see the Brolgas nesting again at the Lagoons, though a little concerned that if it rained further then the nest could be swamped by the rising water levels. The swan’s nest was much higher from the water.

Nesting Brolga, T-section, Western treatmwent Plant, Werribee

Nesting Brolga, T-section, Western treatmwent Plant, Werribee

Brolga, T-section, Western treatmwent Plant, Werribee

Nesting Brolga’s mate nearby keeping a watch…

Nesting Swan, T-section, Western treatmwent Plant, Werribee

Nesting Swan, T-section, Western treatmwent Plant, Werribee

The hunter’s perch…

One of the best reasons to visit the Western Treatment Plant over winter is the large number of Raptors that can be easily seen.  The species found all year round include the Swamp Harriers, Kites (Black-Shouldered, Black and Whistling) and the Brown Falcons. Several more stop by for a few months to breed locally or just to take advantage of an abundant food supply – these include the Black Falcon, Kestrel, Brown Goshawk, Spotted Harrier, Sea-Eagle and Wedge-tailed Eagle.

Below are two regulars that I often see and photograph. The Brown Falcon and the Whistling Kite – both perched in late afternoon light on dead tree branches with great open views of the surrounding area.

Brown Falcon, Western Treatment Plant, Victoria

Brown Falcon, Western Treatment Plant, Victoria

Whistling Kite, Western Treatment Plant, Victoria

Whistling Kite, Western Treatment Plant, Victoria

Last bird of the day…

On the drive out of the Western Lagoons and T-section and back along the Point Wilson Road heading home after along day of birding, I spotted a dark silhouette in one of the bordering Pines. Very easy to identify with the swallow shaped forked tail, the raptor on the branch was a Black Kite. The kite is a medium sized raptor, blackish-brown in colour,  and often seen slowly cruising along the country highways. It is reported to be the most common raptor in the world. We regularly see several along this road and it is one of the first birds we encounter for the day and one of the last.

Black Kite, Western Treatment Plant, Victoria

Black Kite, Western Treatment Plant, Victoria

A deadly hunt

On a recent trip to the Western Treatment Plant, we saw and photographed a number of raptors including several Black-shouldered Kites. We drove along the lagoon tracks and found a kite feeding on a recently caught rat.  The kites favoured prey are the mice and rats that inhabit the long grass fringes of the lagoons at the treatment plant. The kite is one of the two Australian species of raptor that can hover above a hunting ground and drop with sudden speed onto its prey. (the blog’s image logo was a kite that was hunting and hovering). After it catches the rat, it then flies to a regular feeding post or branch and consumes the prey by tearing the rat apart and eating until the rat is small enough to swallow the rest whole. Rather gruesome but interesting to watch and photograph.

Black-shouldered Kite, Western Treatment Plant, Victoria

Black-shouldered Kite, Western Treatment Plant, Victoria

Black-shouldered Kite, Western Treatment Plant, Victoria

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Black-shouldered Kite, Western Treatment Plant, Victoria

Black-shouldered Kite with a rat

Black-shouldered Kite, Western Treatment Plant, Victoria

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Black-shouldered Kite, Western Treatment Plant, Victoria

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Black-shouldered Kite, Western Treatment Plant, Victoria

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Under the watchful gaze of a Brown Falcon

A regular member of the raptors often sighted at the Treatment Plant lagoons is the  Brown Falcon, a striking bird that often perches on posts and signs waiting for opportunities to pounce on small mammals, rabbits, birds, snakes and lizards. Towards the end of our day at the Lagoons last week, we found our  Falcon perched and watching out for its next meal. While wary of us it remained quite calm and unlike many other raptors allowed us to approach close enough to gain a few photographs.

Brown Falcon, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Victoria

Brown Falcon, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Victoria

Brown Falcon, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Victoria

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Brown Falcon, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Victoria

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Brown Falcon, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Victoria

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Brown Falcon, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Victoria

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Immature but graceful…

I always get a buzz when I find a White-bellied Sea-eagle at the Western Treatment Plant and anywhere else for that matter. A beautiful large raptor with an upright proud stance. This one is a year or two old and still to come into its mature colours and full size.

Immature White Bellied Sea-Eagle, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Victoria

Immature White Bellied Sea-Eagle, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Victoria

Immature White Bellied Sea-Eagle, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Victoria

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Immature White Bellied Sea-Eagle, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Victoria

Not every shot can be flattering….

Immature White Bellied Sea-Eagle, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Victoria

Thats better…

Immature White Bellied Sea-Eagle, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Victoria

Back to regal….beautiful long wings and still to gain maturity and size…

Flyby Pelican and Immature White Bellied Sea-Eagle, Western Treatment Plant, Werribee, Victoria

 Pelican flyby and Immature White Bellied Sea-Eagle on the navigation tower…