On a drive around the Little Desert National Park as part of my compass tour of Vic, I stopped and walked through a copse of pine trees looking for anything that might be out in the heat. I found a group of small robins and followed them for a while trying get a clear shot through the branches. A male Red-capped Robin finally popped into view. The robins are like little raptors, they perch on a branch and when they spot something they pounce down and catch the prey. If you stand still for a while they just ignore you and you can get quite close.
Red-Capped Robin, Little Desert National Park Victoria
While I was trying to figure out what was happening with the Red-Capped Robins and their strange rituals I did notice that they would break off now and again and start to hunt for insects on the ground. The male would hunt and eat his prize while the female would fly off and into a dense bit of prickly scrub. I slowly followed her over to the scrub and stood next to a tree trying to blend in and look to see if she was returning to a nest. I found a little juvenile Red Capped Robin in the scrub. I watched the chick for a while and soon picked up that he knew when mum was coming back before I did. I kept the camera on the chick and waited for the usual reactions.
Female Red Capped Robin hunting for insects in the leaves
Juvenile Red Capped Robin – a bit of preening before the next snack, and displaying his camouflaged feather patterns – perfect for hiding in dry scrub.
Keeping an eye out for mum…..
Here she comes…..
Begging stance activated…..I have seen many chicks of different species assume this position to encourage an adult to feed it.
A juicy moth…..
Now for a little nap between feeds…
I realised that the chick was not looking for visual clues that mum was nearby and must have been hearing a signal that she was on her way or nearby. I did not hear anything loud enough for me to detect from about 5 meters away. And by the angle of the chicks eyes when it knew mum was there, the mother was right above me in a tree.
After a few feeds from the female robin (no sign of or visits from the male – and maybe that was what the earlier stand-offs were about between the two adults), the female did not return for some time. I kept looking around for her and keeping an eye on the sleeping chick – who only opened his eyes when my camera shutter went off.
A few feet from the chick I finally saw her watching me and the chick. I think she wanted to be sure that I wasn’t a threat before went she off to hunt again. I thought it was time to leave them alone.
Female Red Capped Robin – watching me and her chick through the prickle bush.
Woodlands Historic Park is in Greenvale near the Melbourne Airport. I visited last week after my walk along Cororoit Creek. I was pretty hungry and the only places I could see to eat along the way were crappy fast food outlets. I would rather go hungry than eat cardboard covered in salt, grease, sugar and fat. At the turn-off to get to Woodlands I saw a food truck at the Aircraft viewing area. I never knew about this area until I saw it on google maps while looking for the Woodlands Park. I stopped for some really good quality Turkish style food (chicken fillet burger and some fresh Dim Sims – ok a little junky but it was fresh made and really good). While waiting for it to be made several planes landed at the airport. The planes fly low right overhead as they land. It is a sight to see. Several mums had kids there watching and the kids were loving it – like giant dinosaurs flying overhead and landing nearby with a roar. They were too close to get in a shot using my 400 mm. Next time I will take a wider angle and wait for an airbus A380 to come in. One of the regular spotters said that was the best plane to watch as you can feel the turbulence and feel its size and at night it feels like it is going to land on you.
There are several good birding spots at Woodlands and the site I have been to a few times is near the Aboriginal Cemetery and Back Paddock gate. There is a large mob of Grey Roos hanging around that don’t seem too bothered by birders popping in or visitors with kids and strollers.
I found a pair of Red Capped Robins and they ignored me while they had a squabble about something. The male would approach and be gently attacked by the female. If the male backed off the female would jump in and get him hot and bothered again. It was strange to watch and I had no idea what was going on. I assumed it was a bit late in the season to be a courtship ritual. After a while they broke off and started hunting – with a similar style to the Eastern Yellow Robin – from a higher perch and then pouncing onto the prey on the ground.
Red Capped Robins in a stand-off
Female Red Capped Robin
Male Red Capped Robin
Red Capped Robins – another stand-off
Male Red Capped Robin
Male Red Capped Robin – looking for moths and other insects
Female Red Capped Robin keeping an eye on me as I circled around trying to get better shots
Rufous Whistler – I looked up from my stalking and found this guy trying to figure out what I was up to. His partner was in the next tree hunting amongst the tree branches and leaves.
Rufous Whistler II
Rufous Whistler III
Wedge Tailed Eagle – several Eagles passed over head during my few hours at Woodlands. The Galahs gave a panicked call alerting me that something was above.
Posted in Animal, Bird Behaviour, Birds
Tagged Australian Birds, Bird Photography, Grey Kangaroo, Nature Photography, Photography, Red Capped Robin, Rufous Whistler, Victoria, Wedge Tailed Eagle, Woodlands Historic Park.