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
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
Posted in Bird Behaviour, Birds, Victoria
Tagged Australia, Australian Birds, Bird Photography, Jawbone, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Nature Photography, Photography, Pink Eared Duck, Victoria, Williamstown
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
Well camouflaged amongst the dry grass
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
Posted in Bird Behaviour, Birds, Victoria
Tagged Australia, Australian Birds, Brown Quail, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Nature Photography, New Holland Honeyeater, Photography, Port Phillip Birders, Victoria, Williamstown
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