Monday, October 29, 2012

Werribee WTP Sunday 28/10

Another perfect day at Werribee so I thought I would just put up a few of the more interesting photos.
The focus is not spot on but how often do you get a photo of an Australian Spotted Crake in flight, with reflection?

The Pacific Golden Plovers are back at Werribee and this pair interested me because of the moult and/or age differences, as in the face shown here (the one on the right looks young to me, maybe it is being chaperoned - smile) ...

and in the tail pattern shown here.

A picture of majesty, and it was able to create a bit of a crest which I thought gave it a very daring-do look.

Pigface in flower

All images copyright Jenny Spry

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Goshen to Kamarooka

Birding with a group of friends is one of the joys of life. A week or so back four of us drove up to Goshen and Terrick Terrick as part of a weekend of birding. Here are a few photos from that outing and my trip home.

A new sight for me. A pair of Blue Bonnets at Tresco were in full display with raised head feathers, ...
part raised wings, and fanned tails which they were waving side to side as fast as they could.
The Rainbow Bee-eaters at Terrick Terrick fairly shone as their feathers caught the sun.
There prey was not bees but the dragonflies that were flying around the scattered trees.
Newly arrived back from migrations the White-backed Swallows are a bit worn around the tail, but still lovely to see.
Orange Chat at Lake Tuchewop
And who can resist a male Superb Fairy-wren with all his feathers fanned and glowing?
Sacred Kingfisher at Talbot
Red-capped Robin at Kamarooka
Young White-browed Babbler begging for breakfast
Owlet Nightjar peering out of what is likely to be a nesting hollow.

All images copyright Jennifer Spry

Monday, October 22, 2012

Werribee Treatment Plant .... again

Each visit to the "poo ponds" seems to deliver something fascinating, even if the wind is blowing a gale and the dust is getting into everything, as it was last Sunday. 

The first thing of note was something that my friend Joy and I have seen on numerous occasions at Werribee, and that was cooperative, or maybe opportunistic, joint hunting between Little Egrets and Little Black or Little Pied Cormorants. More than once we have seen these species working the shallow pools in Western Lagoon Pond 4. The cormorant works under water near the feet of the egret as the birds travel together along the water’s edge. I have no idea who gets the major benefit but it must work for both species because, as I said, it is not an uncommon sight.

The other fascinating incident was watching a Little Pied Cormorant eating a flounder, again in Western Lagoon Pond 4. Two different things about this event intrigued us, first it was a large meal for a little bird and second, how did a flounder get into what is, apparently, a pond that has no direct channel to the adjoining coastal inlet? I guess, on some of the highest tides the inlet and Pond 4 must be connected. The time from when we noticed the bird standing on the sandbank with the fish until it was eaten was about 35 seconds

The first option seemed to be to hold the fish by the head ...

and wave it around a bit ...

then put it down and pick it up in the middle ...

then throw it up, catch it, and try to swallow it sideways, which didn't work ...
then put it down and pick it up again by the head ...
 and throw it high ...

and catch it so that it can be swallowed head first ...

and that worked. 
Then all that is needed is to stand quietly while everything gets digested. Though I am not sure how comfortable the bird looks. It must have been a very big stretch.

My car benefitted from going to the ponds on a windy day though. It became so disgustingly dirty and gritty inside that this morning I actually gave it its bi-annual vacuum and clean (smile). I know it enjoyed it because when I went to the supermarket it performed much more smoothly and happily than it has for months. I didn't wash the outside though because I believe a layer of thick mud actually protects the paintwork.

All images copyright Jennifer Spry

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wonderful Werribee Week 25/9 to 30/9

I have been to Werribee 21 times this year, so far, but this is the first time I have ever been down there 3 times in one week. There was no particular plan, it just happened that way. Tuesday 25th was a nice day to go birding, and on Thursday 27th Marlene thought it would be a good place to go, and I agreed. On the 30th Kay came over from Adelaide to see the Oriental Pratincole that has been in residence for some time, so that was another good reason to visit. Thinking about it, there is always a good reason for a day at the Plant. 

On Tuesday the weather was beautiful and spring was really in the air. The swans have young swanlets following everywhere and the Fairywrens have all their flirt feathers on. 

Two of the many "swanlets" at the plan.

Superb Fairy-wren with all his flirt feathers on
The Red-necked Stints are back and feeding like crazy after their long flight but their feathers are all badly warn. There are some strange plumage colours around this year too with very pale stints and some sharpies that had me diving wishfully for the field guide.

Red-necked Stint with very warn feathers after a long hard trip

Curlew Sandpiper with strange plumage

On Thursday I got out of bed and wondered why I had agreed to go to the Plant again, in the wind and rain, but soon after we arrived the wind died down and the blue sky appeared to give us a beautiful day of birding.

Blue-winged Parrots with very blue wings

Brown Songlark

Brown Songlark

Eurasian Skylark

Pied Oyster-catcher

Bar-tailed Godwit

A shadow passed over me and I looked up in time to see this beautiful Spotted Harrier flying passed and away

On Sunday I wondered again why I had agreed to go to the Plant. Saturday had been bleak with driving rain and squalls. But as I drove to pick up Joy and then meet Kay the day improved by the minute and by the time we got to the Plant we had a bright sunny day, if somewhat cold. Kay had come over from Adelaide especially to see the Oriental Pratincole and sort of lucked out. I had seen it on Tuesday but not on Thursday, and now the day was cold and windy so I expected it to be hunkered down behind a bush somewhere, out of sight. As we got out of the car to unlock the gate into the Western Lagoon we looked up, and the Pratincole flew over our heads and disappeared, not to be seen again. Sigh. But at least she saw it, which is more than some people have done in the last few weeks.

Banded Lapwing on nest

Red-browed Firetail

European Goldfinch

"Chook" or Black-tailed Native-hen

Masked Lapwing with chick. She is sitting on two more eggs

Zebra Duck, part of a tight flock of 4,000 to 5,000 birds. A truly spectacular sight

Well, they used to be called Zebra Duck before they became Pink-eared Duck

When a bird lands on a sign right beside the car, you just have to take its photo

Duckling trying to emulate its mother, as instructed

Female Black Duck sinking ever lower in the water, trying not to be there at all

Ruddy Turnstone well camouflaged in seaweed as it digs around looking for food

Juvenile Banded Stilts on Paradise Rd lagoon

To add to the excitement at the Plant at the moment though is that the Tiger Snakes are out and about, and not always happy.

Allimages copyright Jenny Spry