Thursday, 30 November 2017

Fairy Dell _ Rufous Fantail

The Rufous Fantail is a truly delightful summer visitor to our neck of the woods. It would be one of my favourite birds both for their plumage and typical fantail behaviour. During a recent visit by Birdlife East Gippsland to Fairy Dell near Wiseleigh, a pair was spotted constructing their nest.

Rufous Fantail Rhipidura rufifrons

Monday, 27 November 2017

Bruthen _ Square-tailed Kite

I am fairly certain this is the third year that Square-tailed Kites have bred in this location. Whilst having had two offspring last year, there appears to be just one this year. These images were taken on 27 November 2017. According to Morcombe, the chicks are initially in white down which is lost by about 3 weeks of age. Our chick is still quite white so must be less than 3 weeks. They fledge at about  9 weeks old so a bit more time yet to observe the growing chick.

Square-tailed Kite Lophoictimia isura

Friday, 24 November 2017

Newstead _ Barking Owls

This pair has been resident in a particular tree in Newstead, near Castlemaine, for a few weeks now. These images were taken about 7am with the sun behind them. Fortunately one was facing each way so you get to see both "sides" of the bird at once.

There are only two poses. Static owls at the top of a branching tree does not give much scope for composition. Still brilliant to see.

Both had their eyes closed at first but a single "ruff ruff" from me had the left one in the first image alert in an instant. So after taking the photos I had breakfast just a few metres from their tree at a table in the Newstead Rotunda Nature Reserve during which they started a short "ruff-ruff" duet for a few minutes.

f5.6 and be there!

Barking Owl Ninox connivens

Wednesday, 22 November 2017


Took these images whilst doing bird surveys. More than happy they are in focus! Chuffed to see about 160 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and get fairly close to them. And a Great Egret coming into breeding plumage was a bonus.

Magic. f5.6 and be there.

Australian Pipit Anthus australis

Great Egret Area alba

Note the black bill, the "young" breeding plumes hanging down at the back, the base of the bill going pea-green and. I think, the tops of the legs turning red.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acumulata

A non-breeding plumage adult.

Whistling Kite Haliastur sphenurus

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Suggan Buggan _ Diamond Firetail

Every time I have stopped at the Buchan River in Suggan Buggan over the last decade, I have seen Diamond Firetails. They are just a great little bird. Here are some images from the BLEG (Birdlife East Gippsland) visit last week.

Diamond Firetail Stagonopleura guttata

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Metung _ Topknot Pigeons

Whilst Topknot Pigeons have become relatively regular visitors to East Gippsland over the last few years and their westernmost report ever is Walhalla, we don't usually see them west of Cabbage Tree. However, 15-20 or so decided a pair of fig trees in Mairburn Road, Metung was a great place to be for a few days.

Topknot Pigeon Lopholaimus antarticus

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Mallee Birding with Ethan_04

Our last day was essentially driving back to Melbourne via some good birding spots. First we checked out the railway line again [still 1/3] then off to Lake Tyrell and its Asian tourists. Rufous Fieldwren was seen from the car, a flock of a dozen Orange Chats flew past and we saw 5 Blue-winged Parrots on a fence line. Breakfast in Sea Lake then further east to Goschen where Pied Honeyeaters had been seen reliably over the previous few days. Goschen is a great place. Black Honeyeaters, a mixed flock of over >100 White-browed and Masked Woodswallows hawking overhead then landing in a flowering etc to gorge on nectar, Hooded robins ... but no Pied HE. It was still pretty windy; we moved on, visited Lake Tutchewop [1,400 Grey Teal and a few Sharp-tailed and Curlew Sandpipers], had a look in at the Ibis Rookery at Middle Lake [1,400 Straw-necked Ibis and some Grey-crowned Babblers] and our final destination in the Inglewood Nature Conservation Reserve. A Shy Heathwren wasn't, a Little Eagle was seen, yet another Pallid Cuckoo and a smattering of thornbill species.

The total number of species for the trip exceeded 160. Ethan saw 17 of the potential 23 parrot species, Andrew saw almost everything he wanted to except a Crested Bellbird and I had a great time.

I can't speak too highly about our guide Simon Starr. He knows his birds and localities and geography just oh so well. We had a great time.

Pallid Cuckoo Cocomantis pallidus

Rufous Fieldwren Calamanthus campestris

Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus

White-backed Swallow Cheramoeca leucosterna

White-browed Woodswallow Artamus superciliosus

Mallee Birding with Ethan_03

The third day was north of Ouyen at Hattah and eastwards towards Annuello. A Black Falcon on the Old Calder Highway south of HAttah was a great start and then a Malleefowl was spotted on the road. It gave excellent views as it ambled off. A walk on open plain got us Orange Chat and Ethan managed to inveigle an Australian Owlet-nightjar out of a tree hollow but it scampered back in another on a different tree before we could see it properly. Next was a terrific view of a Mallee Emu-wren. I didn't take my camera with me on that particular walk so as to entice him out. And it worked. But there is a downside relating to the discussion we had in the car whilst travelling regarding birding, twitching, rabid twitching and Chuckles. More later.

On to Lake Mournpall by which time the wind had become ferocious so we moved back to Ouyen for lunch then a drive south along the railway line looking for White-backed Swallows, Rainbow Bee-eaters and Red-backed Kingfishers [only WbS to be seen] then on to Wemmen with its Regent Parrots, Little Friarbird, Red-rumped Parrots, Blue-faced Honeyeater and other delectables before ending the day at the Annuello FFR where we were able to see a female Gilbert's Whistler, Grey-crowned Babbler, great views of Mulga Parrots and Red-capped Robins, no Pied Honeyeaters and just "audio" of a Crested Bellbird. We finished the day at a tank west of Ouyen to successfully spotlight Spotted Nightjars.

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus

Blue-faced Honeyeater Entomyzon cyanotis

Yellow Rosella Platycercus elegans flaveolus The yellow race of the Crimson Rosella.

 Gilbert's Whistler Pachycephala inornata  female of the species.

Little Friarbird Philemon citreogularis

Mulga Parrot  Psephotus varius

Red-capped Robin Petroica goodenovii male

Red-rumped Parrot Psephotus haematonotus male

White-browed Woodswallow Artamus superciliosus

White-winged Triller Lalage tricolour

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Mallee Birding with Ethan_02

The plan for Day 2 was a gentle curve on the map from Hopetoun via northern Wyperfeld and Pink Lakes to Ouyen. All mornings were a 6am start in dawn dimness.

Heading north to Patchewollock we stopped at a roadside wetland which was buzzing. Australian Spotted Crakes all over the shop, Australian Shelduck and Grey Teal, Stubble Quail clinking in the background, "thousands" of Black-tailed Nativehens, and Red-kneed Dotterels.

After breakfast in Wyperfeld and a Striped Honeyeater chase, we went bush successfully finding an active Malleefowl mound and occupant although only the first two in the line, Simon and Ethan, saw him. Andrew and I dipped. Here we picked up two more cuckoos; Shining Bronze and Black-eared. Excellent views of the latter. More parrots for Ethan: Galah, Little Corella, Mallee Ringneck, Bluebonnet and Mulga. More Honeyeaters [Ye-t M, Si, Str*].

A quick check of the Eremophilia in Underbool main street was uneventful apart from a Wh-p Honeyeater ** and then on to the Pink Lakes for most of the afternoon. Here we finally saw a Striated Grasswren and on the way "out" flushed a Chestnut (-backed) Quail-thrush which sat up for good viewing. Three species of Woodswallow were seen [Masked, White-browed and Black-faced] and a mega ... Black Honeyeater. Towards dusk we finished up at Wymlet Tank where the others flushed a Barn Owl and we had vigorous discussion about a Crow/Raven which sounded like a Little Crow but was in the company of Australian Ravens. Case remains open.

Black-eared Cuckoo Chalcites osculans

Black Honeyeater Sugamel nigrum

Chestnut Quail-thrush Cinclosoma castanotum

Greater Blue Bonnet Northiella haematogaster ssp haematogaster

Striped Honeyeater Plectorhyncha lanceolata

White-browed Treecreeper Climacteris affinis

* Yellow-throated Miner, Singing, Striped
** White-plumed