Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Bird ID Correction from 01 March 2017

Brown Goshawk v Collared Sparrowhawk

At our visit to Macalister Wetlands back in March, we [probably, me/I] called an overflying raptor a female, juvenile Brown Goshawk. See the blog here. Whilst "cleaning up" my bird images on the computer today, I looked again and decided I may not have been correct. I put the image onto the FaceBook Australian Bird Identification page and Luke Flesher and Angus Daly confirmed my thoughts.

Critical aspects of this bird are:

There is no evidence of moulting [shorter feathers growing out] interfering with the features of identification.

Tail feathers
The difference between the two species is in the length and shape. CS have shorter inner retrices so the tail should appear "squared off" and generally have a central notch. This is the case here. The tail is not rounded and you can just see a small notch. BG have outer retrices which are progressively shorter giving BG tail a rounded appearance.

Tail Length cf Leg Length
The BG has a long tail and, when viewed from below, there is a lot of tail uncovered by legs. The CS has a relatively shorter tail and, as above, the legs take up a bigger proportion of the tail length.

Toe length
The middle toe of the CS is much longer than the BG relative to the other toes on the foot. The legs are also quite slender compared to BG. BG legs look like they couldn't break but CS legs look like a decent bang would break them!

These wings are quite wide. The Australian Bird Guide for CS says, "Secondaries bulge beyond the rest of the trailing edge of the wing". This is what we see here.

The smallest bird is a male CS [30cm]. Next biggest is a female CS[40cm]. Only slightly bigger is a male BG [40cm] and the biggest is a female BG [50cm].

Both Morcombe and Pizzey quote the same figures. When a single bird flies over with no reference to anything else [where was the harassing magpie you may well ask?], it is very hard to judge size. On the day I recall John and I both thought it was a "large" bird, larger than a CS would be. But I was wrong. Just goes to show how challenging our hobby can be.

Juvenile, probably male, Collared Sparrowhawk.

170906_Peach Flat

Although the quantity of species was not extravagant [46], the 10 birders plus Rod and Michele saw a quality gathering. A slow walk around the lakes, with water about 2 feet below full, took until morning tea. Flame Robins,  20+ Satin Bowerbirds, a Hardhead, Aussie and Hoary-Headed Grebes, resident White-faced Herons, two Little Pied Cormorants, Flame Robins, overflying Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos, Willie Wagtails, plenty of European Coots with one youngster and Flame Robins [8] were the standout species. Did I mention Flame Robins? There were 3 fully coloured males and 5 females/juveniles. The Australian Bird Guide tells me they are "often seen in loose groups of up to 20 birds ... the only Petroica to form flocks". They had accompanying escorts of Yellow-rumped Thornbills. Just magic. Good images taken by all in nice dry weather but a bit windy.

Light drizzle accompanied morning tea after which we walked up George Creek for 650 metres then ascended to a ridge top with nice views then returned to our morning tea stop for lunch. The only new birds we saw during our walk through the dry forest with manuka and dogwood understory were Yellow-tufted and White-naped Honeyeaters. Nice dry weather for walking.

Back for lunch and the variable weather swung between some light rain again and brilliant sunshine during which Bev saw a Mistletoebird, Heather saw 20+ Satin Bowerbirds again. We had finished lunch and were starting to pack up to go when the superstar arrived.

A male Rose Robin. Excellent views by all. LOTS of images taken. A most amenable bird. For the day we saw Flame, Scarlet and Rose Robins and Jacky Winter. Four of the potential eight robins at Peach Flat. A great day and a big thank you to Rod and Michele for hosting us.

Images: Alexander, Winterbottom

Australasian Grebe Tachybaptus novaehollandiae

Hoary-headed Grebe Poliocephalus poliocephalus

Hardhead Althea australis male

Satin Bowerbird Ptilonorynchus violaceus

Yellow-tufted Honeyeater Lichenostomus melanops melanops

Flame Robin Petroica phoenicea First two images, male. Third image, female

Scarlet Robin Petroica boodang, male

Jacky Winter Microeca fascinans

Rose Robin Petroica rosea

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

170802_Raymond Island

Twelve Heyfield Birdwatchers gathered at the Island side of the ferry and met with Robert Wright who guided us around some of the parts of the island he knows and loves so well. Our walk before morning tea was along the boardwalk from the ferry to the point where we had great excitement watching 50 or so Burranan Dolphins and several Australian Pied Oystercatchers. Then back via A'Beckett Park, a private house with Nankeen Night-Herons in their backyard and three Tawny Frogmouths. No-one spotted the TFs so Robert's Cherry Ripes were safe. After a cuppa we drove a short way to see a pair of Gang-gang Cockatoos then on to the old school site where we walked through the bush to Lake King. No Hardheads or Great-crested Grebes in the rafts of Hoary-headed Grebes so Robert's Cherry Ripes were still safe. We ate lunch seated by a paddock filled with Eastern Yellow Robins, Superb Fairy-wrens and nest-material-gathering Spotted Pardalotes with Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos calling in the distance. We then walked around the Raymond Island Flora Reserve and then drove to the jetty at the end of Gravelly Point Road. The lake was flat as. Plenty of jellies in the water but no Hardheads, GCG or seahorses. Finally we headed back to the ferry via the north side of the island. The weather was about perfect with hardly any wind. Many thanks to Robert for a great day. Jim did win a Cherry Ripe for spotting the fourth Tawny Frogmouth before the rest of us. 53 species in all. A great day.

Koala Phascolartos cinereus
One of several seen during our visit.

Burranan Dolphin Tursiops australis
Robert commented that he often saw small groups of three or four. We saw at least 50! All in one pod. Sometimes all pretty close together and then spread out over 4-500 metres.

Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus
We had hoped to boat to Crescent Island and view the colony of breeding Peicans and see them in their breeding flush. The boat trip was a no-goer but we did have one pelican in breeding flush greet us as we drove off the ferry and started our walk.

Pacific Gull Larus pacificus
Two birds here. The first two images are the same bird. Yes, it does have a fish hook apparently caught in feathers but was behaving normally. It has the features of a second year bird. The second bird looks a bit older with more white starting on the front of the head but is still a second year bird.

Chestnut Teal Anas castanea

Common Bronzewing, males Phaps chalcoptera

Eastern Yellow Robin Eopsaltria australis

Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae

Tawny Frogmouth Podargus strigoides

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

170705_Heart Morass, Sale

Despite a record breaking cold start to the week, today, Wednesday, dawned warm [10*C] and windless. Eight HBWers gathered at the Morass and walked for an hour or more from the "front gate" before a cuppa when Gary Howard arrived and gave us great information about Field and Game and the efforts they have made and plan for the rehabilitation of the old farms they have been able to acquire.

The day was beautiful walking through very old red gums and wattles and even a tree that botanists have been  unable to identify. After morning tea, we drove further in and walked again on the banks of the Latrobe River. Val's White-bellied Sea-eagles appeared right on cue. We also saw Whistling and Black-shouldered Kites, Swamp Harriers, Wedge-tailed Eagles and even a Peregrine Falcon flew past [twice]. Forty-three species all in. It was an excellent day. Thank you to Val.

Here are photos of the very amenable WBSE.

White-bellied Sea-eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

170607_Latrobe River, Wirilda Environment Park

Peter met Marg, Heather, Bev, Val and Ross at Maccas in Morwell on a crisp winter's day and they headed off under a cloudless sky to a small track on the side of the Latrobe River on the Traralgon-Tyers Road where they started birding. Jack joined them a little later. There was not a breath of wind so spotting those LBJs was relatively easy. Highlights of 38 species were ...

Wedge-tailed Eagles, Satin Bowerbird, Australian King-Parrot, loads of Eastern Spinebills, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater,White-eared and White-naped Honeyeaters, Whipbirds, both Pards, heaps of Pied Currawongs, ravens, robins, finches, fantails. The lowlight was a Common Blackbird!

Onwards to Wirilda Environmental Park via the lookout on the Walhalla Road in Tyers where six of the seven lunched [Jack thought it was only morning tea and ended up a little peckish!] in the presence of an Olive Whistler and walked along the Tyers River for a short way then up the 400-metre Red Gum Track and back to the cars. Highlights of 24 species were the OW, Lewin's Honeyeater, Nankeen Kestrel, Brown Gerygone and Varied Sitella!

All in all, 47 species and a great day. Thank you Peter.  We left at about 2pm with dark clouds looming!
Eastern Spinebill
Australian King Parrot
Eastern Yellow Robin
Eastern Yellow Robin
Pied Currawong
Satin Bowerbird
Superb Fairy-wren
White-browed Scrubwren
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater