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Sunday, 6 January 2019

Peregrines - season review 2018

I had meant to address this earlier in the year but it’s been a bit hectic in the Autumn of 2018 with the long holiday and moving out of the Flat whilst it was refurbished.
Now back home to a nice new Flat, things are returning back to the normal routine with a new year bringing on a breeding season fast approaching.

Peregrines – 2018 has not been a bad year, 13 sites produced a very healthy 32 juveniles averaging out at just over 2 per site so not a bad ratio.

Of the 13 sites, 8 used nest boxes that I had made, 2 were in Trays and the remaining 3 I classed as ‘natural’. One was a Carrion Crow nest, one was in pigeon guano on a balcony and the 3rd was laid on roof top substrate/moss.
The Parliament nest box was made by Brunel University, not wood but cardboard composite; it has been accepted and used by the pair now for the last 3 years.
Another 3 nest boxes were made last year, one was installed by Shaun and Paul with 2 waiting in the wings ready for installation, one of these is a replacement with the 3rd shortly to go up on a new site.

A big thanks to Paul and Shaun, couple of posers, had to work them a bit to get the best out of them.

Grounders or juveniles taken into care numbered 7, either myself or Paul returned them back to their respective nest sites; incredible work was again undertaken by Sue and the team at the South Essex Wildlife Hospital. 

The Thames juvenile, a very lucky bird

One juvenile had to be fostered with a new family of 4; it was an only sibling, it spent 3 weeks in the Hospital recovering from a dodgy maiden flight. After recuperating, I was a bit concerned at the time, of it going back and adults accepting it again, furthermore locating them on the release and access could have been an issue, hence the new family. 

The foster family of 4 siblings worked a treat, it was accepted straight away, it now had ‘siblings’ to interact with and learn from as well. I had fostered twice before at this site as well in the past, so the pair had a proven track record.
This juvenile was noticeably darker plumage and gave me a lot of pleasure following it around in the next few months, quite a sight with 5 juveniles gracing the sky often with the adults in attendance.

Released back, this was the bird that crash landed in a Balcony trashing all the Flowers
So another year is with us, February 1st they all come under licence again, breeding is such a long commitment, especially when you consider that some, like the Battersea Power Station juvenile, have seen the New Year in. 

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Perth Area - Yang Chep Park

This was a lovely Park/Marshland that Julie and Mike took us to and we got to see one of the animals we both wanted to see, Koala Bear. They were quite high up but after failing to see one in Brisbane, luckily we got to see 3 aloft.

I really liked this place and I would imagine that it would have been teeming with birds in the winter; however there was still plenty to see at this time of year.

Black Winged Stilts, Australian Grey Teal, Galah’s were present along with the ever present Wood and Pacific Black Ducks.

Many Parrot species were making themselves known and a couple of birds I have not seen before, Straw Necked Ibis and Yellow Billed Spoonbill showed.

A  good mixture of species

Grey Teal

Australian Raven hopefully going by throat patch


Magpie Lark

Purple Swamphen

Red Wattlebird

Straw Necked Ibis

Yellow Billed Spoonbill

A Harrier species, a Ringtail was seen distantly that gave limited views, looked pretty good for Swamp Harrier due to lack of barring on the tail, happy to be corrected though.

Presumably a male Swamp Harrier

A great little place which we both really enjoyed.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Perth - Mindarie

After a great stay with Luke at Timbeerwah, not far from Brisbane, we started the final leg of our holiday to see more of the family - Mike, Julie, Sam and David at Perth.
It makes you realise just how big this country is, when it takes you over 5 hours flight time to reach Perth from Brisbane.

Staying with Mike and Julie for 6 days, we had a fantastic time and they looked after us both very well and  took us to see all the sights, spectacular scenery and it was great catching up. There a stone’s throw from the Coast and obviously this was a big magnet to me and Chris, especially as I saw an Osprey from Mike and Julies balcony on the 1st day. 
They have a lovely house and I can see why they love it there at Mindarie, it is a great place to live,like NZ one thing you notice straight away is that there is no rubbish/litter in the streets.

One place that became a firm favourite was Mindarie Marina, we spent quite a bit of time here having a Coffee watching the comings and goings, it was one of those places that really chills you out.

Birds – there were lots including a pair of Osprey’s, seemingly a different bird here and very approachable given how low they perched with people walking underneath them. Always an impressive bird no matter what country you are in, I got the best views I have ever had of one.

On one particular morning, I had seen the pair from the other side of the Marina on a manmade structure; by the time I had walked round there, one had gone but the remaining bird, presumably the female, posed rather nicely for over an hour. Given how people were hardly giving it a 2nd glance, I can only presume this is a pretty regular sight, I was gob smacked that it was probably only 6 metres up sitting above the main path oblivious to all.

Mick says they have tried to nest on this structure before, but suffered a lot of mobbing from the local Ravens.

Taken long range from the other side of the Marina

Incredible views

The adjacent house would have incredible views,if I won the Lottery I would buy it.

Elsewhere in the Marina there were many Crested Terns resting up on the boom along with Pied Cormorant, Silver Gulls and Pacific Gull. This boy is a big Gull and boasts the biggest beak I have seen on a Gull, would imagine very powerful and packing a good punch.

Welcome Swallow

Crested Tern

Crested Terns mainly

Pacific Gull - impressive

Pied Cormorant

A great place.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Lake Macdonald - Timbeerwah, Queensland

This was quite a large lake which had a small hide for Bird Watching, the information board boasted 150 species, it looked really good so Luke had kindly dropped me down there early a.m for 3 hours.

Lots to see straight away with a pair of Kookaburras terrorising the local Myna’s, they really don’t like them and mobbed them constantly, suspect the bigger Kookaburras would be a threat to eggs and young of a lot of birds.

From the off I also had Whiskered and Caspian Terns quartering the lake, especially Whiskered, at least double figures present, lots of other birds immediately on show also like Comb Crested Jacana, Ground Cuckoo Shrike, Australian Darter, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorant, Pied Goose, Purple Swamphen along with Australian Pelican.

Little Black Cormorants follow the Pelicans around, would imagine the Pelicans are disturbing fish etc with their size and the Cormorants are mopping up.

You have to be a bit careful over here if you want to go exploring, already been warned about staying on the main trail, it’s not like the UK, Snakes and Spiders are in your head so to speak, however during the course of the holiday only saw one venomous snake, a Dugite. 

On arrival in the half light I did see something very distantly(below) on the other side of the lake, more on that later.

In semi darkness what would you think this was?

Moving on towards the hide through the trees(on the path) and it was alive with birds, Olive Backed Oriole, Willy Wagtail, Brush Wattlebird, Pied Butcherbird, Blue Faced Miner and various LBJ’s that I could not get on. 
2 Great Egrets were seen straight away along with Australasian Grebe, very similar to our Little Grebe, also a couple of Masked Lapwing in the adjoining field.

A distant Pacific Heron was then also seen along with 2 Magpie Larks, these like the Willy Wagtails seemed quite common.

This was in the hide,nice looking spider

Spent a lot of time in the hide taking photos of Whiskered Tern, it’s not often you get to see one of these closely unless I go to Spain. 

Time was marching on so I retraced my steps, there was a lot more out there in the Woodland, could hear loads of different calls, bit frustrating could not go off piste rummaging around but given the density of the undergrowth and what might be in it, decided not to.

Summing up, the thing that I saw distantly in the half light referred to earlier, at the time I thought Bloody Hell it’s a Croc, as the light grew got a clearer image and it turned out to be a dead tree, quite amusing and shows what an active imagination does for you. 

My 'Croc' a dead tree