Exams, emails and the social season

Collared sparrowhawk.

The weather has become warm, with some beautiful clear days. I’ve been busy helping my daughter, who is undertaking her Year 12 exams, so I haven’t been out and about very much.
Fortunately I’ve received some great emails from Voice readers to compensate for the many things I have missed.
I’ve had a bad tawny fortnight. I’ve been watching a familiar family of tawny frogmouths, and photographed the two beautiful fluffy chicks that hatched about a month ago.
The weekend before the Melbourne Cup the family left the nest, and I couldn’t find them anywhere.
On Melbourne Cup Day I had a good search of the area and was dismayed to find the mangled body of a deceased chick (boo hoo).
I few days later I saw the family of three, so one of the chicks was still going strong. Speaking of tawnies I received two lovely emails from Voice readers Suze and Susan, with a photos of the tawny frogmouth families that they have seen around the Bellarine. Thanks so much for the emails.
I also had a goshawk day last weekend. I managed to have a close encounter with a brown goshawk, which I have long dreamed about.
Then when I drove home, and lo and behold there was a collared sparrowhawk (CSH) in the gum tree outside my next door neighbour’s house. The CSH allowed me to get quite close, which was amazing.
I recognised this bird from a few months ago, when it was on the next door neigbour’s TV aerial, as it has several white patches of feathers on its back. I thanked it very much for allowing me to take a half decent photo, and I’m sure it won’t be hurrying back.
The brown goshawk and CSH look very similar, but as you can see from the photos the CSH has a smaller head, round eyes rather than squinted eyes, a very long middle talon, and a square shaped tail compared to the goshawk’s rounded tail feathers.
It’s funny but I also recognised another CSH that I saw in Wallington last week, as it the same bird that I spotted day before, when I saw it fly over the Bellarine Highway.
This bird was missing about four of the primary flight feathers on the left wing and also some tail feathers on the left side. This bird looks like it’s gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson, but it’s still flying well despite the shabby feathers.
Speaking of Wallington the gorgeous scarlet honeyeaters are still hanging around near the school and Tom even saw a pair of scarlet honeyeaters at the Oakdene Estate, proving that scarlet honeyeaters have very fine location tastes.
I received a lovely email from Voice readers Alan and Astrid, who noticed a pair of hooded plovers on the beach at 6W, and were worried that the hoodies might be attacked by the many dogs in that area.
It’s timely to remind people that it is hooded plover breeding season, so please take note of the signs on the beach that ask that dogs be kept on leads in areas where the hoodies breed.
If anyone would like to volunteer to help protect the hoodies on the beach, they can email me and I will put them in touch with Andrea Dennett, who is the co-ordinator of the ‘Friends of the Hooded Plover Bellarine’.
Speaking of dogs, I have not seen one migratory shorebird on the Ocean Grove side of the Barwon River Estuary. It’s so dismal.
I received a lovely email from Kevin, which included photos of the endangered freckled duck at Begola Wetlands, a European greenfinch at Dan’s Reserve, and a Kookaburra at Rice Reserve. Thanks for the great photos Kevin.
Happy birdwatching to everyone and happy end of school days to young Meg Carr.
– Jen Carr, jennifer.carr6@bigpond.com