Raptors galore in Wallington

Jen's Eurasian coots at Emily's Pond.

By Jennifer Carr

I’ve been driving to work via Connewarre, looking for cuckoos and whiskered terns and whatever else I manage to spot.

I saw a very odd sight at the end of Baenschs Lane at Hospital Swamp, namely two Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoos perched on a small shrub. One of them had a furry caterpillar in its beak, which it passed on to its mate.

This bird flew down to the ground where there was another Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoo, and this bird was the recipient of the caterpillar. This bird did not look like a fledgling (as juvenile Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoos usually do not have breast stripes), so I don’t think that the cuckoos were feeding a young bird of the same species, but it was strange to see such nurturing and co-operative behaviour from these birds.

Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoos are ‘brood parasites’ where they lay their eggs in the nests of other species such as thornbills and wrens, and these birds rear the young cuckoos.

I was driving to Point Lonsdale along Shell Road one afternoon, when I noticed a green winged bird on the powerlines. I was happy to note that this bird was a shining bronze-cuckoo. The bird was calling to another bird of the same species that was nearby.

After this I made a quick visit to Freshwater Lake, where I spotted a female mistletoebird. At Emily’s Pond in Point Lonsdale where there are six cute and tiny Eurasian coot hatchlings, which are being looked after beautifully by both their parents.

Closer to home there is one white-faced heron hatchling in Ocean Grove. This bird is almost fully grown and won’t be in the nest much longer.

The tawny frogmouth pair that I’ve observed in Ocean Grove for many years (with the help of tawny lover Susie Baker) are also sitting on a nest that they have made in the same bough of a large gumtree every year. I love the tawnies.

I was so lucky to undertake a ‘birds on farms’ survey in Wallington, where I endured a ‘raptor feast’.

I saw a black kite, collared sparrowhawk, brown goshawk, wedge-tailed eagle, whistling kite, swamp harrier and brown falcon, as well as weebills and striated pardalotes.

I received an email from Kevin, who took a drive to Inverleigh, where he saw and photographed Rufous whistlers, a red-browed finch, a black-shouldered kite, white-plumed honeyeaters, a kookaburra and a brown falcon.

Kevin photographed a white-plumed honeyeater with a stick in its beak. Kevin’s wife Anne Maree informed me that when birds have sticks in their beaks, they are not always for a nest; they are also props used by birds for courting (a fact that Anne Maree learned from famous ornithologist Gisela Kaplan).

I was thrilled to receive an email from Helen, who manages to read the Voice even though she lives near Ballarat. Helen’s brother and sister-in-law live in Ocean Grove and pass on the Voice to Helen after they have finished reading it.

Helen is an avid birder and told me that she has another brother that lives near Lake Connewarre, and this brother heard an owl one night that sounded like a screaming woman. Helen’s brother thought that this owl was a barking owl, but I think that it was a barn owl. Helen hasn’t got back to me yet about her brother’s confirmation of the call that he heard.