Falcon sightings brighten winter days

Kevin''s photo of a crested shrike-tit

It’s usually my least favourite time of the year for bird watching, but looking back over my photos I’ve actually seen some lovely birds over the past few weeks.

Probably my highlight occurred in Banks Road, Ocean Grove, only 500 metres from my house. I was driving to work and looked up at a telephone pole and spotted a raptor that I thought was a brown falcon from the back.

I did a safe u-turn, got my camera ready and drove up to the pole and realised that the bird was a peregrine falcon. Fortunately the peregrine did not take flight, but the photos were not that great due to the dull, rainy conditions.

I think that this was a male as it was a small bird. I can go a year without seeing a peregrine falcon, so to see two in two weeks was fantastic.

I’ve been staying close to home due to COVID-19, but was a bit stir crazy on one of my days off work, so I drove to Point Addis and Anglesea Heath, ensuring that I maintained social distancing from other people.

Point Addis was just beautiful as always, and I saw a shy albatross flying about one kilometre off the coast. It was very quiet at Anglesea Heath, but I did spot one white-eared honeyeater, a wedge-tailed eagle, and a flock of six buff-rumped thornbills.

Buff-rumped thornbills are olive on the side, yellow on the under side, with a buff (yellow-pale brown) coloured forehead. They have a pale-yellow rump patch and the tail has a black band with a pale tip. The eye has a pale iris.

I’ve walked around Blue Waters Lake a few times to check out the two great cormorant nests. I haven’t seen the parent birds sitting on the nests, or any fledglings in the nests, so I suspect that they have been abandoned. Maybe the birds will sit on the nests again when the weather warms up (I hope).

On the subject of fledglings, there are still six cygnets at Breamlea, and they seem to be thriving despite the cool nights.

On the subject of Blue Waters Lake, Kevin took a fantastic image of a nankeen night heron at the lake. When I see the night herons there they are usually hiding in the highest tree branch behind thick vegetation, but Kevin was lucky to capture a bird out in the open. He also took a great image of a crested-shrike tit at Rice Reserve, near Connewarre.

I also received an email from Patrick from Portarlington. He sent a photo of a large grey bird wading in the shallows of Port Phillip Bay, which I was able to inform him was a white-faced heron.

On a sad note, Robin Spry and Jennie Turner sent me some information about a deceased hooded plover that Robin found on the beach at Bancoora. Hooded plovers are critically endangered but also fantastic, plucky and brave birds, so it was sad to hear about the demise of ‘CP’.

The cause of CP’s injury was fine cotton wrapped around both legs from perhaps a beach towel or clothing. CP was an old bird. Through Deakin University research, Birdlife Australia’s Beach-nesting Birds Project and local knowledge, CP was one of a pair of hoodies that have been known to have bred at the Bancoora site since 2002.