Rapt with recent visits

Brown Falcon at Banks Road, Mannerim. 156236

I ALWAYS have thought that a raptor a day keeps the doctor away, however over the past few weeks I’ve seen a daily raptor and still managed a few trips to the doctor and the dentist, so I might have to rethink my theory.
I have to thank Dr David Lakis of Ocean Grove Dental Clinic for fixing my king-sized toothache.
I worked night shift last week and drove to work three nights in a row past the Barwon Heads airport, and happily every time I drove down there I saw my friendly eastern barn owl in a dead tree. I also saw a tawny frogmouth sitting on a road sign which was lovely.
Speaking of tawnies I heard some terrible news that one of the tawnies that have lived for years in Woodlands estate was found to have died, maybe killed by a fox. How distressing.
Tawny frogmouths form partnerships for life and once established, pairs will usually stay in the same territory for a decade or more. I wonder if the remaining tawny will move on now.
I always love seeing brown falcons as I drive along Wallington Road from Ocean Grove, just before the hill rises towards the equestrian centre. I received an email from Richard from Wallington, who has been closely studying the falcons, and he observed that “the (falcons) that have returned seem to have overgrown upper mandibles, indicating that they have been feeding on softer foods than normal. I suspect that their diet has been crickets and grasshoppers, with a few skinks thrown in.”
Brown falcons usually eats small mammals, including mice and young rabbits. They also eats small birds, lizards, snakes, caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles.
Insects form the bulk of a falcon’s diet during winter, and they often chase the insects on the ground.
I’ve been looking at my recent brown falcon photos and I’ve been trying to compare beak sizes, but they all look pretty similar to me. Thanks so much Richard for your thought-provoking email.
Speaking about big upper mandibles I was driving home from Drysdale after my daughter’s netball game (go the Grubbers under-17 2s).
In a gum tree right near the (filling up) farm dams was a very handsome little eagle, and the hooked upper mandible was very impressive. Like the brown falcon, little eagles eat insects, as well as rabbits and other small mammals.
After a very pleasant lunch at Mr Grubbs this week, I walked back to the car through the Oakdene forest, and fortunately I had my camera on me because a beautiful male eastern spinebill was feeding on the nectar of some flowers in the ’forest’.
Eastern spinebills do move away from colder, higher elevated areas in autumn and winter, and it was the first spinebill I had seen around Ocean Grove this winter.