Friday, October 3, 2014

A dream come true!

As a teenager back in high school I was a dreamer! (still am!) I always sat near windows if possible and spent way too much time staring out of them looking to the skies! Just hoping to see something fly past! Needless to say... I probably didn't put enough effort into my schoolwork as I should have!! One life changing event which did come out of my school years though was to be found in the library! One day in there I came across a book... a book which would become an obsession for me... and in the whole five years I was at that school I don't think anyone else ever got the chance to borrow it as I always had it! The book was "Hawks in Focus" by Jack and Lindsay Cupper! It is a book about their amazing journey photographing all of Australia's 24 diurnal birds of prey at or near the nest! They travelled thousands of kilometres and from memory about eight years to see and photograph all of them. Setting towers and hides at them and then spending time photographing, filming and just observing these amazing birds! To me it was inspirational... I spent many an hour pouring over the wonderful images and reading the text over and over again! I also spent nearly just as much time dreaming of one day being able to do the same thing! To not very long ago that's where it remained... just a dream! Two weekends ago that all changed!!
A little while back I was contacted by a fellow raptor lover... David Gemmel. Sharing a lot of the same interests David and I have become good friends! He makes some wonderful videos of our raptors and has done a bit of work with towers and hides! What also came along with David was his extensive network of fellow raptor lovers! He has a lot of contacts in the world of Australian raptors and Lindsay Cupper was one of them! Through this I ended up meeting Lindsay and some other great raptor loving people when they were on their way up the Strzelecki track about six weeks ago! It was very cool to meet the person who wrote the book of which I was such a big fan!
Anyway a few weeks later I was told of a possible nesting attempt by a pair of Spotted Harriers by a good friend out at Reeves Plains. He said he had seen a Harrier carrying and placing a stick into a low tree on a track next to his property! A few weeks passed before I could get out there but when I did.. straight away a bird was up and circling around over my head! Awesome! I guessed she was on eggs and I left. When I got back I rang Lindsay and he said he was keen to come down and place a hide at the nest when the chicks hatched! A week later I ventured out again and could hear chicks! Must have been on eggs a little earlier than I had originally thought! As they were actually quite big and probably about two-three weeks old!
  
This is the female from when I originally flushed her off the nest!

The nest site

The chicks which were more advanced than I originally thought!
I rang Lindsay again and he decided the time was now! About four days later we were erecting a hide at the nest!
With the light angle and the position of the tree we had to get permission from the neighbour to place the hide in his paddock! Happily he was fine with it! Which was very much appreciated as it was the only angle which would work!
Lindsay camped nearby and spent the next two days with them before I could get back. Lindsay kindly said I could spend some time in the hide whenever I had the chance! An offer I couldn't refuse!
It was a beautiful crisp Saturday morning when I entered the hide at 6am! The chicks were still huddled in the nest and not much was happening! I was so amped! I had dreamed of this for years and now I was doing it! The excitement was dimming just a tiny bit when an hour later still nothing other then a lazy wing stretch by one of the chicks.. had happened! Watching out the peep holes in the hide a Kangaroo slowly bounced past and it would be another half hour before something happened!

One of the chicks in sweet light before the parent arrived!
Then out of the blue the female was on the nest! Not sure how I missed it but in my excitement I instantly burst off a heap of shots and she flew again almost straight away! Cursing myself for not letting her settle... it was ten minutes before I saw her again! This time it was both parents flying in! They did a food pass just out behind the nest and then the female with the prey landed on a nearby fence post and the male in a tree above! Lots of calling ensued which was then followed by a mock mating session on the post! Amazing! The male then flew off... and the female sat there for a short while longer! All this time the chicks were calling... eventually she flew up and landed on the nest and begun to feed what I think was part of a small rabbit to the older two chicks! Super excited but restrained this time I held off shooting any frames till I was sure she was settled and then spent the next half hour photographing, filming and just watching her feed the chicks! Awesome!

The female when she flew in to feed the chicks! Interestingly the chick on the right although yonnger than the one on the left was the dominant one and ruled the nest! It always had first go at the meals!

Here the female protects her eye whilst feeding the chick!

Such a thrill! I was in awe to watch this stuff up close!
 The meal fed the two older chicks and they returned to snoozing! The little guy which was about five days I guess behind the other two went hungry! The female stayed for a while then decided to do a little housework and started collecting sprays of leaves to reline the nest with... she took off about a dozen times to rip off some nearby leaves and then fly back and place them in the bottom of the nest! Then she disappeared again!

Taking off to collect leaves!

and bringing them back!

The three chicks! Guess which is the dominant one! LOL
 It was nearly another hour before the female returned... this time without prey! The little guy was going crazy by this stage and after looking at him for about 30 seconds she flew again. I watched her fly off behind the hide and into the distance... when I could only just still see her I saw another food pass with the male! She returned this time with a blue-tongued Lizard! This time the older two didn't even look at her and the littlest chick got the whole thing!
Just loved watching all this! So interesting to see how they lived their lives! Something without the hide you would never see!
Bringing in the Blue-tongue Lizard
I spent about another half hour with them! The female had retired to a branch behind the nest and the chicks did a little flappercise!


I messaged Lindsay and he came to relieve me from the hide! I was a little sore from being crouched for four and a half hours! But it was oh so worth it! I saw some stuff up close of which I had only ever dreamed about! Taken some cool images and some nice footage! But most of all spent some quality time with a most wonderful bird and it's little family! Something I will never forget!
Now a HUGE thankyou must go to Lindsay for letting me do this! Without his gear and expertise I would never have been able to do it! We had some great chats about all things raptors! and I hope to do a lot more stuff with him! David too for being the main reason this all happened! If he hadn't got in contact with me... I would never have had this chance! So thanks guys it is much appreciated! My mate Nigel too for finding the Harriers and organising access to the neighbours paddock!
I am just stoked to have been able to do this! It really was a dream come true..........


A week later
I came back a week after Lindsay had left to check the chicks after we had a really strong north wind! Thankfully they were still there! Boy do they grow quick though! Wont be long till they are flying! Must get back there this weekend and check on them again!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Birdsville Track Pt 2 - Southward Bound...


 
Waddi Tree
Waking up before dawn.. the same? (I guess so!) White-necked Heron had beat us up and was down hunting in the half light in the tiny pools which characterise the Diamantina River in this area when not flowing. It's extremely turbid... how this Heron could see anything in that water was beyond me! But it was there when we arrived and it was there when we left!
 Making our way into the town of Birdsville and our next stop was to re-fuel and buy a couple of touristy trinkets for the family back home! Bought a Birdsville beanie for the wife and nothing for the kids! Harsh I know but they all had been promised some rocks from the desert! So their presents were a lot cheaper! and put big smiles on their little faces when I got home! Sometimes it's the simple things :-)
We headed north next towards Bedourie with the intention of finding not birds... although happy to see any along the way! but to find a group of endangered trees found nowhere else in the world! Waddi Trees only occur in this area about 20km north of Birdsville and are quite interesting! They are a rare and ancient species which when dry it is near impossible to drill or chop as the wood is so hard! In times gone by it was used as fence posts and these posts a hundred years later show no signs of wear or decay! Now that's tough wood!
The Waddis were the most Northern point for our trip! From here it was all heading back! Although I don't like putting it that way as it sounds like you are gunning for home when in reality we still had two days left!
Back into Birdsville it was a quick stop at the Bakery... then down to the lagoon and then wetlands to see what was hanging around in there. A productive spot with Musk Duck, Pelican, Red-necked Avocet, Pied Cormorant and Hoary-headed Grebe being new species for our trip list seen here.
A pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles circled over us at the wetlands and the local pair of Whistling Kites were not impressed and gave them a hurry up!
"Get out of my territory!" Whistling Kite giving a Wedge-tailed Eagle the once over!

Musk Duck and Pink-eared Duck friend at Birdsville


Fairy Martin were common around Birdsville...
Leaving Birdsville our next stop was at an area we had looked over on the way up as a potential area for Banded Whiteface. We were unsuccessful in finding them although we did have a little bird fly across the track right in front of us at one stage which had a very chestnut coloured back and looked the goods to me... but when we stopped and searched we couldn't turn it up... so that one didn't go into our book.
I'm not sure of the species... but this Dragonfly was huge! We found it in a very plain dry uninviting looking spot along the track when we were searching the area for Banded Whiteface!
93km south of Birdsville was the next stop at a spot known for Grey Grasswren... when we got there it was pretty dead looking... sparse areas of the driest looking lignum! We instantly didn't like our chances! But remembering back to reading The Big Twitch... Sean Dooley found these birds in some of the most uninviting looking Lignum possible! So we thought we better give it a go! You wont know if you don't try! Leaving the car it was now about 12pm and certainly not the 'prime' time to be looking for this species... the flies were crazy and hearing any calls would be tough! We did find a few families of Variegated Fairy-wrens! But not what we were after... retreating back to the ute to escape the flies we grabbed our lunch out and kept driving.
Somewhere around this area... I cant remember exactly! We came across another small waterhole about 100m off the track. We drove out and found a group of about a dozen Red-necked Avocets sitting in the middle of it! Not what we were expecting... but always a cool bird to see!
Red-necked Avocets which were on a tiny little dam about 80km south of the QLD border!

Not often you get a pair of Gibberbirds in frame!
The next part of the drive went by fairly uneventfully until we saw another Gibberbird cross the road in front of us. We pulled up and turned the engine off and waited... in our many encounters with this species now we have found they usually don't go very far when flushed and can be found relatively close by! This one was no different and we found him about 10m off the track! Not long later another joined him which gave an opportunity to photograph the pair together! Very cool! At one stage they both crossed the track around behind the ute and Mike got a photo of one in the side mirror.... as you do!!

There he is! just checking our suspension! (photo: Michael Warnes)
A little further on we reached the point where the inside track comes back out to re-join the main track again. Right there another Gibberbird crossed the road! We stopped again and got out as this time it had flown about 50m out onto the gibber directly into the sun! Mike and I managed to get around to a more favourable photographic position without this bird moving and we got a few more shots... then another joined it! Another pair!! Eventually they both flew off into the sun again.. not too far, but we had spent some time with this pair so we let them go. Walking back to the car we stopped to get some drinks out of the esky when we heard another Gibberbird calling on the otherside of the road! With the sun in a better direction Mike moved out about 20m into the gibber and started imitating the call. In no time this bird flew in and landed about 2m away from him!! I couldn't believe it and started moving out towards them with my camera... The bird had now moved out about 6-7 metres from Mike but there it stayed! For the next 15mins we had the most amazing session you could ever have with this cool little desert bird! It even let me go back to the car and get my tripod so as to film it! This was one of the my highlights of the trip! Good light, great bird in the middle of the gibber along the Birdsville Track! Fantastic!

Back of a Gibberbird!

Front of a Gibberbird

Side of a Gibberbird!
We pulled into Mungerannie just after sunset very well satisfied with our days birding and sat back with a couple of beers around the campfire and just enjoyed being where we were!
Getting up early the next morning we walked out to the waterhole to watch the sunrise and see what birdlife was around as usual! The sunrise was pretty cool and I managed a few shots of a White-necked Heron and also another pair of Brolga as they flew along the waterhole and out of sight in front of the sunrise! Nice way to start the day!


A White-necked Heron at dawn above the waterhole at Mungerannie

Brolga's flying off into the sunrise! Mungerannie
Off south again this was our last day for the trip and we were hoping for a few more highlights on the run down the bottom half of the track! We had travelled about 30 or 40km when we almost run over a small bird on the track! We stopped jumped out and found a pair of Inland Dotterels! Cool! As is often the case with this species... closing the gap proved almost impossible! I managed a few ok shots and then we left them too it. Conscious of time as we had a fair distance to travel on this day! Around 20 more km's were under the tyres when Mike spotted a Cinnamon Quail-thrush on the side of the road. We pulled up and again like the Dotterels there was a pair sitting a little way off the track. Knowing these birds could be even harder then the Inland Dotterels to get close too we decided to sit down and use a touch of playback to see if they would come to us! Come to us they did and a great short little session was had with these stunning birds! The morning was going very well! Two great desert species in the first 60 odd kilometres!

Standing proud and tall to attention! Inland Dotterel South of Mungerannie

Cinnamon Quail-thrush also south of Mungerannie
One of our targets for the trip was to try and get all the Chats! So far we had managed to see all bar the Crimson Chat! Normally an easy bird to find in the right habitat in the outback... this trip both they and the Orange had been very thin on the ground! We had seen a small flock of Orange right up near the top of the track.. but the Crimson had been eluding us! Being a nomadic species it was most likely they were all in another area where better rains had been falling? but we were clinging to hopes that we would jag one somewhere along the way!
After crossing the (dry) Cooper Creek the end of the track was getting closer and our chances of finding a Crimson Chat were fading.... then as we passed through another dry creek bed we flushed a bird which looked bright red in the right areas as it flew off! Slamming on the brakes we jumped out and searched. It turned out to be quite a birdy spot with many species seen but not the Crimson we were after... we would have to find one further down in the Flinders if we were going to get the set!
The highlight of this stop though was a pair of Pied Honeyeaters which sat up for a photo! A species we had been looking for and had almost given up on! So a nice bonus to the stop!

Pied Honeyeaters
The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful as we made our way down the track through Marree and down to Lyndhurst and then Leigh creek for lunch again.
We stopped at our little honey-hole just north of Hawker again and saw pretty much the same birds as on the way up! I spent most of the stop photographing the Southern Whitefaces... I think Mike may have been rolling his eyes at me as he was wandering around trying to find the Rufous Fieldwrens that inhabit this area! From there we made our way home to arrive just on dark and happy to be home after a big haul all the way from Mungerannie in the morning!

Southern Whiteface back at our favourite spot just north of Hawker!

Grey Falcons

One of the main species we always target on our trips into the outback is the elusive Grey Falcon! Having done numerous trips over the years and coming up empty handed other than a couple of maybe sightings of fast flying raptors scooting by without long enough views to confirm or deny! We were hoping our time had come on this trip!
One thing the Birdsville track has plenty of is communication towers along it... as these are prime perching spots for Greys so we decided to check every single one we could find on the way up! Just hoping to get lucky! Unfortunately when we pulled up into Birdsville on the third day of our trip.. despite lots of tower searching we saw nothing but a few Kestrels and Magpies occupying the towers!
Oh well... there's always the trip back I guess and as you do.. we checked every tower on the way back down too! This time BINGO we came across a pair of the Grey beauties sitting high up on a tower! AWESOME!!! I have been obsessed with finding this species ever since I first read about them in Jack and Lindsay Cupper's book 'Hawks in Focus' back when I was about 12yrs old! So this was a special moment for me and Mike also!
To be honest they didn't do much... just sat there and looked at us! Would of loved to see one fly! It wasn't to be... but what a bird! Yes!! I'm a little obsessed :-)
Now I just want to get closer! and as much as an itch has been scratched.... it hasn't completely stopped itching as now I want more! So the fire is still there... now to find a nice low one within decent camera range! Still happy as can be for now :-) 
 

My holy grail of Australian birds... The Grey Falcon!!
 So in summary it was as most outback trips are a lot of fun! The birding was good without being spectacular! Maybe a little quiet due to time of year and the fairly dry conditions... but it's a superb place to go and I will be very keen to get back up there sometime!
As always I have to thank my good mate Mike for doing a lot of the organising of the trip and for the use of his 4WD! Not forgetting his great camp-oven cooking skills as well! Also for sharing the passion for our beautiful outback and the fantastic birds within!
 
Last but never least to my wonderful wife who holds fort at home with our three young children! If it wasn't for her understanding of my bird obsession I would never be able to do a trip like this!
 
I will be posting a full bird list for the trip on this post in the coming few days!
 
Till next time!!
Chris

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Birdsville Track Pt 1 - Northward Bound....

After two trips up the Strzelecki track in 2013 this year the Birdsville Track was calling...
This year Michael and I decided to do an earlier trip than usual and we were packing the Hilux on the evening of the 6th of June! Ready for an early departure the next morning!
The alarm went off at 4am and it was on the road in the dark... about 15 minutes later we came across our first bird of the trip a cute little Southern Boobook! Which was closely followed by a couple of Eastern Barn Owls. Light was on the Horizon as we were making our way along north of Clare and with a patchy fog around the area the birding was fairly slow... The next highlight bird didn't come until we were north of Orroroo in the mid north in a spot where some low hills rise off a plain. Back in September last year we had a Peregrine buzz us as we were cresting one of the hills! This time whilst crossing the plain, we mentioned that Peregrine as we neared the spot, this time no Peregrine showed on that hill... a slight disappointment.. which turned on it's head only a couple of km's further north where a beautiful big female Peregrine was sitting low on a dead branch right beside the road! We turned around after whizzing past to try for some shots but she must have flew whilst we were turning.. so it was not to be! Always a great bird to see though! and pretty cool to see it on our way up north again like last year... a good omen we thought!
Hawker was our first stop for refuelling and up to here other then the mentioned raptors the birding had been pretty slow... not that the weather had helped being fairly foggy! All this would change when a few km's north of Hawker we stopped at a great little spot we had found by accident one day and found all sorts of birds! This quite uninspiring looking spot has never failed to deliver some great birds every time we have stopped there! This time true to form we found quite a few different species in a 20 minute search including Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo, White-fronted Chat, Redthroat, White-winged Fairy-wren, Zebra Finch, Australasian Pipit, Southern Whiteface and White-winged Triller!
 
White-winged Fairy Wren at one of our favourite little stops north of Hawker

Our spot north of Hawker looking beautifully green! The rains have been kind to the Flinders of late!
Lunch was had at Leigh Creek as usual and then it was onto Lyndhurst before heading north towards Marree. There's a great little spot called Farina about 20 km's up the road from Lyndhurst we dropped in to have a look and found it pretty busy with it being a long weekend! We still managed our first Budgerigars and Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters for the trip but with so many people around and plenty of km's to go... we didn't spend much time here. Would be a lovely place to camp in quieter times though! 

Male Australian Kestrel on the edge of what is most likely it's nesting hollow!
One of the trip highlights was spotted by Mike as we were about two thirds of the way to Marree when out to our right he spotted a pair of Black-breasted Buzzards circling low about half a kilometre away over the plain! Unmistakeable with their big white windows in their wings and short tails... this was by far the furthest south we had ever seen them and it was nice to tick them off the trip list nice and early!
Another fuel stop at Marree and it was onto the track proper!
 

We found our first White-breasted Woodswallows on Frome Creek a creek we had once camped on back in 2010 on the Strzelecki Track.
First major stop on the track was at Clayton wetlands on Clayton Station... this was the first of many bore drains to come! To be honest this spot was a little disappointing in regards to birdlife... we saw more bird species in the surrounding sand hills than we did at the water! So we didn't hang to long here and kept moving north up the track!
Evening loomed and we needed to find a camp.. with camping only allowed in designated areas along the track now we ended up staying at a great camping area set up on Dulkaninna Station right near another bore drain!
After a big day driving it was good to sit down with a beer beside the campfire as we watched the last rays of sunshine disappear below the horizon!
After a classically bright starry outback night... the type only seen when your hundreds of miles from the nearest man-made light! We awoke to the very cool sound of Brolgas calling from somewhere further down the wetland! A quick breakfast and pack-up ensured and it was off to find the Brolgas! We walked down the wetland for a while but found it fairly quiet at the end we were... so we decided to go back and drive to the other end. On our way back Mike spotted the Brolga's out in the dry country about 200m away from the water! We approached quietly and carefully as to not flush them but found them to be quite confiding so a decent photo session ensured!  
 

Brolga

Displaying Brolga on Dulkaninna Station
We spent about 15 minutes with the Brolga before they decided our session with them was finished and so flew off to the other end of the wetland! On our way out we found an obliging pair of Wedgies sitting on an old power-pole...they also let us get out of the car and quite close before taking to the wing! So all up it was a good little start to the day!
 

Wedge-tailed Eagles... a young male on the left and an older female on the right! The male is in the middle of a rouse... always a cool look when they do that!

The same pair after taking off! The male had launched a little earlier and here the female had just left the pole when the male came down to 'greet' her!
The day had started well.. but then it took a turn for the worse! About 30km further up the track I looked for my binoculars... and they weren't there! So I thought back to where I had last seen them and remembered placing them on the car fridge on the back of the ute when we saw the Brolga's! We pulled over and as expected they were nowhere to be seen. So we turned back to try and find them... which we did but not until we were pretty much back where the Brolga's were! Luckily they had fallen off into soft dirt and were ok! Phew!! Plus on the way back to get them we got our first Gibberbird!! So the time lost to going back wasn't all lost!  
 

Pink-eared Ducks were on a lot of the waterholes we came across!
Mungerannie was the next major stop to fuel up, have lunch and check out the waterhole! Apart from many Little Corellas and another pair of Brolga as well it was fairly quiet! This place has bucket loads of potential but it was the middle of the day and not much was happening... we decided to keep moving as even with five days for this trip... the days at this time of the year are short and we had to make the most of them! 
 

Brolga's at Mungerannie... these two were also quiet approachable!
All the way up the track so far we had been coming across waterholes and bore drains and in most of these there were invariably some ducks usually Grey Teals or Pink-eared but with an occasional Pacific Black of Hardhead. A Freckled Duck made a nice change at another bore north of Mungerannie!
 

The lone Freckled Duck seen among many Pink-eared Ducks and Grey Teal
Our next camp was at a camp area was called Tippipila, we found ourselves a nice sandy area to roll out the swags and set about getting a campfire going as the sun was setting. It looked quite plain.. but was a surprisingly birdy place! As we set camp we had a flock of about 30 Budgerigars wheeling around in their last flight for the day before going to roost, a pair of Blue Bonnets flew over us as well and flew into a Coolabah on the other side of the creek to roost for the night! (We saw them leave the next morning!) and to top the days birding off in a big way... when there was only a glimmer of light left in the evening sky a Spotted Nightjar did a couple of low passes over our campfire trying to catch moths! A bird I never tire of seeing! Very cool!
After a windy sand-blown night the morning started with more Budgie action and some White-breasted Woodswallows hawking above as well as we ate breakfast!
After packing up it was off again... first interesting sighting for the day was a big male Dingo in beautiful condition! Easily the best looking one I had seen! on the roadside. We stopped  to photograph him, he looked at us for a moment before slowly trotting off towards a distant creekline!
 

Dingo - a fine specimen!
Our next find was a pair of Gibberbirds on the side of the track as we made our way into Pandiburra bore to try and see the Yellow Chats which reside there! This pair of Gibbers gave us a bit of a run around and liked to sit into the sun from where we were! We tried to get some good shots of them but it wasn't to be this time... 
The bore really was a highlight and in here we got two juvenile Yellow Chats! Would of liked a bright male but it wasn't to be! This was a lifer for me and Mike so that was very cool! The list of birds unseen by me in SA is getting quite small! So it's always pretty special to find a new one!
 

Juvenile Yellow Chat

and again
This little oasis in the middle of nowhere also produced many other waterbirds such as Caspian Tern, White-necked Heron, Red-capped Plover, Straw-necked Ibis, Brolga, Black Swan, Black-winged Stilt and Swamp Harrier!
Dingos were also in abundance around this area feeding on the many carcasses lying about! Often joined by both Australian Ravens and Little Crows! 
 


On our way out we also came across our first Inland Dotterel of the trip! He was a wary little dude and with a little heat haze coming off the gibber I didn't manage any decent images of it! Also not far from here we got an Eyrean Grasswren on top of a dune and from the same spot we came across a sight I would rather we didn't see which is what you can see below... Feral cats must do some serious damage to our wildlife and nowhere is this more in your face then in the outback! Where the cats are big and often seen resting in raptor nests!  
 

 
The rest of the day was spent driving up to Birdsville with many stops on the way whenever we spotted something from the car! The only new bird for the trip in this section was a small flock of Orange Chats. We tried a couple of spots for Banded Whiteface without luck and then rolled into Birdsville with about an hour of light left!
We set up on the banks of the Diamantina River and kicked back with a beer watching both a beautiful sunset and a lone White-necked Heron slowly stalking the muddy waters of the river below!
The next day would be a short trip north of Birdsville and then turn around and slowly head back south!
Stay tuned for 'Birdsville Track - Pt 2, southward bound...' coming soon :-)
 
 
Also I will write a full bird list from our whole trip at the bottom of part 2!
 
 


Monday, June 2, 2014

Australian Pelicans thermalling & fishing

A short little video I made last year of a big flock of Pelicans thermalling and fishing below Lock 1 near Blanchetown on the River Murray here in South Australia.
It's a little shaky... but it was filmed handheld through a 400mm lens so it's not too bad considering I reckon!!
Hope you enjoy :-)
 

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Raptorfest continues....

Actually I could probably call this a Falcon-fest! :-)
In the past two weeks since I posted my last blog, I have had some wonderful encounters with some of our beautiful Falcons!
Started with a drive one afternoon just to see what was around... after driving about 8km and missing a chance at a pair of Brown Falcons! I came across my favourite local bird... a Black Falcon sitting preening itself on a fence-post! The best bit though... was it didn't fly until I had taken about 20 images! Rapt! These guys can be a little flighty so any chance to get some perched shots is always a bonus!
The accommodating Black Falcon!

and then after a few images it thermalled  up straight above me until it was out of sight!
 After the fun of the Black I was on my way home and came across one of the Brown Falcons I had flushed earlier! This time I got a little closer... but it was still a flighty one for this species and the shots were only just ok!
 
Brown Falcon looking relaxed whilst I was still a distance away!

and then when I got too close!
 Like in my last blog post I pulled up to my house and found the male Hobby from my local pair feeding on his favourite perch just out the front!
 
Australian Hobby feeding on some poor unfortunate unidentified little bird!
 The next day I went back out to where I saw the Black Falcon. This time there were no Falcons but I did see a Little Eagle fly past about 150m away!
 
Little Eagle... it was a little distant for a decent shot! But always nice to see one in the area as they are not common here!
 Next was a trip to Gluepot Reserve. Raptors weren't really my focus for this trip... but when a young Peregrine Falcon came rocketing in out of nowhere when we were checking out a flock of ducks at an ephemeral lake at Old Gluepot I wasn't going to complain!
This was quite surprising as I had never heard about Peregrines occurring in the area! Whether this was just a young one passing through... I'm not sure?
Anyway it was there and thumped a Wood Duck right in front of us too! Luckily for the Duck the strike wasn't fatal... and when they both were falling to the ground the Peregrine pulled out as they were about to fall into an Acacia bush! The Duck fell into it and survived! About 20minutes later it flew out looking none the worse for wear! Can't imagine how the thump was amazing!
 
Locked onto it's target!

The unsuccessful hunter!

They are very beautiful in their spotty immature plumage I think :-)

So here's hoping for many more raptor filled weeks as we progress through 2014!
Cheers for now
Chris