This bird is the most familiar bird of prey in our area of rivers, lakes, and floodplain, commonly seen soaring high on bowed wings and giving that distinctive call. It is one of the first native birds in my memory, we called it the Whistling Eagle in those early days on the farm. It is a not uncommon sight here at home, and recently one has flown over the garden more than once, just above the tree tops. I’ve taken the odd photograph from time to time, sometimes on the wing, but have not had the opportunity to get close to this wary bird for more detailed shots. That has just changed, on a visit to the local wetland I noticed one in the dead tree in the neighbouring waterhole, and was able to approach using the cover of a stand of swamp paperbark. The bird was preening, it had wet belly feathers so had probably been fishing and was tidying up after its meal.
Then, a few days later at home I put a dead rabbit out in the paddock for the benefit of the pair of Little Ravens. They had a snack occasionally, but a couple of days later I glanced in that direction and was astounded to see a pair of Whistling Kites feeding. This time I was able to use the cover of a garden tree to get to within a reasonable distance for photographs.
One of the problems with photographing birds of prey is the inevitable harassment they suffer from other birds like magpies and ravens. Several times I’ve missed shots of the rarely seen Spotted Harrier because magpies have seen it off. The kites had fed peacefully for some time before a couple of the resident magpies got into the act, and surprisingly forced the kites off the carcass.
Then the ravens joined in, the kites took to the air where they were subjected to repeated attacks until they decided enough was enough and disappeared into the distance. I managed a couple of shots high up into the light of a cold grey sky, far from ideal photographic conditions but they show the action reasonably well.
Click to enlarge.
With things starting to move a visit to Holey Plains SP was indicated. The first locations surrounding the skeet range were a total disappointment with all the low vegetation abutting the pines dead, possibly from spraying. A stretch along the track past the range where there used to be lots of interesting plants was wall to wall Burgan, and I had to really search to find a few straggly plants of Grevillea chrysophaea. That’s one detour to cross off my list. Back to the five ways and on to the Berlin Track to check out the Prostanthera galbraithiae in the enclosed plot, early, but the first flowers were already blooming. Boronia anemonifolia and Grevillea chrysophaea were in full flower, contrast this form of the grevillea with the Heyfield form.
Right along the wide firebreak the Leucopogon ericoides was flowering freely, I checked for native bees but only saw feral honey bees and a few hoverflies. I was less than impressed to find where a load of garden waste had been dumped just off the track directly opposite the enclosure. One has to wonder at the mentality of someone who would drive into the middle of a state park to dump their rubbish. They couldn’t have picked a worse spot, right in the centre of the most prolific mint-bush area in the park. Of concern too is the state of the enclosure, the fence has been damaged by falling timber, and the plants inside the fence are being crowded out by rampant Burgan, remedial work is sorely needed. Wattle time is starting in earnest with Acacia brownii, A. oxycedrus and A. longifolia flowering.
On then to the orchid spot where a few Pterostylis striata were still in flower, plenty of P. concinna of course, lots of Glossodia major leaves and buds and likewise Cyrtostylis reniformis, the latter will be in flower soon.
Guinea Flowers, Hibbertia species always provide a bright splash of colour, the park has several varieties, and colour of a different persuasion was in the form of the remains of a raptor’s recent meal. An unfortunate Eastern Rosella fallen prey to a Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, or Peregrine.
Click to enlarge.