With the weather we had recently probably up north, and I wouldn’t mind following them, it’s been too long since I was in the mallee country. We missed the official Orange-bellied Parrot and general neophema count day last weekend due to a variety of reasons, so did our duty yesterday. The weather was perfect and we were looking forward to one out of the box, but it didn’t turn out that way. With the reserve too wet to drive far we had to do a lot of walking, with the first stretch along the northern boundary which has been very productive for Blue-winged Parrots in the past. Not this time, we didn’t sight a solitary parrot, although White-fronted Chats and Skylarks were numerous as usual. There is a bit of water in the reserve following the recent rain, and seeing movement along the edges of one pool we checked it out to find Red-capped Dotterels had moved in in numbers. They wouldn’t let us get too close though, keeping us at a safe distance as we stalked them with cameras at the ready. I took a burst of three and this was the best, click for a larger picture. You can see how calm and bright the day was by the reflection.

red-capped dotterel

After refueling our inner engines back at the vehicle, we moved on to the permanent water for our second hike. The water level was much higher than the last time we were there, but two male Musk Ducks were the only birds taking advantage of it. There were three Crested Terns on the piles, but strangely, the area was largely deserted, in fact birds of all species were very scarce. A Wedge-tailed Eagle was soaring overhead as we jumped the channel to start off, and that was the only good sighting for the next hour, once again we drew a complete blank parrot wise and saw very little else as well. As we made our way back to the vehicle Peter observed wryly “Well at least it’s good for our cardio-vascular systems” and that just about summed up the day at that point. We usually check out the ocean before moving on, and did so to find that the wild weather had eroded the dunes severely, leaving a cliff five to six metres high. Looking out to sea we could see that the eroded sand had been taken out nearly two hundred metres making the water very shallow, certainly no channel to fish. We slithered down to do a bit of beach combing and of course that meant we had to get back up again.


We still had one likely spot to check out, the channel linking the main lake with Lake Lamb, ideal habitat for OBPs, but again, not a sausage. With most of the afternoon still in front of us we decided we’d call in at the Giffard reserve on the way home to see how the orchids were progressing. There hadn’t been much movement, Nodding Greenhoods were only just starting to flower, and the bird orchids were still only in leaf. We found some new patches of the latter however that we filed away for future reference. Our last stop was at Monkey Creek where we’d found large numbers of pardalotes and honeyeaters last time we were there. The day was remaining true to form however and there was nothing moving, so I started stumbling around in the rubbish in the creek bed looking for fungi to photograph. Then I heard a call from Peter, and joined him to find he’d spotted a Boobook Owl roosting in a eucalypt. It shifted position twice as we moved around trying to get a good angle from which to take a photo, and then it settled, eyes closed and feathers puffed out in the warm winter sunshine. It made our day, click to enlarge. It’s a day of rest today, tomorrow we’ll be at Swallow Lagoon with our winter surveys to do, hope there’ll be a bit more action.


8 Responses to “Where have all the parrots gone?”

  1. Lorraine says:

    Great photos Duncan. Surely the owl could have chosen a bigger branch to sit on!

  2. Duncan says:

    Your namesake’s claws do look a bit clenched, Lorraine, he/she does look relaxed though.

  3. Dave says:

    A boobook owl. Most interesting. I showed it to my wife and she said quote “What the heck kind of owl is that?” unquote.

  4. Duncan says:

    A small owl Dave, the call is boo-book, or mo-poke, the first syllable higher than the second. The owl goes by both of these names although they seem to have settled on Boobook now. There’s a wide awake picture of one here.

  5. John Tongue says:

    Hi Duncan,
    We were on the north-west Tas Winter Wader count last weekend, which also coincided with the national more general Neophema Count, so they did have us looking for OBP and Blue-wings as well. Nothing on the OBP’s (aw we’d expect this tie of year), but only one Blue-wing reported from one of the counting groups – clearly not a day for the Neophemas to co-operate. Hopefully some of the other Vic recorders did strike some. We did get some nice waders, though!

  6. Duncan says:

    Next time perhaps John. We kept an eye out for Double-bandeds in breeding plumage but drew a blank there too.

  7. John Tongue says:

    On the wader count, we saw quite a number of Double-bandeds, though not as many at some of the other sites. The ones we saw seemed to be in all states of ‘dress’, from very drab to almost full-finery!

  8. Duncan says:

    Some people have all the luck John. 😉