Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Tawny frogmouths fledging

Most of the tawny frogmouths have fledged young now or nearly so. The male below has two chicks which have been out of the nest for about two weeks. Although there are still several other pairs which have failed to breed successfully this year and others which are on second clutches of eggs or broods of young, after losing their first to predators - goshawks or possums?

This male's partner was one of the two females shown below. They were sitting together in the next tree from the male. Both birds have very similar plumage - these birds have diagnostic individual characteristics in their plumage. They have the same redness of their coverts especially. Why would the mother of the chicks allow a second female to approach them, let alone sit right next to herself? The second bird is probably related to her. Possibly a daughter from a previous year?

Monday, 15 November 2010

Peregrine falcons

Last week I was in Victoria helping Victor Hurley band peregrine falcon chicks, as part of a study he has been running for the past twenty years. I am familiar with these birds from doing the same thing in Scotland, but the variety of nests sites in Australia was interesting. There were the conventional and most common inland cliff sites, where the birds lay their eggs on bare ledges in the cliffs.
Then there were nests in tree holes. These were in very old trees. One was about 25m up in a temperate rain forest, just below the canopy, others were in river red gums on the banks of the Murray River. Some, like the one below, were in red gums standing in flooded river beds - swamps with lots of cormorants, ibis and herons nesting in the adjacent trees.

Other nests were in quarries, old and currently in use. Some were in nest boxes deliberately erected for the birds high on the sides of factory buildings.

Then there were sites which I am familiar with in north-east Scotland, sea cliffs.
These birds stooped aggressively at Victor as he abseiled down to the nest for the chicks.
Then again when he went down a second time to return the chicks.