Friday, October 19, 2012

Updates: species nesting and breeding

Over a period of about 1 & a 1/2 weeks I have observed some changes with some of the birds nesting in Tenterfield. The Red Wattlebird which I thought was the only one left in Tenterfield has started begging for food for it's young about 5-7 times a day. As soon as it has eaten a bit of the food I give it (sometimes), it flies away with a large mouthful of food. Not long afterward it is back again wanting more food. The adult bird, it is the one with the left-bent tail feathers, continues to fly down to the creek where the nest is to feed it's young. So, obviously, it has a mate who is also taking care of it's young, which appears to be constantly sitting or very near the nest. I saw it's mate out feeding herself/himself tonight just before it got dark just after sunset. Today and yesterday the food begging has slowed down a great deal to just 2-3 times a day.

Yesterday when I gave a bit of meat to the Australian Magpies, the adult male flew off with some of it in his beak. He only does this when chicks need to be fed. Going on passed experiences I would say the chicks have hatched less than 4 days ago. Very little food, that I can tell, is being given to the chicks at this time and it was only once yesterday that food was taken to the chicks, but they have hatched nonetheless. Also, the adult male Magpie has been seen more in it's old territory than it's new territory. I'm guessing that the 2 days of rain we had recently brought back the Magpies to their old territory (south side of Douglas Street).

Much earlier in the day (yesterday) my brother Daniel told me he saw 2 crows attacking an Eastern Brown Snake in the paddock opposite the nest of 2 Torresian Crows, on the other side of the road. Daniel did not know if the crows had killed the snake or not and he had no idea that the crows were even nesting. I had to go out yesterday, and before I turned the corner of Douglas and Francis Streets to go onto Francis Street, I saw a crow on the road feeding on a dead rabbit. On closer expection of the rabbit the eyeball was missing. The crow had eaten it. How disgusting!

Turning the corner I tried to see if the snake was dead or not but could not see any signs of a snake. However, on the way home I was actually swooped by these same two Torresian Crows. Well, if you can call it swooping. One of the birds flew from the Tenterfield Creek in the showgrounds area to a gum tree on the ST. Joseph's Catholic Primary School property, at the bottom left of the oval as I got within range of their tree. One of them was sitting on a nest prior to the attack. With 2 birds in the tree one flew over my head about 20-30 feet above me, then sort of lifted it's tail up, flapped it's wings then continued to fly normally. They made no noise when they swooped me. Just before the attack, or during it, I heard a sound that was quiet but weird. It sounded similiar to the noise you hear of dew on an electric fence, creating a slight clicking charge sound. It was a softer sound to that of an electric fence and it was more of a clicking sound than anything else. The second bird swooped me moments later. They both flew onto the Rural Fire Service boudary fence and just sat there doing nothing as I continued to walk passed the area. I was probably less than 150 -200 metres from the said gum tree.  This might actually explain why, several weeks beforehand, I saw a Laughing Kookaburra trying to ransack something in the same gum tree before it was chased out of the tree by one of the crows. Perhaps the kookaburra was trying to take over the crows nest to use it for itself to nest in? I doubt the crows would've had laid eggs back then but I could be wrong.

For probably a week now the Masked Lapwings have stopped swooping. I'm guessing that the juveniles have learnt how to fly and can now flee danger should any come the chicks' way. I am certain that at least 2 breeding pairs of Masked Lapwings have bred this October. The pair that was hanging around the paddock on the corner of Francis and Miles Streets (opposite the showgrounds) that would not move from that paddock have moved on as well. I believe they were nesting too but I avoided that paddock when going on foot into town as they were getting very aggressive in the end. The Lapwings spend most of their time hanging around the Tenterfield Creek or within several hundred metres from the creek.

For the passed 2 days the grey Shrike-thrushes have gone very quite. I have heard one of them calling out at dawn but generally they are quiet throughout the rest of the day. I barely hear a sound from them now. I believe they are sitting on eggs, as of this morning they were still in the area. Within the last 24 hours both birds were seen flying away from their new nest to the creek in a southerly direction. There have been no other sightings of either one of them around my neighbour Carol's back door and I have not seen them flying around my immediate area in the last 4 days.

The Crested Pigeon who was nesting has not been heard lately either. It is still quiet and it has been seen feeding so hopefully there will be chicks running around the place soon. I have checked today if her eggs have hatched or not but can't tell as the female, I think, is still sitting on the nest.

Lastly, to the White-faced Heron... It appears at first glance that the White-faced Heron's nest has been abandoned. As the nest is about 50 feet off the ground it is really hard to see what is on the nest. I also have to move away from the tree to get the right angle just to see any kind of activity on the nest. My hands shake if I hold a camera almost above my head. So, I need to take lots of photos of the nest hoping at least one of them will be crystal clear and not shaky.

Just before sunset tonight I took a few photos of the White-faced Heron's nest, and all are blurry. But the photos reveals that the adult bird is not sitting on eggs anymore and that the eggs have hatched, or at least that's what it looks like. The photo below, despite it being blurry, reveals an adult White-faced Heron doing something similiar to kneeling or standing up in the nest. The bird is to the side of the nest as well. This is a promising sign actually as I have never known White-faced Herons to actually nest in Tenterfield itself.

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