… John Newman and Craig Morley
Whilst the last few days of this observation period have been marked by, at times, heavy rain and very cold winds, we have actually experienced a lot of sunshine over the past month with some lovely conditions for birdwatching, traveling short distances during the re-instatement of COVID-19 stage III restrictions. The extensive list of bird records submitted has certainly begun to show the approach of spring-like conditions with breeding behaviour and some completed breeding efforts documented.
Over many years the Australian Hobby has held special place for members of the club and the past few years have continued to provide for some very interesting urban Australian Hobby observations to be recorded right in the centre of commercial Geelong. We have been thrilled by records of phenomenal hunting amongst traffic on some of our major streets. A master of surprise attack and acrobatic flight, it was House Sparrows being hunted while they sought a winter roost. And a successful Australian Hobby nest was located atop a telecommunications tower in the heart of Geelong where young successfully fledged last season. Recent aerial displays involving, sometimes agitated, on one occasion four Hobbies and also some Pied Currawongs over this tower, are likely indications of breeding at this site once more. There are also active territories of Australian Hobbies in North Geelong and East Geelong, and elsewhere, so keep your eyes and ears open and be aware that you might just witness one of these feathered gems as a male streaks by taking prey to the female or a resident female ejects an ‘intruding’ female from a nest area. So be ready, and aware, you just never know what you might observe, and discover, if you keep watching a little bit longer!
The Geelong Bird Report 2013-2016 shows Black-shouldered Kites do regularly nest through autumn and into winter and so it is with interest that numerous juveniles have been seen across our region this month indicating successful breeding. The juvenile Black-shouldered Kite plumage is most distinctive and characteristic with tan-coloured feathering across the back of the neck and chest. Juveniles have been observed at Limeburners Lagoon and Beeac, for instance, practising their flying skills with watchful parents nearby.
Despite the sunnier days we are still seeing some of our winter birds persisting across the Geelong area and a nice collection of robins have been highlighted this month. Flame Robins are still being seen, in Charlemont and Moolap, no doubt soon to head back to the wetter Otway Ranges and similar places for breeding. Pink and Rose Robins are often seen in the Geelong Botanic Gardens in Autumn for a few weeks after dispersing from breeding areas in the cool wet gullies of the Otway Ranges. It is with much interest that two ‘brown’ Pink Robins and a Rose Robin are being seen regularly in these beautiful Gardens right on the edge of town.
Another highlight of the August recording period is the return of Latham’s Snipe with a bird seen at Lara in early August and again a week later. As we go to publication one has been observed at Lake Colac Bird Sanctuary, where up to 60 were observed last season. These migratory shorebirds utilise freshwater and slightly brackish grassy wetlands and inhabit many sites across the Geelong region including the Bellarine Peninsula. The timing of the return from their breeding grounds in Japan can be variable with dates from early August through to mid-September. They are exquisitely camouflaged and are often only detected when they flush from vegetation and rapidly fly high and quickly dive to ground again.
Thank you to all the observers who keenly observe and submit their observations to the GFNC web-site or directly as incidental or complete lists to eBird. Please do look through the list of records https://www.gfnc.org.au/observations/bird-observations submitted this month as it is extremely varied, interesting and represents considerable effort by the many passionate birders across Geelong region. You can also go to eBird Australia (and log-in) and use the explore species maps function https://ebird.org/australia/map and narrow down the date range to a particular year or month and zoom in on our region and learn more. And remember you can download pdf versions of Geelong Bird Reports from 2009 onwards at https://www.gfnc.org.au/about-us/publications
With sincere thanks, once more, to the keen and dedicated observers, and recorders, of our birds.