White-bellied Sea-Eagle nest 1 July 2016

Saturday 9 July 2016

When I arrived, I saw the Wedge-tailed Eagles. I think they had been upsetting the White-bellied Sea-Eagles, who were honking.

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As I crept towards the nest, I suddenly realised that the White-bellied Sea-Eagles were sitting on a branch not far away. I sank down behind a post and watched them. They sat there for a good 20 minutes, just calmly looking around.

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Eventually they flew off over the swamp, which is in the opposite direction to the nest.

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Wednesday 13 July 2016

I was horrified when I went to check the nest and saw how fast things are being dug up and built near the nest. The eagles weren’t there.

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Monday 18 July 2016

I checked on the nest today and things had gotten much, much worse. My usual parking spot and route to my hiding place was fenced off and a tree had been cut down. One of the eagles was at the nest but was scared off by the continual driving back and forth of two large dump trucks on a dirt track only 60 m – at the closest point – from the nest tree.

The nest is in a tree on private land, but it is only 60 m from the fence and dirt track. On the other side of the dirt track is a large sloping area of vacant land. The nearest road – on which I sometimes park to watch the nest – is 330 m away. On the other side of it, houses are being built. The nearest road on the top side is  about 260 m away and the nearest road on the bottom side is about 400 m away.

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After having a bit of a tussle with two magpie larks, the eagle settled back in the nest.

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But when a grader drove down the vacant land, it flew away and didn’t come back while I was there.

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Saturday 23 July 2016

This morning I dropped in briefly and was thrilled to see one White-bellied Sea-Eagle fly in to the nest. It stood there for a while, poked around a bit then flew away. I’m almost certain there was no change of parents.

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I went back in the afternoon to try and get photos in the lovely light, but the eagles weren’t there.

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Saturday 30 July 2016

The developers are there all the time now. I haven’t visited all week because the last few times I went, the construction vehicles were there in the early morning and didn’t stop until sunset. Today is Saturday and I visited the nest at about 8:45 am. I couldn’t believe it when I saw a bulldozer pushing soil and rocks around what used to be a grassy slope adjoining the land the nest tree is on. It was making an engine noise, a clattering sound like a jackhammer and an occasional beeping sound. It was persistent and intrusive.

I’m afraid human disturbance has caused the eagles to abandon the nest. I was there for about 1 1/4 h and watched the nest for the entire time. I did not see or hear the eagles. I feel particularly sad this week, because it is 47 days since I saw the adults mate. White-bellied Sea-Eagle eggs take 40-42 days to hatch. If things had gone well, baby eagles could be hatching right now in this nest, as they are in the Sydney nest.

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This story has a sad ending because developers want to make money and people want to build their dream homes. Years ago, two Sea-Eagles built their dream home in a strong tree on open land. Now, they are being driven out by the noise and movement of people who are taking, taking, taking the land. The new homes are relentlessly moving forwards, like a glacier. Only the swamp will stop them.

Productive nests

2009 – Whistling kites

In 2009, I discovered three nests in a tall eucalypt in a small park. At that time, I often saw two whistling kites in the surrounding trees. I did not see them in the nest, but on one visit I saw a dead one on the ground below. Looking back, I think it must have been a baby that fell or couldn’t fly.

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2010 – White-faced herons

In 2010, I was amazed to see baby white-faced herons in the left nest, which is lower than the two shown above. They are very well camouflaged.

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2012 – Brown falcon

In 2012, I went to check if the whistling kites were there. I suddenly got buzzed by an angry brown falcon!

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Looking up, I saw a brown falcon in the top nest!

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2015 – Brown goshawks

In 2015, I went to check the nest. To my amazement, two baby brown goshawks were hopping around in the branches around it.

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2016 – No nests

Last weekend, I visited the park and was devastated to see no nests in the tree. I was afraid that people had cut the tree down. There were two stumps, and I wasn’t sure exactly where the tree had been.

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I took a photo of the nearest intact tree. Comparing the branches to the ones in the top photo, I think this one was the nest tree. There is no trace of the three nests, so I can only assume that the superstorm last year took them out.

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I’m behind!

Once again I’m behind with my blog, so I’ll just post some favourite photos from 2 weeks ago. This juvenile White-bellied Sea-Eagle was surrounded by Black Kites:

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Here it is:

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And here is an adult:

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Black Kites are one of my new favourite birds of prey:

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Last weekend I didn’t have time to go out. On Monday I took out the washing, looked up and 4 Black Kites were circling. I love it when they find me!

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Surprise

Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.
-Boris Pasternak

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I got the greatest surprise yesterday. I noticed a Brown Falcon perched on the top of a distant bare tree. I watched it for quite a while, hoping to see it fly, but it seemed settled. I strolled up the hill and suddenly there it was, flying towards me. It was close, low down and facing the sun.

I frantically raised my camera and fired off as many shots as I could. I cut off a wing here, a head there, it was so close. It was gone in seconds. The shot below is the sharpest I have ever taken of a Brown Falcon in flight. If only the bird had a wing tip, I would have been ecstatic!

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I thought I was watching the Brown Falcon again a little later then realised I was actually watching a Black Falcon.

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A beautiful adult White-bellied Sea-Eagle flew over several times.

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And as usual, Whistling Kites were circling over the paddocks.

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I also saw a Wedge-tailed Eagle, a Swamp Harrier and many Black Kites.

When I go out birding, I think I know what to expect, but the birds usually manage to surprise me. And I love it.

Cleaning

You cannot make women contented with cooking and cleaning and you need not try.
– Ellen Henrietta Swallow Richards

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Cleaning. It’s not my favourite thing. But I have some beautiful pets that deserve to have the cleanest, healthiest environment I can provide.

Today is Saturday, the first day of yet another rainy weekend. I can’t go out and take photos of birds so I might as well spend time looking after my own birds.

I started the day by noticing that my cockatiels needed new plants in their cage. The old plants were a bit shriveled. Then I cut up some fruit and vegies, and changed the pellets and shell grit. I was on a roll. I wiped down the cage, changed the bottom tray and threw out two wooden ladders that were encrusted with you know what.

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Turning to my left, I noticed that the marine fish tank needed a clean. There was a thin film of algae on the glass. I got out the chair and scrubbers, rolled up my sleeves and got to work. I finished up by cleaning the dust off the top glass, topping up the water and putting the fish food containers on a pretty tray. Done!

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Walking into the kitchen, I remembered that my freshwater fish tank was overdue for a water change. Out came the towel and watering can again. I poured the used water into the one garden that isn’t impossibly waterlogged from all the rain and filled the tank with fresh water. I scrubbed the glass and fertilised the plants. In a little while I’ll clean the filter material.

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It’s taken most of the day to do this, but my pets are worth every bit of care I can give them. They add so much to my life.

Now … what do the dog and cat need?