Whistling kite nest 4 2018

Here is a link to some backstory, then I’m going to write about this year’s whistling kite nesting to see if it’s successful.

Saturday 14 April 2018

A small park where I previously found nesting birds of prey is now being dug up for development. I can’t see the nest tree, which used to have three nests in it. I think it may have been cut down

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A pond that has been home to water birds as long as I can remember is now surrounded by mud.

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Sunday 6 May 2018

I saw a pair of whistling kites in a tree in the park!

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Then, as I walked carefully around the trees, I saw a small nest that is well hidden.

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The developers have been working around the trees.

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Sunday 20 May 2018

Today, I visited the park. I could see three birds of prey circling over the flat land several hundred metres away so I walked towards the nest tree to get a photo of the nest. To my surprise, a head popped up!

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I felt terrible about disturbing an incubating bird so I retreated and left the park.

Saturday 2 June 2018

Today I did a five minute check of the nest. I drove the car into the park and stayed inside, so I was not a threat. An adult was on the nest.

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Nearby (50-80 m), two wood ducks and a purple swamphen were clinging to their destroyed habitat.

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Sunday 24 June 2018

As I drove to the site, I saw both whistling kites in the air, chasing some ravens. When I drove in, I couldn’t see where they went. They didn’t appear to be in the nest, but seemed to be defending it.

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Sunday 1 July 2018

Today I had a quick look at the site just before dark. I saw one whistling kite fly to the normal guard roost tree. There are big piles of sand and soil even closer to the nest tree.

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Thee are signs that people have been driving around the nest tree itself.

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White-bellied Sea-Eagle nest 1 2018

Wednesday 7 February 2018

I have walked past the nest several times this year without seeing or hearing the sea-eagles. This afternoon I heard them honking quite urgently in the trees further in than the nest.

Saturday 9 February 2018

I didn’t see or hear the sea-eagles this afternoon. The houses are being built rapidly along the new street closest to the fence that is the boundary between the new development and the property the nest is in. I’m not a good judge of distance but I estimate they are no more than 50 m from the nest.

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Friday 16 March 2018

I saw one eagle fly low back to the trees behind the nest and almost immediately heard squonking. I didn’t see them at the nest.

Sunday 25 March 2018

I went for a walk in the late morning. We had had heavy rain during the week and there was a lot of wet grassland and the swamps had filled. I heard the sea-eagles – maybe on the other side of the swamp – but did not see them. I did see a whistling kite cruising over the swamp.

Thursday 12 April 2018

When I arrived at about 5;15 pm, I saw one of the adults roosting on a bare forked tree.

Thursday 17 May 2018

I went for a walk at about 5:00 pm and saw one sea-eagle fly back into the nest area. It flew into the trees that are further in from the development.

There are houses all up the street closest to the nest tree and people are already living in many of them.

Tuesday 29 May 2018

Tonight I visited the nest to see if I could see the sea-eagles. At about 4:45 pm I heard a great kerfuffle and saw birds flying all around the trees. I suddenly spotted one of the sea-eagles, but just for a few seconds.

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Friday 1 June 2018

This afternoon, at about 4:00 pm, I again saw a single sea-eagle flying near the nest. I am alerted by all the other birds lifting off and squawking.

Monday 25 June 2018

I walk past the nest a few times a week, but have not seen the eagles recently. Sometimes I hear them and tonight I heard other birds doing alarm calls. People have moved into lots of the houses in the streets closest to the nest. It means I can’t park where I want or stand and watch with my camera without looking suspicious. Some houses have backyards that will go right up to the boundary fence (40 m from the nest tree).

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.