Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Brown streaks are Crimsons

Where'd he go? Do you see him? Can you see mum and dad? Do we have to go now?

Three fledgling Crimson Finches (Neochmia phaeton) peer uncertainly from their tree trunk nest hole beside the bird hide at Tyto today.

By chance (and self-imposed Little Bittern survey duty), I was in the hide for much of the morning. It soon became obvious nest departure time was nigh. The parent birds issued nonstop calls from nearby bushy weeds to encourage their young out into the world.

Answering calls from within the nest hinted at a reluctance to quit the cosy surrounds. After more than an hour without outcome, the female parent tried a new approach, perching at the nest entry and telling those inside to get outside.

Didn't work immediately. But after about 15 minutes and the fourth such command a brown streak (I'm presuming a male - sorry, but that's the way of wildlife: boys first and riskiest) launched from the nest and flew 10 metres directly across a narrow channel and landed clumsily low in the Scleria.

That left - as it turned out - three to follow. Number two a few minutes later flew straight over the channel and dropped onto the Scleria. Number three followed the same flight path after an awkward scrambled exit.

Number four proved a problem. Calls from parents and three siblings drew no response for several minutes. The siblings gave up calling and concentrated on the challenge of maintaining a sure foothold on their new habitat. This seemed more problematic than the first flights.

Finally, the last brown streak dived across the gap and joined the family. All promptly disappeared deeper into the Scleria. And not a minute too soon as the wind picked up and an hour of showers followed. A wet wide world welcome for the juveniles.

So, to wrap up the three nests around the hide and introduced as a group in an earlier post about impatient tourists:

Willie Wagtails, two young - always visible; Crimson Finches, four - never visible; Brown-backed Honeyeaters, ? perhaps two - mysteriously invisible (nest, metre from hide: awful position; incubation: no sign; feeding: seen twice; juveniles: no sight or sound).

In the interim, the male Crimson has completed another nest in a cleft immediately above the now empty hole, but with the entry facing west rather than east. They do love building! Not all such secondary nests are used as it depends on the female's approval. We'll wait and see.

And a pair of White-breasted Woodswallows have built in a deep fork of another paperbark about 10 metres to the west of the hide.

In the midst of all this procreation, two Little Bitterns gurgled briefly from deep cover, a Spotless Crake darted across a channel, two Purple Swamp-Hens gradually accepted my shadowy presence, six Comb-crested Jacanas danced on the water, four Magpie Geese squabbled about grass rights, and a Wood Sandpiper probed the water's edge.

Throw in an assortment of other birds about the place and being sheltered from the squalls and it's little wonder time flies in the hide.


altered egos said...

nice find- your blog. will try to keep up. nice pictures too

Duncan said...

Tony, what a feast of birds, beaut picture and descriptions, a top post.

Denis Wilson said...

Indeed an enjoyable write-up.
I once watched a pair of Galahs trying to coax the last nestling out of the nest hollow. Took an hour, and much bad language from the adults. Eventually it flew, and within a few wing-flaps it was flying strongly, like a "pro".
Your story ended nicely. I feared one would crash into the swamp and drown. Glad that didn't happen.

Tyto Tony said...

Hi AE: Thanks for dropping by. Nice to hear from another continent. Be careful up those big trees!

Tyto Tony said...

Gidday Duncan: Chased a few dragonflies in the hide area today and came out with little to show for it. C'est la vie!

Tyto Tony said...

Hi Denis: Ah, Galahs! One of my favourites. To my mind, birds with a sense of humour and without the nasty streak of cockies.

You know, not for a moment did I fear for the young Crimsons. I'd probably have jumped in if one has splashed down. But then I'd be responsible for it - and no good deed goes unpunished.

Mosura said...

Great shots and an enjoyable read - Thanks!

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