Sunday, 7 May 2017
Down amongst the mangroves.
mangrove honeyeaters like to nest in them. I discovered this by chance one year because honeyeaters are fairly aggressive birds, even the tiny ones & they are hugely territorial. Round here the males stake their territory by perching at the top of a Red Mangrove [one of our tall mangroves] & announcing himself with a series of bravo calls. These perches also make good watch perches & you will hear alarm calls if a predator is spotted.
In mating season you will hear mated pairs calling to each other & of course I always look around me to see if I can spot a nest. Personally I think they are quite mad because what I found was particularly insane for a species not renowned for its smarts.
A foot or so above what would be high water the female had pulled together a bunch of hibiscus leaves live & still attached to the tree, all gummied together with spiderweb & a little cup nest of pine needles & twigs nestled in the middle with 2 of the tiniest eggs ever!
Apparently this is something they do & no~one seems to have any idea why. However I thought it was fantastic & rounded up the kids with clear instructions as to being quiet, not disturbing the mother & only looking at the eggs if she left the nest & never, ever touch! Nor do we ever share our finds. Not everyone is as fascinated & careful.
We were able to monitor the eggs & saw the newly hatched chicks, & later just before they flew. One day they just weren't there & the next season we had huge king tides so there has never been another nest in that particular spot.
However it is not breeding season at the moment so all I saw was the pale crepey flowers of the Wild Hibiscus.
Due to storm damage & someone's bright idea to build an eco~resort that never materialized there is now a huge amount of fallen timber all along the foreshore & places where you have to choose between scrambling up the bank or heading for the mud. Today I chose to go up the bank ~ & found a bird skeleton. Nothing left to say what it had once been but we have plenty of raptors about like the Brahminy Kite I saw today.
Osprey, like the kites & sea eagles are mostly scavengers & prefer the easy pickings they can scrounge along the mud rather than actually hunting for a meal. Falcons are different. They are fast & they are killers. One of the lads once got showered in blood & feathers while coming through the door as a raptor snavelled a pigeon right above his head! And when we first moved here a hawk shot under my moving car to snatch a kill on the other side.
Just the same I love having so many raptors about. Like so many other animals they sometimes do things just for the sheer pleasure of it ~ because they can. The mangroves are almost always still. The wind doesn't penetrate into their depths but you will hear the raptors scream & when you look up through a break in the mangroves they are riding the thermals for the sheer joy of flight. It gives me such pleasure.