Monday, 22 October 2012

Frogmouth update

This will contain most of my burbling about the nesting of the Tawny Frogmouths in 2012.  I showed an image of the first evidence of chicks in an earlier (17 October) post.  I went to check the situation on the evening of 19 October and neither parent was on the nest, but 2 chicks were visible.

One outcome of the arrival of the tadpolemouths is that the female is now roosting each day on a close-by Acacia dealbata.
In the image she is in her afternoon position on the LH part of the horizontal branch.  Each morning she is huddled against the trunk of the tree about 3m to the right of this position.  It appears she shifts gradually over the morning.

On 21 October Frances and I went out about 9pm (ie after dark) with a variety of lights to see if we could get an image of the chicks.  The results were not great.
It was interesting to watch the birds flying to and from the nest but I felt we might be disturbing them with the lights, so left promptly.  That being said they appear to be quite indifferent to our activities, both during the day and after dark.

Although the weather has warmed up the chicks have been hard to spot.  On 25 October one was seen alongside Dad.
 I cannot help but feel they are what Spielberg had in mind with Gremlins!
The wind was less fierce on the 26th and both chicks were visible.  One seemed to be reacting to the bad press (see above) and hiding in shame.
The other was obviously more resilient  and just quietly snoozing tucked up against Dad in the afternoon sun.
Here is the first image I have got this year with both chicks (chix?) visible.  As usual I suggest click on the image to get a bigger picture.
On 9 November the group had moved about 5m along the branch, but I suspect by crawling (confirmed, see below) not flying.  The nest site is near the low point of the branch on which they are sitting.
Obviously one of the chicks doesn't like the view from this new position.  (I was initially concerned that only 1 chick was present but then worked out what bits related to which bird.)
A little later they had assumed the normal post fledging position, and after a bit of wing stretching moved into this grouping.:
In addition to the surprising amount of shuffling around there was a surprising amount of vocalisation. The adult female (about 40m away) was quietly 'ooming' possibly a reaction to my hanging out washing about 5m away from her.  The chicks were making little begging noises and bumping the male on his  neck: he ignored them!

On 10 November Frances was working in the vegetable garden and heard the sound of "ooming".  Looking up she saw the adult male, followed by the two chicks, doing the sideways shuffle back to the nest sight.  She thought this most amusing to watch.

On Rememberance Day the gang of three were still in their extra-nidial position while Mum had moved to a closer tree.  This is shown in the next image, where the semi-concealed female is the upper circle.  She is actually about 15 metres from the tree in which the rest are sitting, and a fair bit lower.
Mid-morning on 11/11 Frances reported much activity on the branch with considerable stretching of wings.  By the time I had got out there this had to a large extent died down but the small chick is opening its wings in this image.
On 12 November I spent a few minutes in a chair with my camera.  The next three images show some wing exercises.

I went out in the evening of 14 November about 9:30 and no frogmouths were in the nest tree anywhere!  Mum turned up with a serve of skink which she ate herself but no-one else was around.  This morning everyone was back in the roosts they have used (nest tree out of nest  and Acacia) for the previous 6 days.  I am concluding that the chicks flew for the first time some point between about 10pm on 12 November and 6am on 13 November since they have not entered the nest since that time.  The return to the nest tree is an innovation!

They flew without doubt sometime before 2130 on 15 November since the nest tree was completely empty at that time and I could find no Frogmouths anywhere in the hood (despite searching for 30 minutes.  This situation also pertained for a fair while on the morning of the 16th,  Eventually I found them about 70m from the nest tree with Dad and the two chicks sitting in a Eucalyptus mannifera (Brittle Gum) in our neighbours' property.  This is the first time I have found them:

  • in a E. mannifera; and
  • on the neighbours' place (although I have suspected they have taken trips there in the past).

Mum was sitting about 20m closer to the new nest tree, right on the boundary, in a very cryptic pose in a roost they have used a couple of times in the past.
I have ringed both positions in red in the next image.
Shortly after that image was taken the birds all went off on tour.  I couldn't find them for 14 days but then they all reappeared on 6 December.  The young birds were very vocal, muttering away whenever we came close.  Here is an image which compares with those above: they now look like small frogmouths not big fluffballs.
Another disappearance happened until 21 December when they all appeared in the roost nearest to our bore.  When first spotted Dad and both chicks were on one branch with Mum a little higher.  When I returned an hour or so later Dad and the female chick had moved up in the world:
Here is a close up of what I believe to be the male chick and Mum.
Possibly my final Frogmouth snap for 2012 is this close up of the head of the male chick showing the 'whiskers'.


Swan Pond said...

What a great post. I encourage these observations! These are wonderful birds. A pair nested in a tree adjacent to my home in Northern NSW, where I grew up. We took a lively interest in them, always looking to see which tree they were in, often a couple of trees, once the young were out of the nest. The parents came back to the same tree and area each year for many years.

Flabmeister said...

Thanks Swan Pond. If you search my blog for the label Frogmouths you'll find a lot of stuff about this family over the 6 years we have lived out here.

I have recorded them using 27 trees in the area and they still manage to disappear from time to time. They are fascinating and obsession-inducing!