Sunday, 19 November 2017

Descendants of Dinosaurs

A few photos that I think are good to look at!

The Frogmouth chicks are getting close to leaving the nest.  Judging by the amount of noise coming from our dam, they will have been getting plenty of food delivered to them.

 Obviously the chicks are very aware of their surroundings, giving me the eye as I photograph them.  There are some details of later in the day below this next photograph.

I'm not sure if this Gippsland Water Dragon was looking at me or not as I photographed from the car parked on our Creek crossing.
Getting back to the Frogmouths.  On checking my records it seems that on average timing the chicks will leave the nest tomorrow night, 20 November.  So I also consulted my records of last years flight process and it seemed that activity started between 1945 and 200 Hrs, so tonight, 19 November, I watched them from 1945 onwards.

The male adult left the nest at 2002.  This caused the chicks to wander about the nest but not do any wing flapping.  At 2008 the female flew into the tree perching a few metres away from the nest.  The chicks immediately started bobbing up and down and stretching their wings.  At 2010 the male returned and fed at least one of the chicks: he flew off again after about a minute and the female left at 2012.  That stirred the chicks up: much hopping around and flapping wings.  They didn't seem to get much lift, so I think they need another day - at least.  By 2020 it was too dark to see anything.

The next morning - 20 November - at 0530 the nest was occupied by the male and both chicks.  There was much movement in the nest at various times during the day.  I resumed fledge-watch at 20:00.  The chicks were both boisterous but Dad didn't leave until 20:09.  The chicks then hopped around the nest and surrounds with much wing flapping.  About 20;15 Dad returned and fed a chick. and Mum delivered a serve a couple of minutes later.  By 20:25 I could see nothing, but both chicks were still in the nest.

When I checked the nest at 0520 on 21 November it appeared to be empty.  However 10 minutes later, in much better light at least one adult was present, and a little later one chick was evident.  Finally both chicks were spotted about 0830.  Mum was elsewhere.  In this first photo I am amused by the posture of the most visible chick.
 This one shows how the chicks are not really in the nest!
Later in the day they had gone walkabout even more!
 Down at ground level a Blotched Blue-tongued Lizard paid us a visit
 Perhaps that should be Blotched Pink and Blue-tongued Lizard
In the evening dad flew off at 2006.  Then at 2009 one of the chicks took wing and flew to the other side of the nest tree (perhaps 10m) where Dad was perching.  It stayed there for about 10 minutes then took off while I was looking at the other chick.  That got fed by Mum about 2018 but was still in the nest when it got too dark to see anything at 2025.

On the morning of 22 November the nest was empty.  The following is from an email I posted to the COG Chatline:
They were very late starting to build the nest this year (6 September vs a modal date of 21 August) but caught up a bit with quick nest building (14 days vs an average of 16.5 days).  Since then processes have been pretty much on average.   Incubation was 28 days as it has been for 5 of the 8 years for which I have records (1 years of 27 days and 2 of 29 days) and the chicks were in the nest for 35 days rather than an average of 34 days (excluding last year which was a very long 41 days - I think a reflection of a very wet Winter). 
The family have set up for the day in a tree about 30m from the nest.  Dad and the chicks are snuggled, with Mum on a different branch.

Needless to say this was right over th track where the fencing contractors were going back and forth all day in their ute.  Sorry Froggies, toughen up - its a hard world out here.

The next day the male and chicks weren't where they had been.  However, a little searching turned them up in an area I've never seen them use before, about 20m further from the nest.  They seemed quite relaxed there, even though it was one of the lower roosts I have seen them use.

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