The Peewee Three.

We’d spotted Magpie-larks ( Grallina cyanoleuca – aka Peewees) nesting and breeding in the small pocket of mangroves under the south pylon of Meadowbank rail bridge last summer. But on that occasion, there was just a single chick.
Returning to check on a nest we recently saw being built (see Close to Home 1, Sep 7), we were delighted to find a family of three chicks.
We first noticed the male on the nest:

He flew off, but perched nearby to keep an eye on us. The female took his place on the nest almost immediately, so we were fairly certain there was a chick.

Returning a week later, we could clearly see there were three chicks in this hatching! At this point they were still so young that their wing feathers had hardly developed, and they looked a bit like skeleton birds!

When the female returned for feeding, they all sat up!

One chick seemed more advanced than the other two. We assume he or she had hatched first:

These birds are fiercely territorial, especially at breeding time. The male kept a close eye on the humans with the cameras.

He took a dislike to one particular jogger, swooping at her as she passed, and again when she returned.

When we next returned, all three chicks were close to fledging.

The adult female returned, the chicks still dependent on their parents for feeding.

The adult male was never far away, keeping an eye on his chicks, now that they had left the safety of the neat little mud nest.

Even (or maybe especially?) at this late stage, the parents were extremely defensive of their chicks. The female made a show of flapping and giving the pee-pee-pee-pee alarm call:

The male joined in too, and it was not long before he was swooping Brad.

We did not want to distress them any further after they had successfully raised three chicks to fledging stage. Wishing the kids luck, we left them in peace.


All Over the SOP.

On a solo cycle through Sydney Olympic Park and on to Meadowbank Wharf, Brad – predictably – found some birds.

Around the southern end of Haslam’s Creek, a few families of Purple Swamphens (Porphyria porphyria) were showing their chicks the ropes. The chicks were rather cute:

One of the parents on the shore was determined to distract me away from the chicks with a display I can only refer to as “flashing his bright white arse”…

Moving onto Woo-la-ra Hill – which Bramanda have nicknamed Cisticola Hill – a few minutes listening for the distinctive call led me to a small group of Golden-headed Cisticolas (Cisticola exilis):

At Badu Wetlands, a number of juvenile Pied Stilts (Himantopus leucocephalus):

And also a photogenic Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia):

In the rapidly dropping sun, a Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) made a lovely silhouette against the diamante water:

A Red Wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata):

A female Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus)…

…and the male. It is not widely realised how varied the male’s plumage can be as he moves in and out of his breeding phases:

In the mangroves right in the south-east corner of Homebush Bay, a juvenile White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) was working out how to forage amongst the pneumatophores. He was very unsure of where to place his feet as he browsed between these spiky aerial roots.

Heading for home, I checked in on the Magpie-lark location, but only found this male. Is he the now-fledged chick we photographed less than two months ago?

And as a final treat, a Little Corella (Cacatua sanguinea) allowed me to photograph her feeding her recently fledged youngster.



Weeks after we noticed this male Magpie-lark (Peewee) with his foot tangled in fishing-line, it was still there and obviously causing him pain. Just a friendly reminder to any anglers – please do your utmost to ensure that discarded line is not left behind.


Magpie-larks again.

Cycling to Sydney Olympic Park, we stopped by the mangroves at the south end of Meadowbank Bridge to check on the Magpie-lark (Peewee) Family. Mum was on the nest, but this time we got a better look at Baby:

Mum was feeding the chick, who was already showing signs of early plumage. Looks like a male (we assume the black face rule applies for the chicks as well):

Mum took off, and the chick clearly wanted more, calling while she was away. She was back soon enough.

It was a hot and sunny day, and it appeared that Mum used her tail as a parasol for the chick:

Dad was nearby all the time, and seemed more relaxed about me than two days ago:

At first we thought he was bringing nesting material until we realized that he had got some fishing line tangled around his right foot:

Update: we spotted this guy 3 weeks later with this line still around his foot. It looked like it was causing him some grief. Anglers: please do everything you can to ensure fishing line is not left behind.


The Magpie-Lark (aka Peewee).

In a small stand of mangroves in the shadow of Meadowbank Bridge, we spotted some Australasian Figbirds (Specotheres vieilloti):

The female Figbird was also there:

Then we spotted a neat, mud nest on a branch hanging over the water:

It wasn’t long before the Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca)turned up – the female (white face and throat)

She sat on the nest, and we could see that she had a baby:

The male (black face and throat, white “eyebrow”) had clocked me however. Even though there were 12 to 15 people in the area, he absolutely knew that I was the one who had discovered where his nest was, and he proceeded to hassle me quite bravely. Which meant I was treated to some great aerial shots:

And the female never took her eyes off me either:

We left them in peace, but decided to check in with them regularly.