Breeding at the Bower
by Jill Whiter
White-bellied Sea-eagle nest
As is right and proper at this time of the year, the birds, the bees and the rest of nature's wild creatures are busily engaged in the annual renewal of life, confirmed by a walk along the Illawong Track at the end of August. Even the dimmest of us could not miss the persistent songs from every quarter, the busy to-ing and fro-ing of birds carrying either food or nesting materials.
At least two Fan-tailed Cuckoos were trilling but nobody seemed to be taking any notice of them. Usually, the mere cuckoo call will bring the residents together to repel these parasitic intruders. But not today. The breeding population of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters has returned and is in full song but still engaged in the business of choosing territories and mates. Likewise those clowns of the woodlands, the Noisy Friarbirds, slicing the air with their usual maniac yells.
A pair of Brown Thornbills constructing a neat little nest in a low-growing shrub caught my eye. Such a beautiful nest, a pendulous oval of woven grasses and bark shreds, bound with spiders webs, the hooded entrance already completed high on one side; one bird was still engaged in closing off the rounded bottom, weaving together the loose-hanging strands. Its mate stood by and gave me a thorough scolding for hanging about where I wasn't wanted.
This article was written by Jill Whiter, author of the Eurobodalla Naturalists Diary, a compilation of newspaper articles that chronicled Jill's observations of the local native wildlife in the region on a monthly basis. The diary is a fascinating collection of observations in the Eurobodalla (or mid South Coast) region made by local octagenarian, Jill Whiter, who's been a keen observer and naturalist for most of her many years. Click here for more details and to order a copy. We welcome contributions from our visitors to this page. Please upload any pics of South Coast wildlife with a few details of where they were sighted using the link at the bottom of this page.
A Spotted Pardalote sang vigorously from a sturdy eucalyptus branch but it wasn't possible to determine if it had already found and occupied a little hole or whether it was just proclaiming territorial rights. If they can't find a suitable bank in which to dig the usual tunnel, sometimes a metre or more long with the nesting chamber right at the end, Spotted Pardalotes will use a hole in either a branch or the trunk of a tree. Perhaps this chap was just singing for the hell of it.
A Little Wattlebird was making its untidy, cup-shaped twig nest in a prickly wattle shrub. It looked fairly obvious to me but the bird may have been relying on the prickles to deter predators. For all but the large birds that are able to defend their mates and nests from predators, hiding a nest is the first requisite to be considered by a breeding pair. A well-hidden nest has a better chance of escaping the notice of determined predators and therefore a better chance of success.
The White-bellied Sea-Eagle's nest is active; the female rose and flopped away in leisurely flight as I approached. They have little to fear from predators. The hungriest Lace Monitor would find it too difficult a climb to that high fork, and if it was foolish enough to try, it would be no match for a couple of agitated eagles. By the way, a good year and plentiful food has seen just about every known Sea-Eagle's nest in the Shire in use this spring, so a lot of youngsters will be taking their first flights in November or December. And that can be said of all nature's creatures, ... a good year profits everyone.