Woodlands Historic Reserve, Melbourne

We're now well past the winter solstice and the days are starting to get longer. What that means is the birds are starting to wake up a bit and think about nesting. They're becoming more vocal and more obvious. Males whose feathers go dull after breeding are starting to colour up again.

So it's time to grab those binoculars and go for a wander to your local birding site. I'm pretty lucky, living where I do. The Yarra is nearby and there are a number of billabongs that I can poke around in search for the little birds, like this Red-browed Finch.

The larger birds, of course, like Ravens, Wattlebirds, Butcherbirds and Kookaburras are much more obvious.

The other day I had to take my daughter to the airport, so I dropped in at Woodlands Historic Reserve. This is a great place for a pile of different birds - although I think the resident Little Eagle has gone. It was quite windy, so the birding was a bit of hard work.

Willie Wagtails, Grey Fantails and Superb Fairy-wrens were the most common birds there that day, but while I was there I came across a group of 21 White-winged Choughs. I was under the impression that they don't normally form groups of more than a dozen - although that may be Apostlebirds I'm getting confused with.

These Choughs were intently gathered around something - I never discovered what it was, because I didn't want to chase them off. Occasionally they'd all jump as though they'd been startled, so I guess it's possible they were looking at a lizard or something.

...and what is it with Choughs' eyes? Talk about demon red!

By the way, I don't normally crop my photos this much, I prefer to leave a good amount of context around the bird for framing as well as the "narrative". The photos are supposed to show where the bird was, what it was doing, what it was eating, etc.

This is also one reason why I like to use 8 times magnification binoculars rather than 10. I know this is a bit of a debate in the birding world, so I'll get into that another time.