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A Wine Glass half empty

January 12, 2019

In fact this is a wine glass totally empty story. In the past few years I have been training myself to not just see birds but observe what they are doing and listen for them, because photographing them is one thing but being able to watch them nesting and rear chicks is another.

So it was with great delight before Xmas that I heard and then saw two Grey Fantails (Rhipidura albiscapa) involved in a lot of activity in the vines next to the house. The birds then started making repeated trips to the back door (pictured above left through an embarrassingly dirty window) where they appeared to be collecting the hairs of our Border Collie, Mac, from the door mat. The frequency of those visits suggested that the nest was not too far away and after careful observation of the to’s and fro’s of the birds the location of the nest site was soon apparent.

Over a period of five day the nest slowly took the shape of the classic wine glass (without the base), characteristic of Grey Fantails. Fantail nests are made of fine grass, bark strips, plant fibre (& Mac hairs) all held together with spider webs. Unfortunately, irrespective of what angle I tried to take a photograph (even from the roof) there were leaves in the way. But being aware of the danger of having the eggs predated by a currawong or some other bird I resisted the urge to do some pruning.

 
The literature says the sitting time is about two weeks. Through the three days of heavy downpours and the plus 40C days a bird sat on the nest (pictured above). Then after a week and a half, nothing. The nest was left untended and has been ever since. No explanation. Not even any evidence of eggs. All that is left is a deteriorating construction of bark and Mac hair, pictured left.

For a wine glass full story, a glimpse of what could have been, check out ‘A Grey Fan-tale.

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