Grevilleas are great

We planted a bunch of different Grevilleas last winter in the hope of attracting more honeyeaters to the front garden. They are working a treat, especially for Eastern Spinebills, which suffer constant chasing from larger nectar feeders such as Red Wattlebirds and New Holland Honeyeaters. The spinebills dash in for a quick feed, hiding amongst the foliage and escaping attention as they sip happily on nectar … at least for a short while. Eventually they are discovered and zip off to find another quiet spot to fuel up.

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Eastern Spinebill and Grevillea, Newstead, 22nd July 2014.

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The Grevilleas provide good camouflage for the tiny spinebills.

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This New Holland Honeyeater moved in and chased off the spinebill.

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New Holland Honeyeater on ‘Tucker Time Fruit Box’ a Grevillea lanigera x rosmarinifolia hybrid.

Frogmouth update #1

Quite a few folks have expressed interest in following the progress of our local, dare I say famous, Tawny Frogmouths. Here’s what they’re up to in anticipation of a 2014 breeding event.

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Tawny Frogmouth pair at Newstead Natives, 19th July 2014.

Last year’s nest has been refurbished and lined with fresh Golden Wattle leaves, or phyllodes to be precise. The adults are spending more time perched close together, not in but near the nest, which is situated in a Yellow Gum about 20 metres away. Egg-laying may happen anytime from now through until September – weather conditions will play a part in timing. Last year the clutch was laid in September – I suspect this year may be earlier … but we’ll see!

A winter special

by Patrick Kavanagh

The heavy and somewhat early flowering of Grevilleas and Hardenbergias in our front yard has attracted a couple of very frenetic Eastern Spinebills Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris. They have spent a lot of time gorging themselves on nectar and squabbling with each other and some Yellow-faced Honeyeaters Lichenostomus chrysops over the rights to our yard. The Spinebills are very comfortable with the presence of a photographer, but utterly uncooperative – staying for the most part deep within the bushes, keeping in shadows and resting only briefly. I was greatly relieved when after some hours standing around camera in hand, they decided to briefly visit the well-lit upper reaches of the Hardenbergia violacea. The honeyeater was a little easier as it paused to cool down after chasing the Spinebills.

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Male Eastern Spinebill, Strangways, 14th July 2014.

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Enjoying the nectar of the Purple Coral-pea.

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Yellow-faced Honeyeater cooling down.

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Eastern Spinebills can be almost frenetic when feeding.

Recycling is good!

Australian Magpies have started nest-building. We have a pair making a nest high up in an English Elm at the end of our street. I was intrigued by some of the material used in the construction – pieces of nylon cord and insulated electrical wire had been woven into the structure.

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Australian Magpie constructing nest, Wyndham St Newstead, 19th July 2014.

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Australian Magpie nest with nylon and wire visible.

I then recalled finding this abandoned nest (pictured below) earlier this year, secreted in a Golden Wattle sapling in the churchyard next door. All traces of the old next have now disappeared – apparently relocated into the new ‘maggies’ nest nearby. Clearly Australian Magpies are into sustainable living!

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Nest in Golden Wattle, Newstead Uniting Church, 30th March 2014.

Weekend raptors

Continuing the weekend raptor theme – here is a selection of other shots from yesterday’s outing.

This Brown Falcon was surprisingly unperturbed by my arrival – shooting from the car helped it remain comfortable.

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Brown Falcon, Moolort to Campbelltown Road, Moolort Plains, 19th July 2014.

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Take-off!

This Black Kite was seen in the company of a Little Eagle near Joyce’s Creek. Fresh blood on the beak and claws indicate a recent kill, most likely a rabbit.

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Black Kite @ Joyce’s Creek, 19th July 2014.

To finish off – here are some flight shots of the female Nankeen Kestrel that featured yesterday.

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One eye apparently cocked for danger.

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The wind hover!

Kestrel portraits

It was a glorious afternoon on the Moolort Plains.

Nankeen Kestrels were the highlight with lots of opportunities for interesting portrait shots.

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Female Nankeen Kestrel, Clarke’s Lane Moolort Plains, 19th July 2014.

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The male perched nearby.

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Another female – this time along the Moolort to Campbelltown Road.

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The same individual enjoying a windmill perch.

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And again!

Traffic jam

How do they do it?

Many birds have the ability to fly in tight flocks, mere centimetres apart, in perfect unison.

Large flocks of Red-rumped Parrots are about at the moment, gathering to feed on fallen seeds, stocking up to get through the depths of winter. These were seen feeding on a lucerne paddock near Picnic Point. If synchronised flying was an Olympic sport these guys would certainly make the finals!

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Red-rumped Parrots near Picnic Point, 12th July 2014.

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Thirty two in this shot!

Other birds of course prefer to go solo.

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Black-shouldered Kite, Lock’s Lane Moolort Plains, 12th July 2014.

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Flame Robin + wire

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Richard’s Pipit, Clarke’s Lane Moolort Plains, 12th July 2014.