1+ 1 = 2

They’ve done it again!

Our local, Loddon River Powerful Owls have raised two youngsters again this season. Last year was a mystery – the birds were about but no young were seen. We are so lucky to have this incredible predator breeding successfully so close to town. The possums must be running scared at the moment!

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Male Powerful Owl, Loddon River @ Newstead, 22nd September 2014.

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Another unlucky possum … a Brush-tail this time.

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Juvenile Powerful Owls, Loddon River @ Newstead, 22nd September 2014.

Flying things

Yesterday morning was beautifully warm and still – perfect conditions for all manner of flying things, including this rare observation.

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A rare sighting, Clydesdale, 21st September 2014.

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Painted Lady on Daphne Heath.

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Australian Admiral on Daphne Heath.

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Welcome Swallow – an aerial master.

Woodland favourite

The Jacky Winter is a favourite of mine. They are confiding and active, spending much of their time pursuing insects from low perches. Interestingly, for a bird that spends much of its time close to the ground, they generally make their nests high up. This one was just putting the finishing touches on a new nest, situated in a narrow fork in a Grey Box. The nest site was about six metres up.

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Jacky Winter with nesting material, Green Gully area, 20th September 2014.

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Furnishing the nest.

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A sapling Grey Box is the chosen site.

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The nest is almost complete.

Watch out for woodswallows

Dusky Woodswallows are around throughout the year, resident in our local bush. With the first warm day forecast next week look out for migrating White-browed and Masked Woodswallows. They typically arrive on hot northerlies from the inland, listen out for their chattering overhead over the next week or two.

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Dusky Woodswallow, Cemetery Road Newstead, 13th September 2014.

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Tail-flicking courtship behaviour.

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All of the woodswallows have gorgeous powdery plumage.

Some things …

… just make the heart leap. This is one of those things.

Back in the drought years it was virtually impossible to find the Hooded Robin around Newstead. Numbers had fallen precariously and they were absent from haunts where I saw them reliably during the 1980s. To see them nesting locally again, and with an apparently rising population is wonderful.

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Female Hooded Robin attending nest, Plunkett’s Road Newstead, 13th September 2014.

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The female returning to incubate…

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…two eggs.

The nest was placed on the trunk of a Grey Box, with the bark prised away to create a narrow crevice for the delicate structure. It was a sunny morning and both adults were busy feeding in the area around the nest, with the female returning regularly to incubate. Incubation periods lasted about 5-10 minutes, followed by short bursts of feeding. The male wasn’t seen to visit the nest, but did patrol the general area for intruders. They were relaxed to let me watch on from a safe distance. Other birds, including a pair of Jacky Winters and Grey Fantails were  also busy constructing nests nearby.

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It’s been a while since I’ve seen such a sight.

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Beautifully camouflaged in an almost invisible nest.

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The male was on the lookout – a number of times it chased other small birds, including honeyeaters and treecreepers, away from the general area of the nest site.

Spring … blink and you’ll miss it!

Spring can be a bit fluky around Newstead. A lack of early spring rain is causing the local bush to dry off faster than has been the case in the past few years. I’d urge you to get out and enjoy it while you can.

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Yam Daisy, Fence Track, Muckleford State Forest, 16th September 2014.

Waxlip

One of the first of the Waxlip Orchids.

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Pink Bells near Demo Track, Muckleford State Forest.

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Gorse Bitter-pea – there are some spectacular displays in the bush north of Newstead.

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Red Wattlebirds feeding young.

Return of the sandpipers

The ‘sharpies’ have returned – Sharp-tailed Sandpipers that is.

Back in February there were a couple of small flocks around the lake, gathering their reserves for the long haul back to their breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere.

This means they’ve made the extraordinary flight, more than 10,000 kilometres each way, twice in six months. They’ll spend the summer now in southern Victoria – most birds head towards coastal wetlands and embayments such as Corner Inlet, Westernport and Swan Bay to feed on the extensive areas of mud flats in these places. With only small numbers of migratory waders found locally it’s always a delight to encounter them.

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Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Cairn Curran Reservoir, 14th September 2014.

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Formation flying – perfect as always.

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Still handsome in their non-breeding plumage.

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They don’t look tired!

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Resting by the shoreline.

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Lucky 13 – the flock on the wing.