A mournful morning call

Yesterday morning my work was frequently interrupted by the incessant, mournful cry of a Shining Bronze-cuckoo in the garden – a repeated ‘fwee-fwee-fwee’ carrying through the still morning air.

I took a short break to chase it down – it didn’t take long, as the bird was skulking in shrubs outside the back door and doing its best to not attract the attention of the local honeyeaters and wrens.

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Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Newstead, 22nd October 2014.

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Very similar to the Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo, in the Shining Bronze-cuckoo the breast barring is more complete and it lacks a distinct white eyebrow.

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Eventually it showed off the glorious metallic sheen of the upper parts.

The Natural Soundscape: Birdsong, Music, Evolution and Listening

There is a wonderful acoustic diversity to be heard in the natural soundscape – birdsong, frog choruses, seasonal insect choirs… But how have all these varied animal repertoires evolved? What can we learn from studying, or simply listening, to acoustic ecosystems? How may the noise of our modern world be impacting upon this delicate sonic balance, and conversely, how have the songs of nature influenced our own species?

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Andrew Skeoch from Listening Earth explores these questions and presents intriguing conclusions, supported by audio recordings he has made over twenty years, in wild places both locally and around the world.

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Andrew Skeoch in the field.

Rainbow arrival

A quick visit to the Newstead Cemetery late yesterday revealed no sign of Rainbow Bee-eaters.

This morning I thought I’d check their other local haunt, along Trudgeon’s Road at Welshman’s Reef … I was delighted to see that at least three pairs have recently arrived.

Rainbow Bee-eater pair (female at right), Welshman's Reef, 21st October 2014.

Rainbow Bee-eater pair (female at right), Welshman’s Reef, 21st October 2014.

Trudgeon's Road Welshman's Reef.

Trudgeon’s Road Welshman’s Reef.

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Male Rainbow Bee-eater display flight – I

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The female Rainbow Bee-eater – note the short tail streamers.

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It’s great to welcome them back.

Encounter with a young cuckoo

Pallid Cuckoos arrived in the district little more than a month ago. I was a little surprised then to come across an immature individual late this afternoon along Cemetery Road. This species has a short incubation period, just 12-14 days in the nest of the host, usually honeyeaters, woodswallows, whistlers or flycatchers. Once hatched they grow quickly as the host parents unwittingly feed the somewhat grotesque youngster. I’m not convinced this individual has come from a local nest – it may have fledged further north earlier in the season and then joined the southward migration in early Spring.

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Immature Pallid Cuckoo, Cemetery Road Newstead, 20th October 2014.

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Immature Pallid Cuckoo in flight.

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The spotted appearance indicates an immature bird.

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The yellow eye-ring, barred tail and distinctive bill shape are features shared with the Fan-tailed Cuckoo.

Correction: It appears that I’ve been tricked and that this is most likely an adult female. Stay tuned for a more informative and correct post on the age and sex differences in Pallid Cuckoos!

A nice bit of garden colour

Here’s a selection of colourful visitors that dropped in over the weekend.

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Eastern Rosella about to enjoy the bird bath, Wyndham St Newstead, 19th October 2014.

The singing of Mistletoebirds has been a constant over the past few weeks, with a number of pairs in the neighbourhood.

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Male Mistletoebird singing from the Mulberry Tree.

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Male Superb Fairy-wren reminding me to fill another bird bath.

Lorikeets and elms

Musk Lorikeets have been indulging on the masses of elm seeds currently available on the trees in our street. A little wind through the branches makes it look like it’s snowing at the moment – the ‘muskies’ have been keen to make the most of this short window of opportunity.

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Musk Lorikeet feeding on elm seeds, Newstead, 13th October 2014.

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Red, blues and greens

One of the first impressions of the Australian continent, gained by the early Europeans, was that of spectacular, brightly coloured parrots. In particular, it was the contrasting colours of this group of birds to the more subtle and earthy tones of the bush, that was often remarked upon in their early writings. We are lucky at Newstead to have members of the parrot family, Psittacidae, in colourful abundance.

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Adult Crimson Rosella, Loddon River @ Newstead, 18th October 2014.

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A nice illustration of why the rosellas are sometimes referred to a ‘broad-tailed parrots’.

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Immature Crimson Rosella at the bird bath.

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Adult male Red-rumped Parrot, Loddon River @ Newstead, 18th October 2014.

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Just a glimpse of that red rump.