Hooded Robin pair

I’ve known this pair of Hooded Robins for a while now – I never tire of observing them

For me, they are an absolute woodland icon.

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Hooded Robins (male at left), Plunkett’s Road Newstead, 26th August 2015.

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Female at left.

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The male enhanced by lichen and loss covered rock.

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A very cooperative pair.

The robin and the sparrowhawk

Two magic moments in one week!

Sitting quietly in the bush to the north of Fence Track watching a pair of Scarlet Robins going about their business, when out of the corner of my eye a large bird alighted on a nearby branch. Largely obscured, the shape and colour suggested a Pallid Cuckoo – the first birds arrived a few days back – but when it moved perches its identity was confirmed … a Collared Sparrowhawk. These small woodland raptors are bird hunters of the highest order, often using a sit-and-wait strategy when stalking small birds.

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The male Scarlet Robin before the arrival of the sparrowhawk.

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Collared Sparrowhawk, Fence Track Muckleford State Forest, 25th August 2015.

The response of the Scarlet Robin was swift, adopting an unusual frozen pose, with its back to the raptor. After a couple of minutes the sparrowhawk departed, and the robin resumed foraging. Nature is as nature does … but I was glad not to witness a catch!

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Freeze frame – the Scarlet Robin remained motionless until the sparrowhawk departed.

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Looking right down the barrell!

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The elongated middle toe …

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… and the squared-off tail are distinguishing features of the Collared Sparrowhawk.

Property developers

These Spotted Pardalotes are certainly industrious. Not content with excavating two separate nesting tunnels side by side on the east bank of Wyndham Street, they’ve also commenced another project on the west bank.

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Male Spotted Pardalote at tunnel entrance, Wyndham Street Newstead, 23rd August 2015.

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The partially excavated burrows.

I watched them for some time over the weekend and while the female did visit both sites it was the male who appeared to be doing most of the work.

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The female perched nearby .

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The male at work on the third tunnel, across the road.

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The male perched nearby – taking a spell!

On the subject of trains …

OK readers, hands up if you’ve ever seen an Echidna train. If you have then count yourself as fortunate indeed, as can one of our readers, David Tuck of Clydesdale.

Around Newstead now is the time when Echidnas emerge from their winter slumber and start looking for mates. Both males and females give off a strong, musky odour during the mating season, secreting a glossy liquid believed to be an aphrodisiac. During courtship the males locate and pursue females. Trains of up to 10 males, often with the youngest and smallest male at the end of the queue, may follow a single female in a courtship ritual that may last for up to four weeks; the duration of the courtship period varies with location. During this time, they forage for food together, and the train often changes composition, as some males leave and other join the pursuit (see Wikipedia for details).

I’ve once seen a train of seven individuals, and have heard of even larger congregations. It is a wondrous sight.

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Echidna train at Clydesdale, 25th August 2015. Photography by David Tuck.

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And while we’re on the subject of trains (groan) I’ll take the liberty of reminding those who may be interested about the Grand Opening of the Newstead Community Arts Hub, formerly the Newstead Railway Station, now magnificently restored. It’s on this Saturday at 3pm – it would be great to see you there!

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Birds and beetles enjoy the bounty

by Patrick Kavanagh

Our Golden Wattles Acacia pycnantha are alive with insectivorous birds at present and a close look shows why. I’d love to know more about these beetles. It wasn’t until I looked at the photos on my computer that I saw some even smaller arthropods enjoying the bounty of the flowers.

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Beetle on Golden Wattle, Strangways, 23rd August 2015.

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PS: Thanks to Bowerbird most of these beetles have been confirmed as belong to the family Tenebrionidae.

Transfixion …

rendered motionless, as with amazement, or awe.

Such was the case at the weekend with this pair of Eastern Yellow Robins engaged in courtship feeding. I’ve never seen them take a skink before, but clearly they do.

A magic moment!

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Eastern Yellow Robin (female), Rise and Shine, 23rd August 2015.

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Rotunda Park birds

Sadly our beautiful rotunda has been demolished, after being discovered ridden with white ants some time back. All that remains now is the base of the flag pole!

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The Newstead Rotunda, 17th May 2015 – prior to its demolition.

I, along with many Newstead residents, eagerly await its resurrection. Rotunda Park is a wonderful community asset, enjoyed by people and birds alike.

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Laughing Kookaburra, Rotunda Park Newstead, 22nd August 2015.

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There are plenty of hollows for this pair to choose from.

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Yellow Thornbill.

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Spotted foraging for insects amongst the Silver Wattle.

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Yellow-faced Honeyeater.

Other birds seen and heard: Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo, Grey Fantail, Brown Thornbill, Striated Thornbill, Brown-headed Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater, Crimson Rosella.