Slim pickings

It’s been slim pickings this week … but I did make it out to Cairn Curran for a quick look around late yesterday. This Whistling Kite, one of a pair near Picnic Point, was the highlight.

Cairn Curran Reservoir (Picnic Point), 28th April 2017

Whistling Kite

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Bush visitor

We had a couple of Grey Fantails in the garden this afternoon – I was alerted to their arrival by their sweet, chittering calls in the canopy overhead.

This species is a resident in the surrounding box-ironbark woodlands, typically visiting during autumn as the birds disperse after breeding. They are fascinating to watch as they pursue insects amongst the foliage.

Grey Fantail, Wyndham Street Newstead, 25th April 2017

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Looking up and down

From time to time to time I look down – usually to avoid a clumsy fall, or in search of orchids. On a short walk along Fence Track last weekend I paused to admire the exposed rock exposed by recent rain. This material was originally laid down deep under the sea in the Ordovician period, between 420 and 500 million years ago.

The juxtaposition of these rocks, seeing the light of day for the first time in eons, with woodland birds watching overhead, is quite compelling.

Buff-rumped Thornbill, Fence Track, 22nd April 2017

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Sedimentary rock along Fence Track

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Female Scarlet Robin

Night life in the foliage

It seems that there is always so much to discover with some magnification at night in Box woodlands. With a bright headlight and some reading glasses I found what seemed to be very strange looking ant, with red blotches of various sizes. The macro lens revealed a very serious infestation of mites affecting this poor lady. She seemed to be feeding normally, taking something from the little gland at the base of the leaves of Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha), but was a little slow. I think the ant might be a Golden-flumed Sugar Ant, but would be happy to have a more certain identification.

Ant with mite infestation

Ant with mite infestation

Ant with mite infestation

Ant with mite infestation feeding on wattle leaf gland

On the same wattle, I found a tiny bug, barely visible with just glasses. I’ve met this one before and the folk at bowerbird.org.au identified it as a Tingid Lacebug (Nethersia sp.)

Tingid Lacebug - Nethersia Sp.

Tingid Lacebug (Nethersia sp.)

Another small inhabitant of the bush that I’d met before was a Sutural Belid Weevil (Rhinotria suturalis). They make a great macrophotography subject as they tend to stay very still. This one was on a Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata)

Sutural Belid Weevil (Rhinotia sp)

Sutural Belid Weevil

Sutural Belid Weevil (Rhinotia sp)

Sutural Belid Weevil up close

Climbing around on a Long-leafed Box sapling was this tiny translucent bug. I’m not sure of its identity, but it looks a bit like a Mirid Bug nymph to me.

Bug on Long-leafed Box

Unidentified bug

Bug on Long-leafed Box

Unidentified bug

 

Ah … the serenity!

I try to snatch a few minutes every day to sit quietly on the front verandah and enjoy the passing parade of birds. Earlier this week the selection below made visits to the bird bath as I observed from a few metres away. In the distance I could hear the plaintive calls of a Black-eared Cuckoo … no doubt heading north for the winter.

Ah … the serenity!

Crimson Rosella, Wyndham Street Newstead, 17th April 2017

Male (in eclipse) Superb Fairy-wren

White-plumed Honeyeater

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Yellow Thornbill

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Enjoying the garden bounty

Silvereyes can be found locally throughout the year but numbers tend to grow in the autumn, boosted by an influx of migrating birds from Tasmania. This race of silvereyes is distinguished by having rich chestnut flanks and pale coloured throat feathers. They are a highly mobile species and I suspect we are seeing different individuals throughout the seasons.

The home garden provides a rich bounty for Silvereyes. They are especially fond of saltbush fruits, ripening olives and will readily feed on nectar from a range of flowers, including mistletoe.

Silvereye with Ruby Saltbush fruit, Wyndham Street Newstead, 16th April 2017

Silvereye feeding on mistletoe flowers in our yard

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… and then to the bird bath

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Flame Robins have landed

Perhaps a little earlier than in recent years, a few Flame Robins have arrived in the Mia Mia.

I was surprised to see three different individuals come in to drink at a small dam along Mia Mia Track. I’d never photographed an orange-washed youngster before, so this was a highlight. The birds love this spot in the Muckleford bush, areas of open country adjacent to the more heavily wooded ridge-line provides ideal foraging habitat. I’ll look forward to seeing some adult males in coming weeks.

Flame Robin (immature male), Mia Mia Track, 15th April 2017

Flame Robin (immature)

Flame Robin (immature or female?)