At the hotspot #3

Here are the results of some armchair birdwatching at my latest hotspot. It is always a thrill to catch a glimpse of a Chestnut-rumped Hylacola … and that is usually all you get. This area is one of the few reliable spots for this species in the Muckleford bush and this inquisitive male posed momentarily before running off ‘mouse-like’ as is its habit.

The Rainbow Bee-eater was photographed the previous evening, one of a small flock of six hawking round the dam. I heard them again in the distance last night. Also of note was Diamond Firetail, Black-chinned Honeyeater and Tree Martins chasing insects above the water.

Eastern Yellow Robin, South German Track, 22nd March 2018


Chestnut-rumped Hylacola (male)



Rainbow Bee-eater, 21st March 2018

Four ants and a beetle

There are plenty of ants active at our place at the moment. Leafhopper nymphs are growing on both wattles and eucalypts and being attended by ants like this Golden-flumed Sugar Ant. The ants will get honeydew from the nymph and in turn protect it from predators.

Golden-flumed Sugar Ant (Camponotus suffusus)

Golden-flumed Sugar Ant (Camponotus suffusus) and leafhopper nymph.

Nearby on a Golden Wattle a few Rhytodoponera ants were fossicking.

Rhytodoponera sp.

Rhytodoponera sp.

Deeper in the bush a colony of Muscle Man Tree Ants have burrowed their nest in a Grey Box tree.

Muscleman Tree Ant (Podomyrma adelaidae)

Muscle Man Tree Ant (Podomyrma adelaidae) as she carries wood pulp from the nest

Muscleman Tree Ant (Podomyrma adelaidae)

and keeps carrying it…

Muscleman Tree Ant (Podomyrma adelaidae)

…and she drops it from the edge of the branch.

Muscleman Tree Ant (Podomyrma adelaidae)

Close-up to the mouth parts of Podomyrma adelaidae

On the bank of one of our dams, Meat Ants (Iridomyrmex species) scurry to and from their large nests. Many people say that these ants are very aggressive near their nests, but they’ve always let me get very close and never tried to bite.

Meat Ant (Iridomyrmex purpureus)

Iridomyrmex sp.

Meat Ant (Iridomyrmex purpureus)

Iridomyrmex sp. carrying debris from the nest

Meat Ant (Iridomyrmex purpureus)

Emerging from the nest.

And just because it’s beautiful, a Leaf Beetle.

beetle stack 2x crop 2018-3-16

Leaf Beetle



At the ‘hotspot’ #2

When you’re on to a good thing … ‘stick to it’!

How many places are there where you can sit quietly and have Diamond Firetail drop in and virtually land on the end of your lens?

Bush dam, South German Track, 19th March 2018

Brown-headed Honeyeaters at the dam

Diamond Firetail



Fuscous and Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters

Yellow-tufted Honeyeater … such a ‘show-off’

Another ‘hot spot’

It’s always good to stumble upon another ‘hot spot’.

In this instance a bush dam on South German Track in the Muckleford bush came up with the goods. While I’ve made a number of visits to this spot over the years I’ve never before seen it so alive with birds – it is one of the few places to offer a safe drinking site for bush birds at present. Honeyeaters (including a wary Black-chinned Honeyeater) were dominant as usual, but the highlight was a party of Diamond Firetails – including the encouraging sight of a juvenile bird, evidence of local breeding success.

Rainbow Bee-eaters hawked for insects overhead – it won’t be long before they depart for northern climes.

Fuscous Honeyeater, South German Track, 18th March 2018

Yellow-tufted Honeyeater



White-naped Honeyeater

Diamond Firetail (adult)


Juvenile Diamond Firetail

Great Egret repeat

More lovely views of this Great Egret captured last week at the lake.

Great Egret, Cairn Curran @ Joyce’s Creek, 14th March 2018



Silver Gull

Under my feet

Occasionally, when my attention wanders from a skyward gaze, I reflect on what lies under my feet.

Sadly my understanding of our local geological landscape is scant, but I’ve always had a fascination for rocks. This road cutting, just to the east of Joyce’s Creek, is notable as it lies very close to the Campbelltown fault. I’ve often stopped to photograph the exposed face of the cutting on trips home from the Moolort Plains. The rocks were apparently formed from deep marine sediments between 490 and 460 million years ago … that’s about where my knowledge starts to peter out!

You can view larger versions of these images here.


Section of the 1:50000 Geological Map Series – Campbelltown sheet







You can download a high-resolution version of the 1:50000 Campbelltown map sheet here.

PS: I would welcome any offers of occasional ‘geological’ contributions to Natural Newstead.

Same place, different faces

I have a habit of returning to the same places in the local landscape, often over successive days.  One of the narrow tracks running west off Mia Mia Track is a personal favourite that I tend to visit at least once every fortnight. Two excursions this week, the first on Thursday and again last night produced a very different set of birds.

Brown Thornbills were ‘hiding’ during my first visit, but were the highlight under dull skies last night. Also of note were Buff-rumped Thornbill, White-eared Honeyeater, Scarlet Robin and a small flock of Rainbow Bee-eaters, none of which I’d observed the day before. The diverse understorey of wattles (especially the Rough Wattle), peas and heath are a key reason for this sites avian richness.

Brown Thornbill, Mia Mia Track, 16th March 2018





… and that leaf again!