Awake awake!

We don’t see the Grey Currawong Strepera versicolor in town that often. While resident in the surrounding box-ironbark forest they are not really ‘townies’, unlike the migratory Pied Currawong that visits in small numbers during the colder months. The two  species are very similar – the Grey Currawong is ash-grey rather than black, and lacks the distinctive white patch at the base of the upper tail. Both have white wing panels but these are less obvious in the Grey Currawong when the wings are folded at rest.

This morning I was awoken by the calls of a Grey Currawong which kindly stayed around for a few photographs. The typical ringing ‘chling chling’ call was interspersed with some more melodic conversational notes as it searched for insects in the Yellow Gums behind the house.


Grey Currawong in flight, Newstead, 2nd August 2015.


Uttering that characteristic ringing call.


Both Grey and Pied Currawongs have white under tail coverts.


Foraging for insects under bark and in the canopy is the Grey Currawong’s game.


A small grub is discernible in the currawong’s bill.


The white wing panels are obvious in this silhouette.

The miniature mob

More distractions from the study window – these are from earlier in the week. It’s been terrific to have all these small insectivores in the garden, either resident or passing through.


Superb Fairy-wren (female), Newstead, 27th July 2015




Yellow Thornbill.


Yellow-rumped Thornbill.

Spring bird photography workshops with Chris Tzaros

Chris Tzaros and I are hosting a new series of bird photography workshops this Spring, in Newstead. Two workshops will be held on Saturday 7th November, the first for early birds (7.30am – 12.30pm), then an afternoon session commencing at 1.30pm and concluding at 6.30pm.

Splendid Fairy-wren 5475 lr

Splendid Fairy-wren by Chris Tzaros.

Palm Cockatoo 3490 lr

Palm Cockatoo by Chris Tzaros.

Each workshop is limited to 10 participants at a cost of $100. You can email me, to book a place in one of these highly regarded workshops – please indicate your preferred time slot.

Each session will include a 90 minute illustrated talk, ‘Bird Photography: Tips & Techniques’, together with a field session in the local bush. The workshops cater for a range of participants, from budding photographers to those with more experience wishing to improve their techniques and field craft.

Click here for more information. Please note that with a long waiting list (these folks have been given first option), there are limited spaces left for each workshop.

Southern Boobook 2835 lr

Southern Boobook by Chris Tzaros.

Turquoise reflections

Turquoise Parrot by Chris Tzaros.

Chris Tzaros photographing 3043 lr

We are looking to meeting some keen bird photographers again this November.

A welcome distraction

The distinctive calls of a flock of Weebills outside the study window provided a welcome distraction this morning.

This tiny insectivore is a frequent visitor to the garden – they are always busy … and vocal.


Weebill, Wyndham Street Newstead, 30th July 2015.


The Weebill has a distinctive streaking pattern on the throat.


That ‘eagle-eye’ on the lookout for tiny insect prey.

Sitella and spider

Not many visits to the local bush go by without coming across Varied Sitellas. These small woodland specialists move in tight flocks foraging for insects along the branches and trunks of eucalypts. I’ve often seen them pause to swallow prey, but its unusual to actually see the victim. On this occasion one of the party has clearly snaffled a small spider.

No doubt they consume hundreds of these on a daily basis – just another part of the complex web of life in our wonderful box-ironbark ecosystem.


Varied Sitella, Spring Hill, 27th July 2015.


Typical foraging posture.


A tiny spider has been extracted from under the bark of a Grey Box.


Down the hatch!

Golden bud burst

by Patrick Kavanagh

I always find the start of the flowering of Golden Wattles exhilarating – the remarkable burst of colour in our bush and the start of the magnificent procession of flowering. It also seems to mark the proliferation of life that depends on this flowering. A close look at these beautiful buds and flowers gives a glimpse of how many small lifeforms thrive on them.

Golden Wattle bud stack 2x

Golden Wattle bud burst, Strangways 27th July 2015.

Golden Wattle bud stack


Golden Wattle bud stack 2


Golden Wattle Flower stack


spider on Golden Wattle_15-07-27_0002 crop

Spider ID anyone?

Flames heading south

In a sign that Spring is not too far away, late today I observed numerous Flame Robins moving south through the forest. Small groups of adult males, including the one pictured below, together with ‘brown birds’ were spotted in a number of places along Mia Mia Track heading in the general direction of the Great Divide. Another altitudinal migrant, a male Golden Whistler, provided a colourful accompaniment.


Flame Robin (adult male), Mia Mia Track, 27th July 2015.






Male Golden Whistler.