Sitting duskies

It troubles me to realise how quiet the local bush is at present. Typically at this time of year bird activity is stilled somewhat, especially after a heatwave, but I can’t recall it ever being so quiet. The absence of honeyeaters is obvious, especially in the Muckleford bush. Small bush dams would normally attract good numbers of Fuscous, Yellow-tufted, Brown-headed and White-naped Honeyeaters over summer, but this year they are in worryingly small numbers.

Yesterday afternoon along Bell’s Lane Track a couple of families of Dusky Woodswallows were the highlight of a disappointing excursion. I did see some Grey Currawongs and heard Black-chinned Honeyeaters.

Juvenile Dusky Woodswallows, Bell’s Lane Track, 5th January 2019



7 responses to “Sitting duskies

  1. I’m an amateur bird watcher in Moonlight Flat but I’ve also noticed a significant drop in both numbers and species in my back yard over the last year. My annual backyard bird count was very different from the previous 4 years. New Holland Honeyeaters are in abundance as are Superb Blue Wrens, Yellow and Buff Rumped Thornbills, but a big reduction in Scarlet Robins last year.

  2. Scary, Geoff

    Carol McDonough

  3. we had huge numbers (12+) of New Holland, and White Plumed HEs at the bird bath, and few Brown headed, 2 Black chinned, and no Fuscous, or yellow faced, or Tufted as we have had them in previous years. We have Sparrows invading the place. A Goshawk or Sparrowhawk comes each day, and no doubt is knocking them off. We have not seen the Yellow Robin, and only one Crested Shrike Tit. A pair of Dusky Woodswallows came down to the bird bath, and a Rufous Whistler male. But I have been attributing the decline in species to the shrub layer dying off. Other birds are Choughs, Grey Fantails, and Scrub Wrens. The veranda Welcome Swallows tried 5 times to build a nest, and the darn Sparrows knocked in down each time.

  4. John Carruthers

    Timely insight, Geoff. What are your prima facie observations about insect numbers? Could be recency bias at work, but I couldn’t help thinking the same thing about perceived lower bird frequencies in the High Plains over the new year, and my gloomy thoughts leapt to the European and US ecology studies recording alarming drops in insect populations. Trophic cascades.

  5. I agree So scary but I refer to my comment re Currawongs on our property in Strzelecki Ranges, Gippsland attached to ‘Bird baths doing their job’ December 29th Could this be one of the reasons?

  6. It is not just Newstead. The same pattern has been noticed around Kilmore.

    A group of us who take a great interest in birds have made comments about the small numbers of birds observed in gardens, bush and paddocks this Spring and Summer.

  7. At Barkers Creek on our property still reasonable numbers but definately less white plumed, crested shrike tits, white naped and eastern spine bills. Superb blue wrens about the same as sre crimson rosellas and new hollands

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