Author Archives: Geoff Park

What I saw at the river …

A warm afternoon prompted a visit to the Loddon – I was half expecting my first Sacred Kingfisher of the season.

No luck on that front, but there were other sights to enjoy.

White-plumed Honeyeater, Loddon River @ Newstead, 22nd September 2018

Wood Ducks (male at left, female at right)

Nankeen Night-heron

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Cup-moths and cuckoos

Cup-moth caterpillars are again creating havoc in the local bush.

Cup-moth damage on a Grey Box leaf

Cuckoos are having a field day, although in some areas, such as west of Mia Mia Track, the damage is largely done. This pattern is a feature of the ecology of box-ironbark forests, however there is some speculation that infestations are becoming more severe and more frequent. I’ll be watching this patch closely for signs of recovery over coming months.

Pallid Cuckoo with Cup-moth, Mia Mia Track, 16th September 2018

Pallid Cuckoo calling …

… then departing

Shining Bronze-cuckoo sunning in the early morning sunshine

Shining Bronze-cuckoo with Cup-moth caterpillar

Amongst the Rough Wattle

Rough Wattle Acacia aspera occurs throughout the Muckleford bush and is a keystone plant for small birds, especially the thornbills, fairy-wrens and the Speckled Warbler. Species, such as the locally rare Spotted Quail-thrush and Chestnut-rumped Hylacola, when seen, are often in and around areas of Rough Wattle.

Rough Wattle, Mia Mia Track, 15th September 2018

One local ‘hotspot’ for Rough Wattle is along Mia Mia Track. A visit earlier in the week was highlighted by a number of Red-capped Robins and numerous Brown Thornbills, the latter almost certainly using the Rough Wattle as nesting sites.

Brown Thornbill in Rough Wattle, Mia Mia Track, 19th September 2018

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Male Red-capped Robin

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Landscape connectivity: science and practice

LANDSCAPE CONNECTIVITY: science and practice

Presentation hosted by Newstead Landcare, Thursday 20th Sept 8pm

Dr. Jim Radford (Principal Research Fellow from the Research Centre for Future Landscapes, La Trobe University) will talk about the science and practice of connecting landscapes, what works and what we should be aiming for in landscape restoration projects.

Jim will focus on the benefits of revegetation in restoring rural landscapes, guiding principles for landscape restoration, and priorities and guidelines to improve landscape connectivity.

Venue: Newstead Community Centre, 9 Lyons Street Newstead

Date: Thursday 20 Sept 2018

Time 8pm-9pm followed by supper.
Gold coin donation would be appreciated to help cover costs.

Grey and gold

Grey and gold are the colours of Spring around Newstead.

Eastern Yellow Robins are everywhere at present and Fuscous Honeyeater numbers are on the rise after a quiet winter.

Fuscous Honeyeaters, South German Track, 16th September 2018

Fuscous Honeyeater in Golden Wattle

Eastern Yellow Robin on nest in Grey Box in the Mia Mia area

Eastern Yellow Robin, Loddon River @ Newstead

Up close and personal

Remarkable things happen in the Australian bush.

Woodswallows are renowned for their habit of communal roosting, or clustering – sometimes up to 100 individuals can be seen huddled together, typically in a hollow or on bark. This amazing behaviour can occur at any time of day, but it’s usually observed approaching dusk. Impending thunderstorms can often trigger communal roosting.

This small group of Dusky Woodswallows were encountered in the Mia Mia at the weekend. While half a dozen is not quite 100, it was fascinating to watch the birds as they huddled together in the morning sun, shuffling repeatedly along the branch with occasional bouts of mutual preening. There has been some interesting research and speculation about communal roosting in woodswallows … I’ll save that for another day!

Dusky Woodswallows, Mia Mia area, 16th September 2018

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Raptor portraits

Of all the birds, raptors are perhaps the most thrilling to observe from close range.

The Little Eagle, pictured below, allowed me to approach to within ten metres or so – I think the closest I’ve ever been to this magnificent bird. All of the shots are virtually full frame.

Black-shouldered Kite, Newstead, 8th September 2018

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Little Eagle @ Joyce’s Creek

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