Author Archives: Geoff Park

Magic sky

Returning home from up north last evening.

Magic sky over the plains … click to enlarge.

Looking south from Moolort Plains towards Mount Koorocheang, 14th February 2020

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Meet the new generation

Rainbow Bee-eaters have been moving into the forest over the past couple of weeks, leaving their breeding grounds as small, mixed flocks of adults and recently fledged juvenile birds.

I enjoyed a delightful interlude last evening along South German Track, where some youngsters gathered around me as they searched for insects and perched cooperatively on low shrubs. The next few weeks will be spent in the forest before they depart to northern climes – generally all have departed by mid March.

Immature Rainbow Bee-eaters lack the dark gorget (or bib) on the throat and while not as strikingly coloured as the adults are still very beautiful birds.

Rainbow Bee-eater (immature), South German Track, 12th February 2020

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Nothing unusual

I start all of my birding ‘expeditions’ with a sense of expectation, hoping for something new or unusual.

I’m often pleasantly surprised, but never let-down, even when a journey produces the expected sightings. Such was the case as I wheeled around Cairn Curran on Sunday evening. Others on the list included: Black-fronted Dotterel, Red-kneed Dotterel, Whistling Kite, Brown Falcon, Nankeen Kestrel, Darter, Grey Teal, Australian Shelduck, Wood Duck and White-fronted Chat.

Australian Pelican, Picnic Point, 9th February 2020

Silver Gulls

Masked Lapwing

White-faced Heron

Purple Swamphen on the Loddon River @ Baringhup

Signs of the times

We’re heading towards autumn with the recent rain and cooler nights a sign of pleasant days to come.

I’ve spotted a few Grey Currawongs recently in the Muckleford bush and last evening came across a youngster, calling expectantly to an accompanying parent. The yellow gape of the juvenile is evident in the images below, while the adult looks a little ragged – the result of post-breeding moult.

Spreading Wattle Acacia genistifolia is now flowering, adding a welcome touch of colour to the dry bush. This species usually starts flowering in January and will continue through till late autumn.

Adult Grey Currawong, South German Track, 8th February 2020

Juvenile Grey Currawong

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Adult Grey Currawong … in moult

Spreading Wattle

A wagtail at the water

On most visits to the ‘pool’ at the Rise and Shine a Willie Wagtail will turn up at some stage to drink and bathe.

Largely unconcerned by my intrusion each visit is enjoyed, by myself and the wagtail!

Willie Wagtails are in the same genus, Rhipidura, as the fantails, but are a significantly larger bird. Grey Fantails weigh between 7 and 10 grams, while Willie Wagtails come in around 20 grams on average.

Willie Wagtail, Rise and Shine, 7th February 2020

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A follow up to yesterday’s less than definitive post regarding a ‘mystery’ honeyeater. The considered opinion of a number of experts is that it was most likely a Fuscous Honeyeater, not a Yellow-plumed Honeyeater (which does appear in small numbers locally at this time of year). A ‘true’ Fuscous Honeyeater is pictured below, a non-breeding adult that arrived to drink just after the Willie Wagtail departed.

Fuscous Honeyeater

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Welcome rain … again!

Following last evening’s thunderstorm (8mm) I’m keen to get out to the Rise and Shine over the weekend to see what effect it might have had on the birds.

Here is a selection from about a week ago, captured around one of the temporary pools at the “Shine”. A party of Varied Sittellas was the highlight.

Peaceful Dove, Rise and Shine, 27th January 2020

Varied Sittella

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Varied Sittellas … two up!

Willie Wagtail

White-plumed Honeyeater

Yellow-tufted Honeyeater

Yellow-plumed Honeyeater … or is it?

This last image has me a little baffled … could it be a hybrid Fuscous x Yellow-plumed Honeyeater?

A babbler in a buloke

Buloke Allocasuarina luehmannii is recognised as a tree of the plains country to our west. There are, however, a few individuals scattered throughout the Muckleford bush. Perhaps they were once more common – they are slow growers, germinate patchily from seed and the seedlings are readily browsed by macropods and now of course, rabbits!

The sequence captured below would have once been a common sight in our district – a White-browed Babbler in a Buloke.

Sadly, times have changed. White-browed Babblers and their larger relative, the Grey-crowned Babbler, have disappeared entirely from the Moolort Plains. The former are still relatively common in the Muckleford bush and areas south of Newstead, but the coincidence of a babbler in one of its favourite habitat trees is now a rare occurrence.

May times change again for the better …

White-browed Babbler in a Buloke, Mia Mia Track area, 2nd February 2020

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