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
Diamond Firetail (adult)
Juvenile Diamond Firetail
It seems one of my favourite local pairs of Wedge-tailed Eagles has raised one youngster this season.
The offspring was seen perched with its parents in a distant dead tree to the north of Cemetery Road during the week. The pale head, shawl and upper parts of juvenile and immature birds sets them apart from the adults which become much darker with age. Click here for a more expansive image of the juvenile coming in to land.
Wedge-tailed Eagles, Cemetery Road Newstead, 15th February 2018
Juvenile Wedge-tailed Eagle
For the past month I’ve been watching a pair of Weebills tending a nest above our wood shed … the tiny ball of cobwebs, flowers and grass suspended and largely hidden amongst the Yellow Gum leaves. The same site was used last year … and the year before that!
Weebill nest, Wyndham Street Newstead, 10th February 2018 … look closely and you’ll see the the top of the nest
Sadly, this morning, I discovered a tiny Weebill dead on the ground below the nest. I’m unsure as to whether it’s a juvenile or one of the parents. It is now being quickly recycled by the local meat ants.
A sad sight
Meanwhile life goes on in the garden.
Juvenile White-plumed Honeyeater
In a matter of weeks our migrating Sacred Kingfishers will have departed for northern climes.
This pair is just putting the finishing touches on a new family in the Rise and Shine. They have featured regularly over recent months and the young are only a few days from fledging successfully. I’ll miss them when they’ve gone!
Sacred Kingfisher with Scarab Beetle, Rise and shine, 4th February 2018
This time with a grasshopper
The other adult … I suspect this is the female
A pair of Tawny Frogmouths is always a delight – a family of three or four is wonderful … a ‘flock’ of five is just a little out of the ordinary.
Tawny Frogmouth #1, Pound Lane Newstead, 3rd February 2018
#2 (at right) with #1
Many thanks to Dean for alerting me to this mob … clearly they have a penchant for first-class Ethiopian cuisine!
Each year, at this time, I marvel at the sudden explosion of flowering on our local Grey Box Eucalyptus microcarpa.
This magnificent tree is one of the keys to the ecology of the box-ironbark ecosystem and its flowers are one of the main reasons for the diversity of nectar feeders that inhabit the region. Honeyeaters, lorikeets and (hopefully) migratory Swift Parrots depend on the resources created by Grey Box from now until late autumn.
Grey Box has been described as a pollinator generalist (see Wilson, 2002, p 67). It doesn’t produce the same large volumes of nectar as, for example, Yellow Gum – a species that is a magnet for birds, but Grey Box is apparently adapted for pollination by both birds and insects. Many honeyeaters are fond of insects as well as nectar so Grey Box is ‘just the ticket’ for these birds.
Grey Box flowers, Mia Mia Road, 2nd February 2018
Grey Box buds on the same tree
Grey Box woodland along Annand’s Lane on the edge of the Sandon State Forest
In recent days I’ve been watching both Rainbow Bee-eaters and Sacred Kingfishers catching insects in the vicinity of flowering Grey Box … fuelling up before their journey north. It’s a complex and marvellous ecosystem.
Sacred Kingfisher returning to the nest with an insect caught from amongst the nearby Grey Box
Reference: Jenny Wilson (2002) – Flowering Ecology of a Box-Ironbark Eucalyptus community, PhD thesis, Deakin University.
Look closely at the image below … there are two creatures, one living and one sadly deceased. Can you figure it out?
The following images tell the story.
Sacred Kingfisher with a spider, Mia Mia Track, 30th January 2018
This time with a beetle
Now with a moth … note the half-folded nictitating membrane giving the eye a cloudy appearance
At the nest hollow
Puzzle solved … one of two nestling kingfishers that have been enjoying a smorgasbord of woodland morsels … including dragonflies!