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
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
Adult Grey Currawong … in moult
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
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.
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 Sittellas … two up!
Yellow-plumed Honeyeater … or is it?
This last image has me a little baffled … could it be a hybrid Fuscous x Yellow-plumed Honeyeater?
About a week ago the Newstead area (and much of central Victoria) received a welcome dose of summer rainfall. Locally, falls ranged from 20 to 40 mm, providing some useful run-off into dams and leaving standing pools of water throughout the bush. A visit to one of my favourite spots in the Rise and Shine was amply rewarded, with a procession of birds arriving for a drink as dusk approached – Fuscous, Brown-headed and Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters, Eastern Rosella, Eastern Yellow Robin, Diamond Firetail, Willie Wagtail and Peaceful Dove.
I was concentrating on some Dusky Woodswallows, adults and juveniles, gathering above the pool, when a different bird slipped in for a drink. It was an immature White-winged Triller. In late spring we had an influx of White-winged Trillers and I observed some nest building before the summer heat really kicked in. It’s great to see a result in the form of a young triller!
The adults, very vocal while breeding, have been largely quiet over recent weeks. This is typical of many woodland birds, migrants and residents alike. No point advertising your presence when breeding is done.
Dusky Woodswallow (adult), Rise and Shine, 27th January 2020
Juvenile Dusky Woodswallow
White-winged Triller (immature)
Monday this week was an unpleasant day, a pall of smoke from the fires in eastern Victoria descending on Newstead (and central Victoria) – thankfully for only 24 hours. Our thoughts are with the communities and landscapes that are suffering through this time of unprecedented fires.
I was tempted to forgo the daily ritual of a walk with the camera at day’s end, but headed to river – in hope rather than anticipation. I was delighted to be able to sit and watch families of Australian Reed-warblers amongst the bulrushes. There were numerous juveniles sitting on the bulrush stems waiting for the adults to return from foraging excursions with insects for the begging youngsters. It was a cheery end to a eerie day.
Narrow-leaf Cumbungi, Loddon River @ Newstead, 6th January 2020
Juvenile Australian Reed-warbler
Adult (at left) on a feeding run to the begging juvenile
Things are moving by the Loddon. The first juvenile Sacred Kingfishers have fledged in recent days and Dusky Moorhens have tiny chicks in tow.
The young Sacred Kingfisher is, I think, a product of the nest I’ve been watching over recent weeks.
The moorhens had me a little baffled. While the images below show a couple of chicks, there were in fact three adults with a total of seven youngsters overall – possibly the offspring of two separate pairs in a band together.
Adult Sacred Kingfisher, Loddon River @ Newstead, 3rd January 2020 … that’s a raindrop passing the beak!
Juvenile Sacred Kingfisher
Dusky Moorhen with chicks
Dusky Moorhen chick