I’ve been visiting the same spot along Mia Mia Road over the past week. All four visits have yielded Red-capped Robin, Scarlet Robin, Crested Bellbird and Speckled Warbler, while I’ve seen Chestnut-rumped Hylacola twice and this morning heard a Spotted Quail-thrush. It’s a real hot-spot!
On each visit a small group of Speckled Warblers have been hanging around the same general area, a pair of adults with what I think is an immature bird, which earlier in the week was spotted following one of the adults carrying food. This morning I observed the female carrying what appeared to be a downy feather … could it be that they have raised a youngster and are now constructing another nest?
Speckled Warbler carrying food, Mia Mia Track, 5th April 2017
II – with immature bird at bottom left
Male Speckled Warbler
Female Speckled Warbler, 8th April 2017
II – with nesting material?
Also observed this morning: White-eared Honeyeater, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, White-throated Treecreeper, Crested Shrike-tit, Golden Whistler, Spotted Pardalote, Striated Pardalote, Little Lorikeet, Fuscous Honeyeater, Brown-headed Honeyeater, Brown Thornbill and Grey Fantail.
… a Red-capped Robin, in this case a juvenile male.
While not as boldly striking as the adult male there is a particular magic about the youngsters, especially when captured in the golden hour before sunset. It’s great to see evidence of local breeding too!
Red-capped Robin (immature male), Mia Mia Track, 6th April 2017
Roll on spring …
When the Rainbow Lorikeets, Red Wattlebirds, Galahs and rosellas aren’t monopolising the birds baths, a suite of smaller species flock in for their turn. I’ve also heard a Black-chinned Honeyeater in the garden this morning – we sometimes see them during autumn as they disperse from their breeding sites in the surrounding bush.
Juvenile Brown-headed Honeyeater, Wyndham Street Newstead, 12th March 2017
Brown-headed Honeyeater (adult)
Female Spotted Pardalote
A few times over recent years I’ve been asked to identify the bird pictured below.
Typically seen perched in a shady tree, such as a River Red-gum or an exotic willow – or disturbed into flight, the Nankeen Night-heron is a common local resident, albeit in small numbers. This one is a juvenile and strong evidence that it has recently fledged from a local nest. The best place to see night-herons is along the Loddon River between Newstead and Cairn Curran – most excursions will yield a few birds and while I’ve never found a nest I’d be confident that they breed in this area.
Juvenile Nankeen Night-heron, Newstead, 5th March 2017
The local Willie Wagtail was not happy!
The juveniles differ from the adults by the heavily streaked and spotted plumage – the adults are cinnamon coloured and sport several slender white plumes arising from a black crown. They will often roost in small groups and emit a series of croaking calls when disturbed. Nankeen Night-herons are largely nocturnal, feeding along waterways and around dams for small fish, frogs and invertebrates.
Many thanks to Rod and Wendy for alerting me to this one, currently ‘renting’ a Weeping Willow on the outskirts of Newstead!
While on the subject of herons it’s been pleasing to see good numbers of White-necked Herons over past months. It’s not unusual to see this striking species in the same habitat as Nankeen Night-herons and the more common White-faced Heron, but they inhabit some pretty different habitats as well – this one was observed in the middle of a bare paddock on the Moolort Plains.
White-necked Heron, Moolort Plains, 5th March 2017
For the past fortnight a small flock of White-breasted Woodswallows has been gathered at Joyce’s Creek. This species, a breeding visitor to the Newstead district, is almost always found near water.
I’ve found them breeding in small, loose colonies at various places around the lake in recent years. After they’ve fledged the juveniles stay with their parents and ‘learn’ the craft of a woodswallow – aerial gymnastics in pursuit of flying prey. The rim of the lake makes a terrific training ground, with a multitude of flying insects – some of which are no match for a woodswallow. I witnessed adult woodswallows snatching dragonflies and wasps from the air as the youngsters either flew with them or begged for attention from their perches nearby.
White-breasted Woodswallows, Joyce’s Creek, 2nd March 2017
Juvenile White-breasted Woodswallow
Adult with a dragonfly caught on the wing
Adult and juvenile (with wasp)
Juvenile White-breasted Woodswallow with wasp
All species of woodswallows are renowned for their ‘huddling’
A small bush dam in Green Gully has yielded some treasures over the past week – not pictured here are the Rainbow Bee-eaters hawking insects overhead, or the juvenile Olive-backed Oriole passing through on its northern migration.
Not to disappoint though – this Restless Flycatcher perched helpfully on stranded stick at the edge of the water, displaying its iridescent plumage in lovely shimmers. The Red-rumped Parrots arrived in two and threes, adults with this seasons young and the Welcome Swallows gathered where the flycatcher had left – resting for short moments before further aerial pursuits.
Restless Flycatcher, Green Gully, 25th February 2017
Male Red-rumped Parrot – possibly an immature
A gathering of ‘red rumps’
Welcome Swallows and a lone Fairy Martin (with chestnut cap)
Brown-headed Honeyeater, Pound Lane Newstead, 22nd February 2017
Diamond Firetail (female)
White-plumed Honeyeater (imm.)
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater (imm.)