While it’s always a sad farewell to daylight saving, an advantage of this time of year is that my rambles tend to coincide better with the ‘golden hour’ before dusk.
Last evening at the Rise and Shine a cavalcade of honeyeaters thoughtfully shared this time with me as they visited a bushland pool. I’ve been making repeat visits to this site in search of Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters, occasional visitors from the mallee country to our north, but no luck so far this autumn.
Brown-headed Honeyeater, Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve, 7th April 2021
Brown-headed Honeyeater flock drinking
Fuscous Honeyeaters drinking
The White-naped Honeyeater is a distinctive local species – adults have a striking orange-red ‘eye-lid’, which is actually bare skin above the eye. This feature is characteristic of Melithreptus honeyeaters – local species of the genus include the Black-chinned Honeyeater (adult has blue eye skin) and Brown-headed Honeyeater (adult has cream eye skin).
White-naped Honeyeaters can be encountered year-round locally, but they are something of a blossom nomad and, at least in my experience, are more abundant when Grey Box and Yellow Gum are flowering, which is typically from March until the end of winter.
At the Rise and Shine earlier in the week they were the most common visitors to this small bushland pool, outnumbering the Fuscous and Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters.
White-naped Honeyeater, Rise and Shine, 31st March 2021
Female Spotted Pardalote
Immature Crimson Rosella
It’s been a terrific summer … softened by La Nina, with a good dose of post Xmas rain followed by a cool February.
This was my last summer visit to the Mia Mia and I was well rewarded. There were lots of Rainbow Bee-eaters assembling before they head north, their acrobatics amongst the Yellow Gums a sight to behold as they feasted on flying insects.
The begging call of a juvenile Sacred Kingfisher led me to two youngsters, their parents keeping a watchful eye at a safe distance.
Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters are making ‘hay while the sun shines’. As I photographed one gathering nesting material a Chestnut-rumped Heathwren bobbed past in the background. It then proceeded to unleash a short burst of song, including some mimicry that included snippets of ‘tufty’ calls.
Juvenile Sacred Kingfisher, South German Track, 28th February 2021
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater gathering nesting material … wallaby-grass seeds I think!
III … mimicking Yellow-tufted Honeyeater
As the summer days slowly shorten birds and mammals gravitate towards any places of precious water in the bush.
It’s a good time for close-up portraits of some of our most familiar and charming species.
Black Wallaby, South German Track, 16th February 2021
Not much to report in recent days, apart from the preponderance of Fuscous Honeyeaters pretty much wherever I go.
This species is a ‘sucker’ for water and along with the more aggressive Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters will tend to dominate small bushland water sources. Adult Fuscous Honeyeaters in breeding fettle have black bills while younger birds and non-breeding adults have quite a deal of yellow on the bill and gape.
Also seen and heard in the Rise and Shine – Brown Treecreeper, Mistletoebird, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Eastern Rosella, Sacred Kingfisher, Rainbow Bee-eater, Eastern Yellow Robin.
Brown Treecreeper, Rise & Shine Bushland Reserve, 9th February 2021
I’ve just tipped 60mm from the rain gauge, perhaps the best summer rain we’ve experienced for a decade … and it’s still tumbling down!
The set of images below were taken in 40C heat earlier in the week. Today’s rain will be enough to kick off a burst of late summer breeding which will be terrific.
Rainbow Bee-eater, Muckleford State Forest, 24th January 2021
Juvenile Dusky Woodswallow
Juvenile and adult Dusky Woodswallows
Stand-off … Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters and juvenile Dusky Woodswallow
On these baking days the best strategy is just to sit and wait and the birds will come to you … especially if you can find a quiet bushland pool.
Brown-headed Honeyeater, Muckleford State Forest, 17th January 2021
Spotted Pardalote (female)
Superb Fairy-wren (male)
Just a selection of visitors to a small, drying waterhole in the Muckleford bush at the weekend.
I’m on the lookout for Black Honeyeater and Yellow-plumed Honeyeater – no luck so far but late summer is the time when these dry-country specialists are likely to turn up.
Rufous Whistler (male), Muckleford State Forest, 9th January 2020
A splendid colour-banded Eastern Yellow Robin
Sitting by a pool of water with the camera is one of my favourite pastimes.
The ‘trick’ is to be observant and patient, as many species of birds will soon become accustomed to your presence and resume their natural patterns.
Honeyeaters, of which we have a multitude of local species, are without doubt the most frequent visitors and locally its Yellow-tufted and Fuscous Honeyeaters that tend to dominate proceedings.
From time to time something special appears, perhaps a Yellow-plumed Honeyeater or Black Honeyeater if you’re really fortunate. In the sequence below I’d estimate that over a period of two hours there were 200+ visits from Yellow-tufted and Fuscous Honeyeaters before the Black-chinned Honeyeater dropped in. It was well worth the wait! This species is by no means rare locally, I hear it on most visits to the bush, but it is seriously outnumbered by other honeyeaters and always a delight to observe.
A couple of days later at the same spot, a real highlight – a juvenile Black-chinned Honeyeater – evidence of successful local breeding.
Fuscous Honeyeater, South German Track, Muckleford State Forest, 3rd January 2020
Juvenile Black-chinned Honeyeater, 5th January 2020
It appears that summer is about to hit with a vengeance.
Water will become a precious commodity in the bush over coming months – here’s hoping for some regular downpours to replenish our waterways. This site at the Rise and Shine will be familiar to readers as it has featured regularly in recent years as a favoured drinking hole for bush birds.
It produced the goods in a recent visit – Brown-headed Honeyeater, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Peaceful Dove, Eastern Rosella and even a Sacred Kingfisher paused momentarily before spotting me and departing. Fuscous Honeyeaters dominated as usual, but in a twist, a partially leucistic individual was also observed.
Red-rumped Parrot (male), Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve, 18th November 2020
Fuscous Honeyeater … not quite the usual
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike gathering nesting material