Here are the results of some armchair birdwatching at my latest hotspot. It is always a thrill to catch a glimpse of a Chestnut-rumped Hylacola … and that is usually all you get. This area is one of the few reliable spots for this species in the Muckleford bush and this inquisitive male posed momentarily before running off ‘mouse-like’ as is its habit.
The Rainbow Bee-eater was photographed the previous evening, one of a small flock of six hawking round the dam. I heard them again in the distance last night. Also of note was Diamond Firetail, Black-chinned Honeyeater and Tree Martins chasing insects above the water.
Eastern Yellow Robin, South German Track, 22nd March 2018
Chestnut-rumped Hylacola (male)
Rainbow Bee-eater, 21st March 2018
When you’re on to a good thing … ‘stick to it’!
How many places are there where you can sit quietly and have Diamond Firetail drop in and virtually land on the end of your lens?
Bush dam, South German Track, 19th March 2018
Brown-headed Honeyeaters at the dam
Fuscous and Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater … such a ‘show-off’
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
On Saturday morning I heard, for the first time this autumn, the unmistakable piping call of the Eastern Spinebill.
This diminutive honeyeater is a cool season migrant to the Newstead district, usually arriving in April in our garden to feed on flowering Grevilleas and Correas. They linger until late winter most years before heading back south to higher altitudes to breed. Not far from here, at places such as Daylesford, Eastern Spinebills can be found year round.
The juveniles generally arrive first, perhaps they’ve been ejected from breeding territories by their parents – the adults appear a few weeks later in my experience. This year’s sighting is somewhat earlier than usual, last year I spotted my first spinebills around the 20th March at Rotunda Park and in preceding years it’s been well into April before the first birds arrived. As always I’d be keen to learn of other local observations.
Juvenile Eastern Spinebill, Wyndham Street Newstead, 11th March 2018
With no prospect of an early autumn break in sight the birds are converging on a series of drying water sources in the Mia Mia. While some of the bush dams are still holding up well, many birds prefer small, shallow pools for drinking and bathing. Their options are quickly diminishing.
Fuscous Honeyeater, Mia Mia Track, 7th March 2018
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
I sat last evening beside one of my favourite waterholes in the Mia Mia.
While bird numbers are lower than last summer there was still a steady procession of visitors as dusk approached. The highlight was a single White-eared Honeyeater, usually an autumn-winter visitor to the area but a bird that can be encountered in small numbers year-round.
Peaceful Dove, Mia Mia Track, 8th February 2018
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater on Cassinia