Chris Tzaros and I have just completed another set of bird photography workshops (#29 & #30), with a great group of participants – some local, others from as far afield as Canberra, Adelaide and Newcastle. It was terrific to spend time with keen and experienced folks … birders and photographers, in the bush around Newstead.
A highlight for all was this active Yellow-tufted Honeyeater nest in the Rise and Shine. Two well-grown nestlings were being fed with lerp and insects at regular intervals by the adults.
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater with lerp, Rise and Shine, 6th April 2019
One of the nestlings
Adult at the nest – both nestlings visible
In recent months I’ve been observing Blue-faced Honeyeaters more and more often around town. The calls of this recently arrived species are now part of the local soundscape. Earlier in the week I arrived home to see two sitting above the bird bath in the front yard. It was interesting to watch a Red Wattlebird swoop in and join the honeyeaters. In normal circumstances the wattlebird would have caused any smaller birds, even rosellas and galahs, to quickly disperse. The Blue-faced Honeyeater is a similar size to a Red Wattlebird and just as aggressive – they didn’t even blink upon the arrival of the wattlebird.
Blue-faced Honeyeater, Wyndham Street Newstead, 4th April 2019
If last evening in the Mia Mia is any indication bird numbers are rebounding after a harsh summer. Dozens of young Dusky Woodswallows were gliding low under the canopy in search of insects, while a suite of honeyeaters foraged all around. Golden Whistlers have arrived back from the highlands, their sweet melodies adding an extra dimension to the pre-dusk chatter.
White-browed Babbler, South German Track, 2nd April 2019
Immature Dusky Woodswallow
Adult Dusky Woodswallow
Male Golden Whistler
List: Black-chinned Honeyeater, Brown-headed Honeyeater, White-eared Honeyeater, Fuscous Honeyeater, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Red Wattlebird, Golden Whistler, Eastern Rosella, Musk Lorikeet, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Crested Shrike-tit.
I spotted my first Eastern Spinebills for the season yesterday, at Providence Gully, a number of juveniles and a couple of adults. This morning I heard one in the garden at home. Watch out for them in the bush and home garden over coming weeks.
Eastern Spinebill (juvenile), Providence Gully, 24th March 2019
… moulting into adult male plumage?
There are some interesting things happening in the landscape this autumn. Firstly the appearance of dry country birds, such as Black Honeyeaters and Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters and worryingly the disappearance of many small insectivorous species from dry areas of our local bush. At this time, lower areas of the landscape, such as small drainage lines and the Loddon River valley itself become important refuges. I’ve mentioned earlier this month the excellent flowering of Grey Box. Stands of veteran Grey Box in more fertile and moister parts of the landscape become veritable oases of food for birds over autumn. Such is the case along the Loddon River at present, where large numbers of honeyeaters, woodswallows and lorikeets are enjoying the nectar flow. At the same time Eastern Yellow Robins, largely absent from surrounding areas, can be found along the river in reasonable numbers.
Black-chinned Honeyeater, Cemetery Road Newstead, 12th March 2019
Eaqstern Yellow Robin
Perhaps the birds have some advance notice of a bountiful autumn?
I found this Yellow-tufted Honeyeater putting the finishing touches on a nest in a sapling Long-leaved Box, yesterday in the Rise and Shine.
Apart from flowering Grey Box there is not much on offer in the bush at present, but clearly the honeyeaters think the prospects are good.
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater nest in Long-leaved Box
One of the adults ‘shaping’ the nest
While the calendar on the wall suggests summer has ended, it’s surely a false marker.
My last outing for February took me to the bush dam on South German Track. The following images didn’t make the cut for the previous post that featured Black and Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters. They are worthy nonetheless, especially the last image featuring a leg-banded Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, one of two to visit the water that evening.
Grey Shrike-thrush, South German Track, 27th February 2019