Category Archives: Honeyeaters

Autumn reboot

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

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike

Immature Dusky Woodswallow

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Adult Dusky Woodswallow

Male Golden Whistler

Yellow-plumed Honeyeater

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.

Here they come

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

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… moulting into adult male plumage?

Oases and refuges

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

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Eaqstern Yellow Robin

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Perfect timing?

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

The end of summer …

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

Eastern Rosella

Grey Currawong

Peaceful Doves

Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters

Close and distant views #2

A few days ago, while observing along South German Track a small honeyeater alighted immediately in front of me and then departed just as I was about to fire. It was a juvenile Black Honeyeater Sugamel nigrum.

Last night I was rewarded, as another juvenile lingered just long enough for me to capture some decent images. It appears the flowering Grey Box has attracted these wandering blossom nomads and I observed a number foraging high in the canopy around the dam, including a number of adult males. The last time I observed this species locally was nearly a decade ago – 15th February 2010.

Black Honeyeaters are dry country birds, even more so than the Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters that are also about at present. They prefer arid and semi-arid woodlands, especially where there are Eremophila species flowering. A distinctive features of this species is the long and slender down-curved bill. I suspect we’ll see them more often in coming years.

Black Honeyeater (juvenile), South German Track, 27th February 2019

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Black Honeyeater (adult male)

Yellow-plumed Honeyeater

List: Little Lorikeet, Black Honeyeater, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Fuscous Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater, Brown-headed Honeyeater, Peaceful Dove, Red Wattlebird, Rainbow Bee-eater, Red-rumped Parrot, Eastern Rosella, Grey Currawong, Grey Shrike-thrush, Welcome Swallow, Dusky Woodswallow, Australian Magpie.

A fascinating trio

Honeyeaters are the most numerous and abundant group of birds to be found in the local bush.

Three species are pictured below. The Fuscous Honeyeater Ptilotula fusca and Yellow-tufted Honeyeater Lichenostomus melanops are common and widespread throughout the Muckleford bush. The third species, the Yellow-plumed Honeyeater Ptilotula ornata, is an unusual and rare visitor. I’ve been seeing it over recent days and have received a number of other local reports. Typically a dry-country honeyeater associated with mallee eucalypts, its local strongholds are to our north in places such as the Whipstick Forest near Bendigo  and areas around Tarnagulla and Inglewood. What we are witnessing, I suspect, is a movement of immature and non-breeding birds into our area in search of nectar. It’s been very dry further north and flowering Grey Box locally are too good to pass up.

Fuscous Honeyeaters, South German Track, 26th February 2019

Yellow-tufted Honeyeater

Yellow-plumed Honeyeater (non-breeding adult)

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III … plus a colourful companion