Category Archives: Migrants

Enjoying the garden bounty

Silvereyes can be found locally throughout the year but numbers tend to grow in the autumn, boosted by an influx of migrating birds from Tasmania. This race of silvereyes is distinguished by having rich chestnut flanks and pale coloured throat feathers. They are a highly mobile species and I suspect we are seeing different individuals throughout the seasons.

The home garden provides a rich bounty for Silvereyes. They are especially fond of saltbush fruits, ripening olives and will readily feed on nectar from a range of flowers, including mistletoe.

Silvereye with Ruby Saltbush fruit, Wyndham Street Newstead, 16th April 2017

Silvereye feeding on mistletoe flowers in our yard

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… and then to the bird bath

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Flame Robins have landed

Perhaps a little earlier than in recent years, a few Flame Robins have arrived in the Mia Mia.

I was surprised to see three different individuals come in to drink at a small dam along Mia Mia Track. I’d never photographed an orange-washed youngster before, so this was a highlight. The birds love this spot in the Muckleford bush, areas of open country adjacent to the more heavily wooded ridge-line provides ideal foraging habitat. I’ll look forward to seeing some adult males in coming weeks.

Flame Robin (immature male), Mia Mia Track, 15th April 2017

Flame Robin (immature)

Flame Robin (immature or female?)

Further evidence…?

Every year in the recent past we’ve had Spinebills spending winter around our home (likely enjoying of the native plantings we’ve had from Frances). First it was just one bird, but last year we had quite a few, there were at least four here for a while.

After being absent over summer, the first individual turned up yesterday, and it was… a juvenile.

Juvenile Eastern Spinebill

Hope this observation contributes evidence to your theory, Geoff. And apologies for the poor photo, it was taken in low light through the front window!

My theory is …

… that the first Eastern Spinebills arriving around Newstead are almost all juveniles, products of summer breeding in the high country to our south.

The adults are not far behind – I’m expecting to see them in about a week or so. I’d be interested to know if other readers have noted a similar pattern.

Juvenile Eastern Spinebills, Rotunda Park Newstead, 3rd April 2017

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Welcome back Cobbler

A few Eastern Spinebills, all juveniles, have arrived at Rotunda Park – travelling ‘downhill’ from the ranges as they do every autumn.

This species is also affectionately known as the Cobblers Awl, on account of its beautifully shaped bill – perfectly adapted for draining nectar from flowers such as those on offer on the planted Correas in the park.

Eastern Spinebill (juvenile), Rotunda Park Newstead, 2nd April 2017

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Feeding on a planted Correa glabra

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Woodswallows, wasps and dragonflies

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.

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White-breasted Woodswallows, Joyce’s Creek, 2nd March 2017

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Juvenile White-breasted Woodswallow

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Adult with a dragonfly caught on the wing

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Adult and juvenile (with wasp)

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Juvenile White-breasted Woodswallow with wasp

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All species of woodswallows are renowned for their ‘huddling’

Looking north

This young Sacred Kingfisher is looking north … about to follow the migratory path of its ancestors along the Great Dividing Range, perhaps as far as New Guinea or even the Solomon Islands. I’ve seen quite a number of immature birds over recent weeks but no adults. Perhaps they have already left. How the young kingfishers know what path to take is another of nature’s great mysteries.

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Sacred Kingfisher (immature), Pound Lane Newstead, 20th February 2017

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