Cairn Curran Reservoir has shrunk to 34% of capacity … creating some large expanses of mudflats at the south-eastern portion near Joyce’s Creek.
The areas of exposed mud are providing excellent, albeit temporary, feeding habitat for small waders, Red-capped Plovers and Red-necked Stints in particular. Last Friday evening I observed ~ 25 Red-capped Plovers and a small number of stints. The plovers will remain through winter, shifting their location as new areas of mudflat and suitable shoreline appear on the drying lake. The Red-necked Stints are more complicated. Small numbers of immature birds remain in southern Australia over winter, while the adults make their extraordinary journey to breeding grounds above the arctic circle, typically departing from southern Australia in April. I can’t recall seeing Red-necked Stints over-wintering at Cairn Curran … the bird pictured below appears to be moulting into breeding plumage before tackling another epic journey.
Red-capped Plover (adult male), Cairn Curran, 12th April 2019
Red-capped Plover (immature)
Red-necked Stint … moulting into breeding plumage
Red-necked Stint foraging in the shallows
Red-capped Plover (foreground) with foraging Red-necked Stint
While in some ways autumn in a quiet time of the year in the local bush, the appearance of some familiar spring migrants, in this case Golden Whistlers and White-eared Honeyeaters, joining the resident species such as Brown Treecreepers and Dusky Woodswallows, adds a nice touch. I’ve been on the look-out for Swift Parrots and while they have been observed further east towards Castlemaine I’ve yet to sight any so far in 2019.
Brown Treecreeper, Mia Mia Track, 9th April 2019
Golden Whistler (female)
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.
Last weekend, south of Newstead at Providence Gully, I heard my first Pied Currawongs for the autumn. Over the next month they’ll arrive in local gardens to clean up on the remains of summer fruits and delight us with their melodies over winter.
Meanwhile, in the bush around Newstead, Grey Currawongs have dropped their usual solitary habits to form loose autumn flocks. Last evening in the Mia Mia I came across such a gathering, perhaps 15 birds in total. I can’t recall ever seeing this many together before although apparently flocks of 50-70 are not unusual.
Grey Currawong, Mia Mia Track, 25th March 2019
The other highlight was a brief encounter with a couple of female Red-capped Robins. One of the birds had the typical rusty-red cap, but also sported some red across the breast, while the other bird was more typical with a paler front. I’m somewhat mystifed by the sudden observation of two Red-capped Robins, a bird that has eluded me over summer but now apparently back in dry habitats as the weather cools.
Red-capped Robin (female)
… a different individual
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?
Eastern Grey Kangaroos, South German Track, 9th March 2019
Jacky Lizard Amphibolurus muricatus
List: Brown-headed Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater, Red Wattlebird, Black-chinned Honeyeater, New Holland Honeyeater, Crested Bellbird, Grey Currawong, Little Lorikeet, Musk Lorikeet, Rainbow Bee-eater, Tree Martin, Welcome Swallow, Eastern Rosella, Red-rumped Parrot, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Dusky Woodswallow
Rainbow Bee-eater, South German Track, 27th February 2019