In central Victoria spring can be a brief interlude between winter and summer.
Earlier this week at the Rise and Shine I was watching a pair of Hooded Robins engaged in courtship, the pair sitting close together on low perches with the female wing-fluttering and vocalising towards the male. As I watched this display a party of Flame Robins moved through, presumably heading south and ‘uphill’ after their winter sojourn in the box-ironbark. Meanwhile a Square-tailed Kite, one of our warm season migrants, floated above the treetops nearby. White-winged Trillers were also showing off, but sadly eluded the camera.
The ‘Shine’ is a wonderful vantage point from which to observe these seasonal transitions.
Male Hooded Robin, Rise and Shine, 4th September, 2019
Female Hooded Robin
Hooded Robin (pair)
Male Flame Robin
List: Hooded Robin, Scarlet Robin, Eastern Yellow Robin, Flame Robin, Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo, Square-tailed Kite, Spotted Pardalote, White-winged Triller, Brown Treecreeper, Weebill, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Brown-headed Honeyeater.
Earlier in the week I was poking around the wetlands at the southern end of the Moolort Plains, near Campbelltown.
Whilst the Red-gum wetlands are dry, there are some low-lying freshwater meadows holding water and attracting a nice range of birds. Black Swans are nesting, various species of ducks (Grey Teal and Pacific Black Duck are most numerous), herons feeding in the shallows (White-necked and White-faced) as well as good numbers of Black-winged Stilts.
A lone Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia was a nice surprise. This species is a summer migrant from the northern hemisphere (they breed in Siberia). In Australia it is most abundant on the coastal fringe but good numbers can be found inland as well. I see one or two most years around Newstead and hope to get a closer look this season. This individual was about 150 metres away when I spotted it amongst the stilts..
Common Greenshank, Moolort Plains near Campbelltown, 26th August 2019
Black Swan on nest
As always there are interesting matters ‘afoot’ in the local bush. Flame Robins have graced us with their presence over the past few months – over coming weeks they’ll head south to their spring breeding grounds. Enjoy the last few sightings of this glorious species while you can. As recently noted, Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters are nest-building. This species is pretty adaptable when it comes to nesting sites – the location shown in the images below, a cleft between a bark strip and trunk, contrasts with the recent nest secreted amongst Cassinia and Hedge Wattle at the Rise and Shine.
Flame Robin, Mia Mia Road, 3rd August 2019
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater – nest-building in the Mia Mia, 3rd August 2019
White Box Eucalyptus albens is a local eucalypt that is often overlooked.
A magnificent tall tree when mature, veteran specimens can flower profusely to provide a rich winter resource for nectar-feeding birds, especially honeyeaters and lorikeets. The best stand that I’m aware of close to Newstead is along Bell’s Lane Track in the Mia Mia. Yesterday afternoon it was being visited by small numbers of Musk, Little and Purple-crowned Lorikeets. They were showing interest in a number of hollows – with some competition evident between the larger Musk Lorikeets and the dainty ‘purple-crowns’. Purple-crowned Lorikeets are uncommon locally, trailing both Musk and Little Lorikeets in numbers. Hopefully the retention of large trees in both the forest and adjoining private land will improve their future prospects.
Little Lorikeet feeding on White Box flowers, Bell’s Lane Track, 3rd August 2019
Purple-crowned Lorikeet feeding on White Box
Purple-crowned Lorikeet inspecting a potential nest site
As were Musk Lorikeets
Pre-nuptial behaviour in Purple-crowned Lorikeets
Also observed: Blue-winged Parrot (flying through), White-browed Babbler, Crested Shrike-tit, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater (nest-building). Numerous Fan-tailed Cuckoos and Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoos.
We are about to enjoy a fascinating time of the year.
Winter migrants such as the the Eastern Spinebill, Pied Currawong and Flame Robin are soon to depart our district for their breeding sites at higher altitudes along the Great Dividing Range.
I’ve observed all three of these species in recent days. Meanwhile the Spring migrants are ‘on the horizon’ … Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoos are already here and there will be a bunch of newcomers to watch out for over the next couple of months. It’s always an exciting time of year.
At the same time local residents such as the Common Bronzewing are preparing for breeding.
I was fascinated watching this male Common Bronzewing calling yesterday afternoon – it was making its familiar ‘oom … oom …. oom’ call from a high perch in a Yellow Gum. While I’ve noticed the crown feathers previously I don’t think I’ve ever seen them looking so resplendent.
I returned to the home garden and was met with an Eastern Spinebill singing its heart out. It too is clearly looking forward to Spring!
Common Bronzewing (male), Newstead, 21st July 2019
II – calling pose
Eastern Spinebill …
There has been a hint of Spring in the air over the past few days and this was confirmed with one of the early signs this morning in the Mia Mia.
A number of Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoos were heard calling from high perches, my first observations for the season. Red-capped Robins were also calling nicely from a few different locations to the west of Mia Mia Track.
Other species recorded this morning included: Yellow, Buff-rumped and Brown Thornbills, Flame Robin, Eastern Yellow Robin, Golden Whistler, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Brown-headed Honeyeater, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Crested Bellbird, White-browed Babbler.
Red-capped Robin (female), Mia Mia Track, 21st July 2019
Every winter the gardens around Newstead are home to a familiar array of resident and migrant species. Red Wattlebirds and White-browed Scrubwrens are resident year round, while Eastern Spinebills are only with us for the cooler months. Yellow-faced Honeyeaters tend to come and go – they are certainly more common over winter but can turn up at any time of year.
Red Wattlebird feeding on ornamental Yellow Gum, Wyndham Street Newstead, 8th June 2019