In common with most bushland areas in central Victoria the Muckleford ‘bush’ is a maze of winding tracks.
Often on my walks I just pick a path and follow it randomly until it winds back to my starting place. Such was the case yesterday when I headed west into the bush off Mia Mia Track. The highlight was a company of Flame Robins, at least a dozen individuals, including a number of brightly coloured males. A female Speckled Warbler, peeking warily from within a small Red Box was also pretty neat!
Male Flame Robin, Mia Mia Track area, 17th June 2017
Female Speckled Warbler
Female Spotted Pardalote
… and a female Scarlet Robin!
It’s extraordinary what you encounter on a short five minute stroll around our block and the neighbouring estate.
Eastern Spinebill on Grevillea #1
Southern Boobook, Wyndham Street Newstead, 12th June 2017
Male Common Bronzewing
Pied Currawong feeding on a privet
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo plundering Gen and Geordie’s olives!
Eastern Spinebill on Grevillea #2
Recently I was given a special gift, a copy of the Australian Bird Guide, a marvellous new handbook/field guide written by Peter Menkhorst, Danny Rogers and Rohan Clarke, and beautifully illustrated by Jeff Davies, Peter Marsack and Kim Franklin.
I’ve been dipping into the book most days and enjoyed the descriptive notes and illustrations of my local birds. It was only today when reading the entry on the White-eared Honeyeater, having seen a couple that afternoon on Demo Track, that I discovered the taxonomists have been busy! This species has, for as long as I can remember, gone by the scientific name Lichenostomus leucotis. It is now Nesoptilotis leucotis. The genus Lichenostomus has undergone a significant revision, having been split into a series of new genera – Nesoptilotis, Ptilotula, Gavicalis, Stomiopera, Caligavis and Bolemoreus, with two species (Yellow-tufted and Purple-gaped Honetyeater) remaining in the now greatly diminished Lichenostomus. It’s going to take me a while to come to terms with these new monikers.
The White-eared Honeyeater remains a striking bird nonetheless. A winter migrant to this part of the box-ironbark, it can be found year round not far south around Yandoit. Its distinctive and loud ‘chwok, chwok, chwok’ calls ring for quite some distance on a still day and clearly announce its presence.
White-eared Honeyeater, Demo Track, 11th June 2017
Click here to read a review of the Australian Bird Guide at one of my favourite birding blogs, The Grip.
I’ve been chasing Pied Currawongs for a few weeks now, after hearing the distinctive calls of these winter altitudinal migrants in early May.
Finally a couple arrived in the garden at the weekend and I managed some hastily composed images. Then, later in the day a single Grey Currawong turned up. Like its ‘cousin’ this species is wary and somewhat cryptic around town. Grey Currawongs are resident in the box-ironbark country but tend to move around more during winter as they come into gardens in search of food when there are lean pickings in the bush. The two species can be hard to separate – a couple of key features are the bill shape (the Grey Currawong lacks the hooked tip of the Pied Currawong) and the latter has white at the upper base of the tail. Both have white under tail coverts.
Pied Currawong, Newstead, 3rd June 2017
Grey Currawong, Newstead, 3rd June 2017
This Grey Currawong was seen the next day along Codrington Street
Being mobbed by Red Wattlebirds
The ‘bill gap’ is often quite obvious in the Grey Currawong
Autumn and early winter sees a lot of birds on the move around Newstead. In recent days I’ve noticed a number of ‘bush birds’ around the garden.
For instance we’ve had both Golden Whistlers and Fuscous Honeyeaters around home and I’ve been seeing them as well in their usual woodland haunts at the Rise and Shine and the Mia Mia. White-plumed Honeyeaters are most common along the Loddon River, or wherever you find River Red-gums. They too have been visiting the flowering shrubs in the garden over recent weeks.
Eastern Spinebill, Wyndham Street Newstead, 3rd June, 2017
Fuscous Honeyeater, Rise and Shine, 1st June 2017
Male Golden Whistler, Mia Mia Track, 2nd June 2017
Fuscous Honeyeater @ the bird bath
White-plumed Honeyeaters getting a little feisty
We are blessed to have such variety of local birds. Within the space of a few metres during a walk at Cairn Curran at the weekend I encountered three different species of ‘dotterels’ – the resident Black-fronted Dotterel and Red-capped Plovers and a single Double-banded Plover. The latter is a winter migrant from its breeding grounds in New Zealand – this amazing little wader crosses the Tasman twice each year!
Black-fronted Dotterels, Cairn Curran, 27th May 2017
In recent days a few adult Eastern Spinebills have been visiting the front garden attracted by the bird bath and the flowering grevilleas. It is my ambition to capture an image of a hovering spinebill sipping nectar from one of the flowers … stay tuned!
Adult Eastern Spinebill, Wyndham Street Newstead, 20th May 2017