I try to get out with the camera most days. It’s rare to return home without at least one ‘story’.
Late yesterday afternoon I ventured out to the Rise and Shine with the dashboard thermometer showing 35C … not ideal conditions for birding.
I sat for nearly two hours beside a small pond in the reserve, expecting at least a few visitors to drop by for a drink. Alas, the bush was disturbingly quiet. The only birds heard were Weebill, Striated Pardalote, Fuscous Honeyeater and Rufous Whistler, with not one bird arriving at the pool. As I turned to head home I spotted a raptor about 100 metres off, high above the canopy. It was a Square-tailed Kite, not actively hunting at canopy height as is its usual method, instead circling lazily on a late afternoon thermal. This made my visit well and truly worthwhile.
Square-tailed Kite, Rise and Shine, 1st January 2019
Best wishes for 2019 to all readers of Natural Newstead. Thank you for the kind comments over the past year. Here is a selection of some of my favourite images – one for each month of 2018.
Southern Boobook, Wyndham Street Newstead, 23rd January 2018
Red-capped Robin (female), Rise and Shine, 18th February 2018
Great Egret @ Cairn Curran, 14th March 2018
Male Flame Robin, Mia Mia Track, 25th April 2018 … first of the season
Silvereye feeding on Ruby Saltbush in the home garden, 25th May 2018
Yellow-footed Antechinus, Rise and Shine, 23rd June 2018
Hooded Robins, Newstead Cemetery, 28th July 2018
Eastern Spinebill, Wyndham Street Newstead, 12th August 2019
Blue-winged Parrot, South German Track, 8th September 2018
Sacred Kingfishers, Mia Mia Track area, 20th October 2018
Nankeen Kestrel, Moolort Plains, 1st November 2018
Rainbow Bee-eater, Sandon State Forest, 31st December 2018
Posted in Bird breeding, Bird observations, Cairn Curran, Migrants, Moolort Plains, Newstead Cemetery/Gr. Gully, Raptors, Rise and Shine, Sandon bush, Spring Hill and the Mia Mia, The Home Garden
In a good year Nankeen Kestrels can easily raise three young. This year conditions have not been favourable, with food scarce on the plains. As a result only a single youngster has emerged in 2018 – at least two nestlings were seen earlier in December. Normally three eggs will be laid but nestlings will weaken and die if there is not sufficient food to go around.
Juvenile Nankeen Kestrel, Moolort Plains, 30th December 2018
The following sequence was captured last week, with my favourite raptors on the plains.
The female Nankeen Kestrel, pictured here with a spider, was making repeated visits to the nest in the late afternoon. The chicks are still quite small and fluffy (you may be able to just make out one in two of the images), but will develop rapidly over the next few weeks.
Nankeen Kestrel, Moolort Plains, 5th December 2018
My favourite Nankeen Kestrels are nesting again on the plains. To my knowledge this site has been used for a decade and while nesting seems to have started a little later this year, the behaviour of the parents – the female making regular visits (without food) and the male on sentinel duty – suggests the eggs are about to hatch.
Nankeen Kestrel, Moolort Plains, 31st October 2018
Over the past fortnight the local skies have hosted healthy flocks of woodswallows. White-browed and Masked Woodswallows are migrants from northern Australia and return every year, although their numbers can fluctuate significantly. This year so far I’d say numbers are about average, with most flocks in the order of 40-50 individuals, with White-browed Woodswallows outnumbering their beautiful masked companions about 10:1. At the Rise and Shine on Friday evening they were sharing the skies with a pair of Little Eagles.
White-browed Woodswallow in flight
Male White-browed Woodswallow, Rise and Shine, 12th October 2018
Female White-browed Woodswallow
Little Eagle, Rise and Shine, 12th October 2018
Little Eagle @ the Rise and Shine, 7th October 2018
The Peregrine Falcon is the world’s fastest bird. Stooping birds can reach speeds in excess of 300 km/hr, while in level flight they exude power and grace.
Peregrine Falcons have a global distribution, occurring on all continents except Antarctica. They almost exclusively feed on birds, caught on the wing. We have small number of pairs locally and every encounter with this incredible raptor is etched into my memory.
Peregrine Falcon, Newstead area, 28th September 2018