The bush around the Mia Mia is very quiet at present with bird numbers lower than I can recall since the Millennium drought.
Nonetheless there is plenty to see if you take your time and stay alert.
Jacky Winter, Mia Mia Road, 14th February 2018
aka Jacky Lizard
I was intrigued by this Golden Orb-Weaver, attended by two males … I hadn’t realised that this occurred until today!
The highlight was bumping into a couple of researchers from Monash University on my way home. They had just caught an already banded Eastern Yellow Robin as part of ongoing studies into the genetics and biology of this beautiful woodland bird.
Eastern Yellow Robin … a recapture about to be released
Swamp Wallabies are one of the most striking inhabitants of our local bush.
Their scientific name Wallabia bicolor is a reference to the distinct colour contrast between the coat, usually dark-brown to black and the chest which is much lighter and often rufous orange. Most individuals have a white creek stripe and a white tip to the tail. This one looks as though it has just enjoyed a dip in a bush pool prior to my arrival. I’ve seen Swamp Wallabies almost submerge themselves in water during hot weather.
Swamp Wallaby, Mia Mia Track, 10th February 2018
Bush dam in the Mia Mia
The heat at this time of year produces some amazing bushland effects, especially with the bark on our local Yellow Gums. During a run of very hot days long strips of bark, grey-blue on the outside and orange on the inside, peel away to reveal the classic ‘look’ of the Yellow Gum aka White Ironbark. The accumulation of bark on the forest floor is a key driver of the ecology of this landscape – Yellow-footed Antechinus are one of the animals to profit and not surprisingly are abundant where there is good cover of fallen bark.
Yellow Gum, Mia Mia Track, 13th January 2018
Yellow Gum bark on the forest floor, Mia Mia Track
Yellow Gums, South German Track
Red Box … not to be outdone!
Yellow-footed Antechinus on South German Track
I don’t really need any excuse for posting another story about two of my favourite subjects, the Yellow-footed Antechinus and the Rainbow Bee-eater – so here goes.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been observing a pair of Rainbow Bee-eaters nesting on the edge of the Sandon State Forest. A feature of all visits to the site has been watching Yellow-footed Antechinus hunting across the surrounding terrain. At times I’ve seen four different individuals simultaneously – with one twenty metres up, running upside down along a horizontal Grey Box branch, while another scampered over my feet as I sat quietly with the camera.
On the visit recorded below I watched the reaction of the bee-eaters as an antechinus ventured near the nesting tunnel. Both adults swooped the tiny dasyurid repeatedly until it retreated to a safer distance. I have witnessed this behaviour previously and suspect a common cause of breeding failure is predation of eggs and nestlings by antechinus.
Yellow-footed Antechinus, Sandon State Forest, 4th January 2018
Rainbow Bee-eater, Sandon State Forest, 4th January 2018
The Rise and Shine never disappoints.
The highlight of this visit was family of Crested Shrike-tits, two youngsters being fed by the parents. They spent some time in secreted amongst the foliage of a Cherry Ballart which made it impossible to snap an image of the whole family.
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Rise and Shine, 30th December 2017
Crested Shrike-tit (juvenile)
Rufous Whistler (male)
This was my second close encounter with a European Red Fox in recent days.
I imagine the Yellow-footed Antechinus population in this gully is constantly on the lookout. A number of the tiny dasyurids were darting about until the fox arrived whereupon they all made themselves scarce.
European Red Fox, Sandon State Forest, 24th December 2017
Yellow-footed Antechinus, Sandon State Forest, 24th December 2017
In my nearly 22 years living in Palmerston St Newstead this is only the second time I have seen an Eastern Bearded Dragon here. This specimen is about half the size of the one I saw here about 5 years ago. On both occasions the animal stood its ground, flattened its body, raised its frill, and opened its mouth hoping to scare me off. I retreated to the house to get my camera and was glad it had not moved from the Fan Flower so I could get a few shots.
Eastern Bearded Dragon Pogona barbata showing that it eats Fan Flower Scaevola humilis as well as small animals. Photographed by Frances Cincotta.
Eastern Bearded Dragon at Newstead Natives Nursery 27 Dec 2017.
Has anyone else seen this species in our district?