Category Archives: For general amusement

Meet the patron saint of birds … in a heat wave

The old saying goes that you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your neighbours … I guess we just got lucky!

Pictured below is St. Geordie – the patron saint of birds in a heat wave, keeping our new family of Grey Fantails cool in the 44C heat. The parents and three newly fledged youngsters were doing it tough today, but with Geordie in their corner at least they’ll have a sporting chance.

The ‘patron saint of birds in a heatwave’ … lives right next door!

One of the three Grey Fantails … just fledged, Wyndham Street Newstead, 4th January 2019

Fledgling #2

One of the parents … looking anxious and tattered

Adult and fledgling Grey Fantails

Adult Grey Fantail

A scrubwren’s nest … on the left bank!

The part of Newstead to the west of the Loddon River is affectionately known as the ‘left bank’. While locals can talk long and authoritatively about the differences between the two sides of town, from a birds perspective they are pretty much equally attractive.

Is this White-browed Scrubwren’s nest a work of art … and craft? I think so, which possibly lends weight to those arguing that the left bank is the artistic quarter (or is it a half?).

Scrubwrens are fond of using artificial structures as nesting platforms but I’ve never seen one use a mop before. Personally I’ve never found mops to be that useful but will need to revise my opinion now.

White-browed Scrubwren’s nest , Dundas Street Newstead, 26th September 2018 … who said mops aren’t useful?

White-browed Scrubwren arriving with a meal

Departing with a faecal sac

A quizzical look at the photographer!

Many thanks to Ros and Dave for letting me visit this unique installation … rest assured that the mop can be brought back into service in a week or two when the nestlings have fledged.

Is this winter?

Only time for a brief walk today.

The ‘humble’ magpie was the highlight until eclipsed by the sight of Silvereyes in our planted Tree Violet.

A wonderful start to winter … good rain, then sunshine.

Australian Magpie, Wyndham Street Newstead, 1st June 2018

I suspect it’s searching for a flag …

Silvereyes in Tree Violet


Have you seen this bird … in Newstead?

I’m conscious that I’m skating on thin ice with this post.

Natural Newstead has a strict 15 km ‘rule’ which means that natural history events that fall outside this range, no matter how fascinating, are essentially ‘out of bounds’. The interpretation of the ‘rule’ is of course at the discretion of the editor!

This spring has seen an influx of Scarlet Honeyeaters into parts of Victoria where this beautiful bird is rarely seen, even prompting a recent article in the Melbourne Age. Locally, at least to my knowledge, they have been reported in Maldon, Campbells Creek, Fryerstown and Castlemaine. Last weekend I heard one singing magnificently in the centre of Castlemaine outside the IGA!

The bird pictured below was photographed late this afternoon in a wonderful native garden in Castlemaine. Frustratingly, and somewhat surprisingly, they don’t seem to have made it to Newstead yet … I’d love to hear if anyone has seen one inside the ‘circle’.

Male Scarlet Honeyeater, Castlemaine, 16th November 2017




‘Bit on’

Tawny Frogmouths, Newstead Natives, 18th June 2017


Up close Odonata

by Patrick Kavanagh

Dragonflies and Damselflies seem particularly willing sitters at present. A little pond at Strangways has been playing host to large numbers of blue Damselflies, which I think are Wandering Ringtails Austrolestes leda. These little gems were very happy to have a large macro lens up close for some portraits. A male Wandering Percher Diplacodes bipunctata was not quite so cooperative, but a female of this species quite a way from any water was more patient. Apparently the two spots on the side of the abdomen give rise to the name bipunctata.

A strange species of diversely coloured luminous dragonfly was also observed at dusk one evening. Seems to have appeared close to Christmas. Festum festoonum perhaps.


Wandering ringtail






Wandering Percher (male)


Wandering Percher (female)




Festum festoonum … ?

Ducks in March

I’ve often been reminded by my family that March was the season for ducks … an unkind (but true) reference to my cricket career and finals performance!

It’s been interesting over recent days to see a number of duck species using the small bush dams sprinkled in and around the Muckleford bush. A recent deluge has at least partially filled the dams and the ducks have arrived. While Grey Teal, Black Duck and Wood Duck are often around, it’s unusual to come across Chestnut Teal – a glorious sight. Let’s hope they have better fortune over coming weeks than I did at the crease!


Pacific Black Duck, Mia Mia Road, 2nd March 2016


Chestnut Teal, Bell’s Lane Track, 1st March 2016




Grey Teal (with Australasian Grebe in foreground), South German Track, 1st March 2016




Wood Duck, Weedon Track, 2nd March 2016