Category Archives: For general amusement

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

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‘Bit on’

Tawny Frogmouths, Newstead Natives, 18th June 2017

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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.

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Wandering ringtail

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Wandering Percher (male)

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Wandering Percher (female)

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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!

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

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

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

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Wood Duck, Weedon Track, 2nd March 2016

A Xmas treat

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Rainbow Bee-eaters, Loddon River @ Newstead, 23rd December 2015.

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The Twelve Days of Twitchmas

by Dean McLaren

Just loving all the birds at our place at the moment and it inspired me to re-write an old favourite, based on the amount of wonderful birds that we see on a daily basis … I tried “We whistle you a Merry Christmas”, but it just didn’t work!

On behalf of all the ‘Natural Newstead’ followers, I would like to thank Geoff and the other contributors for the wonderful images and stories from this special part of our amazing country. Merry Twitchmas to you all.

On the first day of Twitchmas my bush block shared with me:
An Australian Owlet Nightjar in a gum tree

On the second day of Twitchmas my bush block shared with me:
2 Diamond Firetails
And an Australian Owlet Nightjar in a gum tree

On the third day of Twitchmas my bush block shared with me:
3 Tawny Frogmouths
2 Diamond Firetails
And an Australian Owlet Nightjar in a gum tree

On the fourth day of Twitchmas my bush block shared with me:
4 Eastern Rosellas
3 Tawny Frogmouths
2 Diamond Firetails
And an Australian Owlet Nightjar in a gum tree

On the fifth day of Twitchmas my bush block shared with me:
5 Sulphur-crested Cockatoos
4 Eastern Rosellas
3 Tawny Frogmouths
2 Diamond Firetails
And an Australian Owlet Nightjar in a gum tree

On the sixth day of Twitchmas my bush block shared with me:
6 Pink Galahs
5 Sulphur-crested Cockatoos
4 Eastern Rosellas
3 Tawny Frogmouths
2 Diamond Firetails
And an Australian Owlet Nightjar in a gum tree

On the seventh day of Twitchmas my bush block shared with me:
7 White-winged Choughs
6 Pink Galahs
5 Sulphur-crested Cockatoos
4 Eastern Rosellas
3 Tawny Frogmouths
2 Diamond Firetails
And an Australian Owlet Nightjar in a gum tree

On the eighth day of Twitchmas my bush block shared with me:
8 Grey Shrike-thrush
7 White-winged Choughs
6 Pink Galahs
5 Sulphur-crested Cockatoos
4 Eastern Rosellas
3 Tawny Frogmouths
2 Diamond Firetails
And an Australian Owlet Nightjar in a gum tree

On the ninth day of Twitchmas
my bush block shared with me:
9 Crimson Rosellas
8 Grey Shrike-thrush
7 White-winged Choughs
6 Pink Galahs
5 Sulphur-crested Cockatoos
4 Eastern Rosellas
3 Tawny Frogmouths
2 Diamond Firetails
And an Australian Owlet Nightjar in a gum tree

On the tenth day of Twitchmas my bush block shared with me:

10 Brown Treecreepers
9 Crimson Rosellas
8 Grey Shrike-thrush
7 White-winged Choughs
6 Pink Galahs
5 Sulphur-crested Cockatoos
4 Eastern Rosellas
3 Tawny Frogmouths
2 Diamond Firetails
And an Australian Owlet Nightjar in a gum tree

On the eleventh day of Twitchmas my bush block shared with me:
11 Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters
10 Brown Treecreepers
9 Crimson Rosellas
8 Grey Shrike-thrush
7 White-winged Choughs
6 Pink Galahs
5 Sulphur-crested Cockatoos
4 Eastern Rosellas
3 Tawny Frogmouths
2 Diamond Firetails
And an Australian Owlet Nightjar in a gum tree

On the twelfth day of Twitchmas my bush block shared with me:
12 White-browed Babblers
11 Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters
10 Brown Treecreepers
9 Crimson Rosellas
8 Grey Shrike-thrush
7 White-winged Choughs
6 Pink Galahs
5 Sulphur-crested Cockatoos
4 Eastern Rosellas
3 Tawny Frogmouths
2 Diamond Firetails
And an Australian Owlet Nightjar in a gum tree

On the subject of trains …

OK readers, hands up if you’ve ever seen an Echidna train. If you have then count yourself as fortunate indeed, as can one of our readers, David Tuck of Clydesdale.

Around Newstead now is the time when Echidnas emerge from their winter slumber and start looking for mates. Both males and females give off a strong, musky odour during the mating season, secreting a glossy liquid believed to be an aphrodisiac. During courtship the males locate and pursue females. Trains of up to 10 males, often with the youngest and smallest male at the end of the queue, may follow a single female in a courtship ritual that may last for up to four weeks; the duration of the courtship period varies with location. During this time, they forage for food together, and the train often changes composition, as some males leave and other join the pursuit (see Wikipedia for details).

I’ve once seen a train of seven individuals, and have heard of even larger congregations. It is a wondrous sight.

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Echidna train at Clydesdale, 25th August 2015. Photography by David Tuck.

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And while we’re on the subject of trains (groan) I’ll take the liberty of reminding those who may be interested about the Grand Opening of the Newstead Community Arts Hub, formerly the Newstead Railway Station, now magnificently restored. It’s on this Saturday at 3pm – it would be great to see you there!

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