Category Archives: Landscape

The path to our door

There was quite a variety of treats in store for me on a trip back from Newstead to our place at Strangways last Saturday. First up was a beautiful foggy scene on the flats of the Jim Crow Creek.

Morning on the floodplain of the Jim Crow Creek at Strangways

Morning fog on Jim Crow Creek

As I drove up our lane, I was delighted to see a pair of Restless Flycatchers Myiagra inquieta hovering and catching insects. They have been a bit shy of the cameraman until this day when they let me get to within 5 metres whilst they hunted in the winter sun.

Restless Flycatcher (Myiagra inquieta)

Restless Flycatcher I

Restless Flycatcher (Myiagra inquieta)

Restless Flycatcher II

Restless Flycatcher (Myiagra inquieta)

Catching spiders as well as flies

A pair of Jacky Winters Microeca fascinans was also hunting along the fence line.

Jacky Winter (Microeca fascinans)

Jacky Winter

When I got home after quite some time rolling on the ground getting shots of the birds, for some unknown macrophotographic reason I put on my reading glasses and had good close look at the stone path to our door. I was impressed to find numerous tiny mites with white-spotted black bodies and orange legs. They were from 0.5-1mm long. And with them were some velvety looking grey grubs with six legs and again only 0.5-1mm long. They were quite challenging photographic subjects and I will keep working to try to get some good photos of them. At first I thought the grey ones might be tiny Velvet Worms, but from my reading they would need more legs to qualify. The people at bowerbird.org.au have identified it as a springtail, hexapods once classed as insects, but with internal mouths. The reading I’ve done says that they live on fungi, microbes  and other material in the leaf litter. I wonder if the mites could be Trombidiformes, but would really appreciate any help with identification of either. The grains in the sandstone path give an indication of their size, or lack thereof.

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Mite

Tiny

Springtail

Mite and friend

Together

Looking up and down

From time to time to time I look down – usually to avoid a clumsy fall, or in search of orchids. On a short walk along Fence Track last weekend I paused to admire the exposed rock exposed by recent rain. This material was originally laid down deep under the sea in the Ordovician period, between 420 and 500 million years ago.

The juxtaposition of these rocks, seeing the light of day for the first time in eons, with woodland birds watching overhead, is quite compelling.

Buff-rumped Thornbill, Fence Track, 22nd April 2017

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Sedimentary rock along Fence Track

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Female Scarlet Robin

Watching waterbirds

Cairn Curran Reservoir has receded significantly over the past month, it’s now at just over 84%. This is creating some nice habitats for birds, as areas of exposed mudflat develop and provide additional foraging opportunities.

Cairn Curran Reservoir, 14th March 2017

I’m yet to see any migratory waders, such as stints and sandpipers, but expect some observations over coming weeks as small flocks stop by on their northerly journey. Nonetheless, there are other sights to enjoy – A Darter was the highlight during the week. A few pairs bred in Joyce’s creek over summer and the birds are now dispersing to spend the cooler months fishing the shallow waters of the lake.

Darter at Cairn Curran

Darter and Little Pied Cormorant

Darter in flight

White-faced Heron

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Summer evening bush rainbow

Maybe you caught the rainbow over Newstead this evening, a double beauty!

Summer evening rainbow

…with multiple refractions…

Summer evening rainbow

…followed by a textured sunset

Summer evening rainbow

Just add water

The swamps of the Moolort Plains are ‘full’ again – not quite to the level of 2010/11, but refreshingly wet.

I made a lightning visit at the weekend around some of my favourites, mainly to document what they look like at this stage of the wetting cycle. There were very few birds to be seen – not to worry the ‘bush telegraph’ will rectify this situation in coming weeks and I expect to see some interesting visitors. Speaking with local wetland ecologist Damien Cook last week, he mentioned seeing a flock of Plumed Whistling Ducks at Long Swamp – a taste of things to come!

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Baker’s Swamp, 16th September 2016

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Black Swamp at Campbelltown, 17th September 2016

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Galloway’s Swamp, 18th September 2016

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Lakeside Swamp, 17th September 2016

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Lignum Swamp, 18th September 2016

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Long Swamp, 16th September 2016

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Purple Swamphen @ Baringhup – this one was disturbed making a nest on the edge of the swollen Loddon River near the Caravan Park, 18th September 2016

Inundation and elation

It promises to be a season for the ages.

A sodden landscape is recharging the wetlands of the plains (stay tuned) and to see the Loddon in flood is awe-inspiring.

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The Loddon River @ Newstead, 14th September 2016 … 9am

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The river at noon

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The confluence of the Muckleford Creek and Loddon River at 9am.

Whistling at rainbows

Thursday was one of the most bitter days I can recall.

Sleeting rain clouds rolled over Newstead throughout the day but a late afternoon break triggered a quick excursion to the plains.

Remarkably there were some birds about – a Nankeen Kestrel, Black-shouldered Kite and a party of four Whistling Kites were followed by an amazing rainbow on the trip home. Click here for some other images.

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Whistling Kite, Moolort Plains, 23rd June 2016

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Moolort Plains, looking south.