Being in a different hemisphere meant that I missed the arrival of a number of spring migrants this year.
Before I left in mid-September all five cuckoos (Pallid, Fan-tailed, Black-eared, Horsfield’s and Shining Bronze) had arrived, along with White-winged Trillers. Returning at the weekend I was pleased to now see the three species pictured below in their usual haunts.
A number of Olive-backed Orioles were calling beautifully at the Rise and Shine, while along the Loddon River both Rufous Songlarks and Sacred Kingfishers (two pairs) could be easily located from their distinctive and far-carrying calls. These three very different birds share a common attribute, each is a spring breeding migrant to central Victoria after spending the winter in northern Australia.
Olive-backed Oriole, Rise and Shine, 13th October 2019
Rufous Songlark, Newstead Cemetery, 13th October 2019
Sacred Kingfisher, Loddon River @ Newstead, 13th October 2019
Almost all birds are alert and wary, almost all of the time.
It’s pleasing then when you get close to wild birds when their ‘guard’ is lowered. This flock of Red-browed Finches were seen last week along the Loddon, sitting amongst the planted wattles, quietly preening in the morning sunshine.
Red-browed Finch, Loddon River @ Newstead, 28th July 2019
Following this week’s rain the Loddon has gone from a trickle to a nice, steady flow.
Fingers crossed for follow-up rain over the next little while.
Loddon River @ Newstead, 11th May 2019
Eastern Yellow Robin
Adult Eastern Spinebills in the garden … and the mighty Loddon has started to flow. I think we can safely say it’s autumn.
Eastern Spinebill (adult male), Wyndham Street Newstead, 4th May 2019
Loddon River @ the Punt Road Ford … click on the image to enlarge
The Loddon River upstream of Cairn Curran is a sad sight at present – it has retreated to a series of disconnected pools and these are disappearing rapidly as autumn continues to be dry and unusually warm.
I’m looking forward … hoping for a restorative flow!
Loddon River @ Newstead, just upstream of the highway bridge, 13th April 2019
A Whistling Kite patrolling the river corridor
Powerful Owl, Loddon River @ Newstead, 13th April 2019
The remain of an unfortunate Galah dangling below a satisfied owl
Powerful Owl close-up
There are some interesting things happening in the landscape this autumn. Firstly the appearance of dry country birds, such as Black Honeyeaters and Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters and worryingly the disappearance of many small insectivorous species from dry areas of our local bush. At this time, lower areas of the landscape, such as small drainage lines and the Loddon River valley itself become important refuges. I’ve mentioned earlier this month the excellent flowering of Grey Box. Stands of veteran Grey Box in more fertile and moister parts of the landscape become veritable oases of food for birds over autumn. Such is the case along the Loddon River at present, where large numbers of honeyeaters, woodswallows and lorikeets are enjoying the nectar flow. At the same time Eastern Yellow Robins, largely absent from surrounding areas, can be found along the river in reasonable numbers.
Black-chinned Honeyeater, Cemetery Road Newstead, 12th March 2019
Eaqstern Yellow Robin