I was delighted yesterday to come an absent friend … the Southern Whiteface – a pair at the Newstead Cemetery in the company of Superb Fairy-wrens and Yellow-rumped Thornbills.
A charming woodland species, the Southern Whiteface has declined in the Newstead district and it’s two years since I last observed one – near where Muckleford Creek joins the Loddon River. It often mingles with thornbills and wrens, feeding almost exclusively on the ground. The white tufts either side of the bill are a distinguishing feature. I’m hoping for a comeback!
Male Superb Fairy-wren, Newstead Cemetery, 9th September 2017
A small bush dam in Green Gully has yielded some treasures over the past week – not pictured here are the Rainbow Bee-eaters hawking insects overhead, or the juvenile Olive-backed Oriole passing through on its northern migration.
Not to disappoint though – this Restless Flycatcher perched helpfully on stranded stick at the edge of the water, displaying its iridescent plumage in lovely shimmers. The Red-rumped Parrots arrived in two and threes, adults with this seasons young and the Welcome Swallows gathered where the flycatcher had left – resting for short moments before further aerial pursuits.
Restless Flycatcher, Green Gully, 25th February 2017
Male Red-rumped Parrot – possibly an immature
A gathering of ‘red rumps’
Welcome Swallows and a lone Fairy Martin (with chestnut cap)
After time away I’d lost track of what was happening with our local Rainbow Bee-eaters.
I was thrilled then to learn of a moderate-sized congregation near the Newstead Cemetery – at least three juveniles being attended and fed by a flock of adults, perhaps a dozen birds in all.
The adults were spending some of their aerial foraging close to the eucalyptus canopies where they were catching cicadas, possibly the Red-eyes mentioned in one of Andrew’s recent posts.
Adult Rainbow Bee-eater, Plunkett’s Lane Newstead, 24th January 2017
A resplendent male
Juvenile Rainbow Bee-eater
Aerial sequence I
Thanks JB for the tip!
My hunch is that the Rainbow Bee-eaters are on the cusp of hatching their eggs. There are lots of comings and going around the tunnels but no food being delivered just yet. I’ve just noticed that the male, featured in the shots below, has a slightly deformed bill. I suspect it has no effect on its ability to snare insects in flight!
Rainbow Bee-eater (male), Newstead Cemetery, 21st December 2016
Summer is … listening to the insect-like trills of Rainbow Bee-eaters as they hunt in the skies around their nesting tunnels … and watching Sacred Kingfishers ferrying all manner of prey to hungry nestlings.
The Loddon River @ Newstead, 14th December 2016
Sacred Kingfisher with cicada prey, Loddon River 14th December 2016
Female Rainbow Bee-eater at the Newstead Cemetery
About to emerge from the nesting tunnel
Following a successful bout of nesting there are now many juvenile Fairy Martins being fed by their parents. The youngsters often assemble along fence-lines to wait for regular visits by the adults feeding nearby on flying insects. At this stage of their ‘careers’ the juveniles are not attuned to danger … this is great for close-up images, but many must perish from the predations of raptors and other bird hunters, such as kookaburras and currawongs.
Juvenile Fairy Martin, Newstead Cemetery, 28th November 2016
Adult Fairy Martin arriving with a meal
Another juvenile, this one a little further advanced, waited patiently nearby
This is blog post Number 2000 that I’ve personally posted to Natural Newstead – aptly from a visit last week to one of my cherished birding spots, the Newstead Cemetery. Strangely there is not a Rainbow Bee-eater in sight!
All up we have now recorded 2,161 local stories that celebrate the beauty and complexity of nature around Newstead. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the blog’s other valued contributors.
New Holland Honeyeater on Callistemon, Newstead Cemetery, 10th November 2016
Male Superb Fairy-wren
Striated Pardalote about to descend to the nest tunnel with a meal of lerp
Perched beside the entrance – this time with a moth larva