After regularly bemoaning the absence of robins this summer I finally came across a pair of Scarlet Robins, along Plunkett’s Road earlier in the week. Other observers have had more luck but I’m still convinced the long, dry summer has prompted them to move across the local landscape after breeding in search more hospitable habitats until the weather turns.
Scarlet Robin (male), Plunkett’s Road Newstead, 15th March 2019
Woodswallows, especially the White-browed Woodswallow, are well-known for their fondness for eucalypt nectar. All species have divided, brush-tipped tongues which can be used to advantage when taking nectar from flowers. I came across a small flock of Dusky Woodswallows yesterday afternoon, a mixture of adults and immatures, alternating between catching insects and visiting the flowering Grey Box. The Yellow-footed Antechinus bobbing about in front of me was an unexpected bonus.
Dusky Woodswallow (imm.) feeding on Grey Box blossom, Cemetery Road Newstead, 12th March 2019
The fine white streaking on the crown signify an immature bird
I’m not sure that all apiarists would agree, but the Rainbow Bee-eater is an extraordinary bird. Its colours are something to behold, as is its aerial ability – turning on a pin to snatch a bee (or some other unlucky insect) in mid-flight.
Following breeding, Rainbow Bee-eaters are now beginning to congregate in small mixed flocks of adult and immature birds, prior to a later summer departure to northerly climes. They can often be found at this time of year around water, especially in the vicinity of flowering eucalypts that attract their favourite prey.
Rainbow Bee-eater, Green Gully, 9th February 2019
Wedge-tailed Eagle – one of a pair circling high above
Best wishes for 2019 to all readers of Natural Newstead. Thank you for the kind comments over the past year. Here is a selection of some of my favourite images – one for each month of 2018.
Southern Boobook, Wyndham Street Newstead, 23rd January 2018
Red-capped Robin (female), Rise and Shine, 18th February 2018
Great Egret @ Cairn Curran, 14th March 2018
Male Flame Robin, Mia Mia Track, 25th April 2018 … first of the season
Silvereye feeding on Ruby Saltbush in the home garden, 25th May 2018
Yellow-footed Antechinus, Rise and Shine, 23rd June 2018
Hooded Robins, Newstead Cemetery, 28th July 2018
Eastern Spinebill, Wyndham Street Newstead, 12th August 2019
Blue-winged Parrot, South German Track, 8th September 2018
Sacred Kingfishers, Mia Mia Track area, 20th October 2018
Nankeen Kestrel, Moolort Plains, 1st November 2018
Rainbow Bee-eater, Sandon State Forest, 31st December 2018
Posted in Bird breeding, Bird observations, Cairn Curran, Migrants, Moolort Plains, Newstead Cemetery/Gr. Gully, Raptors, Rise and Shine, Sandon bush, Spring Hill and the Mia Mia, The Home Garden
White-winged Trillers, another of our spring migrants, have arrived in good numbers this year.
I’ve been hoping to get some decent images … as these shots demonstrate I’m still waiting! Distant views in harsh midday sun are not ideal conditions for photographing this species.
I watched this male fossicking on the ground, around tree stumps and in the canopy, not for insects, but for cobwebs with which to line its delicate nest.
After a few minutes careful observation I located the nest, high up in the fork of a Grey Box.
White-winged Triller (male), Plunkett’s Lane Green Gully, 11th November 2018
Gathering cobwebs from the canopy
The almost completed nest
Rounding out the focus on cuckoos in recent weeks, here are the two species that haven’t featured so far.
Pallid Cuckoos have been around in good numbers for at least a fortnight, while Black-eared Cuckoos are doing well in the bush along the Mia Mia. The least common of all the migrating cuckoos, it’s been great to see and hear them on most visits to this area since early September. On a warm Friday evening I was a little surprised to see a small flock of woodswallows near South German Track – White-browed and at least one Masked Woodswallow … a very early record.
Pallid Cuckoo, Green Gully, 7th September 2018
Black-eared cuckoo, Mia Mia area, 14th September 2018
This morning, in the Mia Mia, the bush was ringing with a chorus of cuckoos – all five newly arrived migrant species.
I managed images of both Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoos that had just captured caterpillars (watch for these in upcoming posts); as Pallid Cuckoos, Black-eared Cuckoos and Shining Bronze-cuckoos foraged in the canopy overhead.
All of the cuckoos, along with cuckoo-shrikes and Olive-backed Orioles (first heard yesterday) specialise on caterpillars – each individual capturing hundreds daily and playing a vital role in ecosystem pest control.
This Shining Bronze-cuckoo was observed at Green Gully on Friday evening, feeding on cup-moth larvae in River Red Gum.
Shining Bronze-cuckoo in River Red Gum @ Green Gully, 7th September 2018
Shining Bronze-cuckoo with Cup-moth larva
A Jacky Winter watched on