Category Archives: Rise and Shine

I wonder …

… how often, if ever, a Peaceful Dove falls victim to a Yellow-footed Antechinus?

Last week in the Rise and Shine I was intrigued to see a flock of six foraging doves within a few metres of an actively hunting antechinus.

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Peaceful Dove, Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve, 9th May 2021

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Antechinus

Yellow-footed Antechinus

In a good light

While it’s always a sad farewell to daylight saving, an advantage of this time of year is that my rambles tend to coincide better with the ‘golden hour’ before dusk.

Last evening at the Rise and Shine a cavalcade of honeyeaters thoughtfully shared this time with me as they visited a bushland pool. I’ve been making repeat visits to this site in search of Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters, occasional visitors from the mallee country to our north, but no luck so far this autumn.

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Brown-headed Honeyeater, Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve, 7th April 2021

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Brown-headed Honeyeater flock drinking

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Yellow-tufted Honeyeater

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Yellow-faced Honeyeater

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White-plumed Honeyeater

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White-naped Honeyeater

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Fuscous Honeyeaters drinking

White-naped Honeyeater

The White-naped Honeyeater is a distinctive local species – adults have a striking orange-red ‘eye-lid’, which is actually bare skin above the eye. This feature is characteristic of Melithreptus honeyeaters – local species of the genus include the Black-chinned Honeyeater (adult has blue eye skin) and Brown-headed Honeyeater (adult has cream eye skin). 

White-naped Honeyeaters can be encountered year-round locally, but they are something of a blossom nomad and, at least in my experience, are more abundant when Grey Box and Yellow Gum are flowering, which is typically from March until the end of winter.

At the Rise and Shine earlier in the week they were the most common visitors to this small bushland pool, outnumbering the Fuscous and Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters. 

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White-naped Honeyeater, Rise and Shine, 31st March 2021

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Female Spotted Pardalote

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Fuscous Honeyeater

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Immature Crimson Rosella

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White-winged Chough

Never quiet

The Restless Flycatcher is said to use its distinctive grinding call to attract prey.

While I’ve watched this species and heard it calling many times, until yesterday I’d never really appreciated how it uses this tactic.

As I watched this lone Restless Flycatcher in the Rise and Shine it moved between a series of low perches, each time uttering a burst of calls directed at the ground and surrounding vegetation. Numerous times it pounced to catch a small insect. It was pretty clear that the call was being used deliberately to disturb potential prey.

The bird also took a small excursion to drink in the pool that was also attracting good numbers of Yellow-tufted, White-naped and Fuscous Honeyeaters. Again, this is not a behaviour that I’ve witnessed previously from Myiagra inquieta, although I’m sure its a regular thing.

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Restless Flycatcher, Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve, 31st March 2021

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Watching over me …

Perhaps Australia’s most common nocturnal bird … guaranteed to brighten up your day.

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Australian Owlet-nightjar, Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve, 8th March 2021

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‘Ante’ antics

I never tire of watching Yellow-footed Antechinus as they go about their business. These tiny, fearless carnivores are always on the move, in search of insects, small reptiles, birds eggs and even nestlings if they get the chance. I encounter them on most visits to the Rise and Shine, one of a number of local hot-spots for the species.

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Yellow-footed Antechinus, Rise & Shine Bushland Reserve, 8th March 2021

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The wonder of autumn rain

A somewhat unanticipated, but very welcome event … we enjoyed 8mm of rain yesterday morning. Within minutes of its gentle onset, swarms of insects emerged, including flying ants of various varieties.

Once the rain had stopped, but under still leaden skies, I paid a visit to the Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve. There was lots of bird activity … the bush always comes to life when rain follows a dry spell … and insectivorous species were especially active. Black-faced and White-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes, Restless Flycatcher and Dusky Woodswallows were joined by numerous Olive-backed Orioles in their hunt for insects.

I was struck by this juvenile Olive-backed Oriole that I first spotted catching winged ants from the ground. It was being followed by two immature and inquisitive  Crimson Rosellas, prompted apparently by the foraging success of the oriole. Over the course of a five minute cameo the rosellas followed the oriole to a succession of perches but at no stage did they make any attempt to interfere. I can only surmise that they were hoping to share the oriole’s success but I’m not clear on their strategy, if indeed they had one!

Rosellas are mainly fruit and seed eaters, but they are known to take insects, especially larvae – this behaviour though is a first for me.

Olive-backed Oriole catching flying ants, Rise and Shine Bushland reserve, 8th March 2021

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Immature Crimson Rosella

Fuscous domination

Not much to report in recent days, apart from the preponderance of Fuscous Honeyeaters pretty much wherever I go.

This species is a ‘sucker’ for water and along with the more aggressive Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters will tend to dominate small bushland water sources. Adult Fuscous Honeyeaters in breeding fettle have black bills while younger birds and non-breeding adults have quite a deal of yellow on the bill and gape.

Also seen and heard in the Rise and Shine – Brown Treecreeper, Mistletoebird, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Eastern Rosella, Sacred Kingfisher, Rainbow Bee-eater, Eastern Yellow Robin.

Brown Treecreeper, Rise & Shine Bushland Reserve, 9th February 2021

Fuscous Honeyeater

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Xmas Eve by the pool

The wait was rewarded … a single Fuscous Honeyeater in the first forty minutes, then a succession of nice birds after that.

A flock of ~100 Straw-necked Ibises over Strangways on the trip home and then a Pied Currawong calling when I arrived … most unusual.

Fuscous Honeyeaters, Rise & Shine Bushland Reserve, 24th December 2020

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Dusky Woodswallow

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Straw-necked Ibis over Strangways

An old friend in the shine

I’ve ‘known’ this old Yellow Box for more than three decades.

At various times it has been home to nesting Laughing Kookaburras, Brown and White-throated Treecreepers and Sacred Kingfishers … in some years simultaneously. I’m sure the tree is also home to bats, sugar gliders and who knows what else!

This season it’s the kingfishers that have returned to breed once again. An early morning visit showed that spiders (wolf spiders I think) were the favoured tucker. I witnessed at least 10 visits over the course of an hour where spiders were delivered to the nestlings. I find it remarkable that the kingfishers are dining out on prey that is completely invisible to me as I stumble through the bush.

Yellow Box, Rise and Shine, 12th December 2020

Sacred Kingfisher with spider prey

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Arriving at the hollow …

… departure

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The other parent … possibly the male

This time with a grasshopper