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
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
Eastern Rosella (imm.)
Straw-necked Ibis over Strangways
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
Arriving at the hollow …
The other parent … possibly the male
This time with a grasshopper
Ravens, in my experience, a difficult birds to photograph. They are constantly alert and wary of humans, but are the most magnificent birds.
We have two local species, the Little Raven and the Australian Raven. It can be difficult to tell them apart. The Australian Raven is larger, with a more robust bill – the best way to separate the species is by call. Australian Ravens typically utter a slow, drawn out call aihh-aaah-aaah-aaaaaahhh … the last note dropping in pitch and intensity, while the Little Raven utters short rapid notes – ark-ark-ark … and yes, just to reiterate, we don’t have crows around here!
The bird pictured below is, I’m fairly sure, a juvenile Little Raven. It dropped, in a wheeling descent, from a passing flock of adults to drink in this small pool in the Rise and Shine. Yet to adopt the wariness of an adult raven it allowed me to capture a few images before it departed.
At the same time a Short-beaked Echidna moseyed straight past me … a nice finish to my stint at the pool.
Little Raven (juvenile), Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve, 1st December 2020
The calls of the Olive-backed Oriole have been ringing through the local bush since August – they seemed to arrive quite early this year.
Their genus name Oriolus from the Latin oryolus, refers to the Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus (Latin aureolus, golden), while the specific name sagittatus refers to the arrowhead-shaped streaks on the underparts (Latin sagittatus, shot with arrows).
In an apt twist, one of their myriad of calls … oree-oree-ole is onomatopoeic.
The Olive-backed Oriole is one of a number of local birds that play a key role in the control of foliage eating insects, such as the Cup-moth caterpillar (Doratifera), which can run rampant through eucalypts woodlands in some years. It doesn’t bear imagining what the bush would look like without orioles, cuckoos, cuckoos-shrikes and their companions.
Olive-backed Oriole (in monochrome), Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve, 24th November 2020
With Cup-moth caterpillar
It appears that summer is about to hit with a vengeance.
Water will become a precious commodity in the bush over coming months – here’s hoping for some regular downpours to replenish our waterways. This site at the Rise and Shine will be familiar to readers as it has featured regularly in recent years as a favoured drinking hole for bush birds.
It produced the goods in a recent visit – Brown-headed Honeyeater, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Peaceful Dove, Eastern Rosella and even a Sacred Kingfisher paused momentarily before spotting me and departing. Fuscous Honeyeaters dominated as usual, but in a twist, a partially leucistic individual was also observed.
Red-rumped Parrot (male), Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve, 18th November 2020
Fuscous Honeyeater … not quite the usual
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike gathering nesting material
This set of images resulted from some patient waiting at the Rise and Shine.
A number of pairs of Dusky Woodswallows were moving between perches and once they became accustomed to my presence were quite happy to make a close approach and start preening.
Traces of cobwebs on the head (Images #3 – 6) suggest that nesting is underway. A shield bug on the lichen (Image #5) was only revealed upon closer inspection.
Dusky Woodswallow, Rise and Shine, 18th November 2020
A wonderful display of spring wildflowers at the Rise and Shine at present … these images are from a brief visit last weekend.
Please let me know if I’ve committed an identification faux pas or two!
Milkmaids Burchardia umbellata, Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve, 18th October 2020
Salmon Sun-orchid Thelymitra rubra
Murnong (Yam daisy) Microseris walteri … setting seed
Scented Sun-orchid Thelymitra megcalyptra
Brown-clubbed Spider-Orchid Caladenia phaeoclavia
Showy Parrot-pea Dillwynia sericea
Hooded Caladenia Caladenia cucullata
This observation is now a week old, but noteworthy nonetheless.
This Brown Treecreeper was observed collecting nest-lining material at the Rise and Shine. I’m not 100% sure what the material is but suspect it may well be fur from a dead rabbit. Treecreepers are nothing if not opportunistic.
Brown Treecreeper collecting nesting material, Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve, 25th August 2020
Brown Treecreeper in profile
Mantid ootheca (egg-case)
On a visit to the Rise and Shine earlier today I observed a pair of Scarlet Robins perched above a roadside puddle. The female was begging for food, rapidly fluttering its wings as the male descended to bathe in the water below.
As I suspected there was a nest nearby – secreted in a clump of mistletoe about 5 metres above the ground. Locally, Scarlet Robins often choose a site like this and over the years I’ve found numerous nests similarly concealed. Rufous Whistlers often adopt the same strategy.
Female Scarlet Robins incubate the eggs alone, departing the nest for short periods to forage or to accept an offering from the male.
Male Scarlet Robin bathing, Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve, 8th August 2020
The nest site in a Box Mistletoe
Female Scarlet Robin incubating
A close-up of the male