The first wildflowers of ‘spring’ are opening up, quite a few Early Nancy and Scented Sundews, along with a great display of Golden Wattle.
The birds are tuning up for what promises to be a very good breeding season, boosted by some excellent late winter rain.
Early Nancy, Fence Track Muckleford State Forest, 18th August 2017
Spotted Pardalote, South German Track
Daimond Firetail, South German Track
Part of a flock of half a dozen
This Little Pied Cormorant, spotted on a bush dam along Bell’s Lane Track, was very confiding … it’s not often you get such a close look at this species in this type of habitat.
Little Pied Cormorant, Bell’s lane Track, 14th July 2017
… does this bird not occur in the wild in central Victoria?
Emu, Mia Mia Road, 8th July 2017
Emus are perhaps Australia’s most distinctive and widely recognised bird, after all they feature with the Red Kangaroo on the ‘coat of arms’, the formal symbol of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Across much of Australia the Emu can still be found, especially throughout the inland and in less closely settled coastal districts. In central Victoria it is not unusual to see Emus but these are almost always escapees from ill-fated ‘farming’ ventures.
A combination of threats has led to the demise of the original populations many decades ago. The clearance and fragmentation of areas of suitable habitat, deliberate slaughter, collisions with vehicles and predation of the eggs and young have been the major factors in this decline. Whenever I come across the beautiful Cranberry Heath in our local bushland I am reminded of its value as Emu ‘tucker’. Like many small shrubs in the box-ironbark this plant has declined in parallel with the Emu.
In common with most bushland areas in central Victoria the Muckleford ‘bush’ is a maze of winding tracks.
Often on my walks I just pick a path and follow it randomly until it winds back to my starting place. Such was the case yesterday when I headed west into the bush off Mia Mia Track. The highlight was a company of Flame Robins, at least a dozen individuals, including a number of brightly coloured males. A female Speckled Warbler, peeking warily from within a small Red Box was also pretty neat!
Male Flame Robin, Mia Mia Track area, 17th June 2017
Female Speckled Warbler
Female Spotted Pardalote
… and a female Scarlet Robin!
Autumn and early winter sees a lot of birds on the move around Newstead. In recent days I’ve noticed a number of ‘bush birds’ around the garden.
For instance we’ve had both Golden Whistlers and Fuscous Honeyeaters around home and I’ve been seeing them as well in their usual woodland haunts at the Rise and Shine and the Mia Mia. White-plumed Honeyeaters are most common along the Loddon River, or wherever you find River Red-gums. They too have been visiting the flowering shrubs in the garden over recent weeks.
Eastern Spinebill, Wyndham Street Newstead, 3rd June, 2017
Fuscous Honeyeater, Rise and Shine, 1st June 2017
Male Golden Whistler, Mia Mia Track, 2nd June 2017
Fuscous Honeyeater @ the bird bath
White-plumed Honeyeaters getting a little feisty
A fortnight ago I went searching for Autumn Greenhoods Pterostylis revoluta along Mia Mia track … without success. By late May I had expected their season to have finished so it was lovely to find a few on a walk in the same area earlier in the week. This magnificent orchid is common in the Newstead bush.
Autumn Greenhood, Mia Mia Track, 22nd May 2017
It was a marvellous morning for birds – Buff-rumped Thornbills, Weebill, Varied Sitella, Brown-headed Honeyeater, Chestnut-rumped Hylacola (calling) and the highlight – a party of Speckled Warblers! The arrival of a male Collared Sparrowhawk triggered a pause in proceedings as a mixed feeding flock shifted from foraging to ‘freezing’ in an instant.
Male Collared Sparrowhawk
Speckled Warbler … looking slightly nervous!
This set is from an interlude on Mia Mia Road at the weekend.
Despite the grey, overcast conditions the birds were especially active around a patch of Blackberries and Sweet Briar … common woodland birds don’t read the script about the importance of habitat quality I’m afraid!
Also spotted but not photographed were: Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Red-browed Firetail, Grey Currawong and Grey Fantail.
New Holland Honeyeater, Mia Mia Road, 20th May 2017