Category Archives: Spring Hill and the Mia Mia

A colourful carpet

Before another burst of welcome spring rain, the Mia Mia was bathed in sunshine this morning. While the birds didn’t perform for the camera a carpet of wildflowers more than compensated.

Blue Caledenia Cyanicula caerulea, Mia Mia Track area, 8th September 2019

Pink fingers Caladenia carnea

Leopard Orchid Diuris pardina

Plougshare Wattle Acacia gunnii

Rough Wattle Acacia aspera

Downy Grevillea Grevillea alpina

Tall Sundew Drosera auriculata

Red Box leaves catching the dew

List: Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Black-eared Cuckoo, Pallid Cuckoo, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Speckled Warbler, Brown Thornbill, Yellow Thornbill, Striated Thornbill, Grey Shrike-thrush, Crested Bellbird, Red-capped Robin, Red Wattlebird, White-throated Treecreeper, Superb Fairy-wren.

Galahs choosing nest sites

Over recent weeks I’ve noticed quite a few hollows in the local bush being inspected by Galahs. Typically pairs will ‘check out’ a number of alternative hollows before settling on a final choice. At this stage you’ll see the birds bringing sprays of eucalypt foliage to the nest, as well as courtship behaviour, such as allopreening (mutual preening between the male and female), in the vicinity of the nest site.

Galah (female) at nesting hollow, Mia Mia Track, 3rd September 2019

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Galahs on Bell’s Lane Track, 17th August 2019 – note the male (at left) with foliage

Male courtship preening

Local variations

Female Red-capped Robins are always less spectacular than their male counterparts, however, some individuals (such as the one pictured below) can be striking. This female, found singing sweetly near Spring Hill Track yesterday, is possibly the most colourful one I’ve seen. The crown was a bright, rusty-red with a few splashes of red on the breast. Most females lack the red colouration – locally I’d say about 30-40% of females have some colour but not usually as bold as yesterday’s find.

Female Red-capped Robin, Spring Hill Track, 17th August 2019

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Yellow-footed Antechinus near Bells’s Lane Track

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List: Crested Shrike-tit, Eastern Yellow Robin, White-throated Treecreeper, Little Lorikeet, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Musk Lorikeet, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater, Brown-headed Honeyeater, Red Wattlebird, Eastern Rosella, Crimson Rosella, Little Eagle, Grey Shrike-thrush, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Weebill, Striated Thornbill, Yellow Thornbill, Varied Sittella.

On the cusp

As always there are interesting matters ‘afoot’ in the local bush. Flame Robins have graced us with their presence over the past few months – over coming weeks they’ll head south to their spring breeding grounds. Enjoy the last few sightings of this glorious species while you can. As recently noted, Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters are nest-building. This species is pretty adaptable when it comes to nesting sites – the location shown in the images below, a cleft between a bark strip and trunk, contrasts with the recent nest secreted amongst Cassinia and Hedge Wattle at the Rise and Shine.

Flame Robin, Mia Mia Road, 3rd August 2019

Yellow-tufted Honeyeater – nest-building in the Mia Mia, 3rd August 2019

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Signs of Spring

There has been a hint of Spring in the air over the past few days and this was confirmed with one of the early signs this morning in the Mia Mia.

A number of Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoos were heard calling from high perches, my first observations for the season. Red-capped Robins were also calling nicely from a few different locations to the west of Mia Mia Track.

Other species recorded this morning included: Yellow, Buff-rumped and Brown Thornbills, Flame Robin, Eastern Yellow Robin, Golden Whistler, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Brown-headed Honeyeater, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Crested Bellbird, White-browed Babbler.

Red-capped Robin (female), Mia Mia Track, 21st July 2019

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Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo

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Yellow Thornbill

The walk is always worth it!

It was too dull to chase birds with the camera late this afternoon … for a change my focus turned to other matters.

Bush patterns after rain, Spring Hill Track area, 24th may 2019

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Nice spot for an Owlet Nightjar?

Firewood harvesting …the legacy a decade on

Cherry Ballart … seen better days!

Nodding Greenhood leaves

Saloop Saltbush and ant nest

Cranberry Heath

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The end of my stroll coincided with the sudden arrival of a mixed species feeding flock – Flame Robins, Grey Shrike-thrush, Golden Whistler, Speckled Warblers, Striated and Buff-rumped Thornbills … not a bad finish!

Silent witness

This set of images documents an amazing event that I was witness to last weekend.

Visiting a small dam along Golf Links Track I noticed two Little Pied Cormorants perched near the water. As I slowly positioned myself to photograph one of the birds it flew off and began circling the dam, steadily increasing its height with each pass. Suddenly from high above a Little Eagle appeared in a stooped dive to snatch the unwary cormorant [The first, sadly blurry image, was taken moments after the strike].

The Little Eagle tumbled earthward with the cormorant in its talons and landed just out of sight below the dam wall. As I moved quietly in the direction of the birds the eagle spotted me and took off, no doubt reluctantly relinquishing its prey. The cormorant  made its way slowly to the top of the dam wall, clearly bloodied and traumatised by the encounter. After a few minutes it summoned the energy to flap back to its original perch as the Little Eagle circled high overhead.

I was so engaged in the event that I didn’t think about my role in the event until later. Clearly my arrival created the opportunity for the eagle, while my interest in the result provided an opportunity for the cormorant to escape … its immediate fate unknown.

Little Eagle and Little Pied Cormorant, Golf Links Track, 28th April 2019

The Little Eagle … sans cormorant

The Little Pied Cormorant – traces of blood are visible on the breast and feet

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