Category Archives: Spring Hill and the Mia Mia

Sitting duskies

It troubles me to realise how quiet the local bush is at present. Typically at this time of year bird activity is stilled somewhat, especially after a heatwave, but I can’t recall it ever being so quiet. The absence of honeyeaters is obvious, especially in the Muckleford bush. Small bush dams would normally attract good numbers of Fuscous, Yellow-tufted, Brown-headed and White-naped Honeyeaters over summer, but this year they are in worryingly small numbers.

Yesterday afternoon along Bell’s Lane Track a couple of families of Dusky Woodswallows were the highlight of a disappointing excursion. I did see some Grey Currawongs and heard Black-chinned Honeyeaters.

Juvenile Dusky Woodswallows, Bell’s Lane Track, 5th January 2019

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Happy New Year and 2018 reprised

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

Subtle tones in the Mia Mia

While the extraordinary colours of kingfishers, bee-eaters and parrots are a daily delight over summer, the subtle tones of many of our woodland species are well worth a closer look.

Such was the case on a recent visit to the Mia Mia.

The Brown-headed Honeyeater below was dusted with pollen on its forehead, the Brown Thornbills were fossicking for insects in the Rough Wattle, while a male Rufous Whistler delighted with a rollicking song.

Brown-headed Honeyeater, Mia Mia Track area, 20th October 2018

Brown Thornbill

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Male Rufous Whistler

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That summer feeling

They appear to have arrived somewhat later this year. My first Sacred Kingfisher for 2018 was observed in the Rise and Shine on 13th October, with a few heard calling the same day. Since then I’ve heard and seen them in a number of regular haunts. In past years they have often turned up as early as mid September – I’ve even had a bird in late August in 2016. What a wonderfully vibrant addition to the local bush!

Sacred Kingfisher, Mia Mia Track area, 20th October 2018

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The pair … frustratingly separated. The male (at right) usually has bluer upper parts than the female.

Male at front

Insectivores in the forest

A couple of ‘snapshots’ from over a week ago. Both species were photographed from the same spot in the Mia Mia – first a White-browed Babbler that had just captured a centipede and then lovely views of a woodland favourite, the White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike.

White-browed Babbler, South German Track, 7th October 2018

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White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike

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A sunny Sunday morning

I was up early on Sunday morning and was well-rewarded.

Heading into the Spring Hill area hoping for a Painted Honeyeater, they usually arrive here in the late September – sure enough at least two birds called briefly around 8am. This species will become more vocal over coming weeks and if you’re lucky you may witness one of their spectacular display flights. I didn’t see a Painted Honeyeater but came across Red-capped Robins, Spotted Pardalotes and nesting White-winged Choughs.

Male Spotted Pardalote, Spring Hill area, 30th September 2018

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White-winged Chough on nest in Grey Box

Some of the helpers putting on a spectacular display

Female Red-capped Robin

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Other birds recorded were: Striated Pardalote, Scarlet Robin, Grey Fantail, Jacky Winter, Brown-headed Honeyeater and Mistletoebird.

What a ‘combo’

What a great time of year … the combination of Spring wildflowers and striking woodland birds is on offer at present in the bush around Newstead.

The area around Bruce’s Track is particularly important for its diversity of wildflowers and significant woodland birds. Red-capped Robins and Speckled Warblers are just two of the notable species that make their home on this patch. They were too quick for the camera at the weekend, but a Scarlet Robin posed beautifully as a consolation.

Pink Bells Tetratheca ciliata

Scarlet Robin, Bruce’s Track, 23rd September 2018

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Waxlip Orchid, Glossodia major

Yam Daisy Microseris walteri