Category Archives: Spring Hill and the Mia Mia

Colour and movement

It’s been difficult to get out this week – here are some shots from earlier in the month.

The Flame Robins are most likely on the move south now so we won’t see them again until next autumn.

There will be lots of colourful migrants to enjoy over coming weeks. I’ve heard Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo and Fan-tailed Cuckoo in recent days. Listen out for their calls!

Male Flame Robin, Mia Mia Track, 12th August 2017

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Female Superb Fairy-wren, Wyndham Street Newstead, 12th August 2017

Welcome Swallow preening, Mia Mia Road, 12th August 2017

Spring around the corner

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

Scented Sundew

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Spotted Pardalote, South German Track

Daimond Firetail, South German Track

Part of a flock of half a dozen

Little Pied Cormorant

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

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Why …

… 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.

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Up a bush track

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

Golden Orb-weaver

Female Speckled Warbler

Female Spotted Pardalote

… and a female Scarlet Robin!

Bush and garden

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

The hunter and the hunted

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

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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!