Category Archives: The Home Garden

Transition time …

We are about to enjoy a fascinating time of the year.

Winter migrants such as the the Eastern Spinebill, Pied Currawong and Flame Robin are soon to depart our district for their breeding sites at higher altitudes along the Great Dividing Range.

I’ve observed all three of these species in recent days. Meanwhile the Spring migrants are ‘on the horizon’ … Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoos are already here and there will be a bunch of newcomers to watch out for over the next couple of months. It’s always an exciting time of year.

At the same time local residents such as the Common Bronzewing are preparing for breeding.

I was fascinated watching this male Common Bronzewing calling yesterday afternoon – it was making its familiar ‘oom … oom …. oom’ call from a high perch in a Yellow Gum. While I’ve noticed the crown feathers previously I don’t think I’ve ever seen them looking so resplendent.

I returned to the home garden and was met with an Eastern Spinebill singing its heart out. It too is clearly looking forward to Spring!

Common Bronzewing (male), Newstead, 21st July 2019

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Eastern Spinebill …

… calling

Loquat and Yellow-faced Honeyeater

Loquats Eriobotrya japonica are an ‘old-fashioned’ fruit tree, often grown in home gardens but, at least in my experience, the fruits are of more interest to birds than people!

A few trees can be found flowering over winter in the gardens around town, the flowers providing a useful source of nectar for honeyeaters. Yellow-faced Honeyeaters are partial to feeding on loquat flowers, adroitly working their way in and around the tight clusters in search of open flowers to sip on.

Yellow-faced Honeyeater & loquat, Wyndham Street Newstead, 9th June 2019

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Winter residents

Every winter the gardens around Newstead are home to a familiar array of resident and migrant species. Red Wattlebirds and White-browed Scrubwrens are resident year round, while Eastern Spinebills are only with us for the cooler months. Yellow-faced Honeyeaters tend to come and go – they are certainly more common over winter but can turn up at any time of year.

Red Wattlebird feeding on ornamental Yellow Gum, Wyndham Street Newstead, 8th June 2019

Whire-browed Scrubwren

Eastern Spinebill

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Yellow-faced Honeyeater

Feasting on winter flowers

I’ve commented many times on the role that exotic trees, especially in town, play in the evolving ecology of our landscapes.

As we move into winter the various types of ash Fraxinus sp. begin to flower, a short lived burst of activity, but important as a source of nutrition for lorikeets.

The church-yard next door is home to a number of Claret and Golden Ash trees and over recent days Musk Lorikeets have been gathering noisily several times each day to feast on the flowers.

Musk Lorikeet, Wyndham Street Newstead, 8th June 2019

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Olive thieves

Last autumn the Olive Olea europaea in our front yard was dripping with fat, juicy olives. This year the pickings are much slimmer – just a handful of miniature berries.

Still, plenty enough to attract a hungry flock of Pied Currawongs.

Olives are a ‘controversial’ plant in some quarters. They are a serious environmental weed in some parts of Australia, the Adelaide Hills for example, but have been planted widely throughout central Victoria …  and almost all of us enjoy local olive oil!

I come across the occasional wilding Olive in the local bush.

Pied Currawong, Wyndham Street Newstead, 25th May 2019

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Signs of autumn

Adult Eastern Spinebills in the garden … and the mighty Loddon has started to flow. I think we can safely say it’s autumn.

Eastern Spinebill (adult male), Wyndham Street Newstead, 4th May 2019

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Loddon River @ the Punt Road Ford … click on the image to enlarge

Here to stay!

In recent months I’ve been observing Blue-faced Honeyeaters more and more often around town. The calls of this recently arrived species are now part of the local soundscape. Earlier in the week I arrived home to see two sitting above the bird bath in the front yard. It was interesting to watch a Red Wattlebird swoop in and join the honeyeaters. In normal circumstances the wattlebird would have caused any smaller birds, even rosellas and galahs, to quickly disperse. The Blue-faced Honeyeater is a similar size to a Red Wattlebird and just as aggressive – they didn’t even blink upon the arrival of the wattlebird.

Blue-faced Honeyeater, Wyndham Street Newstead, 4th April 2019

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