Category Archives: The Home Garden

Night calling

For the past week a Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo has been calling regularly throughout the night – its familiar descending whistle is not exactly a lullaby!

There have been quite a few dashing about the garden during daylight hours, either chasing each other or being ‘evicted’ by wary wattlebirds and honeyeaters. Meanwhile there is much to see only metres from the front door every day.

Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo, Wyndham Street Newstead, 9th September 2017

Eastern Rosella

New Holland Honeyeater feeding on Eucalyptus caesia

II

Red Wattlebirds are feeding young in nests at the moment …. hence they are seen often at ground level chasing insects

Female Spotted Pardalote

The hunter and the hunted

Yellow-rumped Thornbills and Superb Fairy-wrens are fixtures in our garden. Yesterday I observed the thornbills gathering nest lining and the wrens checking out potential nest sites in the saltbush. Overhead, Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoos were calling and chasing each other through the canopy. Both thornbills and fairy-wrens are favoured hosts for this parasitic cuckoo and the wrens especially got quite upset at one stage. That’s life in bush and garden with the arrival of spring.

Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Wyndham Street Newstead, 31st August 2017

II

Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo

II

Female Superb Fairy-wren

The advance guard

Over the past few years we’ve had a number of visits from a Blue-faced Honeyeater Entomyzon cyanotis – a single bird on each occasion.

It was no real surprise, a month or so ago, to hear a small company of these birds calling from the Yellow Gums in our yard. At the time I was too slow to capture an image but a return visit from three birds last weekend enabled me to snare some shots.

Blue-faced Honeyeater, Wyndham Street Newstead, 26th August 2017

II

Blue-faced Honeyeaters are interesting – they are an aggressive and territorial species, and while they tend to be sedentary, small groups are known to disperse, colonise new areas and expand their range. In recent years Blue-faced Honeyeaters have arrived and settled in places such as Castlemaine and Maryborough, previously thought to be outside their natural range.

With a changing climate in a fragmented landscape I fully expect Blue-faced Honeyeaters to become local Newstead residents in the next decade.

Bush and garden

One of the marvellous things about living in Newstead is that ‘bush’ and ‘garden’ habitats are in such close proximity.

This means that many bird species can be found in both places. Apart from the Brown Treecreeper, which is sometimes seen in the Rotunda Park, the other four birds pictured here have all been seen in our garden – even the charismatic White-browed Babbler that drops in from time to time.

White-naped Honeyeater, Wyndham Street Newstead, 26th August 2017

Grey-shrike Thrush, Wyndham Street Newstead

Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Wyndham Street Newstead

Brown Treecreeper, Pound Lane Newstead

White-browed Babbler, Pound Lane Newstead

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

II

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

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

Muskies and elms

At this time of year the flowering of the English Elms around Newstead provide a late winter treat for lorikeets.

Musk Lorikeets are by far the most common diners, but if you’re lucky both Little and Purple-crowned Lorikeets can also be seen.

Musk Lorikeets, Wyndham Street Newstead, 20th August 2017

Elm flowers make a tasty meal

Modest designs

Over the past few years one of my favourite television shows has been Grand Designs, initially the UK version and more lately the New Zealand spin-off. I must admit though I’m starting to tire of the story lines … the home always takes three times as long as predicted, costs twice the initial budget and sometimes the result is a complete ‘trainwreck’.

Not so for the beautiful Spotted Pardalote. Their home is much more modest, but does the job and always come in on time and on budget. This male has started excavating at the base of an earthen bank next door. Essential viewing!

Male Spotted Pardalote above the nest site, Wyndham Street Newstead, 20th August 2017

At the entrance of the newly started home

Star quality!

The leaf provides a nice awning

Alert but not alarmed