On Saturday morning I heard, for the first time this autumn, the unmistakable piping call of the Eastern Spinebill.
This diminutive honeyeater is a cool season migrant to the Newstead district, usually arriving in April in our garden to feed on flowering Grevilleas and Correas. They linger until late winter most years before heading back south to higher altitudes to breed. Not far from here, at places such as Daylesford, Eastern Spinebills can be found year round.
The juveniles generally arrive first, perhaps they’ve been ejected from breeding territories by their parents – the adults appear a few weeks later in my experience. This year’s sighting is somewhat earlier than usual, last year I spotted my first spinebills around the 20th March at Rotunda Park and in preceding years it’s been well into April before the first birds arrived. As always I’d be keen to learn of other local observations.
Juvenile Eastern Spinebill, Wyndham Street Newstead, 11th March 2018
I awoke this morning to the sounds of rosellas at the bird bath.
There was a real traffic jam as adult and immature Crimson Rosellas, along with a couple of less assertive Eastern Rosellas enjoyed an early bath and drink to start the day.
Crimson Rosella (sub-adult), Wyndham Street Newstead, 10th March 2018
Adult Eastern Rosella
Immature Crimson Rosella
A familiar sound in our garden is that of the Common Bronzewing calling … a series of deep, low, down-slurred ooms, repeated at short intervals and sometimes continuing for up to an hour.
The first image in this series shows the male calling, an impressive skill as they do this without apparently opening their bill.
I like this sound, but appreciate that it can drive some folks nuts!
Male Common Bronzewing calling, Wyndham Street Newstead, 3rd March 2018
Female Common Bronzewing
We often see a Grey Shrike-thrush poking around the garden, but more often hear it announce its presence with beautiful harmonic notes. The ‘GST’ is an insectivore and will happily forage on the ground, through the foliage and in this case under the bark of a Yellow Gum. This one snaffled the cocoon of a cup moth, but I’m not sure there was any nourishment inside … it looks like the moth had already flown!
Grey Shrike-thrush on Yellow Gum, Wyndham Street Newstead 20th February 2018
With a cup-moth cocoon
For the past month I’ve been watching a pair of Weebills tending a nest above our wood shed … the tiny ball of cobwebs, flowers and grass suspended and largely hidden amongst the Yellow Gum leaves. The same site was used last year … and the year before that!
Weebill nest, Wyndham Street Newstead, 10th February 2018 … look closely and you’ll see the the top of the nest
Sadly, this morning, I discovered a tiny Weebill dead on the ground below the nest. I’m unsure as to whether it’s a juvenile or one of the parents. It is now being quickly recycled by the local meat ants.
A sad sight
Meanwhile life goes on in the garden.
Juvenile White-plumed Honeyeater
We’ve had a new bird bath set up in our backyard for a few months now … one of a number scattered throughout the garden.
Until recently it’s been dominated by a our local family of Australian Magpies and the ubiquitous New Holland Honeyeaters. Now Common Bronzewings, a typically furtive and wary species, have been stopping by in recent days – I think the hot weather has helped them overcome their shyness.
Common Bronzewing, Wyndham Street Newstead, 3rd February 2018
There is no way to describe the landscape at present other than it’s brown … various shades of!
Therefore it’s wonderful to see the occasional splash of colour, amplified more than ever against the contrasting shades of summer.
Immature Crimson Rosella, Wyndham Street Newstead, 24th January 2018
Galahs @ Cairn Curran
White-faced Heron @ Joyce’s Creek