Category Archives: The Home Garden

Barely a ripple

It’s raining this morning … the gentle sound of rain on the roof is unexpected but welcome. The Rainbow Lorikeets appear to have left and the Musk Lorikeets are celebrating their departure with a cacophony in the Yellow Gums behind the house. I think this might be autumn …

I couldn’t resist this sequence from yesterday at the bird bath – a female Spotted Pardalote quenching her thirst.

Female Spotted Pardalote, Wyndham Street Newstead, 18th march 2017

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Male Common Bronzewing

A fleeting visit?

Gordon alerted me to the presence of a visitor next door … a beautiful Southern Boobook, sheltering in the security of the car-port.

Southern Boobook, Wyndham Street Newstead, 15th March 2017

This beautiful hawk owl, a relative of the Powerful Owl and Barking Owl (a rare local), is heard more than seen. During the day they roost in places where they can escape the attentions of small birds such as honeyeaters, which will mob an owl relentlessly if its arrives in their territory. Southern Boobooks are nocturnal hunters – they feed on flying insects and small vertebrates … including mice!

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It’s my turn now …

When the Rainbow Lorikeets, Red Wattlebirds, Galahs and rosellas aren’t monopolising the birds baths, a suite of smaller species flock in for their turn. I’ve also heard a Black-chinned Honeyeater in the garden this morning – we sometimes see them during autumn as they disperse from their breeding sites in the surrounding bush.

Juvenile Brown-headed Honeyeater, Wyndham Street Newstead, 12th March 2017

Brown-headed Honeyeater (adult)

Female Spotted Pardalote

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White-naped Honeyeater

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Weight of numbers

For as long as we’ve lived in town Red Wattlebirds have pretty much ruled the roost in our garden. They will guard areas of flowering trees, such as the large Yellow Gums and Red Ironbarks in our yard and surrounding streets. Smaller nectarivorous birds, such as various honeyeaters and lorikeets are repeatedly harassed and chased away from blossoms by the large and aggressive wattlebirds. That has been the way things operate in town.

With the recent arrival of some moderate sized flocks of Rainbow Lorikeets it appears the ‘natural order’ of things may be shifting.

A heavy flowering of Drooping Mistletoe in the Yellow Gums is attracting the Rainbow Lorikeets in numbers and they seem to be winning the battle with the resident wattlebirds. Even though the wattlebirds can successfully chase off a lorikeet the sheer weight of numbers is enabling the small groups of lorikeets to successfully guard the clumps of mistletoe, much to the annoyance of the wattlebirds.

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Rainbow Lorikeet feeding in Drooping Mistletoe, Newstead, 21st February 2017

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The Red Wattlebird’s lament

Home invasion …

Over the past decade we’ve had occasional, but increasing sightings of Rainbow Lorikeets in the Newstead district – observations coinciding with the flowering of Yellow Gums along roadsides and in town. Late last week I noted a flock of ~ 20 birds flying noisily over the town, the largest congregation I can recall. This species, the largest of all the Australian lorikeets has become well-established in urban areas of Castlemaine, Bendigo and Maryborough in recent times and large flocks can be seen (and heard!) in all the capital cities of eastern Australia monopolising planted street trees such as Spotted and Lemon-scented Gums.

Rainbow Lorikeet, Wyndham Street Newstead, 19th February 2017

Rainbow Lorikeet, Wyndham Street Newstead, 19th February 2017

Yesterday a flock of about 20 arrived at one of our bird baths in the front yard. Intent on bathing and drinking they were decidedly tame and allowed me to approach within a few metres. They are a spectacularly beautiful bird, but I feel some ambivalence about their arrival in Newstead as they are aggressive to other nectar-feeders, such as the Musk, Purple-crowned and Little Lorikeets we currently share our local area with.

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Hot, hot, hot

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White-naped Honeyeaters, Newstead, 10th February 2017

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Crimson Rosella keeping cool amongst the vines

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Spotted Pardalote

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Female Superb Fairy-wren

Circumstantial evidence

We rarely get Laughing Kookaburras in the home garden, so I was pleased to see one on a regular basis over the past week.

It might be a double-edged sword though. Take a look at the images below – there are a couple of clues that point to my concern. Notice the small tuft of feathers in the birds bill and the wet body feathers. The kookaburra was spotted perched above one of the bird baths where I suspect it was taking the opportunity to ambush small birds arriving for a drink. While I didn’t catch it in the act I’m confident about my hypothesis!

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Laughing Kookaburra, Wyndham Street Newstead, 29th January 2017

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Another ambush predator dropped by the day before – a male Collared Sparrowhawk. This beautiful raptor is quite common around Newstead and is largely dependent on a diet of small bush birds.

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Male Collared Sparrowhawk

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