Kites 4 … Eagles 0

Late yesterday afternoon I took a stroll at Cairn Curran in search of sea-eagles.

Alas, not an eagle in sight but a party of four Whistling Kites were patrolling the shores on a gathering wind.

Whistling Kite, Cairn Curran @ Welshmans reef, 11th September 2016

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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

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

Female Spotted Pardalote

Long time, no see!

I was delighted yesterday to come an absent friend … the Southern Whiteface – a pair at the Newstead Cemetery in the company of Superb Fairy-wrens and Yellow-rumped Thornbills.

A charming woodland species, the Southern Whiteface has declined in the Newstead district and it’s two years since I last observed one – near where Muckleford Creek joins the Loddon River. It often mingles with thornbills and wrens, feeding almost exclusively on the ground. The white tufts either side of the bill are a distinguishing feature. I’m hoping for a comeback!

Male Superb Fairy-wren, Newstead Cemetery, 9th September 2017

Southern Whiteface

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Galahs nesting on the plains

Along with most of our other local residents, Galahs have commenced their spring breeding.

This female and its partner have secured a nest site high up in an old dead eucalypt on the Moolort Plains – a favoured site that has been used regularly over the years.

Female Galah at the nest hollow, Moolort Plains, 1st September 2017

The nest tree – looking north-east towards Tarrengower

The female arriving back at the nest

Fun watching pelicans

Watching Australian Pelicans is always rewarding. When the birds are relaxed and roosting they will regularly perform a series of stretching exercises with their bill that are designed to maintain the gular pouch in supple and flexible condition. This behaviour is shared by all of the different species of pelicans, of which there are eight worldwide.

Australian Pelicans, Cairn Curran, 1st September 2017

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Night life in the wattles

A venture into the bush with torch and camera on a cold night reveals a lot of life in the wattles. A Silver Wattle Acacia dealbata was being slowly combed by 5 mm long nocturnal Epaulet Ants, Notoncus hickmani. (Thanks to bowerbird.org.au for help with ID)

Epaulet ant - Notoncus hickmani

Epaulet Ant, Notoncus hickmani

Epaulet ant - Notoncus hickmani

Epaulet Ant #2

In the spectacularly flowering Golden Wattles Acacia pycnantha there was an abundance of tiny spiders from less than a mm long to much larger arachnids. On one leaf was a young and translucent Hunstman spider, about 20 mm across.

Spider up close

Hunstman

Much smaller, about 5mm long, was a Hamilton’s Orb Weaver Araneus hamiltoni hiding from my bright light in the blossoms.

Araneus hamiltoni

Hamilton’s Orb Weaver #1

Araneus hamiltoni

Hamilton’s Orb Weaver #2

More confidently staying in her web was this larger orb weaver, about 10mm long.

Orb weaver

 

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

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Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo

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Female Superb Fairy-wren