Sunday, March 10, 2019

Recovery at Grantville NCR

The Grantville Nature Conservation Reserve was impacted by bushfire early in February this year. As far as can be determined, no lives or homes were lost, thankfully. The reserve is a bit of a personal favourite for some coastal trees, shrubs, birds and orchids.


The fire burnt through a large proportion of the reserve right down to the Bass Highway.

Bass Highway. Credit ABC News 190203
The coastal forest habitat is a precious resource that is quickly disappearing through urbanization and agricultural practices.

A disappearing landscape - Grantville NCR
Grass Tree, Xanthorrhoea sp, with intact skirt of dead foliage on one side of the track
Grass Trees in the fireground minus their 'skirts' on the opposite side of the track.
The resilience of the Australian bush is evident by the elements of recovery that is occurring in the reserve, just over one month after the event. It will be interesting to see the effect next spring on some of the orchid beds, etc. 

Recovery already underway with epicormic shoots beginning to appear.
Lignotubers too - all is not lost.
Bracken and various grasses/herbs were beginning to appear in some spots. A couple of large moss beds were damaged but small patches of green moss appears to have survived. Banksia cones were open on some very burnt trees and in places the ash beds were littered with seed cones of She-oaks.

Ain't Nature grand?

Monday, February 4, 2019

Azure Kingfisher

Robin Hood Reserve is a small reserve on the Tarago River at Robin Hood, right beside the freeway just north of Drouin.

This picturesque little reserve is always kept neat and tidy by the friends group. Planting, pruning and weeding has ensured a minimum of weed species and a nice variety of indigenous flora. 

A wander along the track beside the water had me zooming in to some insects and spiders.

Bronze Needletail (Thanks DF) Damselfly

This Robberfly seems to have just laid her egg?
While in the middle of trying to sort some settings with a new camera, a blue flash that could only be an Azure Kingfisher zipped past and out of sight down-stream. I haven’t ticked an azure for some time now and this bird takes the ‘Drouin list’, Robin Hood being a suburb, to an amazing 105 species! 

I slowly walked to the end of the track on the bank of the river and luckily spied the bird before it saw me and I was able to quietly work my way in for some great views as the bird dived in and out of the water, not catching prey in this case, but to give the feathers their morning maintenance.

Just to cap off a nice half hour, a Buff-banded Rail strolled into view for a couple of quick bursts with the camera.
Buff-banded Rail
Add in King Parrots feeding in an acacia, Grey Butcherbirds carolling all the while, it was a good start to a day that hopefully will give the firefighters in the hills nearby a bit of a chance to get on top of some worrying conflagations.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Eastern Yellow Robin

The Eastern Yellow Robin is just about the Shire of Baw Baw’s most emblematic bird. This charming bush robin can be found in parks and reserves throughout the shire, often right on the edge of densely populated urban areas. I know of a couple of well vegetated town gardens that are regularly visited by this bird.

At Labertouche
In some situations, the Eastern Yellow Robin displays a curiosity of human intruders into its territory. Simply sitting quietly on a log in the bush is often all that is needed to get a great view of this bird.

Often confiding
Eastern Yellow Robins can be found in dry and wet forests up and down the eastern seaboard, from the alps to the coast.

At the nest - Thornell's Reserve Longwarry North.
They feed on insects, spiders and larvae taken mostly on the ground. The birds often scan the ground from a low perch before pouncing down onto a suitable morsel.

Mt Worth State Park
In contrast to the colour and charm of the adults, a young Eastern Yellow Robin fledgling could only be loved by its parents. 

Fledgling at Nangara Reserve Jindivick
Some of Baw Baw’s Eastern Yellow Robins are sedentary and can be found in their territory all year round. Others are probably seasonal altitudinal migrants and during winter come down from the high country.

Nangara Reserve Jindivick
The Eastern Yellow Robin has two diagnostic calls, a “tchew-tchew” and a repeated bell-like piping.