Sunday, September 28, 2008

Juvenile Hawk

If you are a Victorian you would know that a particular sporting event took place in Melbourne yesterday. Let's face it, you'd have to be living under a rock to not know about it! Now I like a good game of aussie rules football, but the attention by all the media given to the grand final is a little over the top.

Anyway, in case you haven't heard, the underdog Hawks...

... defeated the previously almost invincible cats....

Come on fellas, it's a GAME of football - I guess you had to be there.

(Above images courtesy of the Herald Sun and The Age)

Had this particular cat been playing, (a good Heyfield boy), I wonder would the result have been any different? I can just imagine what the talk around my home town will be like this week.

Goodness, I've just realised that I've helped perpetuate the hype.

Anyway I predicted the result when I was given an omen just before the game started. (Some people who know me won't believe I was not in front of the television all afternoon. I do admit to taping the match though, just in case there were some good patches of skillful football).

Back to the omen and the true subject of this very convoluted entry.

I think it is a juvenile Black-shouldered Kite.

'Carn the Bombers'!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Well Armoured

I found this little guy yesterday when I was scruffing around in some nearby bush.

I don't know what he is. My insect field guide is fairly basic and I haven't had time yet to go into details. Pretty small - here he is on the end of my (dirty) finger...

(Looks like he's lost a tarsal claw).

Gorgeous. Any suggested ID's?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I made some remarks in an earlier post regarding the need for private conservation efforts to restore and preserve some of our ecosystems. Have a look at this place….

This is just a very small part of Peach Flat, a private holding north of Briagolong. Duncan and I visited the property today and were treated to a guided tour by the owners, Michelle and Rod. As Duncan says here, to say we were impressed is a complete understatement.

I reckon the best bit is that the place won’t be ‘locked away’. These incredibly enlightened people want to share this resplendent environment with others. Just wonderful!

Michelle and Rod, thank you. What’s that? Would we mind doing some bird surveys on the property? Oh alright, we might be able to fit something in.


At Nest Beside The 4th.

G’day Dear Readers,
Despite being a little busy for a few days, I managed to squeeze in a game of golf on Tuesday. Glad I did.

While searching for a wayward tee shot beneath the large Red Box trees beside the 4th fairway, I glanced up just in time to see a flash of colour disappear into a small hollow in one of the branches. I wasn’t allowed to stay too long to see what the bird was, so I went back with the camera later and waited.
Eventually the green and red head of a Musk Lorikeet popped out.
After firing off some shots, the partner arrived.
I watched for some time and even saw the second bird enter the hole as well. It must surely have been a squeeze.

Hollows in these and other large trees must really be at a premium. Some of the ‘hollow nesters’ that I see around here include the Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets, Crimson and Eastern Rosellas, Kookaburras, Galahs, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Pardalotes. These birds along with Brushtail and Ringtail Possums, Sugar Gliders and almost certainly some Bat species, would have to add up to some sort of housing pressure.

Think I’d better expand my nest box program.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Golf Course Trees #3

This wonderful Red Box, Eucalyptus polyanthemos, grows at the back of the 6th green, just near the men’s 7th tee.

At present it is just loaded with blossom, (I think ‘polyanthemos’ = many flowers). The nectar and insects are attracting numerous birds to the outer foliage. In the second image below, you may be able to make out an Olive-backed Oriole fuelling up early this morning. The Oriole’s beautiful mellow rolling call is one I listen for each season. To me it heralds the start of the arrival of the ‘spring’ birds to this district.

This tree is a ‘multi trunker’, but most on the course are singles, some straight and others are quite distorted. The typical grey coloured box bark is persistent well up into the lower branches and has a beautiful red – tan colour just under the surface.

The red hard durable wood is used for fence posts and sleepers, and makes great firewood. There must have been a fair number of Red Box on this site before it was cleared for use as a golf course. There are lots of small heaps of old roots and lignotuber systems scattered through the bush. Tough on the chainsaw, but wonderful in the wood heater.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Wax-lips Are Up

Today I saw my first Wax-lip Orchid for the season, (Glossodia sp), at the Giffard Flora Reserve. As the weather warms up, I’m guessing these and other species will start coming to the fore as the Greenhoods begin to decline.

Also saw the end result of some illegal firewood collecting – sighs in despair.
At Lake Guyatt in Sale, the Red-browed Finches were busy feeding in the grass beside the track. As walkers, (or photographers), approached too closely, they would zing off into the nearby shrubs, warning one another with their characteristic high-pitched squeak.
As I waited briefly for the finches to settle, a pair of Grey Fantails and a New Holland Honeyeater would pop out from the bushes and check me out.

Guyatt is a marvellous spot for some handy birding. I called in for barely 10 minutes today and ticked a dozen species without including any of the water birds. I often wonder if the fitness fanatics that use the track ever have any idea what they are passing by as they stride around with their heads down and ipods up!

Oh well, to each their own.

Boronia Anemonifolia

(The one on the right)

You can read more about it here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Shouldn't Be long Now

The Eastern Rosellas seemed to have sorted out which nest box belong to which pair. I put 6 boxes up a few weeks ago, and they have all been inspected pretty thoroughly. The pairs seem to check the boxes out 3 or 4 times a day. At times there will be a little squabble and one pair will fly off elsewhere.

The birds seem to be getting used to me calling by several times a day too. If I do happen to spook them mid inspection, they seem to be taking less and less time to return. Shortly, I’ll start moving a little closer for some better shots, (hopefully).

Saturday, September 13, 2008


G’day All,
Today dawned like a summers day. It was mild all night and early this morning the temperature was like a day in February or March. An early job was to top up the water bowls, and it didn’t take long for the local Musk Lorikeets to check it out.

The first lot had a bath and splashed most of the water from the bowl. I topped it up again and went for the camera. The second lot were just thirsty. Still, nice subjects.
Musk Lorikeets are pretty nomadic around these parts. We don’t see them all year round. They’re restricted to the south eastern coastal strip and highlands, the eastern half of Tasmania and the map says there’s a tiny population around Perth. They are a great addition to our garden birds.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


With half an hour to spare this morning before heading to Sale, I decided to do a quick monitor of the parrot nest boxes on the golf course.

There was a little action at one of them, so I settled in for a few pics by resting against a nearby tree. In doing so, I dislodged some bark and disturbed this bloke.

I think it’s an Isopeda, perhaps vasta? Anyway, it was quite confiding and allowed for a couple of shots.

In the meantime, the easterns at the nest box had flown off to pick over the seeds from the grasses on the adjacent fairway. I’ll just have to return another day for the birds.

‘It is ill wakyng of a sleapyng dogge’

(John Heywood – 1592)

G’day All,

As far as Goldie and Bluey are concerned, ‘let sleeping dogs lie’, is still good advice to this day. Glen just had these two for a few days recently. They each come from a different home, but their temperaments were such that they got on with each other, and with us, extremely well.

Great gals. Hope to see you both again soon.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

They're Up!

G'day folks,
Glen and I were beginning to wonder if we were going to see anything very much in the way of orchids and other wildflowers on the golf course this year. It has been so dry.

I was fertilizing the tees today. Just in front of the 17th, for the past few years, there has been a little display of what we call 'finger orchids'. After spreading the fertilizer, I thought I'd check the area out the front, just in case. There was nothing there three days ago. Lo and behold, a little bit of colour. Just amazing, the ground there is like concrete.

Above - Pink (white) Fingers, Caladenia carnea I would reckon.

Below - Blue Fingers, Cyanicula caerulea probably.

Just delicious. We will have to get busy now checking some of the other sites. We got over 30 species last year. With these two above, some Hardenbergia, Austral Indigo, a couple of Greenhoods, and a couple of early Hibertias, we're underway.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bushy Yate

The Bushy Yate is another of ‘my favourite trees’.

Eucalyptus lehmannii is endemic to Western Australia and is what’s called a mallee eucalypt – it has multiple trunks that come from an underground lignotuber.
The above picture is one of two specimens in our garden. There are 4 or 5 specimens on the golf course next door, where they’re perhaps not so popular with the golfers or the greens staff, as they tend to leave quite a mess on the ground.
The Bushy Yate is a favourite with me though, largely for its bird attracting qualities. The very different buds, flowers and fruit attract honeyeaters and cockatoos like a magnet.

All the buds in a cluster are joined together at their base and the green to yellow flowers that form in a ball shape can be 100mm in diameter.

The fruit formed is a hard knobbly, sometimes fist sized ball that are mower unfriendly but so attractive to Gang Gang Cockatoos, who can make short work of them.
When they are feeding, the Gang Gangs will let you get quite close for a picture. Just love that coppery colour on the female’s breast. When the flowers are producing nectar, the rowdy Rainbow Lorikeets are quick to move in and shoo away the musks, wattlebirds and miners.
The Bushy Yate is not particularly large or pleasantly shaped, but it goes into my favourites list quite readily. And, I’m happy enough to keep sharpening the mowers!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Holey Plains - Take Your Pick…

…pine plantations to the left, native forest to the right.

G’day All,
No real choice is there?

Duncan and I have been blogging on a bit about Holey Plains from time to time. Holey Plains State Park in central Gippsland covers an area of 10,460 hectares of mostly Banksia-Eucalypt open-forests and woodlands growing on a series of low sandy ridges. The park, proclaimed in 1977, protects an extremely high diversity of native flora and abundant wildlife, while providing for bush walking, picnicking, camping and other activities.

The park was formally part of a squatting run taken up in the 1840's by the Crooke family, whose homestead is to the north of the park. The property was named "Holey Plains" because the alluvial land along the Latrobe River has many yabby holes, unlike the sandy country that makes up the park.

Private pine plantations surround, and in places intrude into the park area, so there is a constant contrast of habitat for the flora and fauna. We have come across some stunning wildflowers along the edges of the plantations. While I was in this area yesterday, I sprung several emus and swamp wallabies among the pines. I have to admit though, there was not much birdlife to the left of the track.

The vegetation within the park is diverse, including numerous eucalypts, banksias, acacias, grass trees, heaths, peas, and apparently a recorded 25 species of orchid.

Well over 100 bird species have been recorded, and of course it is ideal territory for kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, possums, echidnas, goannas and the like.

Holey Plains is a great playground for a very amateur naturalist. Most of the country closest to me is heavily modified dairy and grazing land that is rather sterile in regard to native species of flora and fauna. Holey Plains is also completely different to the foothill country of the Great Dividing Range to my north.

Love the place. Now, if someone could just come up with a method of eradicating the Psteridium esculentum that’s in there, we’d really be set!
PS: Hope you like the new template.