Sunday, April 26, 2009


Here's a new one on me.
I've had a quick scan of a couple of references to no avail. Being lazy and cold over here in the computer room, perhaps someone out there could help - while I go back in by the fire.

PS: Thanks Snail, (see comments).
Seems as though it's a Spittlebug, (Aphrophora sp), so named for the frothy spittle it produces for protection in its nymph stage while attached to a juicy plant stem. The adult form is often referred to as a Froghopper, which appears apt as Glen and I noticed that this bloke could 'jump' considerable heights.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Bad Hair Day

G'day All,
The Gang Gangs have been down from the 'bush' for some weeks now. I will suddenly spring a couple from a tree on the golf course as I ride by. Really though, I'd almost forgotten they were here.

Yesterday I was given a gentle reminder of their presence when I was pulling some weeds in a small garden bed beneath a Bushy Yate in the front yard. I'd knelt on a seed pod from the tree several times and was uttering expletives, barely under my breath, and another one hit me on the shoulder. You may well laugh, but the yate seed pod is not inconsequential!

I realised immediately that it was probably from a Gang Gang.

They're a gorgeous bird with striking colours and markings in their plumage. When they are busy feeding, they will often allow you to approach quite close. This one was obviously not very perturbed at me bruising my knees below it.

He looked as though he was having a bad hair day, but he and his partner who was higher up, were quite enjoying themselves, as I did too until they'd had their fill and flew off and I returned to the weeds.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Trichosurus vulpecula

I couldn't spot the Tawny Frogmouth last night. I'd love to get a shot of the wide open mouth.

I did however come across a Brushtail Possum on the rose arbor. I have to walk through the arbor to get from the house to the 'computer room', so it wasn't too hard to pick it out.

In this next shot, the stain from the excretions of the scent gland is clearly visible on the chest.

It wasn't a bad size, I have seen bigger. I'm yet to get a nest box erected out the front for these guys. Not far away.

How about that scientific name? 'Furry tailed little fox' apparently. Seems apt.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tawny Frogmouth

G'day Blog Readers,
The golf club is in the middle of its annual tournament at present and I've found it a little difficult for a while now, to find some time to do any blogging. Sometimes though, situations can just slide together. Last night was a bit like that.

I had to get some water onto the greens before they are cut and played on again in today's event, but I couldn't get the hoses out until very late in the day. That meant that after the watering it was 8pm, and I didn't feel like going back out to unplug and roll them up again, but it was a matter of have to. I decided to take the spotlight and camera, just in case.

I'd only just got through the gate and was rewarded right away - hadn't even unplugged the hose on the first green.

This was all very serendipitous. I'm in the middle of reading the excellent 'Owls, Frogmouths and Nightjars of Australia' by, (local author - well I'm claiming Orbost as 'local'), David Hollands.
This wonderful book is full of magnificent photographs and great information on our Aussie owls. It is beautifully written and the stories of the techniques used, and the efforts gone to by the author to produce the material are inspirational. You can read his biography and see some of his photographs at his website.

Anyway, back to my uninspirational efforts. The Tawny Frogmouth allowed me one more shot before softly flying off into the dark.

For the rest of the journey around the course, I could only manage some sightings of sleeping birds - Magpies, Miners, Lorikeets and a family of five Kookaburras very high up beside the 11th green.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Heyfield Birdwatchers April ’09 – Giffard Flora Reserve.

G’day Birdos,
‘twas a calm and foggy morning that developed into a beautiful day, and as it turned out, the company, the flora and avifauna matched the conditions.

Eight of us set off from Sale and headed for the western entrance to the reserve, which eventually I found after just one u-turn! Only a couple of hundred metres down the track I started seeing birds zing across in front of the ute. “This’ll do for starters”, I thought and we pulled up.

Almost immediately we had ticks for Emus, Dusky Woodswallows, Varied Sitellas as well as the usual Striated Thornbills, White-throated Treecreepers, Grey Shrike Thrush and more.

There’d been a shower or two in the days previous and I was hopeful of spotting some orchid leaves in the sandy roadside verges. Duncan and I had visited the place less than 2 weeks prior and had seen nothing much to enthuse us in the flora category.

Val was first to spot the tell-tale flat basal leaves and then as the eyes began to focus correctly we spotted the odd tiny flower. We ticked a Mosquito Orchid, a very tiny Greenhood that was not developed well enough for us to identify, and a Wasp Orchid, (I think). Without our resident human field guide, we struggled a bit – get well soon DF, we’ll have to shoot back down there in a day or so.

After struggling to get photographs of the very tiny flowers in a very low light, we headed for the vehicles and prepared to move on. Before we did so, a strange sighting was recorded in the paddock opposite – Black-fronted Dotterels. To me, it seemed an odd place to see these birds, but that’s what they were. No water, although there was a farm dam or two in the distance, no mud flats, etc, just grazed farmland with some pockets of Bracken. We also ticked a small number of White-fronted Chats and a Lark in the same area.

This time it was back to the cars. But no, look there, a pair of Flame Robins, then a pair of Scarlet Robins, a Jacky Winter and an Eastern Yellow Robin all in quick succession. Quite a little hot spot.

We moved on a little and stopped for a late morning coffee and chat. A quick tally of the score sheet indicated something like 25 species to this stage. A good mornings work. Hardly without getting up from our chairs, we added White-eared and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Grey Fantails, (of course), and again we spotted a Scarlet Robin.

A few of us had other commitments for the afternoon, so we headed back to Lake Guyatt in Sale for lunch. In the bushes and trees around the lake, we scored Yellow Thornbills, Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Rufous Whistlers, New Holland Honeyeaters, Blue Wrens, Silvereyes, Red-browed Finches, etc.

On the water and the mud flats – Silver Gulls, Ibis, Black Duck, Wood Duck, Chestnut Teal, Cape Barren Geese, various water hens, and Black-fronted Dotterels, (right where they’re supposed to be!).

I’m sorry for the huge amounts of detail in this write up, and we don’t set out to tick as large a number of birds as we can, but I thought I’d give some idea of the number, (well over 50), and variety of species we can easily see in just a few hours, right on our doorstep. What a wonderful world we live in, if we open our eyes to it.

Thanks all, great day,
Here's some pics from the day.

A few fronts...

... to go with some backs, (see, that was polite wasn't it?).

Mosquito Orchid.

Wasp Orchid, (perhaps?).

Cape Barrens with a feral!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Little Bit Of Colour....

.... on a dull morning.

It was dull, overcast and disappointingly dry, (again), here this morning.

I headed for the woodheap to split another barrow load or two for the woodshed and was swooped by the 'kingies'. They certainly let me know when I haven't put out some seed for a day or two.

They very quickly attracted some friends too.

That's cheered me up a little. Now, where was I? Oh yes, the woodheap, that's right!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Great Idea!

G’day All,
A few nights ago, I attended a Landcare workshop for constructing nesting and roosting boxes for native birds and mammals. I had a wonderful time. The Landcare co-ordinator and the project officer, Peter and Steve, put together a great activity.

A local timber mill at Heyfield provided the raw material – 25mm kiln dried hardwood, Messmate I think. The timber was machined to size and predrilled by the inmates at the Fulham Prison. The individual pieces along with the necessary hardware like screws, hinges, etc were wrapped together to form a nest/roost box pack for a particular species. We, the participants, simply had to provide a screwdriver or battery drill.

It was a simple matter to select the box we wanted to construct, check the plan provided, and assemble and screw the components together. Peter and Steve were on hand to provide assistance. To my mind, help was hardly needed – the project was very well planned. I found it very pleasing to note that several families attended and the children were getting very involved in assembling their boxes.

The Landcare support staff provided a delectable barbecue dinner, after which we were given some advice by Steve on how to locate and fix the boxes once we got them home. We each recorded our contact emails and the boxes we’d built. Landcare will follow up in the months to come to see how successful we’ve been in getting particular birds or mammals to use the boxes.

The above picture shows a selection of boxes I’ve put together on the night and subsequently. The large box on the bottom is for a Barn Owl. From left to right, the ones on top are for Brushtail Possum, Bat, Owlet Nightjar, and Pardalote. I need to paint them then design some means of attaching each one to the trees and buildings around the place – can’t wait!

It was a beaut night and a great idea.