Sunday, January 31, 2010

Of Being Busy, Birding and Blogging

G'day All,
As regular visitors here understand, the last couple of months have been a little quiet regarding blog entries. Watering, mowing, issues with mowers, pumps, disease, etc have kept me a little tied up, (or tired up perhaps).

Today has been another stinker - hot northerly wind, and 38 degrees. Because of a problem with the river pump that tops up our dam, for a few days now I've not been putting water on the fairways, just trying to conserve our supply for the greens and tees. However, the water is now coming in from the river again and the day has been spent trying to recover some of the drier parts of the fairways. I'm hot tired and cranky!

There are some positives to this. There's some blue stuff on the radar approaching us, tomorrow I'm off surveying with Duncan, and on the last water change I decided to take the camera...

Maggies in the garden

Eastern Rosellas near the first green

... and a Noisy Miner taking a shower and a dip at the 4th green. . .

I reckon our survey location tomorrow will be pretty dry country. Still, it'll be somewhere different and I think the forecast is for something cooler. Can't wait to catch up with DF again too.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mahogany Gum

This beaut old Mahogany Gum, (Eucalyptus botryoides), is growing in our yard, and on hot days like today, provides wonderful shade.

Mahogany Gum, or Southern Mahogany occurs naturally in a very thin coastal strip from northern New South Wales to about here, eastern Victoria. It will grow in a variety of soil types, and is quite happy around here in our clay.

On the lower trunk, the bark is very rough and fibrous. The large leaves are bright green on the top and paler on the underside. The flowers are white and the fruits occur on flattened stems.

The Mahogany Gum produces a strong, heavy and durable timber that has numerous furniture and structural uses. It's not too bad a fuel either.

Our lovely old tree has a water bowl beneath it, and a well used nest box partly up the main trunk.

(There, I got some bird stuff in!)

A great tree, bit messy on the ground, but the twigs and bark that it sheds make wonderful kindling for the fire in winter - roll on.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Undisclosed Location!

G’day Folks,
I took a little bit of time away from the watering today and went off to check a site for the next bird watch outing. I won’t say where I went, someone might be listening. I told the troops last month that February’s excursion would be a secret! (Yeah, I know it’s a bit childish, but it might stimulate a little more interest, who knows?)

The bird list was pretty good and included Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters, Dusky Woodswallows, Noisy Friarbirds, Eastern Spinebills, Rainbow Bee-eaters and a personal favourite, the Rufous Fantail. I wasn’t able to spend heaps of time with the camera, as I was trying to determine which tracks to take etc, but I managed one or two acceptable shots…

Yellow-faced Honeyeater

Yellow-tufted Honeyeater

'Bossy Boots' - Willie Wagtail

Rainbow Bee-eater


Don't bother checking the file names, that won't tell you where I was. You'll just have to wait and turn up on February at the Heyfield Wetlands. (Clue: I got in there ok, but needed some help to get out - watch this space).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Heyfield Birdwatchers - January 2010

G'day All,
Yesterday, a small band of birdos kicked off the new year with a relaxed excursion in the Sale area.

We began at Lake Guyatt where the resident Pelicans sat grooming themselves among the Wood Ducks, Coots and Moorhens. A scan of the marshy foreground through the binoculars resulted in spotting a good number of Latham’s Snipe. Every now and then half a dozen would fly off to a nearby island and we’d think, “That’s it, they’ve all gone”, then someone would pin point another group hidden in the grasses. We estimated something like 30 birds in total. Apparently these annual migrants from Japan arrive in large flocks in August – September but depart for their breeding grounds in just ones and twos around mid to late summer. Guyatt has always been a popular local spot to find them.

We then did a little car tour of some of the back roads on the western boundary of Sale. Cormorants were nesting in a large gum beside a waterhole in a farm paddock, and nearby was a small group of Whistling Kites. No doubt, the association of these two species was deliberate. A wedge-tailed Eagle was perched in a big Red Gum on the side of the road too. This little back lane often seems to produce a nice collection of raptor species.

After a bit more of ‘follow-the-leader’, (and gee, isn’t good being in the lead car?), we arrived at Red Gate Reserve. Rufous Whistlers, Grey Fantails, Blue Wrens, White-throated Treecreepers, Brown Thornbills and the like, kept us busy with identifications. This tiny reserve right on the edge of town often produces a nice array of open woodland species.

We were getting thirsty and hungry by now, and so we adjourned to a small café/restaurant for some refreshment and talk. Not all birding should be bush bashing and squashed sandwiches!

The afternoon was devoted to a wander along the boardwalk at the Sale Common. Ducks, Pelicans, Spoonbills, Herons, were in good supply and the Darter and Cormorant rookery was well occupied. The Darters in particular seem to have been rearing chicks for several months now and apparently this can go on for some time. The literature advises that Darters will nest in small rookeries of well spaced nests, or often in a lone position. This site seems to belie that advice, as several of the nests seem to be almost on top of one another.

A slow walk back to the cars, with a light easterly breeze refreshing us, and then a cool drink or a cuppa in the shade wound up a beaut day. Thanks everyone, see you in February.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

We're Still Alive...

... here in Gouldiae land - apparently.

G'day All,
Busy, busy, busy. Hopefully we are back to somewhere near normal.

Heaps of 'greenfeers' on the course at present. Some are as slow as...

The Long-necks have been on the move a bit as they search for nest sites. I've come across them in the bush, middle of the fairways and this one as it crossed the first green and tried to make sense of the flag stick!

A nice little interlude in a busy day.