Wednesday, September 29, 2010

We Need More ...Verandahs!

G'day Blogworld,
I love stories like this.

A day or two ago, Glen and I went up to Barry and Sue's place on the Macalister again. I just forget the name of their property - 'Paradise' will do.

View from the garden.
Barry has a boat moored at a jetty at the bottom of the garden, (why wouldn't you?). When the sun comes out he gets an old visitor on his slipway most days.

Gippsland Water Dragon
I've never been close enough to one of these for a photo before. I nearly always hear them splashing into the water before I see them. This old guy was very accommodating.

Barry and Sue had been cleaning up a corner of their garden and discovered a Pardalote entering and leaving it's nesting tunnel. What did they say about it? "We'll leave that area for a while until nesting is over". Love it!

Spotted Pardalote

To cap off all this, there was a Thornbill nesting under the roof of the back verandah. Closer inspection shows that I think it's a Buff-rump, an uncommon little bird that we only see around here in a few locations.

Buff-rumped Thornbill #1

Buff-rumped Thornbill #2
I struggled a bit with the back lighting, but I think there is enough evidence of the clear or white eye and the dark tail with lighter tips etc, to confirm a Buff-rump. Some texts say they are struggling a bit due to loss of habitat. We obviously need to build more verandahs!

To Barry and Sue - don't forget, Glen and I have first option when you sell!


Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's a Draw - GROAN!

G'day All,
The Glenmaggie Flora Reserve just down the road from home is as dry as chips. Despite the rest of Victoria getting some decent rain recently, we tended to miss out - again, scoring only showers of just a few millimetres, when others were getting 20's and 30's or more. The nearby ranges copped a lot, and there is still a fair bit of snow to yet melt, so our rivers are generally at good heights at least.

Anyway - the Glenmaggie Flora Reserve. I visited the place yesterday afternoon and was surprised to see a little water in the one waterhole. I sat for a while and watched. The usual Grey Fantails were busy and I thought that would be about it but gradually a few others began to sneak in - Silvereyes, Crescent, White-naped and Scarlet Honeyeaters and a Mistletoe Bird were all present. They were all fairly wary and I didn't manage to get any photos. Nice to see them, but.

Whilst the leaf litter on the ground crackled underfoot there were a few orchids displaying, Wax-lips and White Fingers in particular. In one spot they were in close proximity to one another and I had to decide which to take a picture of first. In this dry old bit of country I decided it was a draw as to which was more beautiful, so I snapped both of them.

Wax-lip Orchid

White Finger Orchid

You didn't think this was going to be about a particular game of football did you?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Tale of Two Lories ...

...and the tail of one!

G'day Followers,
Periodically throughout each day, the Musk Lorikeets and the Rainbow Lorikeets will visit one of the water bowls in the garden. As far as I can recall, they always do this separately. Usually one species will wait in the nearby tree until the other has finished. Yesterday however I found them drinking together, (sounds like the start of a B grade novel).

Perhaps they have found some new co-operativeness? (I wonder why Blogger has coloured that last word?)

I'd better get on with the tale, er, tail ...

One of the Musks had a yellow tail which I've not noticed before. I think it's a mature bird, it has the black and red beak. None of my books mention a yellow tail. Ah, the little oddities that can keep you fascinated in this birdwatching game.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Heyfield Birdwatchers - September 2010

G’day All,
The Heyfield Birdwatchers crew had another great day out yesterday. We journeyed east a little to Wattle Point, Blond Bay and Perry Bridge.

After meeting at Meerlieu, we followed-the-leader to Wattle Point on Lake Victoria – a well named locality as there were heaps of wattles and Wattlebirds. We chased a few bush birds for a bit, then Ron in the distance seemed to be a bit intense while looking through his spotting scope along the beach front. It was a Pied Oystercatcher, the first and nearly only wader for the day. (Click for larger pics)

Grey Fantail - the everywhere bird
At Blond Bay

Pied Oystercatcher Lake Victoria

Spike Wattle, (oxycedrus)

After a cuppa we rendezvoused with Ellen, Michele and Rod at Blond Bay. The lagoons were quiet, Masked Lapwing, White-faced Heron, etc, but there was a bit of activity amongst the tussock beds - Pipits, Larks, and the White-fronted Chats were breeding, with fleglings in nests. Pallid Cuckoos were calling nearby too. I'm not sure if they like to parasitisze Chats nests?

On the way back to Ellen's for lunch, we stopped at the 'gravel pits' to witness what seemed to have been a female Dusky Woodswallow offering herself for mating - wings quivering, bill open, squat position. 

After lunch, Ellen suggested a walk through the block of crown land opposite her house. The landscape was dominated by Banksias, Acacias and Xanthorrhoeaceae. Once again, the Wattlebirds and a few other Honeyeaters became evident, along with Eastern Yellow Robins, Blue Wrens and would you believe, an antechinus up a small Banksia tree!

Crimson Rosella lunch guest
Grass Tree 'double header'
Pallid Cuckoo

We thanked our gracious hostess and jumped in the cars, headed back to Meerlieu and 'undid' our car shuffle. I managed to talk the mob into stopping at a piece of bush reserve at Perry Bridge where we scored a few birds including an Eastern Whipbird, and heaps of orchid colonies - Blunt, Maroon and Trim Greenhoods, and Gnats. There were some Bulbine Lilies just in flower too.

Blunt Greenhood
Gnat Orchid

Thanks all for a wonderful day and a special thanks to Ellen for her hospitality, (not to mention her baking!).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Open your eyes luv"

After my morning coffee and a read of some favourite blogs, I said to GW, "Denis has a nice blog of some Finger Orchids that are out already up his way. I commented how there's no sign of the 'fingers' down here yet."

Glen replied, "......(see heading). There's been some Blue Fingers up in front of the ladies 17th tee for some days now."

There you go! I wanted to put up some new nest boxes, so I put the camera in the ute too.

Box 1 of 5 this morning.
Then I headed around to the 17th fairway and sure enough, there were the Cyaniculas - beautiful.

Part of the Blue Finger colony.

Blue Finger orchid. #1

Blue Finger orchid #2

There were some Early Nancys in the vicinity too.

Early Nancys.

How about that? It seems 'spring has sprung'.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sale Wetlands

On Monday a small group of Heyfield Birdwatchers hosted a small group of EGBOCers for a brief tour of some of the wetlands around Sale. Everyone was a little concerned about river levels, as there were flood warnings continually being broadcast across the radio. Although we hadn't had the rain other parts of the state received, there was concern for run off from the ranges to the north. The Bairnsdale people were worried about getting home across the Mitchell River, which had been forecast to cut the highway at some time through the day. In brief, we all stayed high and dry and as far as I know, we all got home safely!

First stop was Lake Guyatt which did have a fairly high water level and after Val opened the Powder Magazine for us we had a cuppa in some beautiful sunshine then hit the walking track where we had to dodge the usual pedestrian traffic with 'wires hanging from their ears'. The mud flats were almost completley inundated  but there were a few birds in residence. Yellow Spoonbill, Chestnut and Grey Teal, and Latham's Snipe were some to add to Chis's list.

We did a car shuffle next and walked through the Common to the Swing Bridge. Whistling Kites, Darters, Cormorants and Swamp Harriers were spotted here. The highlight of this section however was the frog calls. With the nearby Latrobe River level being high, water was beginning to flood into the Common. We were able to trace the progress of the inundation by the frog 'din'. I think all present enjoyed the moment.

After a quick lunch at Sale's historic Swing Bridge, we climbed aboard two vehicles with a bit of ground clearance and Ron took us for a trip through the newly acquired Wet Trust properties adjoining the Heart-Morass,(link). We saw some wonderful evidence of natural regeneration plus the successful planting efforts conducted by the Bug Blitzers, WGCMA, Field and Game, etc. This once severely degraded piece of country is quickly coming back to life - yeah! Here we ticked Swans, more Teal and Kites, and a soaring White-bellied Sea Eagle.

We'd only seen a small section of the wetlands, but the day had gone, so with promises to do it again and cover some of the other areas, we said our goodbyes and headed for home.

Thanks go in particular to Ron and Val for conducting the expedition through the Powder Magazine, Guyatt and Wet Trust properties.
Chestnut Teal - Lake Guyatt
Darter #1 - Sale Common
Darter #2 - Sale Common
Brushtail Possum - Sale Common

White-bellied Sea Eagle - Wet Trust/Heart Morass

Friday, September 3, 2010

Heyfield Wetlands

G'day All,
We have a depression approaching with the promise of some good rain for a couple of days - we'll see - so I decided to duck into the local wetlands before battening down the hatches. Apart from the usual residents, Swamphens, Moorhens and Coots, there was a little bit of other activity on the water and in the trees.

A pair of Chestnut Teal and a pair of Black Duck were sharing a sunning log ...

Chestnut Teal + Black Duck

A Great Egret nearby was keeping one eye on me on the opposite bank and one on any movement in the water...

Great Egret

Just around the corner there was a pair of Grey Teal. Although described as Australia's most widespread duck, I've always found them to be a little scarce at times around here.

Grey Teal

Enough of the water birds, let's check out the reed beds and the trees. Bit early for some of our migrants but you never know.

This Pied Currawong kept calling and jumping ahead of me as I walked along one well treed track. (One of the nicest and most recognisable bush calls.)

Pied Currawong

The usual fleet of little bush birds was present, gleaning the euc leaves for insects. Wrens and Thornbills were present as usual and it was nice to come across a few Silvereyes and Spotted Pardalotes too.

Spotted Pardalote

Now for the reed beds. Don't like my chances here, all is pretty quiet. Hang on, what's that mournful little whistle? Could be a Little Grassbird. Never got a decent look or an even half decent photo of one of these. After a few glimpses I could see the bird was working its way along the reeds on the opposite bank, so I retired a bit and moved ahead to wait for it to come closer. Here's the best I could do ...

Little Grassbird
That'll do, a nice mornings work. Now, bring on the rain!