Tuesday, June 21, 2011


G'day Readers,
One bird we can always count on seeing in the woodlands of Gippsland is the 'everywhere' Grey Fantail. Often they are very inquisitive of bird counters and photographers and frequently almost pose for a picture. We can sometimes take them for granted.

The other common fantail in the district is the 'Mr smart' Willie Wagtail. Both are excelent hawkers of insects on the wing. Grey fans almost always take their prey in and around the foliage and tree trunks about mid level. Willies often hawk close to the ground, particularly in winter and generally prefer more open habitat.

The Grey Fantail in our district is mostly pretty sedentary although it is believed some do migrate north in winter. The willie too is at best dispersive, with their numbers building in spring. Both are amazing acrobatic flyers as they twist and turn, tails fanning, snatching insects in the air.

Both the willie and the grey have a set of 'whiskers' thought to be useful in scooping or netting their prey as they zig zag about.

Whiskers for netting insects?
A proper pair of little charmers.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Keepin' Warm

G'day All,
I have a favourite old coat for keeping warm when I'm riding the mowers on a cold day. It hangs outside the back door on the outside wall of the cat cage. With some fairways to be cut this morning, I went to put the coat on and found that another creature had discovered that it's a great coat for keeping out the cold wind.

I don't know my bats very well, someone might be able to ID it from the pictures, perhaps the Lesser Long-eared Bat?

I took a few shots and decided to re-locate it to one of the bat boxes on the side of the woodshed.

I picked up the bat carefully, collected the steps so I could reach the box, opened the lid to discover that the inn was full - well partially so.
 There are four boxes erected in and around the woodshed, so I put the little 'coat bat' in the box just inside the shed. I'll keep an eye on it for a day or two.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Out and About

The weather has been a little inclement - cold and grey - but today is much brighter. I took the camera across to the machinery shed this morning and had a short walk along one of the bush tracks. I'd been hearing the contact calls of the Golden Whistler for the last few days, but only managed to catch up with an inquisitive juvenile.

A little further on a Scarlet Robin was 'perching and pouncing' for his morning's breakfast. Bit far away, but always worth a shot.

Over the last couple of days, DF and I have been trying to pin down a sighting of the endangered Regent Honeyeater. Peter G managed a shot of one in the Stockdale Forest. The Ironbarks are loaded with flower and all manner of  Honeyeaters are having a ball!

No sign of the Regents, but the experience has been wonderful. I've never seen such activity in the area. I wonder if the collective noun for Red Wattlebirds could be a 'cacophony'?
On the way across to the machinery shed this morning, another recent immigrant to this area or perhaps a new settler, the Crested Pigeon, was sunning itself on a wire.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Heyfield Birdwatchers - June 2011

G’day HBW’s and Others,
I could sub head today’s entry – ‘An Awkward Orchid Moment’.

As we gathered at our meeting place for yesterday’s outing, a couple of new faces began arriving. I commenced introducing myself and the ‘regulars’ to the ‘newies’, and started to ask how they’d  gotten to hear about our exclusive little mob. Nancy had told Ross about us – yep, fine, that makes sense. (Welcome Ross, hope to see you on some future activities).  The cars kept pouring in! All these new people? Strewth, hope I can find some birds for them. Then the penny dropped. It was another group, (of orchid hunters from Melbourne), assembling at the same place and time as us.

The orchid mob pulled out and we set off beside the Avon, just about right under the bridge, me with my face still red with embarrassment, and started seeing birds right away. Pardalotes, Silvereyes, Eastern Spinebills, Yellow Thornbills, etc, were all very active in the feathery wattle foliage and the mistletoe.

Someone suggested we’d hadn’t been to the Knob Reserve for awhile, so we ducked around to see Short-billed Corellas, white cockies, Galahs etc, gallivanting in the big Red Gums. There wasn’t too much other bird activity just here, but some nice fungi appeared on the little walk below the lookout.

Earthstar fungi
Agaricus augustus perhaps?
After a minor navigating glitch, we found our way onto the Stockdale road and the first of the pine forests began to appear. I was hoping to spot some fungi here that might get the cameras going again, but in the immortal words of ‘Banjo’ Patterson, ‘there were flocks of ‘em here last week’, when I sussed out the place. Oh well birdos this is what they looked like…

Fly agaric
Next it was just a short hop onto Beverly’s Rd and into a small patch of remnant bush I’d found. Two or three different honeyeaters in the crowns, (see the PS below), Blue Wrens, treecreepers, yellow and Scarlet Robins, a ‘remnant’ Fan-tailed Cuckoo who should have been gone by now, King Parrots, Mistletoe Bird, etc, were some of the ticks here.

There were some nice orchid beds too…

Fringed Helmet
Nodding Greenhood
Trim Greenhoods
  On the way back to the coffee shop, Dingo showed us a spot in the Stockdale forest where there were the remains of some old charcoal kilns. A nice little bit of local history to wind up a beaut day.

 PS: I mucked up PG with the change in meeting place. He emailed me later to say that on his unsuccessful quest to find us, he came across a small colony of Regent Honeyeaters, a bird that is listed endangered and Birds Australia is currently asking for info on sightings.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mixed Species

G'day Readers,
Today I joined in with the bird group from the Latrobe Valley Field Naturalists and spent some time at the Edward Hunter Bush Reserve in Moe, then the Moe Water Treatment Plant.

It was bitterly cold with a stiff southerly wind that seemed to be coming directly from the Antarctic but birders being made of stern stuff, we perservered and at the reserve managed a few sightings. I even scored an acceptable shot of a Grey Fantail with it's tail fanned! Not the best of poses though ...

The Mallard family and a small crew of Black Ducks were quite unconcerned about our presence as we gathered on the boardwalk.

There was very little birdsong evident and the wind made things a bit difficult but the list at the reserve included Brown Thornbill, Golden Whistler, King Parrot, Blue Wren, and White-throated Treecreeper.
It was even too cold for the Kookaburras to laugh, but we still spotted several at the end of the walk.

Back into the warmth of the vehicles for a short drive to the water treatment plant on the north side of Moe. The list here was rather good and included Pied Cormorants, Cattle Egrets, Hardheads by the hundreds, White-faced Herons, Pelicans, heaps of Swans, Yellow-rumped Thornbills, European Greenfinch, and many more. I've no doubt left out some of the more important species. (Yep I did - Silver Gulls, Black Fronted Dotterels, Masked Lapwings by the score, Musk Duck ...)

The temperature by now had soared to 9 degrees and photography in the rain squalls became difficult. Still, you've gotta have a go ... 

Wonderful work eh?!

After getting the name and location of a good coffee shop in town we said our goodbyes and headed for a brief re-fuel before dashing home to ...... jump on a mower and cut a few fairways!

Thanks Alix and crew. Despite the weather I enjoyed myself and it was great to meet you all. Have to do it again one day.