Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Leaden Summer

G’day Everyone,

I visited the Dawson Railway reserve a couple of days back, to check on the progress of the Purple Diuris that tend to show there each year. They were nicely up too …
Duncan and I know of a small block of private property just north of the reserve that we have surveyed for birds in the recent past. As I was finishing with the wildflowers, the owner of the property was moving some cattle in a nearby paddock so I got permission at headed down the lane to check things out.I reckon ‘Sundy’ could sell tickets to this little hotspot. Beautiful habitat largely left alone except for some periods of monitored cattle grazing through the year.
All the woodland avian summer visitors had arrived – Rufous Whistlers, Pallid Cuckoos, Dusky Woodswallows, etc – along with at least a couple of pair of Leaden Flycatchers. Moving slowly and quietly I managed to get close for some nice views of the males.
Leadens and Satins can be hard to distinguish. There is an excellent page on Graeme Chapman’s website that details the differences nicely. The birds I got at Sundy’s place were quite ‘shiny’ but they have distinctly concave breastbands.

Anyway, even I’ve got this wrong, it was a very pleasant couple of hours spent in a little bit of precious bush that a considerate and thoughtful landholder seems keen to preserve and has invited me to return at will – and I will!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Back to McDonalds

I went back to ‘McDonalds bush’ again yesterday. I’m trying to locate an orchid I ticked there last year but haven’t caught up with it yet. Strange how the orchids seem site specific. On the way out yesterday I decided to look around another bit of remnant box-stringy-ironbark bush that to me appears identical to McDonalds and barely 1km away. Next to nothing!

Here’s a shot of McDonalds. Looking great this year.

I got amongst the Beard-orchids again and I think this is the Red Beard-orchid –clearly visible naked apex tail.

Then I came across a totally different colour form of, I think, the Purple Beard-orchid.

It’s all happening. Even the Sacred Kingfishers seem to be getting used to the silly bloke down on his knees under their tree and let me get quite close for some shots.


I’ll just have try again later this week when I get a moment.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bird Survey for GA

G’day Blogworld,
Had one of those magic days today – out with Martin (when the link opens, click on 'Greenig Gippsland'), and Duncan helping with a bird survey on one of Martin’s re-veg properties adjacent to the Clydebank Morass just north east of Sale. Over the last few weeks Martin has put in 4000 seedlings and direct seeded the 10ha block. We were there to tick a few birds as one way of helping to assess the health of the area as the plantings begin to thrive and the birds return.

We were just beginning with some of the waterbirds out on the morass and noting the calls from the Reed Warblers and Little Grassbirds from the reed beds when a Golden-headed Cisticola dashed about seemingly quite perturbed at us intruders. We took a couple of shots and left him in peace.

The beautiful calm morning and picturesque locality was going down a treat.

The locality was perfect habitat for Songlarks, Pipits and Chats and we got all three. A small group of White-fronted Chats allowed us to approach a little as they poked about the clumps of Glasswort.

As we toddled back to the cars a stiff breeze got up, whipping the grasses and even putting some whitecaps on the Morass.

In the shelter of some low trees a Willie Wagtail was severely defending its territory from an intruding Pallid Cuckoo.

Some other memorable moments included a Swamp Harrier cruising above the reed beds, a family of Shellducks striking out across open water, a pair of Black-shouldered Kites pausing in the top of an old dead tree, Yellow-billed and Royal Spoonbills sweeping the shallows along with several White-faced Herons stalking the mud flats and the beautiful coffee scrolls Martin provided for morning tea!



Monday, October 22, 2012

Of Ducks and Beards

G’day Everyone,
Normal week on the golf course this week, so with not too much pressure to have all the fairways cut, etc, I ducked out to McDonalds – a small bush block just down the road – for a couple of fruitful hours.

First cab off the rank was the always striking Large Duck Orchid. They were in good number and in places it wasn’t easy to not stand on them.

The Blue-spotted Sun Orchids were also plentiful but they weren’t quite open. A couple of White-finger Orchids stood out under the green-grey understory foliage.

While scruffing around on the ground to get some pictures, the tell-tale  3 note ‘kek-kek-kek’ call of the Sacred Kingfisher alerted me to their presence overhead. They seemed content to just watch me crawl about on my knees, occasionally dropping down from a branch to snap up some tasty morsel from the leaf litter.

A small dark bird, (sdb), dived into a tiny hollow just above me. It didn’t want to come out again after a wait of quite a few minutes so I went back to the wildflowers and came upon some nice colonies of Bearded Orchids.

Eventually the sdb revealed itself as a White-throated Treecreeper but didn’t want to pose at its nest hollow. I just had to settle for some classic views of this little specialist.

Nice couple of hours in some beaut remnant bushland – that many of the locals want burnt mind you – now it’s back to those fairways.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Nothing There One Day ...

... then next day, almost in the middle of track ...

G'day Readers,
I'm talking about my 'nature trails' through the back bush on the golf course. It seems that this is the season to be checking such places almost daily as the show put on by Mother Nature can be quite differnt over a small time period.

'Yellow' catches the eye very readily and it was a pleasure to discover the Donkey/Hornet Orchids were up.


Haven't seen these for a season or two, so it is a welcome return.


Then a day or two later Glen nearly stood on a blue Spotted Sun Orchid. We haven't seen these on the course since we have been here - 10+years. Looking around today there was a nice colony of them under the box trees.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Gluepot 2012 - Some Honeyeaters

G’day Readers,

The bird hides at Gluepot are popular with visitors of the human persuasion as well as the avian species. On one particular occasion there was a small waiting period before one could enter the hide near our camp. Another time though I was all alone for way more than an hour and actually, er, cough, fell asleep for a couple of minutes! Don’t think any bird of note flew in.

The various honeyeaters were probably the most frequent visitors to ‘our’ hide, the diminutive Brown-headed being top of the list.
Next most frequent honeyeater visitor for a drink and bathe was the Yellow-plumed. This pugnacious bird often frightened off others before taking over the water trough.
Two others we ticked were the Striped and the White-fronted – both good ticks for us Gippslanders.
Now, what are these? These four flew in – just after my nap – and were very wary. They wouldn’t sit still for long at all.
If you are unaware of the Black-eared Miner story here’s a link to some history, facts, etc. I doubt these are BEM’s, more likely to be hybrids. They have some attributes of both Yellow-throated Miners and Black-eared Miners. Here’s a link to an identification key – this page is printed and posted in all the hides on the property.
Now, if that b….y bird would just sit still long enough!!!! I was excited there for a little.