Thursday, October 31, 2013

Gluepot 2013 #3

‘Nobody knows who made the mallee, but the Devil is strongly suspected!’
So goes the quote from The Bulletin in 1902. Thankfully we have come to realize the true value of this wonderful country. I would suggest that the biodiversity of the mallee habitat at Gluepot far exceeds that of any Gippsland woodlands. Birds, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates, trees and shrubs abound.

White-winged Fairy-wren
The day I arrived at Gluepot this year I found that Jim, an old birding mate, had by co-incidence set up camp at the same campsite. We exchanged greetings, etc and of course I asked what ticks he’d made so far. That day, Jim had found a nesting pair of White-winged Fairy-wrens not far from camp. Early next morning he guided me in to where he’d seen the birds.
No longer had we sat down, (‘up-sun’ and near a shrub to break our outline), and the parents began arriving with food in their beaks.

The small saltbush they were using was the one in the middle of the first picture, above.

We sat for well over an hour and watched the morning feeding session progress and they were quite unperturbed by our presence. The male in particular was a delight.

A lot of netting takes place at Gluepot to assist in monitoring the numbers and movements of birds. The male wren we were snapping had a number of leg rings on both legs.

Day one and I could already die happy!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Morwell and Dawson

Today the opportunity presented itself to do a quick visit to the Morwell National Park. (Quite a contrast to my recent sojourn to the mallee environment of Gluepot in SA). It was easy to tick some old favourites – Eastern Whipbird, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Eastern Yellow Robin -nesting, Brown Gerygone, etc.

White-browed Scrubwren
As I turned a corner in the track, a pair of ‘scrubbies’ was darting about in the leaf litter just in front of me. They didn’t appear too concerned by my presence so I watched for a while and discovered one of their feeding techniques.

1        1  Pick up a leaf that might have some microscopic microbe attached ...

        2 Shake the jiggery out of it ...

3 Lay it to the side ...
4     Check the surrounds for anything that might have become dislodged ...

5 Snap up whatever might have been hiding on the leaf – genius!

Not hard to learn something every day.

Purple Diuris
This attractive terrestrial orchid is described as threatened/vulnerable in Victoria with the main threat being … you guessed it, destruction of habitat. On the way home from Morwell I checked the Dawson Reserve to discover that the plants in this colony were indeed flowering – just.

The DSE or DNRE or whatever they are now do have some projects underway to monitor and protect the remaining colonies of this striking orchid.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Gluepot 2013 #2

Shy Heathwren
One particular morning I set off early on a walk I hadn’t done previously. My aim was to walk steadily for an hour or so and get into a bit of different habitat and explore what might be there. As it happened I’d chosen some country that had been burnt in the not too distant past.

Big horizon country
 I’d also noticed on the sightings board in the info centre that someone had recently ticked the elusive Scarlet-chested Parrot in this area – who knows?

It didn’t take long for the heat of the morning to cause me to stop for a breather and a drink. I moved off the track and into some scrub, found some shade and sat quietly for awhile. A small movement across a clearing caught my eye as a little brown bird, (yep, the very common ‘LBB’), briefly emerged at the base of some undergrowth.
 Gradually it moved closer and closer toward me, sometimes pausing for a glimpse of the interloper.

Suddenly an entire party of half a dozen Shy Heathwrens were jumping about in the low undergrowth beside me, so close I had to wind the camera lens in a bit to make sure the bird was entirely in the frame.

Not sure what's going on with the tail?
 Such are the moments that make the planning and the 1500km drive worthwhile. No SC Parrot but.  Just have to return again one day!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Gluepot 2013 #1

Seven Heyfield Birdwatchers have just concluded a wonderful camp at Birdlife Australia’s Gluepot Reserve in South Australia. I think we all concur it was a particularly fruitful and interesting 4/5 days, (or 9/10 days in a couple of cases!).

Far from home!

Regent Parrot
On my way to South Australia I dropped in at Hattah Kulkyne National Park between Ouyen and Mildura for a couple of nights and one of the first non-Gippsland birds I ticked was the Regent Parrot. There are two populations of Regent Parrots - the eastern mob that seem to stick around the Murray-mallee country where the three states of SA, NSW and Vic meet, and the western mob that occupy the south west corner of WA.

At Hattah Kulkyne NP, the birds were nesting in some of the hollows of the large River Red Gums in the park. 

Regent Parrots are under threat due mainly to loss of habitat. One of their favourite feeding grounds is the mallee country of which we are clearing more and more each year for agricultural purposes.

There are recovery projects underway to try and arrest the decline of this species – Dept of the Environment and the SARegent Parrot Recovery Team.

At Gluepot a small group came in to one of the water trough/hides enabling me to get a close up look at this beautiful parrot.

Here’s hoping the recovery work is successful.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Suns and Beards

A couple of weeks back, the Wax-lip orchids appeared in their usual spot in the bush on the golf course. A few days ago they were still there but looking a little tired. Yesterday they were all gone. The Blue and Pink Finger Orchids have finished too. Spring is like that.

Fortunately Mother Nature, for a short while at least, comes up with some replacements. Yesterday I found these two …

Purple Beard Orchid
Spotted Sun Orchid
 I haven’t recorded Purple Beard Orchids on the golf course in the last few years. I reckon last year they might have been there but didn’t open. A few Spotted Sun Orchids did show in 2012 but this year they are fairly numerous and widely scattered.

With shrubs like Daphne Heath and Grey Everlasting covered in flower heads, the butterflies have begun appearing too …

Painted Lady
 The butterflies were not the only active invertebrates yesterday. While getting up close and personal with this Twining Fringe Lily, I managed to lie prone on a nest of Jumping Jack ants.

Twining Fringe Lily
 Perhaps the ant’s venom is not as powerful this early in the season, as today I’m not feeling itchy at all and I can recall of times past when a Jumping Jack sting would annoy me for a couple of days.