Thursday, November 21, 2019

Olive-backed Oriole

Olive-backed Oriole at 'Golden Whistler Reserve' Drouin

I’m not sure if the Olive-backed Oriole is a regular migrant to my corner of the world, or not? Despite their distribution maps suggesting they reach as far as SA, in the last 5 years since moving to West Gippsland, I’ve not seen or heard one around here. The bird was a regular each spring in my old territory of Central and East Gippsland and I was assuming our eucalypt woodlands here were not open or dry enough. (Feedback via the comments button welcome). Anyway, I ticked this one, above, recently beside the Drouin golf course.

Juvenile Olive-backed Oriole

 Olive-backed Orioles are sometimes referred to as harbingers of spring. Their distinctive call (link) -  is generally the first indication they have arrived from further up the eastern seaboard of NSW and Queensland. It is nearly always the call that gives away their presence, as generally they feed quietly in the eucalypt canopy on fruit and invertebrates. By all accounts, they are good mimics as well.

The basket or cup-shaped nest of bark is suspended from a horizontal fork. Within their range, Olive-backed Orioles can be very nomadic as they follow the fruiting patterns of their favourite trees. 

Despite their size (about that of a Grey Butcherbird or Magpie Lark), their excellent camouflage often makes Olive-backed Orioles difficult to see in the leafy canopy.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Brown Gerygone

(Click images for a larger view)
The Brown Gerygone, pronounced ‘jer-ig-on-nee’, is a small grey-brown bird that inhabits wet gullies in the foothills of the eastern seaboard of Australia. Often, they are first detected by their insect-like and incessant ‘which-is-it, which-is-it…’ call.

Credit: Atlas of Living Australia
Older field guides have this bird shown as being present just in the far east of Victoria but there has been a recent westward expansion. Several years ago, they were recorded in Morwell National Park, then Uralla at Trafalgar and Nangara at Jindivick and some sightings have been made in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne.
Brown Gerygones are usually present in small family groups as they flit through the foliage of the canopy and mid-storey, taking insects largely on the wing.

They fall into the ‘LBB’ or ‘Little Brown Bird’ category and are easily confused with Brown Thornbills and perhaps White-browed Scrubwrens.
The Brown Gerygone builds a dome-shaped nest of grasses, fine roots and bark, cob web, moss and lichen, suspended from a branch under some dense foliage.

The Crested Shrike-tit

(Click images for a larger view)
Despite their bright colours and striking hair style, the Crested Shrike-tit is more often first noticed by its sad descending whistle.

This bird can be mistaken for a male Golden Whistler at first glance. The large powerful bill is used for tearing at the bark to extract insects, spiders and larvae.

 Crested Shrike-tits inhabit eucalypt forest and woodland and although listed as secure in Victoria, habitat loss due to urban development, forestry products and agriculture are thought to be placing pressure on some local populations.
Credit: Atlas of Living Australia
 The species is endemic to Australia with three known sub-species. Crested Shrike-tits in our area are probably sedentary but nomadic within a large territory.