Sunday, 26 April 2015

Swarming Honeyeaters

With 65 mm of rain two weeks ago plus another 50 mm this week, the countryside has turned green at last. In the bush, the box trees have started flowering again and this has attracted swarms (literally) of Honey-eaters. Some mornings, there are up to one hundred smaller honey-eaters flying from tree to tree around the house, in company with similar numbers of Red Wattlebirds.

It is too hard to identify the smaller ones on the go so we need to track them through the bush to get a clear identification. Even then, this ongoing cloudy weather makes getting an ID, let alone a photo, very difficult.

At the moment, we have:

  • Yellow-faced Honeyeaters (Lichenstomus chrysops) - quite common here and present in droves
  • White-plumed Honeyeaters (Lichenostomus penicillatus) - less common here but several sighted
  • White-naped Honeyeaters (Melithreptus lunatus) - ditto
  • Crescent Honeyeaters (Phylidonryris pyrrhoptena) - only ever had a few sightings here but several present now
  • Scarlet Honeyeater (Myzomela sanguinolenta) - never seen one here and only ever seen them locally in the wild twice before so a real thrill to spot here; brings our "on property" species count to 187!
  • Red Wattlebirds (Antochaera carunculata) - ever present but numbering over 100 at the moment.
  • Noisy Friarbirds (Philemon cornicultus) - the flocks of 2-3 dozen have disappeared but we still hear them from time to time.
  • Noisy Miners (Manorina melanocephala) - also ever-present and very aggressive towards interlopers.
  • Eastern Spinebills (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris) - usually around in ones or twos but have seen 10-15 at a time in the last few days.
Some photos of honey-eaters from previous occasions and multiple locations:

Blue-faced Honeyeater (Entomyzon cyanotis)
White-naped Honeyeater (Melithreptus lunatus)
New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae)
Yellow-faced Honeyeater (Lichenstomus chrysops)
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus meanops)
Lewins Honeyeater (Meliphaga lewinii) - one of my better shots

Friday, 24 April 2015

Suburban Wetland Surprise

On our way through Melbourne to the airport last week, we decided to explore the Dandenong Creek wetlands in Rowville. These are easily accessed from the back of the BP service station in the Northbound Eastlink side, between Wellington and Ferntree Gully Roads (see Google maps here; note that Google Earth shows very little of the current wetlands being present).

There is a nice concreted ride/walk path along the creek for miles, providing good access to the wetlands. There are several shallow lakes surrounded by rough grass and few small shrubs.

Along the mudflats were dozens of Grey Teal, a few Chestnut Teal, 8-10 Black-winged Stilts, a few Red-kneed and Black-fronted Dotterels, Purple Swamp Hens, Dusky Moorhens, a Royal and a Yellow-billed Spoonbill. On the way back, we watched a Nankeen Kestrel dive on a snack in the long grass.

All in all, a surprising hail of birds in a short time and surrounded by houses and industry (although they are all a few hundred metres away). Definitely warrants a longer exploration next time.
Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia)

Yellow-billed Spoonbill (Platalea flavipes)

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Grey Teal (Anas gracilis)
Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles)

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Hobart Weekend

Marg and I ducked down to Hobart this week for a few days to celebrate her birthday, visit an Aunt, checkout MONA and get out and about for some new species. We ended up with 12 new (to us) species from Mt Wellington, Lune River and Bruny Island:

  • Yellow-throated Honeyeater
  • Strong-billed Honeyeater
  • Black-headed Honeyeater
  • Forest Raven
  • Green Rosella
  • Tasmanian Native Hen
  • Swift Parrot
  • Forty-spotted Pardalote
  • Black-faced Cormorant
  • Sooty Oystercatcher
  • Yellow Wattlebird
  • Australasian Gannet
There were another 4-5 common species sighted with different Tasmanian races. We had high hopes of seeing a Pink Robin down along the Ida Bay Railway but it was not to be. 

Quite a lot of pelagic birds when we went out with Bruny Island Cruises, including Gannets and Albatross but hard to photograph and confirm identities at speed in a moderate swell.

Cloudy weather, tall bush and dull light made it hard to get decent shots and confirm sightings but I managed to scrub these up.
Swift Parrot

Black-faced Cormorant

Sooty Oystercatcher

Pied and Sooty Oystercatchers

Yellow Wattlebird