I have managed to take a better photo of the Macleay’s Honeyeater – its not perfect but I am improving! The birds enjoy our well sheltered bird baths but it does make photography more challenging in the low light.
Macleay’s Honeyeater after enjoying a bath
Victoria’s Riflebirds have been seen feeding all about the property recently, all those sighted (so far) have been female or immature birds and most commonly eating fruit of the Bleeding Heart tree, Homalanthus populifolius. However, we have also watched a Victoria’s Riflebird feeding on the fruit of the native Costus, Costus potierae, which we have planted in our house garden. Yellow-spotted Honeyeaters have also been eating the Costus fruit, so this plant is not only an attractive ornamental but a useful food plant for the birds.
Victoria’s Riflebird, female or immature
This male Double-eyed Fig Parrot was sitting on a branch close to my vegetable garden. It had been feeding on the fruit of Red-leaf Fig, Ficus congesta.
Double-eyed Fig Parrot race macleayana, male.
While this particular tree had obviously been visited by a number of fruit eating birds, it is not often the fruit of choice. Many times we see the fruit quite untouched when other, more desirable, fruit is in abundance. Red-leaf Figs are common pioneer species in areas of regenerating rainforest and provide a reliable source of food at times when the fruit of preferred species is unavailable.
Red-leaf Fig, Ficus congesta. Detail of fruit on tree trunk.
After several different ‘poses’ on the branch this gorgeous little parrot stretched his jaw open wide, probably necessary after much processing of the tiny fig seed, although I confess it did look to me like a yawn. And then he moved up higher in the tree out of sight and our photo session was over.
Double-eyed Fig Parrot stretching his jaw
The weather conditions have been as expected for this time of the year – hot and humid. Some days it seems more extreme than I remember but probably I’m just using the weather as an excuse to only work outside for a relatively short time in the morning.
Another update on Spotted Whistling Ducks: when we had some heavy rain for a few days the Wandering Whistling ducks departed along with the large flock of Magpie Geese which had descended upon us. Our resident Magpie Geese are still here and one suspects they may be rather relieved that peace has been restored. The Spotted Whistling Ducks stayed for a day or so longer but then for nearly a week we didn’t see them anywhere. However, they are now visiting again and have been trying out all our ponds, we can see where they’ve been by the remnant pieces of water weed, Vallisneria, and shredded water lily flowers! They actively feed through the heat of the day both on the water surface and diving, staying underwater for 15 – 20 seconds. After a period in the water individuals will fly to a suitable horizontal branch, or in some cases a perching post, where they busily preen and dry off before returning to the water for further feeding.
There have been flocks of Double-eyed Fig Parrots feeding on Glochidion, commonly known as Cheese Tree, and we have also observed them feeding in Melaleuca cajuputi. These paperbarks provide food and shelter for many birds, insects and fruit bats and we’re pleased that much of our swampy areas that were cleared of paperbarks in the early 1900’s are gradually returning to useful habitat.
This week the Melaleucas have started flowering, the event was announced by a loud humming sound accompanied by the sweet, nectar laden scent.
An Azure Kingfisher flew past Allen yesterday with a fish in its bill and two younger birds following behind; a Little Kingfisher used one of our perching posts as a take-off point for fishing and Black Bitterns are frequently disturbed at the spillways both here and at our neighbour’s place, we estimate at least three regulars are moving between the two properties. We suspect Shining Flycatchers are nesting again but haven’t yet confirmed this. They are quieter than a couple of weeks ago when we watched some amazing displays from two males competing for a female’s attention as they went through their repertoire of calls.
Spangled Drongos have, once again, successfully harassed a Great-billed Heron until it flew back to the creek. I confess it is a little disappointing as it would be rather fun to have more regular visits from this majestic bird but I can’t blame it for leaving as the Drongos are very persistent in their attacks.
So we’ve been enjoying the birds this month as we make the most of the sunny mornings and mostly fine ‘though cloudy afternoons – it looks like rain is heading our way.
Today the temperature rose dramatically but the humidity remained low, a breeze was blowing and it would have been enjoyable weather if it hadn’t been for the smoke haze from the extensive fires on the Atherton Tablelands. As an ex-resident of country Victoria I particularly dislike smoky, hot, dry days.
After spending a beautiful (and productive) morning in the garden I went looking for the Barred Cuckoo-shrikes I could hear – they were feeding out-of-sight in a large fig tree but I had a happy time observing the Double-eyed Fig-parrots that were much lower down in the same tree, along with Fig Birds and Yellow Orioles. The melodic calls of the Yellow Orioles seem to increase in frequency as the weather warms until they become a background to our summer days.