The whoosh of Metallic Starlings en masse, as they swoop fast and low through our garden, is indicative of warmer weather on its way. Although still a very pleasant temperature for gardening activities, our cool winter weather is giving way to our warmer ‘growth’ months. Pruning and weeding keeps me busy but it’s not a chore when you’re able to stop and watch the birds nearby.
We’ve been listening to Little Bronze-cuckoo calling, probably a prelude to mating and egg laying ……… but in whose nest? A pair of large-billed Gerygone have just started nest building, conveniently within lens distance of one of the bird hides, but nicely placed in the foliage of a paper-bark. (Melaleuca cajaputi)
Large-billed Gerygone at work nest building
Lovely Fairy Wrens, looking particularly lovely just now, are always a delight to observe as they dart in and out of cover in their search for insects. The climbing fern, Lygodium reticulatum, is wonderful shelter for them although it’s tough twining stems can be troublesome for young trees.
Female Lovely Fairy-wren
A glimpse of the male through some foliage, showing his glorious colours in the sunlight.
Male Lovely Fairy-wren
During the last few weeks we have frequently heard dingoes calling, mostly at night but there have been one or two occasions during the day. Last night there were three animals harmonizing quite beautifully on the hills; on a still, moonlight night it is quite an eerie sound and I wonder how all the creatures vulnerable to their attack might be feeling. In spite of their, at times, close proximity (we found a scat only a few metres from the carport) we have been unable to see them and so have no idea how close to a true dingo they are.
This afternoon we spent a couple of hours enjoying a walk around the property – I was trying not to focus on the various weeds I noticed that required attention and for the most part we talked about the progress that had been made in various areas. We took cameras as well as our binos. but many of the birds we saw were busy feeding and were often in shade so photographic opportunities were very limited. The arrival of our winter birds has been announced by the return of Rufous and Grey Fantails, which we observed feeding with Fairy and Large-billed Gerygones, Grey Whistlers, a female Golden Whistler, lots of Lovely Wrens and Little Shrike-thrush. We also saw Spectacled and White-eared Monarchs, the latter sighting being two immature birds which is of particular interest as Tyto Tony reported a similar sighting. Our list also included Varied Triller, Spangled Drongo, Figbirds, Helmeted Friarbird, Yellow-spotted, Dusky, Macleays and Graceful Honeyeaters, Yellow Oriole, Sunbirds, Silver Eyes, Mistletoe bird as well as a Laughing Kookaburra and a Shining Flycatcher. No sign of the other Kingfisher relatives which was unusual and no sign of the small flock of immature Metallic Starlings which has been feeding frantically and doing practice flights for the last few weeks. Perhaps they have left for the winter along with the Brown-backed Honeyeaters and the Black Bittern neither of which were evident this afternoon.
We heard but could not see Pale-vented Bush-hens but Orange-footed Scrub-fowl are now well established here. We heard and saw Rainbow Bee-eaters and watched them bathing in one of the ponds.
Two Whistling Kites were soaring around with a Darter, while later we saw a Pacific Baza circling in the vicinity of a flock of Top-knot pigeons and unusually the pigeons were wheeling around, apparently enjoying a thermal with the Baza.
And just to finish off with some colour – we did manage a few shots of the Lovely wrens enjoying their favourite shallow bird bath – we think they must have had a good breeding season as numbers seem to have increased considerably ……. plenty of room and lots of food for them here.
Unlike much of Queensland we have not had widespread heavy rains in Daintree, well not yet anyway, just isolated or scattered showers. With many months of ‘wet season’ ahead of us we’re making the most of any sunny periods – Allen is building a bird hide on the ’07 wetland system and I’ve been …..well one of us needs to inspect the tracks and you can’t do that without the camera!
- I know there was a bird on this spillway……….
As I have disturbed one, sometimes two, Black Bittern on this outflow from Rupert’s Pond I decided to walk up very slowly and quietly Continue reading
Choosing a briefly sunny moment in between rain showers these Lovely Fairy-Wrens (Malurus amabilis), endemic to Daintree, enjoy a good bath. No female visible yesterday but I know there has been some recent nesting activity so she may have had to forego the pleasures of a splash.
On a recent walk I did find a nest, low down and well hidden in some undergrowth, but after catching a glimpse of the tiny fledgling that had been calling I left the area as I didn’t want to draw further attention to it.
Lovely Fairy-wrens seem much more timid than some of their cousins – such as the Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus)which is found further south. I was only able to coax some of our ‘Lovelies’ to visit a bird bath once we had plenty of cover nearby for them to retreat into. They rarely appear in the open, being most often observed moving across from one patch of shrubs and vines to another.
Like much of the east coast of Australia we have been experiencing a lot of rain – our total for September was 295.5mm and so far this month we have recorded 185.5mm. Needless to say it is fairly wet underfoot and our swamps are all overflowing.
As our outdoor activities have been somewhat curtailed it is delightful to be able to observe birds visiting the bird baths and helping themselves to some of our extra fruit which is placed on a table nearby.
We are making the most of every sunny moment and enjoying the chorus of frogs calling at night.
This last photo shows how seriously these tiny birds take their bathing! Even ‘though it is a little blurred I couldn’t resist sharing it.