Soon after my visit to Southern states in December 2017 I wrote about “honeyeaters and their next-nearest kin, mainly because I have … seen species which don’t live around Townsville” and I’m doing it again now.
Wattlebirds are the Southern equivalent of our Friarbirds: big, noisy, gregarious (and often aggressive) honeyeaters. The Red and Yellow are the largest of five species at 38-48 and 31-39cm respectively; the Yellow (Anthocaera paradoxa) is restricted to Tasmania but the Red (A. carunculata) occupies a broad coastal arc from Shark Bay in the West to Brisbane.
One of the locations I visited in my recent trip to Victoria and Tassie was Myrniong, about halfway between Melbourne and Ballarat, not far from Bacchus Marsh. Melbourne’s West is drier than its East, and the Myrniong landscape is not unlike that of Sunbury, with bare hills dissected by deep narrow valleys; Lerderderg Gorge, nearby, is just one of the bigger examples.
The property was an outdoor education centre, much used by school groups, and featured an artificial lake near the campus buildings high on the hill above the river.
Our poplar gum dropped a lot of leaves a month ago in preparation for its flowering, and it has been full of birds ever since. In order from most to least numerous visitation, we’ve enjoyed (mostly!) the company of Rainbow Lorikeets, Blue-faced Honeyeaters, White-gaped Honeyeaters, Little Friarbirds, Leaden Flycatcher, Great Bowerbird, Brown Honeyeater (common in the garden but not in the poplar gum), Blue-winged Kookaburra, Spangled Drongo, Indian Mynah, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Figbird and Torres Strait Pigeon (my first sighting this season).
Amongst them, however, was a Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus, my first record of the species in the garden.
My friend in Kelso who invited me to visit the Tawny Frogmouth a while ago and has spotted 75 species of birds around the house to my 50 got in touch a week ago about a Red-tailed Black Cockatoo chick (Calyptorhynchus banksii), saying, “Come and watch the mother feeding it,” etc, and we visited him today for the purpose.
The nest, in a tree hollow as usual, was visible from the back of the house and when we arrived about 3.30 the chick was sitting up, waiting for food:
On Saturday I was lucky enough to visit the Town Common with a small group which included two keen, knowledgeable birders. Thanks to them, we ended up with a list of more than 50 species from Red-backed Wrens and Spice Finches (10 cm) to Jabirus and Brolgas (130 cm). We were happy that we spotted so many in just a couple of hours but I should note, just for context, that about 280 have been recorded on the Common.
We drove in past the golf club, visiting Payet’s Tower and the two nominated viewing points on the way to Freshwater bird hide, with a few unscheduled stops as one or another of us spotted birds from the vehicle. There is still a fair bit of open water on the Common and we saw substantial numbers of Magpie Geese, including about 150 in a single flock near the Pandanus viewing point. We briefly visited the Pallarenda Conservation Park, too, adding the Orange-footed Scrub Fowl, Scrub Turkey and others to our list.