Fairy Gerygone and Lewin’s Honeyeater

I’m still finding creatures I can’t identify and having to call on my Friendly Local Experts for help. They are very generous with their time,  and I thank them for their help but I don’t want to embarrass them by getting anything wrong so they will remain Anonymous FLE’s (unless, of course, they read this and choose to be named). My latest call for help related to these little birds:

fairy gerygone
What’s smaller than a Brown Honeyeater?
fairy gerygone
Is this the same or not?

They were attracted to the sprinkler at the bush block on Hervey’s Range I visit regularly. My first thought was that they were Lemon-bellied Flycatchers (aka Fly-robins) but I couldn’t account for the white streak under the eye in the second photo. They looked a bit too small, too, so I asked.

The reply was prompt: “… southern race of Fairy Gerygones: the first one is a female, the second with the white streaks is a male.”

They were new to me so I looked them up. Slaters’ Field Guide calls Gerygones “Australian Warblers” and their “Fairy Warbler, Gerygone palpebrosa,” is “10 – 11.5cm” – Sunbird size, not Brown Honeyeater size. Birdway, which is regularly updated with name changes in a way that books can’t be, includes them in “Australasian Thornbills, Scrubwrens, Gerygones & Allies (Acanthizidae).” The Fly-robin, for comparison, is here.

One of the area’s most common honeyeaters, the Lewin’s (Meliphaga lewinii), also came to enjoy the sprinkler:

Lewin's Honeyeater
Lewin’s Honeyeater

As usual, I came home with a collection of spider and insect photos. The most interesting are now on flickr, here and close to it, in my photostream.

Figbirds and others

We’ve been promised rain every day for a week and seen very little – ‘scattered showers and storms’ is a fairly generous description – but there has been enough around to agitate the birds. During a walk around my garden this morning I saw Drongos, Mynahs, Figbirds, a Sparrow, a Brown Honeyeater, a Friarbird and Blue-faced Honeyeaters, and I also heard a Pied Imperial Pigeon, a Koel and several Peaceful Doves (see this page for photos if there are any you don’t know).

My favourites among the photos I took today were a sequence showing an adult male Figbird (Sphecotheres vieilloti) feeding a well-grown juvenile:

figbird townsville Continue reading “Figbirds and others”

More arboreal black weaver ants – Polyrhachis dives and others

A guest post by Dr Mike Downes; his first, about a different species of black weaver ants, is here.

The subject of ant nests came up recently after an object of interest was handed in at the Museum of Tropical Queensland:

ant nest
Exhibit A
Continue reading “More arboreal black weaver ants – Polyrhachis dives and others”

Grey water – keeping gardens alive during water restrictions

Townsville is on Level 3 water restrictions as I write and is quite likely to be on Level 4  within a few months. If so, it’s very likely to stay on level 4 until we get our next Wet season.

Level 3 (sprinklers not to be used, handheld watering 6-7am and 6-7pm only, odds and evens applies to handheld watering) is tough enough on gardens – and gardeners – and Level 4 (no sprinklers or handheld watering allowed, watering cans/buckets only, odds and evens applies to watering cans/buckets) will be far worse. In these conditions, using grey water is one of the most significant options Continue reading “Grey water – keeping gardens alive during water restrictions”