One of the reasons for the long gap in activity on Green Path was that we were moving house. We are still in Mundingburra, and still between Ross River and Ross River Road, but our new garden is quite different so it will attract different birds and insects.
Around this time every year our huge poplar gum bursts into flower, producing a bonanza for the birds which come from miles around to feast on its nectar. We delight in the display, too, even while we deal with the mess the tree and the birds make. Thousands of flowers pop their caps, which litter the lawn like miniature caltrops, then the rainbow lorikeets arrive to squawk and squabble, Continue reading “Bonanza!”
In the few days since my last post the poplar gum has come into full blossom and the birds are loving it. The Rainbow Lorikeets have become regular visitors again, squabbling over the flowers and foraging for insects in the foliage. I’m not sure what the one on my photo is up to – looking for beetles, or perhaps trying to clean his dirty beak?
Drongos are insectivores but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in a flowering tree. What, after all, do so many insects feed on? Nectar, of course, and the tree hosts a good number of bees, flies and butterflies.
I was going to call this post “Patience rewarded” to congratulate myself on getting better photos of the juvenile Little Friarbird I encountered a few days ago. There were at least two of them this time – “this time” being the forty minutes I spent sitting on our front steps yesterday, with my telephoto lens pointing up into the foliage to take all of these pictures.
Leaden Flycatchers are small, quick and quiet. I don’t know how long they frequented our garden before I first spotted one, but I have seen them quite regularly since then. As always, you’re more likely to notice something if you’re on the look-out for it.
Today is officially the first day of Spring. As I’ve said before, the four European seasons don’t have much relevance to our monsoonal tropical climate but we are – just – seeing signs that the season is changing. The humidity is up, and we even had a tiny shower or two overnight; one of our banana plants has decided to put out a bud; and temperatures, particularly overnight, have crept up enough to notice. We don’t expect any real rain until November but we’re now looking forward to our next Wet rather than backward to the one that failed.
We regularly visit a “bush block” on Hervey’s Range, 40 minutes’ drive inland from Townsville. Six weeks ago we saw lots of Rainbow Lorikeets feeding on the bright red blossoms of the Umbrella Trees (Schefflera actinophylla) there, but when we returned a couple of days ago the flowers had become fruit and the lorikeets had shifted to a tall gum tree, 50 metres away, which had burst into blossom in the meantime.
A family of Figbirds (Sphecotheres vieilloti) had taken their place on the Umbrella Tree, feeding gregariously on the dark brown fruit. There was certainly plenty of it it to share!
The Umbrella Tree is native to this part of the world and is not a problem here: it grows well but “has maintained a balance with other native species,” as this DAF page says. The page goes on to add, however, that “when it is grown in southern Queensland, this fast-growing invader out-competes local native species,” and this other Queensland government fact sheet simply calls it a weed (but has better pictures of it).
That’s unfair, since a weed is, when you come down to it, simply a plant where you don’t want it. Even Lantana, loathed up here, is not a weed everywhere.
Our big paperbark tree (melaleuca) is now in full blossoming mode, joining the poplar gum which started flowering a week ago, and the nectar-feeding birds are having a wonderful time in both of them. The Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus)are in constant motion, squabbling as they feed and then flitting off in little groups and coming back a few minutes later.
Coming home at 8.30 last night I saw a couple of flying foxes, which are also nectar feeders, in the poplar gum. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they feed on the paperbark too; maybe I should get out there with a big torch tonight.
Those two trees aren’t all that’s flowering at the moment. The mango has just finished, the macadamia is just getting into its stride and the red bottlebrush is just past its best. The last of these seems to attract mostly Brown and White-gaped Honeyeaters, while the mango and macadamia aren’t so popular with the birds although bees and other insects love them.