Tag Archives: new holland honeyeater

Modbury’s Three Bridge Walk

1 Aug

Modbury’s Three Bridge Walk

 Dear Reader:

There are ibises along the banks of the pond and high in a river gum. One pair seems to be concentrating on a particularly dense area in the crown of the tree. I look more closely through the telephoto lens. It is a nest, barely discernible amongst branches. Closer inspection reveals a pair of chicks nestled against one of the parents while the other has left in search.

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Ibis nest camouflaged in gum tree

 

I am walking along the pathway that runs from Montague Road to McIntyre Road behind the little complex of shops that includes Katmandu, Bunnings and Subway; just a few hundred metres before TTP. It is best to park next to the creek appropriately behind the outdoor shop then walked over a small traffic bridge to Victoria road. After a hundred metres, head left over the footbridge that crosses Dry Creek past a large pond where the ibises gather.

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The pond near Montague Road

 

3a

Walking and cycling track along Dry Creek

 

Leaving the ibises to their domestic duties I follow the creek using a small track along the bank. Alternatively a new concrete path traverses the same route. There are waterfowl along the creek which is flowing quite fast after heavy winter rains. In a slightly calmer stretch where a curve in the creek creates a sheltered pool a pair of black ducks, recognisable only by their upturned tails, are feeding on the bottom.

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Black ducks feeding

4a

Along the secluded detour

 

After a couple of hundred meters I come to the third bridge which crosses the creek and bends back to the car park and lunch. However, alongside the bridge there is another rough dirt track that leads into the scrub emerging at a lovely secluded section of the creek. As I follow this trail I come across a variety of smaller birds including some New Holland honeyeaters that are perched in the reeds and a flock of musk lorikeets squawking high in a huge red gum near the trail junction.

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Third bridge over the creek

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New Holland honeyeater in reeds

 

I back track to the bridge, cross it, turn left following the main watercourse and stop to photograph a small waterfall that has developed in the creek. From here the track branches left running alongside a steep banked gully with very little water in it. Back at the car park I can get some lunch, shop for outdoor gear or find some hardware to occupy the remainder of the day.

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Little rapid or waterfall

 

Not a bad way to spend a winter’s morning

Cheers

Baz

Xmas Gums

26 Dec

Xmas Gums

Dear Reader;

The New Holland honeyeater is perched on the topmost branch of the white flowering gum in my backyard. Every few minutes it takes to the air and chases an insect that has inadvertently flown too close to its ‘operating zone’. But hawking for prey like this takes an energy toll on the little bird, requiring frequent refuelling at the nectar rich flowers that also serve to attract its insect prey.

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New Holland honeyeater

 

This is just one of the little wildlife scenarios that play themselves out during the Christmas season in the gum trees that grace my backyard. The smaller tree comes into flower in early December reaching its peak around Xmas day. The larger tree has flowered earlier but seems to harbour a wealth of tiny leaf and bark insects throughout the early summer months. Together, they attract a wide range of birds providing an interesting holiday spectacle; especially if one has scored a new camera from Santa.

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A tale of two gums

 

New Holland honeyeaters aren’t the only species of honeyeater that feeds in my garden. The more timid white plumed variety also samples the blossoms and hawk for insects. However, at this time of year they are almost finished raising their final brood for the season and the young ones are being schooled in the art of bug catching by the adults. Peering through my long lens into the shadows of the taller tree I am lucky enough to capture two images of a chick waiting for food then being fed a bug by its parent.

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White plumed honeyeaters

 

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Have a bug or two junior

 

In a wonderful coincidence, there is also a family of wattle birds in the same tree and a fully fledged chick is sitting on a branch demanding to be fed. I watch carefully, trying to time my shots to coincide with the exact moment the adult shoves some insect offering down its waiting gullet. Of course, some leaves get in the way and the light intensity drops at the crucial moment but that’s wildlife photography.

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Wattle bird and chick

 

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A gullet full of whatever

 

With a Xmas drink and a mince pie resting on the outdoor table next to my cameras I scan the foliage of the smaller tree for a final shot or two. Two colourful creatures oblige; a rainbow lorikeet is tearing apart a blossom emerging from a gum nut and a swallowtail butterfly is probing the mature flowers for nectar.

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Rainbow lorikeet

 

6 Dingy swallowtail

Dingy swallowtail

 

Cheers and Seasons greetings

Until next year

Baz

Tea Tree Gully-An Afternoon in San’s Garden

12 Jun

Dear Reader:

Sometimes, it is not about four wheel drives, walks in the bush or diving on a reef. Sometimes, South Australia’s wildlife wonders are the common animals and plants that live  right under our noses in the backyard. Last weekend I grabbed a pie and a doughnut from the local shop, pulled out the recliner and watched the antics of the local critters in my friend’s garden. I hope you enjoy the pictures and a few minor, explanatory observations.

Spotted dove snoozing on the garage roof

Spotted dove snoozing on the garage roof

To initiate proceedings, a spotted dove landed on the garage roof, much to the consternation of a local cat, who sat and stared at it for a few minutes, decided it was too much work then nonchalantly strolled off to find easier prey.

New holland honeyeater feeding on orange honeysuckle

New holland honeyeater feeding on orange honeysuckle

Oleander seeds pods

Oleander seeds pods

New holland honeyeater catching insect in mid flight

New holland honeyeater catching insect in mid flight

While the dove dozed the high energy brigade arrived in the form of a squadron of new holland honeyeaters who proceeded to feed on various blossoms, hawk for insects and in one bizarre instance; pull apart the seed pods of an oleander. Fair enough if it was nesting season but a little hard to fathom at the beginning of winter!!

Hover fly grabbing a suck to eat

Hover fly grabbing a suck to eat

Bee on lavender

Bee on lavender

The winter months are not too conducive to insect life but a few ‘die hards’ do persist and the lavender and daisies played host to quite a number of bees and hover flies respectively.

Noisy miner surveys the garden with a bandit glare

Noisy miner surveys the garden with a bandit glare

Whatever the season my little bandit friends are always around with their masked faces and grey plumage. A small flock of noisy miners did the afternoon rounds, harassing the other birds and making their presence felt; arguing as much with each other as the other species.

Singing the team song in the old gum tree

Singing the team song in the old gum tree

Strutting his stuff on the back lawn

Strutting his stuff on the back lawn

Just as I was settling for a little snooze when the warbling (carolling) call of white backed magpies brought me to my feet. I walked around to the front garden to see a trio of the large black and white birds high in the crown of a roadside eucalypt loudly proclaiming their territory. Then, the largest and obviously most confident bird flew down into the garden only a few metres away to search for grubs.

Quinnus muchsuddliusforaging in the fairy garden

Quinnus cuddlius foraging in the fairy garden

Back to recliner, pictures taken, lunch finished; book or snooze again beckoning…when the most active of all the garden’s wildlife toddled in and a restful, lazy afternoon dissipated like an early morning mist evaporating when the sunshine arrives.

Enjoy your own gardens

Baz

Willunga’s Blue Bees

13 Dec

 

Dear Reader:

A few weeks ago I spent a weekend in the charming little country town of Willunga just south of Adelaide, in the McLaren Vale wine region. I was updating some illustrations in one of my wildlife books and needed some photographs of honeyeaters feeding on different coloured flowers. We stayed in a heritage B&B on the edge of the town with a lovely garden featuring stands of agapanthus, native hibiscus and several large bottle brush trees. Throughout the day a variety of birds, including both new Holland and white plumed honeyeaters, used their elongated beaks to probe the blossoms and hawk for insects.

1 Willunga has many fine old colonial buildings

Willunga has many fine old colonial buildings

 

As well as honeyeaters the plants attracted more than their fair share of bees. Between sips of wine and a nibble of cheese (doing it tough that day) I watched them flit from one blossom to another gathering nectar and collecting a dusting of pollen on their legs. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of one bee flying more erratically than the others, it seemed to hover for a second then repeatedly zoom off in different directions; like a miniscule attack helicopter. Every so often it would land but only for a short time before resuming its unpredictable flight pattern.

2 New Holland honeyeater probing bottle brush flowers for nectar

New Holland honeyeater probing bottle brush flowers for nectar

 

I moved my chair a little closer to the native hibiscus, where the little insect seemed to be spending most of its time, set the camera to macro zoom and started to track it through the lens. The bee was certainly smaller than the honeybees that were also doing the rounds of the blossoms and it appeared to have a bluish tinge. I fired off a couple of frames and took a closer look on the review screen. It was certainly not a honeybee. Over the next hour and a half several of the little blue bees appeared at different times and I managed to get a series of images that I could use to identify them. I suspected they were native bees which I had heard of but knew very little about.

3 Honeybee feeding on a blue agapanthus

Honeybee feeding on a blue agapanthus

 

My guess was correct. The little insect was a blue banded bee (Amegilla cingulata). Blue banded bees are actually far more common than I realised and are found throughout SE Asia. They contribute to the pollination of many commercial crops with their unique ability to buzz pollinate; the result of intense wing vibrations when they cling to flowers.

4 Banded blue bee hovering in front of native hibiscus 2

Blue banded bee hovering in front of native hibiscus blossom

 

Unlike honey bees these native bees are not colonial with females building burrows in dried up river banks or even soft mortar in urban housing. Their sting is mild and they are not aggressive. Interestingly, these blue bees collect most of their nectar from blue flowers and since my initial sighting I have found them on the lavender and agapanthus in my own garden. They have obviously been there for years and I had never even noticed; yet another lesson in observation.

Cheers

Baz

 

 

 

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