Natural Newstead …

Well I’m back from Broome, life is back to normal. I was wondering how to conjure up a post from the ordinary, the  humdrum. It occurred to me to post some recent photos of Australian Reed-warbler.

For those of you who enjoy the natural history side of the blog, there is an excellent blog run by Geoff Park called Natural Newstead.  Geoff limits his observations to the area around his home, also in the Victorian Goldfields, about 40km from mine. It’s well worth a visit.

Just as I was delving in my catalogue Geoff posted this …

I’ve been trying for years to get some decent images of Australian Reed-warblers, especially that iconic shot of one perched sideways on the stem of a reed. It remains an ongoing project.

Like these perhaps …

and two for the price of one …

They’re even harder to get in flight …

Ecclesiastes 3:1 …

The change of seasons in Victoria is far less dramatic than in the US or UK. There as summer fades the leaves change colour and a big proportion of breeding birds head south for winter. An influx of winter birds take refuge from what will soon be a snow-covered landmass further north.

Here autumn is a bit of a flop. The plants tend to be evergreen and there is no major landmass to the south to provide us with a winter influx. Antarctica doesn’t have much to start with. Tasmania does its best for us with a couple of parrot species. New Zealand sends us a tern and a shorebird.

But spring is everything it should be. The wild flowers bring some colour. The Superb Fairywrens take on their breeding plumage. Bird activity and numbers increase.

Our Clamorous Reedwarblers arrived the other day and a big flock of White-browed Woodswallows has passed through.

Superb Fairywren
Waxlip Orchid
Sticky Everlasting
Sticky Everlasting
White-browed Woodswallow

Summer slips over the horizon …

As I’ve been driving home of an evening in recent weeks I have been aware that the sun has been setting a little further north on the western horizon each day. One day, in the not too distant future, it would set right at the end of a local road framed at the end of  an avenue of trees. Imagine it right in here …

I pulled up The Photographer’s Ephemeris and wound on the clock until April 5 at 6:15 pm. I use this photographer’s aid with some trepidation. Just as certainly as the sun and moon will rise and set at a certain place and time so it is certain that clouds will obscure the event. At least it seems that way. None the less I was there. The sky was partly cloudy. I had chosen my camera position in advance but a couple of hundred metres east of that I saw that the sun was spotlighting a bridge quite beautifully and thought that, even if I got nothing else, this would be a photo. Just to put the icing on the cake a car drove past at a very convenient moment …

Having captured that it was time to see if my plan would come to fruition …

 

Spring …

It’s a little warmer, it’s light a little earlier. Spring has been creeping up on us antipodeans. And then suddenly it’s a full on assault on the senses. For me it starts with the Rufous Songlark. It doesn’t stick around for Victoria’s frosty winter. I saw plenty recently up in the centre of the continent presumably making their way back south. The first one in my neighbourhood arrived a few days ago and announced its presence with its scratchy, far from euphonious song. You will never be commemorated for singing in Barclay Square but welcome back.

Other arrivals have followed quickly. A solitary Australian Reedwarbler was along the creek looking for some habitat. Yes you are in the right place, there were reeds here last year, they’ve been washed away in last week’s flood. The Dusky Woodswallows are also back and looking for somewhere to raise a family and the woodland was ringing to the sound of the Olive-backed Oriole.

Not far from where I live is Paddy’s Ranges State Park, just on Maryborough’s doorstep. There is a resident there that is very hard to find, the Chestnut-rumped Heathwren. It has a cousin, the Shy Heathwren, which is a positive exhibitionist by comparison. In spring the male makes a small concession to the birdwatcher by singing to attract a mate. For a short time you are in with a chance. So there I was and there it wasn’t.

But the flowers were gorgeous …

Early Nancy
Early Nancy

… tiny but perfect. The Riceflowers are bigger …

Common Riceflower
Common Riceflower

Prefer red? There were two quite different Grevilleas to choose from …

Goldfields Grevillea
Goldfields Grevillea
Cats Claw Grevillea
Cats Claw Grevillea

The Goldfields Grevillea is a threatened species, Paddy’s Ranges is very significant for its survival.

And what would spring be without an orchid or two? Australia has about 100 genera and more than 1200 species of orchid, mostly in the tropics where they tend to be somewhat showy. Here in Victoria we have to be content with rather discrete examples, mostly terrestrial and mostly just in spring.

These two were growing just a few metres apart …

Leopard Orchid
Leopard Orchid
Waxlip Orchid
Waxlip Orchid

After the flood …

… and before the next one.

As the water receded the debris lodged in the fences became apparent …

A Fence Full

With one exception the fences at right angles to the direction of flow were no longer standing. I’ve spent a couple of days removing most of them. This morning I got around to pulling the rubbish off those that are still standing …

clean up

Curled up in the debris was this little guy who wasn’t too happy to be pulled out …

Eastern Brown Snake
Eastern Brown Snake

After we’d burned the rubbish Gayle headed for the shops to restock the pantry while the dog and I revisited a few of the places I’d photographed the other day …

Wet
Wet
Dry
Dry
Wet
Wet
Dry
Dry

The road crew are hard at work repairing the guard rail.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is most interesting.