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.
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 …
… tiny but perfect. The Riceflowers are bigger …
Prefer red? There were two quite different Grevilleas to choose from …
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.