Species: Colluricincla (Colluricincla) harmonica
Common names: Grey Shrike-thrush
While this bird might have a relatively drab grey and buff plumage, it must surely have one of the most melodious calls to be heard in our bushland. Pairs bond for life and they can often be seen relatively close to each other in the bush. They seem to be relatively unafraid of people and can usually be found close to or on the ground hopping about in their hunt for food on the ground or under fallen branches.
Species: Cormobates leucophaea
Common names: White-throated Treecreeper
This is a bird that loves the rainforest or other heavily timbered areas. It spends almost all its time in the trees and rarely ventures onto the ground. It can often be seen hopping up tree-trunks and even performing the seemingly impossible feat of hopping up the underside of branches searching for ants or other insects.
Magpies are territorial birds and there seem to be two “tribes” of Magpies in the reserve. One tribe is centred around the picnic area and the other near the end of Eddystone Road. The ones at the end of Eddystone Road are very tame and will stand right next to you and rarely fly away. (May 2008)
Species: Dicrurus bracteatus
Common names: Spangled Drongo
The spangled drongo with its glossy black plumage, iridescent blue-green spangles, blood red eye and forked fishtail-like tail is probably the most easily recognized of all our birds. It has a very loud and to my ears a very harsh call. One afternoon recently I watched a pair of spangled drongos performing aerial acrobatic manoeuvres. They didn’t appear to be hunting insects so I can only assume it was a form of pair bonding. Every now and then one of the nesting eastern yellow robins flew quite close to one of the pair as if to upset their routine. I don’t really know whether this was its intention or whether it was just hunting insects.
Species: Eopsaltria australis
Common names: Eastern Yellow Robin
Last year the Eastern Yellow Robins nested on a low branch of a small Hoop Pine tree in a small patch of untreated weedy bushland. Unfortunately that nesting was unsuccessful and all the eggs/chicks disappeared, possibly taken by a currawong or crow. This year I’m pleased to report that they have nested in our restoration area well removed from any of the untreated weedy bush. I think this nest is better protected from the eyes of potential predators being in dense foliage near the top of a small tree. I waited for quite a while before taking a photo hoping that the robin would return to the nest. It was only when I looked at the photo later that I realised the bird had been sitting on the nest the whole time. Let’s hope for a successful nesting outcome this year.
The pair of Eastern Yellow Robins that appeared in last month’s Notes has built a nest on a low branch of a hoop pine sapling about 2.5 metres above the ground. The beautifully constructed nest has been wonderfully camouflaged with a covering of lichen and moss.
Unfortunately a recent check of the nest revealed that it was empty. I suspect (without any evidence) that one of the Kurrawongs might have taken the eggs.
This bird can usually be seen or heard somewhere in the reserve where it ranges through the somewhat more open parts of the bush. Its typical perching habit is on the side of a tree or gripping an upright stem as it hunts for insects in the trees or more often on the forest floor. This is another bird that should have no problems with the restoration of the bushland.
Species: Malurus (Leggeornis) lamberti
Common names: Variegated Fairy-wren
On a number of days I have seen fern fronds waving about and heard the calls from a family of variegated fairy wrens. These wrens are often very hard to see in the ferns but I was lucky enough to capture a photo of a male as he briefly emerged from the ferns.
A number of families of Variegated Fairy-wrens are to be found in the reserve, but I am really unsure as to just how many there are. This handsome breeding male is sitting just above the dome shaped nest of grass. I only found the nest by chance when a female Variegated Fairy-wren did the disappearing trick. The location of the nest was a surprise to me because it is right out in the open under a small fallen branch. The female constructs the nest without help from the male. Breeding can occur throughout the year but at this stage the nest appears to be empty.
Species: Malurus melanocephalus
Common names: Red-backed Fairy-wren
Our bushcare group has always taken great care to preserve a habitat that is conducive to supporting our existing wildlife while gradually eliminating all the weeds. I was really reassured as to the effectiveness of our strategy when I spied a small family of red-backed fairy wrens towards the middle of the reserve and at least 100 metres from the edge of the forest. This is one species that I thought might disappear when we eliminated all the lantana. These wrens though, like the variegated fairy wrens, seem to love the cover provided by large patches of Hypolepis muelleri (Harsh Ground Fern) and the tangle of Maclura cochinchinensis (Cockspur Thorn).
I’ve recently seen families of Variegated Fairy-wrens, Red-backed Fairy-wrens and Superb Fairy-wrens in the reserve. They tend to be most common around the edges of the reserve, particularly in the lantana, but I have seen them in the middle of the reserve. On Monday, when I inspected the area we cleared the day before, at our last working bee, I found that a family of red- backed fairy-wrens was doing the same thing. The photo below is of a female red-backed fairy-wren.