The winter solstice has passed and days are getting longer, but early mornings and evenings are still chilly
We are hearing whistling tree frogs calling throughout the night in the pond nerar our house. Most other frogs are silent now, except the clicking froglets along the creek. We’re not seeing many frogs, but I did find a large green tree frog in a neighbour’s toilet last week.
Rose robins and golden whistlers are visiting our valley, which they usually do in winter when the forests of higher altitudes have less insects for them to find. We have also been seeing mixed species flocks – a mostly winter phenomenon, while the insectivorous birds are not yet defending breeding territories. Birds of different species with different styles of foraging, such as shrike-thrushes, thornbills, silverfeyes, pardalotes, ‘robins’ (Australian robins are not rteally robins) and fairy-wrens travel along togther, each hoping to catch insects the others disturb. Grey fantails dance around in the air or sit restloessly on neighbouring branches, ready to catch any insect making a break for it on the wing.
Close to the house we a family of brown quail and a family of red-backed fairy-wrens that have been regularly working their way through the vegetable garden, and the quail sometimes take the risky step of helping themselves to a bit of dog food when the owners of the bowls aren’t looking. Just beyond the vege garden a couople of mornings ago a red-necked wallaby was quietly cropping the freshly-mown grass – probably more nutritious than the grass of their usual foraging areas on the higher slopes which have been affected by recent frosts.
This morning a small group of yellow-tailed black cockatoos flew overhead towards the sheoaks, calling to one another, sounding like branches rubbing toegther in the wind. While the red-tailed and glossy black cockatoos eat the seeds of the sheoaks, I mostly see the yellow-tailed delving into the bark of the branches, apparently looking for grubs.
This is about the time of year the platypus usually settle on where they will be foraging throughout breeding season, so we’re starting to keep a mor watchful eye on the three parts of our creek they have most often used for this. Last year we didn’t have any breeding, as they had all disappeared with the severe flooding of January 2008 (the first tie in almost three decades we haven;t had them here). They have however made a re-appearance just recently, so we hope things will soon be back to normal (though whether with our original individuals or different ones, we have no way of knowing).