Following last month’s fauna report when it was first mentioned, there have been several sightings of Scarlet Honeyeaters reported from in and around Moggs Creek, Aireys Inlet and Anglesea as well as on the Bellarine Peninsula and many other localities in Victoria.
They are attracted to flowering trees, especially the teatree and callistemon here, which are in full bloom at this time of the year.
A resident of Aireys Inlet, Mary Bremner, reported seeing a Turquoise Parrot foraging on the ground at the Community Garden.
Her identification of the bird was confirmed by a NSW visitor familiar with the species. The colour on the face was a true turquoise—not the blue typical of the Blue-winged Parrots. Its face was also blue, as distinct from the frontal band on the BWP. Turquoise Parrots are generally found in north-eastern Victoria and through NSW and into southern Queensland. Because it was well out of its range, it’s possible the bird has escaped from an aviary. They are very attractive birds and Mary has provided us with a photograph taken of the bird at Aireys Inlet.
Usually about this time of the year there are signs of Blue Bottle Jellyfish and the much smaller, By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella. They drift in on the currents and wash up along the many areas of the coast. In particular this year, the Aireys Inlet area has seen many of these creatures on the beach recently.
By-the-Wind-Sailors are small, about 2cm, and are considered harmless. The Blue Bottle is also known as the Atlantic Portuguese Man O’ War, Physalia physalis, and is actually a siphonophore, a group of animals closely related to jellyfish. They have long stinging tentacles and are capable of inflicting severe pain on people who may have come in contact with them in the water (thanks to Sharon from Ecologic for this information.)
The late spring weather is a time of intense activity for many birds that are in the process of nesting or feeding young. Earlier this month during a walk along the Nature Trail at Distillery Creek, the forest was ringing with bird sounds. Fantail Cuckoos were particularly prominent. We observed a pair in search of a nest amongst the low bush foliage while two very annoyed Brown Thornbills were loudly protesting their unwanted intrusion.
A female Leaden Flycatcher was busily collecting nest material along the side of Ironbark Track. Later we caught sight of a male calling from high up in a eucalypt. Sacred Kingfishers were also very vocal and we came across three pairs of kingfishers during the walk. This is reassuring as there has been some concern that Sacred Kingfishers have been declining in numbers. We also observed a female Scarlet Honeyeater in a heavily laden flowering teatree.
Two pairs of Hooded Plovers are presently sitting on eggs, one pair at Point Roadknight and the other at Sunnymead Beach.
The swan family at Allan Noble Sanctuary is still intact. The cygnets are quite large now. One of them has a damaged leg and is smaller than its siblings but can still feed quite well. Fortunately the sanctuary habitat produces an abundant variety of water plants that provides adequate food and cover for the resident wildlife.
Other interesting sightings during the month include a Tawny-crowned Honeyeater in the O’Donohue Heathland. A Spotted Harrier was seen near Breamlea and Two White-necked (Pacific) Herons on the wetlands at Breamlea.
During the summer holidays I always suggest that people leave a container of fresh water out in the garden for birds as well as other small creatures. I’m sure they are very appreciative.
Freesia refracta and Freesia alba X F. leichtlinii are declared weeds in the Surf Coast Shire because they spread easily and threaten to invade bushland. Freesias are perennial herbs that die back in summer and produce new foliage in winter. The highly fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers appearing in spring are white to cream and pink with yellow markings, shaded purple on outer surface. Each plant has at least two corms, one below the other, thus requiring deep digging to remove them.
More details about how to control this weed can be found in the archive of Weeds of the Month.
There are a number of wonderful local Friends Groups that provide ANGAIR members and the community with opportunities for involvement.