It's a long time since I wrote to birding-aus, but I'd like to pass on some
interesting observations I've made of late.
1. This year there seem to have been more rose-crowned fruit doves than
usual. They arrive here about the 4th week of October, and stay through till
about now (3rd wk Jan.) At first they congregated in the various fig trees.
( though not usually the sandpaper figs). When the fruit there was finished,
they moved into the trees covered in fruiting cockspur vines. This was when
I noticed just how many there were this year. Each morning I would count at
least 12 birds in one tree, and smaller numbers in other fruit laden vines.
The last couple of days the fruit has finished and today, I didn't even hear
a bird. Would this be unusual numbers for South East Qld?
2. My spangled drongos have finally nested successfully. They were very
interesting to watch. For the last 2 years they have tried to breed in a
tall sandpaper fig near our 4WD track to the creek, both years
unsuccessfully. They came back for a third attempt this year, using the very
same fork of the same tree. Although they return here in September,they
don't start nesting until mid-November. They build a rather flimsy basket in
a small fork about 10 metres high. The birds are very flighty, and remain so
right throughout the breeding season. The nest building took at least 3
weeks to finalise, and when I was about to say it was another failed attempt
, the bird started to sit. As far as I could judge, the eggs took 3 weeks to
hatch, but then the nestlings took less than 2 weeks to fledge, finally
revealing that three birds had made it to that stage. Within days of leaving
the nest it had disappeared. I have seen 2 "short-tailed" drongos today,
which I presume are the juveniles.
3. While performing a much needed prune of my garden two weeks ago, I was
suddenly startled to have an agitated Lewin's honeyeater fly right past my
knees. I looked up to discover a beautiful deep cup shaped nest only one
pruning shear blade's distance ahead of me in a salvia bush half a metre
above the ground. It was lined with white plant down and firmly fixed to a
forking branch less than a cm thick, and contained one egg. I hastily backed
off and abandoned the pruning for a few weeks! The bird returned and will
stay in the nest even when approached very closely. I did catch it off and
found 2 eggs there a couple of days later. THey seem rather large eggs for a
fairly small bird. However, this evening I went to check the nest , found
the mother off, and discovered that the eggs have already hatched, with 2
naked, blind, open-mouthed nestlings in the cup. That makes the incubation
period less than 2 weeks. I'm looking forward to seeing how rapidly they
grow, and hopefully catching some photos of them. Despite Lewin honeyeaters
being almost the commonest bird on the property, it is the first time in 9
years that I have actually found their nest.
Best wishes all.
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