Looking for something to do during lunch, here are some quick thoughts about
Scarlet Honeyeater in Victoria. 2010 is proving to a remarkable year in terms
of the presence of Scarlet Honeyeater in central Victoria. Their usual
Victorian range during the summer months is Croajingolong NP in far-east of
Victoria, and then west to about Fairy Dell (near Bruthen). They become
increasing uncommon the further west you went. Here's a quick rundown of 2010's
. Around Melbourne they've been seen at Banyule Flats (Heidelberg), Bourke Rd
Bridge over Yarra (Kew), Bend of Islands (near Warrandyte), La Trobe Uni
(Bundoora), Koonung Creek Reserve (Mont Albert North), Warrandyte SP,
Healesville Sanctuary and 100 Acres Reserve (Park Orchards).
. To the west and in central Victoria at Lerderderg Gorge, and with Swift
Parrot south of Paddys Ranges, Maryborough and Killawarra Forest, Porcupine
Hill (east of Nagambie), Newstead and Castlemaine.
. To the east Coolart (Mornington Peninsula), Toolangi State Forest, Yellingbo
Nature Reserve, Bald Hills Wetland Reserve (Tarwin Lower), and nearer their
normal distribution Lakes Entrance township, Cabbage Tree Palms Reserve (near
Marlo) and Cape Conran Conservation Reserve.
Scarlet Honeyeater is also being recorded very late in the season, with records
still coming in think and fast, and it near the end of April. In previous years
the vast majority of records were between September and December.
So why are we getting unprecedented numbers and such as wide distribution in
east and central Victoria? It's been one of the best periods of eucalyptus
flowering for years, specifically with species such as Mugga and Red Ironbark,
Red Gum and Yellow Box. As a result other species such Swift Parrot are being
seen in good numbers. Interestingly Scarlet Honeyeater has been seen with Swift
Parrot at sites near Maryborough and at Killawarra. (Last year most Swift
Parrot records came from the Mimosa Rocks NP near Tathra - south-east NSW -
where they feed in flowering Spotted Gum. Apparently this year there has been
lots of lorikeets, but no Swifties.) The reason for the good flowering must be
linked to the high rainfall we've had this year; I heard somewhere that it was
up 40 percent on the average. Also we have just passed through an unprecedented
period of above average temperatures. For example Melbourne's temperature
topped 20 degrees for well over 100 days straight, the longest stretch of its
type in more than 150 years of measurement. The previous record was 78 days in
the summer of 2000-01.
The rains and consequential good flowering late in the season partly explains
why Scarlet Honeyeater are being recorded (in areas previously outside normal
distribution). Link this with the late and continued periods of fine temperate
weather and the conditions become perfect for Scarlet Honeyeater to spread into
central Victoria - as opposed to moving northward up the east coast. With the
recent cool change I suggested that sunny Victoria is about to lose all it's
Scarlet Honeyeater, either to northern migration or attrition.
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