Tag Archives: New Holland Honeyeater

Something wicked this way comes….

I was delighted to find that Berwick is a stronghold of the New Holland Honeyeater. It is a small, aggressive and active bird, quick to defend its territory and raise the alarm when it sees something not quite right. We had spent a few hours at a large Fig tree along Princes Highway waiting for the Channel-billed Cuckoo to turn up in a regular feeding tree. The New Hollands were along the  fence line behind us and as we made our way back to the car after our failed steak-out, they raised the alarm. Besides us walking by with our camera gear, the other threat I had seen was a Brown Goshawk cruising by and perched within  a nearby tree watching all the action.

New Holland Honeyeater, Princes Highway, Berwick, 30 Oct 2016

New Holland Honeyeaters on the lookout for trouble

New Holland Honeyeater, Princes Highway, Berwick, 30 Oct 2016

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New Holland Honeyeater, Princes Highway, Berwick, 30 Oct 2016

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Brown Goshawk, Princes Highway, Berwick, 30 Oct 2016

Brown Goshawk in a large nearby tree, watching all the local bird action.

Battle of the birdbath

While visiting my folks on Willowind farm in Moorooduc,  I noticed that the New Holland Honeyeaters were spending quite a bit of time in the bare bushes around the birdbath near the back door. When an Eastern Spinebill, a few Brown Thornbills and a White-eared Honeyeater stopped by for a drink or a quick bath, they were chased off by the New Hollands. They can be an aggressive species often fighting with similar sized honeyeaters over a territory or a temporary food source but I have not seen them defend a water source before. There is a bit of water around the local area and even a dam nearby but the birds would have to travel through open unprotected areas. It shows the importance of supplying a protected clean water source for small birds. It also provides a great location to photograph the birds when they come into drink and bathe.

New Holland Honeyeater, Willowind Farm, Moorooduc, Victoria

New Holland Honeyeater, Willowind Farm, Moorooduc, Victoria

New Holland Honeyeater, Willowind Farm, Moorooduc, Victoria

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New Holland Honeyeater, Willowind Farm, Moorooduc, Victoria

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White-eared Honeyeater, Willowind Farm, Moorooduc, Victoria

White-eared Honeyeater – by placing a rock into a deeper birdbath it allows the bird to bathe from the rock. They need a way to hop out onto the edge again after quick dunk.

White-eared Honeyeater, Willowind Farm, Moorooduc, Victoria

A wary drink…

New Holland Honeyeater, Willowind Farm, Moorooduc, Victoria

Chasing off the other species…

New Holland Honeyeater, Willowind Farm, Moorooduc, Victoria

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The Common and not so Common…

New Holland Honeyeaters dominate the formal parts of the Cranbourne Botanical Gardens. They are generally easy to get a nice image of but it can be much more time consuming trying to get a shot with a bit of personality. Many of the native plants are flowering at the moment so there are good opportunities to find an ideal bush with nectar filled flowers and wait for a Honeyeater to turn up. Many times they land on a high point behind you, you notice, you spin around and it takes off, then you curse yourself as you realise you just missed the shot that was right in front of you. I recently visited with a few bird photography friends and we had a challenging time attempting to find “the” shot – a never ending quest. It seems harder to get a good shot, that you are happy with, of a fairly common subject while often we seem happier with average shots of a rarer subject.

New Holland Honeyeater, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens,

New Holland Honeyeater, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

New Holland Honeyeater, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens,

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New Holland Honeyeater, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens,

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Olive Backed Oriole, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

Olive Backed Oriole, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens – a rare bird for me, only seen a few times before. 

Bathing in a puddle

There is nothing like a nice afternoon bath in a small fresh puddle – perfect temperature, perfect depth. This New Holland Honeyeater was one of several birds that made quick flights into the water. After a quick dip and a splash around it would take off to a nearby branch to groom and then back into the water again. Bathing, grooming and keeping the feathers in good condition are extremely important to birds. It is fun and challenging to try and take decent images when the opportunity arises…

Bathing New Holland Honeyeater VI, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens,

Bathing New Holland Honeyeater, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens,

Bathing New Holland Honeyeater VI, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens,

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Bathing New Holland Honeyeater VI, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens,

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Bathing New Holland Honeyeater VI, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens,

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Bathing New Holland Honeyeater VI, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens,

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Bathing New Holland Honeyeater VI, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens,

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Honeyeaters hanging in the Gardens

The Australian Garden is located at Cranbourne and is part of the Royal Botanic Gardens. It is dedicated to Australian plants and landscapes and displays the various regions of Australia and its native plants. A great place to take visitors. It has large formal created gardens and larger areas of open natural parkland, woodlands, heathlands and even wetlands. It has many species of birds and quite a few Black or Swamp Wallabies as well as Wombats and Echidnas. I have visited a few times in the last couple of weeks. The previous Post at this site was about the Bandicoots that I had photographed. [I have since found out that the Bandicoot without the tail and the healed scars is called Stumpy and is a regular at the Stringybark Picnic area.

Australian Gardens, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens,

Australian Garden, Royal Botanical Gardens, Cranbourne – red centre section

Black Fronted Dotterel

Black Fronted Dotterel – a pair were working the waters edge along one of the ponds

By far the most abundant bird in the formal part of the Garden is the New Holland Honeyeater. Due to their numbers and ready food source available with the flowering Australian natives they are a great target for taking photos.

New Holland Honeyeater

New Holland Honeyeater

New Holland Honeyeater

New Holland Honeyeater

New Holland Honeyeater

New Holland Honeyeater

New Holland Honeyeater

New Holland Honeyeater on a standard weeping Grevillea.

New Holland Honeyeater

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New Holland Honeyeater

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New Holland Honeyeaters

A pair of New Holland Honeyeaters – spring was definitely in the air…

Sunbaking at Williamstown’s Jawbone

A recent  Port Phillip Birders day trip to several south western birding sites started with a morning stop at Williamstown and the Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve. It is a favourite spot of mine with many  resident bird species with quite a few drop-ins and seasonal visitors. The wetland lagoons are narrow and accessible. It makes for good photographic opportunities. It is a very handy location for beginner birders as the birds are generally used to people passing nearby and don’t panic and fly away. It is where I started to learn more about the waders and coastal shorebirds. On this occasion it was cool and quite windy but we still managed to clock up over 50 species and take a few nice pics. The highlight was a group of 16 or so Brown Quail sunning and grooming themselves along one of the main paths. I have often seen Brown Quail here but not close and not so many. The images below show just how well camouflaged they can be – they just blend into the dry brown grass. When spooked a bit they jump up and scurry off into deeper cover. I have still yet to see one fly.
Brown Quail, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

Brown Quail, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

Brown Quail, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

Well camouflaged amongst the dry grass

Brown Quail, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

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Another highlight was a New Holland Honeyeater that seemed happy to ignore us and allow a close approach for photos. It spent 20 minutes hunting for insects from a few perches close to the path.

New Holland Honeyeater, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

New Holland Honeyeater

New Holland Honeyeater, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

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New Holland Honeyeater, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve

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A winter’s feast at the You Yangs

Following on from yesterday’s You Yangs post – The parasitic Mistletoe is also fruiting and the tiny Mistletoebirds are having a feast on the new fruit. One of the highlights of our photography expedition was watching the behaviour and skills of a few Mistletoebirds as they worked the Mistletoe bushes on the various gum trees. They would select an attached fruit bud and carefully remove its cap and pull out the fruit. It would not just eat the bullet shaped fruit, it would squeeze and twist several times and then when the fruit had released its sticky white secretion, the birds would then swallow it. The Mistletobird has a fast digestion and processes the fruit in an amazing time (4min to 25min). We watched as one did excrete a seed and did so slowly and seemingly with purpose. In doing a bit of research on mistletoe I found a picture where a Painted Honeyeater actually has to pull out the fruit seed from its vent as the white liquid is very sticky. This made sense as our Mistletoebird spent a bit of time on the branch wiggling about and when it moved away there was a little mound of white secretion and the seed pods stuck to the branch. This is how the mistletoe attaches to the host branch. In this case the seed wont germinate successfully as it was still located on the Mistletoe bush. The birds we photographed were very focussed and did not seem to mind 4 blokes only a few metres away clicking away with cameras. They kept an eye on us but were not at all nervous and one spent a few minutes sunning itself. We took hundreds of shots of the little birds.

At one point a New Holland Honeyeater flew into the mistletoe bush and started to chase off the female Mistletoebird. After a flurry of wings and loud calls, each bird flew off in different directions but our little friend came back for an encore and after a few more pics we left her in peace.

Mistletoebird, You Yangs

Mistletoebird, You Yangs

Mistletoebird, You Yangs

Squeezing the seed pod/fruit

Mistletoebird, You Yangs

Spending a few moments and using the branch to remove the stick seed pod excretion.

Mistletoebird, You Yangs

Mistletoe bird excretion with a few visible seeds stuck to the branch.

Mistletoebird, You Yangs

Mistletoebird

Mistletoebird, You Yangs

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New Holland Honeyeater

New Holland Honeyeater

New Holland Honeyeater

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Mistletoebird, You Yangs

Mistletoe bird back again

Mistletoebird, You Yangs

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