Sunday, September 25, 2011

Spring Continues Springing

It was not so long ago that I coined the expression Spring is Springing. I based it on the noticeable nesting activity of several resident species, such as the Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala and Torresian Crow Corvus orru. Above all, however, it was the return of the two friarbirds, the Noisy Friarbird Philemon corniculatus and, a little later, the Little Friarbird Philemon citreogularis. They have long been among the earliest heralds of approaching summer in this part of the world.

Thereafter I became bogged down in tests, marking and data collation. It left little time for serious birding or bird observations- although of course breakfast in bed, listening to the birds remained sacrosanct, as did the second, occasionally third, cup of tea on the east verandah looking out for birds.

That changed last week. Queensland schools went on their two-week spring vacation; I completed the last of the marking and data collation and suddenly had time for more birding.

Fay had already noted the arrival of the Olive-backed Oriole Oriolus sagittatus. That had been around 0630 on 19 September, the first week of the school holidays but I was already on the way to school [yes, some teachers do actually sacrifice their own time in the furtherance of children’s education] and missed it until the other day [25 September] when it deigned to call again in my presence.

The other day [24 September] we were strolling back from the dam, where we occasionally pick up the odd Australian Wood Duck Chenonetta jubata or White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae, or where, in the surrounding bush, we have recently begun to find our long-lost White-browed Scrubwren Sericornis frontalis, when we clearly heard the distinct call of an Australasian Figbird Sphecotheres vieilloti.

All these signs augured well for Allen Road.

On Saturday [24 September] we managed to venture forth, out into the wider South Burnett realm. Well, okay, merely a little over a kilometre from the front gate to The Nipple. I am not totally responsible for the appellation. Someone, some Council worker no doubt, has dumped a couple of cubic metres of gravel in the middle of a cleared patch off the Nanango-Maidenwell Road and, yes, for the whole world, it does have hints of a nipple amid an aureole. It wasn’t of course the pile of crushed stones that interested us, it was the adjacent woodland.

Here, again, the call of the Olive-backed Oriole was plain evidence that spring is springing up all around us. As we prepared to leave the Rainbow Bee-eater Merops ornatus called!

On Sunday [25 September] we dared a little further afield, to woodland bordering Tarong Energy property, where we not only heard the oriole but saw three scuttling about atop a tall tree. In the same area we picked up Leaden Flycatcher Myiagra rubecula, another species that tends to visit us in warmer times. But wait, there was more, a pair of Spangled Drongos Dicrurus bracteatus quietly whispering sweet nothings to each other out on a dead tree limb no more than a few metres from where Fay and I stood. They were so close we didn’t need our binoculars.

The final clue that spring is indeed here was when we called in at the Berlin Road bridge over the Meandu Creek. It has become a regular stopover point whenever we return home from that direction. Never mind the magnificent views of a pair of Pacific Baza Aviceda subcristata perched high above our heads or the glorious sight of a Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrocephalus out in the open on a dead tree limb it was the call of the Sacred Kingfisher Todirhamphus sanctus from across the other side of the creek that announced the definite arrival of the austral spring [austral spring officially opens on 1st September].

N.B. common species in bold black names denote summer migrants to this area.