Well, the monstrous River Red Gum in our next door neighbours' yard has turned out to be an invaluable refuge for yet another vulnerable species of bird. Today I finally solved the riddle of a certain call that has been bugging me in the neighbourhood for the last week or so. I've heard it calling from all directions around our house but by the time I scoot back inside and grab the binoculars, it's long gone. But today I took the bin's outside with me while I pushed Ivy on her swing...good thinking, Dad! I took the camera too but for some reason it decided today would be a good day to start creaking, moaning and not working properly (so excuse the slightly fuzzy pic's...).
Hmmmm...a real pity because the mystery call belonged to....
Black-chinned Honeyeater Melithreptus gularis
One Black-chinned Honeyeater!
This is like winning bird lotto, again! A tough one to find in South Australia, especially in this part of the state. I did a bit of research and found that there have been odd reports of them coming into suburbia, more recently in the suburbs south of Adelaide. I also found a record of them being seen/heard at Altona Land Care Reserve in the Barossa Valley....not too far away from here. A paucity of sightings in recent years has lead to the conservation status of the Black-chinned Honeyeater (Melithreptus gularis) being determined as 'vulnerable' here in South Australia. This is also evidence of how valuable just one large, suburban tree can be for our Avifauna...just as long as it's the RIGHT tree! I watched this little bird flit in and around the outer canopy of the Eucalypt for close to an hour, taking refuge when pursued by Red Wattlebirds and apparently feeding on lerps under the cover of thicker patches of foliage. This tree is like a beacon for birds in our area, it provides shelter and food as birds move from the riparian habitat of Dead Man's Pass out east toward the northern edge of Para Wirra Recreation Park, Sandy Creek Conservation Park and Altona Landcare Reserve. I hope to see the tree stick around for many years to come!
It's a worry that I spend more time peering into my neighbours yards with binoculars than my own...so far not a single police visit or half house brick tossed at my nerdy, gawking goggles! But there's a sad lack of taller native trees in our yard to give passing birds a place to perch, do a quick reconnoiter before dropping in for lunch or a quick drink. The previous owners of our place loved all things European, I spent the first months of our stay here hacking at Roses, pulling Palms and shredding a Birch tree. Nothing but Sparrows, Doves and Starlings utilise our enormous Golden Elm, a native to the much colder climes of the Northern Hemisphere. This, conversely, is evidence that plant species with local provenance are vital if we are to work towards gradually reducing the impact of habitat loss in the outer suburban and settled areas of our state. Hopefully my slowly maturing plantings of Eucalypt and Acacia will remedy this situation over the coming years and provide more shelter, food and nesting opportunities for some of these more vulnerable species.
...having said all of that, here's a shot of it in our Elm tree....hrrrmph!