The calendar date for the first day of Spring means little to the creatures of Flowerdale. Mid- way through August, insects become more noticeable and with them the return of the honeyeaters. The New Holland Honeyeater frequents our garden throughout the year but within a couple of weeks the Brown- headed, Yellow- faced and White- eared honeyeaters have all joined the fray to dine on insects and nectar from early spring flowers.
Another migrant returning has been the Black Faced Cuckoo- Shrike. All the cuckoos are back with the knowledge that their hosts are beginning to nest. We have the full compliment this year, Horsfields, Shining Bronze, Fan- tailed and Pallid cuckoo. Last year the Fan-tailed cuckoo seemed to be around in numbers, while we haven’t had Pallid Cuckoos in numbers since the 2009 fires. This spring the Pallid Cuckoo is back in strength. These arrivals usually see the departure of the Robins to higher altitude and moist gullies.
Spring also heralds rapid plant growth and is usually the time I take to the hedge trimmer. Getting stuck in to the Westringia that shelters my vegie garden from southerlies, all was going well, until…. a tiny little bird flicked out of the hedge narrowly missing the trimmer blade. When I looked at the trimmings on the ground, I found the dome shaped nest of the little bird, slightly damaged with its entrance cut off by the blade. The nest contained two eggs and one that had spilled on the ground. None appeared to be cracked and after careful insertion of the nest back into the hedge, I left the scene in the hope the parents would return and settle on the eggs again.
Several days later I was able to observe the birds coming and going from the nest and have seen them feeding the occupants. Watching and listening to the call of one mate to another, I am identifying these little birds as Brown Thornbills (Acanthiza pusilla – roughly translated as ‘tiny thorn bush dweller’). This species is common on our farm all year round and widespread in the southern half of Australia. They forage on insects in the lower to middle storey of woodland areas. The young develop very quickly and I expect they will leave the nest in a couple of weeks.