Since arriving in Spring Valley Road, Flowerdale seventeen years ago, Heather and I have taken a very keen interest in revegetating and restoring our landscape. The hill country which forms 50% of our property has been fenced off and thousands of local trees and shrubs planted over the years. As the landscape has been improved we have noticed many bird species visiting or residing on our block. We have sighted 108 native bird species in that time. Some have been rare sightings like the Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata). Other birds have been infrequent.
Up until 2 years ago we had only seen the King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) on our property in 2002. This parrot is always present foraging along the King Parrot Creek that runs through the Flowerdale Valley. The Creek in fact was named by Hume and Hovell on December 7th 1824, after sighting king parrots during their exploration through the area . It seems in the last 2 years that the King Parrots have been moving up the Spring Creek and taking advantage of fruit trees and native revegetation in our valley. It is now a more frequent sighting announcing its arrival with a high pitched whistle. When feeding it is silent, lest it be discovered destroying your favourite fruits. Losing all my pomegranates was worth the company of these strikingly beautiful and relatively fearless birds.
Our annual platypus survey continues to grow in popularity with 22 participants up from 19 last year. Members of the King Parrot Creek Environment Group took observation positions upstream from Moore’s Reserve and Strath Creek Landcarers positioned themselves downstream. The survey involves recording observations over a one hour period and making notes every 10 minutes. There were observations that varied from King Parrots and Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and fish a’ jumpin’ to 1 platypus sighting and 1 Native Water Rat (Rakali). The water level was down on last year after a very dry summer and may account for the lack of platypus sightings compared to the 5 observed last year. Families are a welcome part of the survey; young Max was very keen to make the most of the experience and after falling in the Creek returned home with the souvenir of a Bull Ant sting for his evening out.
As darkness descended on the last day of summer through the towering manna gums of the Coonan’s Reserve, participants gathered to collate results and enjoy a beverage and snack before a spotlight walk through the bush. A feature of Coonan’s Reserve is a predominance of tree violet understory granting safe cover to small birds for roosting. Several silvereyes and a yellow faced honey eater were seen huddled up within arms reach. This year we failed to spot any sugar gliders or brush tailed possums but we did find one ring tailed possum whilst foraging micro bats frequently flew through the spotlight beam. The night was clear and the stars brightening as we departed the Reserve around 10 p.m.
This weekend, members of Strath Creek Landcare will be doing their part in a Clean up Australia Day activity at Strath Creek. Our King Parrot Creek Environment Group engaged in a clean up day on the Australia Day Public holiday. We managed to pick up and bag almost a tandem trailer load of rubbish in the 3km between the Hazeldene Store and the Flowerdale Hotel, before enjoying a BBQ on the banks of the Creek back at the Store. By the time we had finished it was 35 degrees, so we will probably look at running this activity next year in March.
Now I’m REALLY embarrassed. After all the fuss made recently about the existence of the Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) (click HERE to view), the creature after which the local creek and hence this environmental group was named, guess what should show up at our place for the first time ever. Yep, the very same.
Mr and Mrs were not very scared and were obviously looking for some hand-outs for dinner. Needless to say they left with nothing (we don’t feed wildlife) but they did brighten up an otherwise dreary, rainy, seven-degree day.
I AM a believer. Long live the King!