No picnic at Hanging Rock
After visiting Mt. Macedon, John took us to the picnic area called Hanging Rock. This volcanic outcrop was made famous in the movie Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) directed by Peter Weir and based on the novel by Joan Lindsay. The film tells of the mysterious disappearance of a teacher and three girls while on a picnic at Hanging Rock. The story is told in such a way that you think it is based on fact, but the author never indicated whether any part of it was based on true events.
We decided to take the stroll to the top, but found that near the top it is more strenuous than merely strolling. I forgot to take any provisions with me (which was silly of me, I know) and my sugar levels dropped dramatically and so I didn’t quite make it to the top. That’s the trouble with diabetes (sigh). A lovely ice cream from the cafe at the base helped to correct the problem.
Because I had never been to this spot before I was more interested in taking photos of the rock formation – which were spectacular – rather than take photos of birds. I did manage to get the poor photo above of a Striated Thornbill. I also saw some Brown Thornbills.
There were a few trees flowering so the honeyeaters were out in force, including Red Wattlebirds, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, and White-eared Honeyeaters. This was the only time I recorded the White-eared HE on the trip.
There was another Flame Robin to enjoy, as well as a Grey Shrike-thrush and many Superb Fairy-wrens. I also heard a treecreeper but didn’t get to see it.
And no – we didn’t find Miranda.
Flame Robin, Mt. Macedon, Victoria
While staying with friends in Gisborne in January, John took us on a tour of the district. One of the first stops was Mt. Macedon, a short distance north east of the town. We’d been there several times before, but I always enjoy this lovely spot. On previous occasions I had been disappointed with the lack of birds and this time was not much better. In fact I only recorded five different species, including Australian Magpie, Striated Thornbill, Grey Shrike-thrush and White-throated Treecreeper. Not an inspiring list for twenty minutes of birding.
While walking back to the car from the War Memorial Cross of Remembrance at the lookout I saw a dull brown bird that looked like a female Flame Robin. I managed the photo above which shows her in a very nice pose. A few minutes later I was delighted to find the male in all of his colourful glory. I had to be patient to get him to pose nicely. He was flitting around all over the place looking for a tasty meal. I was very pleased with one of the shots I managed.
Flame Robins are widespread throughout south eastern Australia. They are found in eastern New South Wales, throughout Victoria and Tasmania in suitable habitat and in southern South Australia. Their preferred habitat includes woodlands, open forests, farmland, grasslands, scrubs, orchards, parks and gardens. They breed from August through to January and lay 3-4 eggs. The nest is a rough cup of bark, grass, webs, and moss and can be lined with animal hair or fur. It can be made in a tree cavity or tree fork or even in sheds.
Pizzey, G, and Knight, F, 1997: The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Sydney, Angus and Robertson.
Red Capped Robin
One of the delights of birding is to have close up views of some of the brilliant birds we have here in Australia. Today it was a male Red Capped Robin that caught my attention. I was quick to whip out the digital camera and begin stalking this brilliant bird. To be able to photograph this species showing its stunning red, white and black feathers in full sunlight is a sheer delight.
After ten minutes of trying to get close enough for a reasonable shot, the bird in question gave in and had pity on me. Either that or it was curious about this odd fellow with the funny thing in his hand. It came and sat on a branch about 2 metres from me! Wonderful.
The location of this close encounter was at the Pangarinda Arboretum at Wellington East, about 30km south of where I live in Murray Bridge. (The arboretum is about 90km SE of Adelaide.) Volunteers at the arboretum have never recorded this species there over the last 10 years of observations. The neighbours over the fence had never seen the species there either.