Last week I enjoyed a walk at the Blowhole along “Sailor’s Creek” with my mum’s poodle cross, Valli. It was one of those magic days with a bright blue, cloudless sky and not a whiff of wind, with all the hallmarks of True Spring on show – flowers, insects and beautiful birdsong.
While the wildflower season has been in full swing and is starting to wind up in Castlemaine and surrounds, up here in the higher altitudes we are just getting going! Bright yellow Yam Daisies and Billy Buttons contrast with the last flush of Pink Bells, and the Creamy Candles are just about to peak. This year white Daisies are abundant along the path – these flowers look so incongruous in a bush setting as they are the classic white and yellow of your introduced garden variety of daisy – but these guys are native!
In the last couple of years, I have been getting into iNaturalist in a big way. This online citizen science platform allows you to upload your sightings from phone or computer, and then a computer algorithm and fellow nature nuts help you with identification. I thought this daisy might have been an Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) but a couple of helpful folks known as Michael1922 and Jennyghct reckon it’s a Tall Daisy (Brachyscome diversifolia). My “homework” is to get a pic of the back of the flower head to see if it is hairy. Now this is the kind of distraction and addition to the “to-do list” that is most welcome!
Another feature of True Spring is that bird breeding starts to peak. I disturbed not one, but two different Spotted Pardalotes zipping out of their nesting burrows in the ground, and the warm air was filled with their musical “sleep-dee-dee” call, which is surprisingly loud for such a tiny bird.
Another loud and constant call was the rollicking call and “ee chong pip” of the Rufous Whistler. These handsome bush birds are partial spring-summer migrants. While some individuals overwinter locally, many arrive from northern Australia in September to breed. The males feature bold black, white and rufous red colours, while the females are a more subtle wash of browns and greys with striations on the breast. Like many Aussie songbirds, both males and females call.
Other distinctive bird calls at this time of year from our spring-summer visitors include the “orry-ole orry-ole” of the Olive-backed Oriole, the “kek-kek-kek” of the Sacred Kingfisher and, of course, numerous cuckoos! I could hear the mournful descending trill of the Fan-tailed Cuckoo, but also ringing out at the moment are the rising “pee pee pee pee” of the tiny Shining Bronze-cuckoo, and the descending call of the Horsfeld’s Bronze-cuckoo.
It is a beautiful time of year – especially with lovely La Nina gracing us with so much life and abundance!
Tanya Loos is a local naturalist, author and environmental consultant who loves to work in the environmental not-for-profit sector. She is the author of “Daylesford Nature Diary” available from her website or from Paradise Books in Vincent Street, Daylesford.