December 2015 in Meldale

Saturday December 26, 2015

[From the trip December 2015 in Meldale]

December 2015 in Meldale has been very dry and even the storms we have had have dropped little rain. In October we joined the Australian Birdlife and Birds in Backyards bird survey and recorded over 100 bird species in the month it was on. Since then we have had 2 more new species, Bush- hens and Channel billed cuckoos.  The cuckoos came for the figs from the Morton Bay fig trees which have been prolific this year. We are hoping the bush hens will stay but the cuckoos are exceedingly noisy and sound more like howler monkeys than birds so I will not be upset if they don’t hang around.  Many of our sacred kingfishers that came in November left this year after making nest holes in the usual arboreal termite nests but without laying eggs.  We have a big flock of kookaburras nesting and they might have chased them off as we saw some fights occurring.  We have a solitary pair of forest kingfishers who nested in a termite nest that had large holes knocked through it by the kookaburras but they used a new hole at the side. Yesterday their chick fledged and I caught a photo as it sat in the tree just outside its nest hole. It was noisily asking to be fed which made it easier to locate.
    
The dragonflies have been busy circling the dams and staking out territory. Today the commonest were Palemouth (Brachydiplax denticauda) which are the smallest blue dragonfly in Meldale. They were over 50 on the main dam. Some showed the battle scars on their wings from fighting to keep their spot. Other species with a good showing were Australian Emeralds and Tiger, Water Prince and Flutterwings. Yellow Striped Flutterwing are much more common than the smaller Graphic Flutterwing. Other common dragons seen were the skimmers both red( firey) and blue but as yet no black-headed skimmers. Red Arrows are back this year but were rare last year and the most common dragonfly in 2013.   Chalky perchers were the most common dragonfly by a long way last year but so far I have seen none. I am sure these fluctuations would tell us about what type of summer we will have if we had enough data.
A rare sighting of a Long-tailed Duskdarter was the highlight for December although not the best of photos as it was very shaded where it was located amongst the trees.

The dragonflies capture native bees and other insects that come to visit the flowering plants on and around the dams but they don’t have it all their own way.  The resident birds also have a feast once the dragonfly numbers increase with the rainbow bee-eaters very good at it.

Location

Wildlife

Land Birds 6 species
Plain Bush-hen (Amaurornis olivacea) 2 new to Meldale garden
Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa) 2
Forest Kingfisher (Todiramphus macleayii) 2
Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) 2
Black-faced Monarch (Monarcha melanopsis) 1
Channel-billed Cuckoo (Scythrops novaehollandiae) 1 New to Meldale garden
Dragonflies 9 species
Brachydiplax denticauda 50 By far the most common species today
Ictinogomphus australis 15 Last year we saw none this year they are every couple of metres along the dams
Australian Emerald (Hemicordulia australiae) 10 very difficult to count as they never rest over the dams
Rhyothemis phyllis 10 There were swarms in the trees in addition to those on the dam
Hydrobasileus brevistylus 3 Hard to count as none landed
Rhyothemis graphiptera 2 Not a common dragonfly in Meldale
Rhodothemis lieftincki 2 Only a few were on the main dam
Zyxomma petiolatum 1 Rare in Meldale
Common Glider (Trapezostigma loewii) 1 Usually a copmmon sighting in Meldale

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Written by

Helen Leonard