Another spot we go for swimming and birdwatching is Bluepools, just out of Briagalong. A walk further upstream away from the picnic area and main swimming hole is a delight for both scenery and birds. At one point the further side of the riverbank is a sheer cliff drop. We were rapt to see the cliff ledges were home to a Peregrine Falcon family, yet nearly as exciting-for us anyway-were the colonies of both White-naped honeyeaters and Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters. We observed and heard them in the flowering acacias along the streambank and in the tops of various Eucalypt trees in the upper riparian zone.
|Gippsland Water Dragon juvenile, also spotted at Blue Pools, Freestone Creek|
Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater
Here's an excerpt from the lovely reply I received:
I was very pleased to receive such a detailed reply, particularly as it contained information on how to identify the sub-species. I went out that same day to observe what is most likely the gippslandicus sub-species of this honeyeater and attempt to capture some more photographs of them."...your observations come from areas that...are in the known gippslandicus subspecies range. Individuals of this subspecies can have a helmet; though, usually smaller than that of cassidix (Helmeted Honeyeaters). There is overlap in overall body size between small cassidix and large gippslandicus individuals. Other features that we look at while distinguishing between subspecies are more obscure and require a very good view of the bird. Adult HelmetedHoneyeaters have what we say is an distinct crown line - the gold colour of the head finishes abruptly and the olive-grey colour on the back 'takes over' - this occurs on the back of the head, near where the head joins the neck. However, in immatureHelmeted Honeyeaters and adult and immature individuals of the other 3 subspecies, the two colours merge gradually to produce an indistinct crown line. AdultHelmeted/Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters have red-brown eye colour, whereas, immatures of the various subspecies have chocolate brown eyes. We know that gippslandicus occur at Licola, near the junction of the Macalister and Wellington Rivers. So, the Blue pools/Briagolong birds are not far away from Licola (about 50km). The Tyers River/Wirilda birds are not far from known gippslandicus sites on the La Trobe River at Noojee and Willow Grove. Your photos generally show what appear to be gippslandicus, based on helmet size. The one bird that I thought looked more like cassidix than the other individuals was the photo showing the bird in the canopy of a eucalypt - possibly Manna Gum. The helmet did seem more pronounced and the colour of the bird richer yellow. But, I could not say for certain and in reality, it is more likely to be gippslandicus. Please send through some more photos if you take some more. I'd like to visit the sites one day. We have DNA-sampled many sites where there are gippslandicus individuals. But we have not visited the 2 sites you have been seeing the Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters. Thank you very much again Cindy for informing us of the birds you have been watching and your photos too. I guess at this stage we are saying that the birds are most likely to be of gippslandicus subspecies. I am interested to know if you see any signs of breeding too. Happy birding! Regards, Bruce. Bruce Quin Senior Scientist - Ornithology Helmeted Honeyeater Recovery Program. "
|feeding on nectar of Calistemon blossoms|
|such a shame the auto-focus in this photo captured the detail behind the bird, not the bird itself....|
|I'm watching you!|
|but I'll pretend to be part of the tree...|
|yes I'm looking right at you!|
|Various eucalypts and other vegetation in the riparian zone of the Tyers River, upstream of the Tyers Pumping Station. The birds are often in the top storey of these tall trees|