There has been plenty happening in our natural world since last issue of Cape Chatter. Highlights include the hatching of two very vulnerable Hooded Plover chicks at 2nd Surf Beach, the break out of flowering gum (Corymbia ficifolia) which is attracting a range of birds including Musk Lorikeet, another sighting of a stunning native Blue-banded Bee, and a good result with our last Latham’s Snipe count for the season. And just like clockwork, our humorous Galahs have returned from their breeding activities and are back in full flight around The Cape.
It has been an interesting summer period so far. While much of the Australian nation has been receiving good amounts of rainfall, our stretch of coastal hinterland has been lacking in precipitation and was starting to “brown-off” until some good rainfall last week. I do not think I have seen The Cape so dry in my two and half years here and it was evident by the lack of Eastern Grey Kangaroo activity around the estate and the dearth of green grass over the last several weeks. Maybe the rise in casual visitors walking and riding and construction activity in the final housing stage had something to do with it as well! So it was most pleasing to see a large number of these beauties feeding and lounging around on the new green grass of the oval and at “Green Beach” – their favourite rest-up area—last evening. There were at least 40 kangaroos on the oval (enough for two footy teams) and another 20 or so further away grazing. A wonderful spectacle!
For various reasons, I have put the tele-lens away over the last couple of weeks and concentrated on macro shots of very small creatures (invertebrates) in the home garden as the weather warms up and the winds ease off. In particular, I have been focussed on native bees, and managed to come away with some nice observations in the garden. Just when I gave the Little Corellas a big rap in the last Chatter, they all up and left. Maybe it coincided with a change in their food source or it could have been the arrival of the big tonka toys working on the civil works of the last stage development of The Cape. The place does not seem the same without their raucous noise and play!
Cape Chatter is going to take a breather over the festive season and will return in early 2022. Enjoy the festive season.
For those of us who are fortunate to be living at The Cape, the raucous noise and amusing antics of the Little Corella flock can keep one occupied for unlimited hours of entertainment. The flock of 100 or so birds has been prominent recently, moving about the estate between feeding grounds, taking over various houses under construction, just hanging about playing, flying out over the nearby Bass Strait (what is going on there?) before returning to start all over again. I spent a few minutes watching them play, feed and preen in the late afternoon recently and managed to capture some of their behaviours with the camera at reasonably close quarters.
The lovely little Black-fronted Dotterel has returned to The Cape, a bit later than usual. A pair have taken up residence in their normal spot along the central creek line—they move up and down the creek and among the waterholes but can also be seen on the grassy edges and mulched garden beds either side. These birds prefer open habitat so they can see any threats approaching, so after a chat with The Cape Development and Landscape team, modified plantings have occurred in the creek line to give them some more open areas rather than a wall of sedges and rushes. Many thanks to the team for modifying this part of the creek line habitat.
There is so much to love about spring time, in particular the emergence of new life, the next generations, the awakenings of nature from hibernation and the arrival of migratory birds. Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen the re-appearance of reptiles small and large, the variable orchestration of frog calls, plenty of nesting activity and new hatchings amongst our birds, along with glimpses of some long distance birds which have arrived from many miles away—some intra-continental and others inter-continental. And the diversity and numbers of invertebrates and important pollinators is on the rise in the gardens.
You do not have to go to the west of Australia (I wonder when they will let us back there anyway!!) to see some stunning evening colours, as Cape Paterson can serve it up every now and then. Last week we had some beautiful evening colours brightening up the sky with swirls of gold, magenta, orange, blues … absolutely beautiful. An Aroura Australis was about as well but the clouds dampened that expectation a little. Drop in some good spring rain and it’s all happening here, and nature is loving it.
For residents or visitors to The Cape, there is a small swale running alongside the 2nd Surf exit track near the off-leash dog park. It looks a pretty innocuous drain, but it is turning up some wonderful delights from the plant world– the most recent discovery being the amazing super plant Azolla. Last year it was the carnivorous Fairies Aprons (Utricularian) on show. The swale takes water from the eastern side of the ancient sand dune ridge that runs north-south alongside Sunlight Blvd, feeding a small constructed wetland along the way and finally filtering into a drainage line in the southeast sector of the estate where a fantastic natural wetland amongst retained habitat is evolving—a favoured spot of the vulnerable Latham’s Snipe which migrates from northern Japan. Are you following me … just like the water!! And just to top it off, the shy and threatened little waterfowl, the Lewin’s Rail, has been heard and recorded calling from that nearby small constructed wetland, having previously been recorded in the south east natural wetland a month ago. Further proof that biodiversity sensitive urban design and ecological restoration is working at The Cape.
We are nearing the end of the first month of spring and there certainly is a hint of winter still in the air. Some pretty average weather, strong coastal winds and the occasional Cape Paterson squall (with some hail) has certainly curtailed photo expeditions, but there has still been lots to observe … and ponder. Oh, and throw an earthquake into the mix as well! Early season nesting has begun both with land based birds and those very hardy ones down on the exposed surf beaches and rocky platforms, but the weather may have interrupted some start-ups.
The last issue of Cape Chatter focused on some of the work being done by the Development Team and The Cape community in making a positive contribution to the natural world within the estate through bio-diverse sensitive urban design and citizen science projects. Last Saturday, just over 30 owners and residents gathered throughout the day (in accordance with COVID restrictions) to complete the first phase of Project KOALA with 600 plantings in 12 plots toward habitat restoration. And, right on cue, today, the first reported koala sighting in The Cape occurred with a healthy and beautiful looking animal on the roam in some Coastal Banksia trees in the north east corner of the estate. Makes all those sore joints and achy muscles worthwhile—we just need this Koala to head toward the habitat areas!