The end of the 2020-21 FY (EOFY) coincides nicely with the period of The Cape fauna observation list which was started in late July 2019. A lot has changed in that time with further areas of the estate developed for housing and extensive habitat areas developed which are now beginning to provide shelter and food for our local fauna. Our bird list is up to 111 species, we have 8 frog species identified and all the well known Australian mammals are about in varying numbers, including identified bandicoot diggings. They are positive signs for the expansion of habitat of The Cape’s natural world—a world that was previously degraded farming land.
This very small honeyeater has eluded me since starting Cape Chatter, but yesterday I managed to get a few decent photos of it feeding in my home garden. It is the stunning Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorynchus tenuirostris). The spinebill is a winter visitor from the high country to the established gardens of Cape Paterson and has been observed along the boundary of established Cape and The Cape estate. I was particularly pleased not only to see and photograph it but also because of the fact it travelled some distance to our garden to feed on the nectar from a couple of flowering Grevillea Mount Tambaritha we planted just a few months back. This is another great sign that the garden habitats at The Cape are going to provide great food and shelter for small birds and animals as they develop.
For obvious reasons, I have not ventured too far from the home in the past week. An unusual weather pattern for this time of the year, namely a deep low from the east-southeast, brought a couple of days of very strong winds, rain and chilly temperatures. I managed to get a few photos around the garden and its structures in between the vagaries of the weather. From the safety and warmth of my home, I often wonder how our animals cope with this weather and how they seem to be able to anticipate the change coming and bunker down accordingly. And when the bad weather clears, they are out and active again as if nothing had happened. They are so adaptable and intuitive.
Birdlife in the coastal bush, streetscapes and open spaces around The Cape is a bit quiet at the moment. The usual suspects are about—the Galah flock continues to keep me amused in these restricted times; the Magpies and Little Ravens are working the streets and building sites; the Little and Red Wattlebirds are busy feeding in the Coastal Banksia; the calls of Grey Butcherbird are prominent; and I have seen the occasional intrusion of New Holland Honeyeater and Willie Wagtail into the home garden along with a flock of five Eastern Rosella working the estate.
For us Victorians, it is not such a “super” time with the latest COVID lockdown keeping us contained for the next week. And to make matters worst, the good old Cape Paterson ocean cloud and squally weather moved in taking away any chance of getting a really good look at the “super” moon. I did manage to get a handheld shot of a rising moon a week ago so that will have to suffice! Best I can do given the circumstances.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have done some wanderings down to the dunes overlooking 2nd Surf Beach to see if the leading Humpback Whales have begun checking out the inshore waters of Cape Paterson on their migration north. Nothing yet, but they shouldn’t be far away—last year we saw our first ‘breach’ around the 24th May. On the way to the lookout, I was fascinated by the territorial and feeding activities of our local honeyeaters in the Coastal Banksia.
In addition to a “super’ moon, it was a real mix of weather this past week. We had some of the most glorious sunny days since I have lived at The Cape as a big high pressure system sat over the region, followed by a night of thunderstorms and of course the usual cold, southerly change to bring us back to earth. Really big high and low tides are leaving their mark on the beaches and the loud sound of cracking waves was distinctive on the windless evenings.
This Issue, Number 41, is the first anniversary edition of the ‘Cape Chatter’ blog. To celebrate the anniversary, I have refreshed the blog—I hope you like it. In recognition of this milestone, the lead story is about the skills of some of our talented residents who have come together to produce a wonderful, enduring artwork installation that represents our beautiful natural environment. Enjoy.
Last Thursday evening I ventured back into the ‘wild south west’ of The Cape at the ‘golden hour’ – the wind was calm and the temperature about 25 degrees – a stunning evening. The bird life was amazing – so frenetic that I did not know where to point the camera! Lots of small and medium birds everywhere feeding on all sorts of invertebrates. I returned Friday evening for the same walk at the same time but with a different weather pattern unfolding, and saw only one, yes one, small bird. Where did they all go? And do they know more about weather systems than the technically advanced BOM and know when to charge up and bunker down before the bad weather hits?
I thought I would go for a walk along the edge of the coastal bushland on the southern edge of The Cape a couple of days ago to see what was around … and I was not disappointed. Although the birdlife was quiet – we are in a transitional period at the moment – some interesting critters appeared. On the bird front, I did not see one Silvereye which were prolific over summer … they are migratory birds and have taken off, but there were lots of Grey Fantails about along with the Superb Fairy-wren!