Cape Chatter 50 comes to you as us Victorians endure COVID Lockdown 5.0. The lockdown has coincided with some pretty average weather so opportunities to get out and undertake some exercise with the camera has been limited. So again, nature in the home garden habitat has kept me engaged. I did manage one decent stroll with the camera and came away with a few snaps of some of our resident small birds, and living near the wetlands and creek line has allowed me to keep an eye on the comings and goings amongst our freshwater birds. Fellow resident Joe Spano has also been fine-tuning his photographic skills in The Cape garden habitats, and passed on to me for inclusion in this Chatter some lovely shots of the territorial Little Wattlebird among some grevillea.
Well, we are pretty much in the dead of winter here at The Cape and bird observations have been limited … as has the photography opportunities given the wind and showery weather. It is really only those hardy souls of the avian world that are about … our permanent dwellers so to speak … with the occasional visitor re-appearing. Since last Chatter, there are signs of a pick up in activity with some “duck-after-duck activity’ going on, some Grey Fantails returning, and just to prove me wrong, ‘Gabi’s Grebe’ moved back to the big central wetland despite the presence of the waterfowl. There goes my theory! One highlight of the past week was another sighting of a beautiful pair of Black-shouldered Kite, on the stags in the creek line, this time juveniles. And to top it all off, thanks to an alert by resident Richard Keech, an uncommon sighting of a Southern Right Whale lounging just off Cape Paterson for an hour or so.
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.