Bell Miner – manorina melanophrys

Upon arrival at Potoroo Palace, visitors often remark on the tinkling sound in the trees around us and more than once someone has shared with us the anxiety they have experienced driving along in their car with windows open and wondering what the worrying noise was emitting from their vehicle, only to realize with some relief that it was actually coming from the trees! It was in fact the song of the Bell Miner.

If there was a prize for achieving one of the most distinct sound tracks to Potoroo Palace, it should go to the Bell Miner (Manorina melanophrys). Other common names for this bird include “bellbird” and “bell mynah”. They are often more frequently heard than seen but at Potoroo Palace they can be more visible (and more audible!) as they are very used to people and much less frightened.

It is a sad fact that the Bell Miner, although a native species; a honeyeater, it has acquired an unpopular reputation in recent times. Many native species of birds are displaced by the behaviour of Bell Miners defending their food suppliers, psyllids which exude a protective sugary covering known as lerps, on the leaves. They farm the psyllids and just relish the lerps which are to be found on eucalyptus leaves. The psyllids love to munch on these leaves and the Bell Miners chase away and will sometimes kill other birds which would normally be feeding on the psyllids and keeping bellminerthe health of the trees in balance.

The “Pretty Garden,” leading away from the cafe was purposely developed as a sanctuary for smaller birds to be protected from the Bell Miners. Lots of thick cover was created with shrubs providing a protective layer for smaller birds such as Red-browed Finches, Scrub Wrens, Whipbirds and Superb Blue Wrens. This is a beautiful, shady and peaceful garden with a pathway meandering through from the cafe to the Potoroo Train Station and “Elvis” our free roaming Tammar Wallaby can sometimes be spied upon keeping cool in the undergrowth there.

The dieback of our forests is often blamed on these much maligned birds and as healthy forests become fewer in number and size, the Bell Miners do accordingly increase in numbers. They prefer to dwell on the fringes of forests and unfortunately our forest fringes are ever increasing as more wild spaces are lost.  Disturbed environments inevitably lead to out of balance ecosystems and therefore the species which constitute them such as the Bell Miner. When the recovery of our forests becomes priority then balance can return naturally.

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Our emu chicks have grown up!

Our emu chicks have grown up! These 2 are  enjoying a bath. They love to get muddy. Afterwards they shake themselves as a dog would.

emus - Jade Harris (3)

Having a good wallow and cooling off on a hot day.

 

 

 

Violet, Purple Swamphen

Tura Beach Country Club rang one of the wildlife groups to complain about a Purple Swamphen which was jumping on tables and taking food from customers. They wanted it removed.

And so Violet arrived at the Sanctuary.

At first she shared the Café Pen with the potoroos, and roosted high in a Kangaroo Apple Tree at night.

Then she started appearing each night at the house where two keepers, Tom and Warran, were staying. She seemed to like human company. In the morning, Tom would find the hole through which she had escaped, and mend it. It soon became obvious that she was making the holes herself in the black netting which covered the top of the pen.

We discovered that she had been reared by a human foster parent, and so was more drawn to humans than to other birds.

Now she lives in a much bigger pen with wire over the top.

She runs to every visitor who comes past, and likes to have her head scratched. She screeches when the train goes round.

Purple Swamphens, in the wild, live in family groups. Many females may lay in one nest and take turns in incubating the eggs. When the chicks hatch, they are taken out to forage, usually by a young family member, and kept warm at night by other family members. They are found in wetlands in our local area.