The main flow of the North American wood warbler migration has passed me by again and I have had to visit the far reaches of the globe to get my share of the colours of May. The New Holland Honeyeater, Phylidonyris novaehollandiae, is a sedentary bird so can be seen in its black, white and yellow, year round within its range. The nominate, was described from southeastern Australia. P.n. longirostris is from the southwest and P.n canescens may be seen on Tasmania. A couple of Island races exist on Kangaroo Is. and in the Bass Strait. The photos in this post are of the nominate form, from Royal National Park near Sydney.

SYD 11May13 New Holland Honeyeater 03

Honeyeaters are an Papuo/Australasian specialty with only one species crossing the Wallace Line west, to Bali. Along with Australian Chats, Wattlebirds, Myzomelas, Friarbirds, etc, they make up 178 species in the family Meliphagidae.  It will come as no surprise to find that they live primarily on nectar, collecting it from flower blossoms with long brush-tipped tongues, but they will also take insects, especially to boost their protein intake for breeding.

SYD 11May13 New HollandsHoneyeater 02

Though they are described as sedentary, the New Holland Honeyeater does have abundance spikes coinciding with favourable local conditions. Their numbers south of Sydney this week were much higher than I have previously experienced with big numbers seen along the heathy, Uloola Trail in Royal National Park. They were wary in the early morning, but became more approachable as the day went on.

SYD 11May13 New Holland Honeyeater 09

As flower visitors they have an important role as pollinators for many of the native Australian flora, but need to supplement their diet with some protein. To this end, they adorn the tops of  heathy bushes in small flocks and hawk for insects. Their hawking flight was very erratic and difficult to capture. This photo was caught by focussing on one bird and waiting until it launched itself.

SYD 11May13 New Holland Honeyeater 04 - Copy

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Written by Redgannet
Redgannet has been working for over 33 years as a crew member/flight attendant and enjoys the well-ventilated air of the outdoors. The nom de blog, Redgannet, was adopted to add an air of mystery and to make himself more attractive to women. His father first whetted Redguga's appetite for all things natural by buying him his first pair of 7x35s and a copy of Thorburn's Birds. Having no mentor beyond an indulgent parent, he spent the first season hoping for an Egyptian Vulture at the bird table in his English garden. His most memorable birding moment is seeing an Egyptian Vulture with those same binoculars 26 years later. Redgannet is married to Canon, but his heart and half of his house belongs to Helen and their son Joseph. He is looking forward to communicating with people who don't ask if he is searching for the "feathered variety" of bird.