An unprecedented move by corellas into residential city streets in Ballarat has caused much interest this week.
Probably 200 or more little corellas moved into older residential streets lined with plane trees, seeking some of the hundreds of tiny seeds inside the 35-40mm prickly globular "cones".
Our first report mentioned the birds working acrobatically to extract the seeds from up in the trees, but the following day - in another street - many descended to the ground and the bitumen below to search for their share among the fallen or dropped fruits.
Car tyres had no doubt squashed and opened some of them, expelling the seeds.
One resident reports the "incredible racket" made by the flock, while another expressed amazement at the complete lack of fear the birds showed while feeding on the road.
The little corella has never behaved this way in Ballarat before.
It has not been a common bird in Ballarat proper, with only a few sightings away from Lake Wendouree.
For birds that have had little to do with traffic and residential streets, their lack of fear is certainly surprising.
The long-billed corella is the usual corella seen around and over Ballarat.
Today's photo - taken last Sunday - clearly shows that these current "plane tree birds" are little corellas. About 200 little corellas were reported a week beforehand at Lake Wendouree, and then - a few days later - a flock containing 700 corellas was seen heading to the lake at roosting time.
These 700 were not necessarily all little corellas, but they may have been. An attempt to follow this lot to their roosting site was not successful.
Fortunately, the recent inner-Ballarat activity seems harmless enough, apart from being a minor traffic hazard.
Their activity is so far confined to streets south of Sturt Street lined with plane trees.
The roads are littered with broken cones when the birds depart.
The swift parrot is a migratory Tasmanian parrot that travels to Victoria for the winter. While here, it feeds mostly on nectar and pollen from flowering eucalypts.
With reduced and sporadic flowering of yellow gum, grey box and red ironbark locally for several years, the parrots - with a few exceptions - have been going elsewhere in eastern Australia.
Earlier this week we had the welcome news that five swift parrots had been seen at Clunes, at a spot where they occur in varying numbers almost every year. Hopefully, the local eucalypts will flower again and the first five parrots will be joined by more as winter progresses.
NATURE QUERIES ANSWERED
This purple/blue fungus was found near Creswick. It was alone, but there were three or four, not so brightly coloured, about a metre away. Is this one rare?
B.T., via email
This handsome fungus is the emperor cortinar, a native species so-named for its regal colouring. There are many different cortinar species. This one is not rare - but nor would we call it common - in damper forests around Ballarat at this time of the year. Some of them appeared earlier than usual this year because of early rains.
The emperor cortinar starts off bright glossy purple, but becomes duller and browner in colour as it ages.
The stem is an eye-catching purple. Other cortinars can be thinner stemmed, and almost any colour including white, buff, silvery-blue, lilac, orange, red and green.
- Questions and photos are welcome. Send to Roger Thomas at The Courier, PO Box 21, Ballarat, 3353, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org