Weekday outing to Coburg and Merri Creek

11 May 2022

All photographs by Bevan Hood

A dry day and a suburban location combined to attract 17 birdwatchers to the small car park. Someone had clearly been feeding the pigeons as there was a flock of at least 100 Rock Doves/Feral Pigeons beside the car park. They were accompanied by several Dusky Moorhens, including a couple of immatures without any marked colour.

Dusky Moorhen, adult
Dusky Moorhen, immature

Australian White Ibis passed overhead on their way to the islet in the creek and Silver Gulls perched on the top of the weir.

Australian White Ibises

A quartet of Black Swans paddled about and at intervals one would sit on a nest. Swans believe in recycling as it was clear that much human-derived litter was incorporated in the nest.

Black Swan on nest

Adding to our bird lists were smaller numbers of Common Mynas, Australian Wood Ducks, Chestnut Teal pairs and Little Ravens.

We noted occasional Australian Magpies and Magpie-larks as we set off under the guidance of Elsmaree Baxter, our leader, and kept alert for blossoming eucalypts. The lerps, nectar and blossoms certainly attracted the lorikeets and we recorded both Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets in considerable numbers. Today honeyeaters were limited to Red Wattlebirds and Noisy Miners, both aggressive and fairly large species.

Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet

The high point for many people occurred when the call “Tawny Frogmouth” went up. Yes, a sharp-sighted member had found it roosting against a eucalypt trunk. Pied Currawong was first heard and then seen by most while only a few of us heard a brief kookaburra call. Additional water birds were added later in the walk and their recognition was explained to newcomers to birding. Little Black Cormorants flew past and a brief overhead passage of a female Australasian Darter gave a good ID session. Australasian Grebes were finally sighted after a frustrating wait for the pair to surface after repeated dives. A Little Pied Cormorant flew past and then one was seen flying into a lakeside tree. Closer watching revealed an occupied nest, surprisingly difficult to see. Near the bank a couple of White-faced Herons stood watchfully while the only Eurasian Coot of the day occurred late in the walk.

Pacific Black Duck

Also late in the walk, Crested Pigeons joined the many Rock Doves and few Spotted Doves on our list. And at the far point of the walk came a second highlight – a Nankeen Night-Heron was perched beside the track. Not a full view but recognizable. No raptors were recorded but they would have been unexpected in heavily built-up suburbia.

At the finish we recorded 33 species and thanked Elsmaree for all her preparation which resulted in finding so many birds in suburbia.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekday outings

Beginners’ Outing to Lysterfield Park

23 April 2022

Leader: Robert Grosvenor

Number of species: 40

Thirty one birders arrived at Lysterfield Park for the Beginners’ outing on a sunny, calm day, perfect for birding.  While in the carpark, we were assailed by numerous Rainbow Lorikeets and Little Ravens, and then the familiar call of Gang Gangs announced their presence.  This was followed by fleeting views of Crimson and Eastern Rosellas.

Gang-gang Cockatoos. Photo by Kathie Thomas
Beginners’ group. Photo by Kathie Thomas

At the start of the walk around the lake it was very quiet with nothing flying or calling apart from a lone Red Wattlebird.  Fortunately things improved further along the track and while stopped to see an Eastern Rosella, we added Superb Fairy Wrens, a small flock of Red-browed Finches, a Brown Thornbill and a lovely Eastern Spinebill which came in very close giving good views.  Just a short distance ahead we luckily found a pair of well camouflaged Tawny Frogmouths, one of which was in the classical Tawny pose.

Superb Fairy-wren. Photo by Kathie Thomas
Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A diversion off the established track led us to a jetty on the lake where we saw Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants.  Both male and female Musk Ducks were also seen here together with a flotilla of Eurasian Coots.

Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants. Photo by Kathie Thomas
Musk Duck, female. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

The lack of flowering trees and shrubs contributed to the dearth of Honeyeaters but we managed to obtain good looks at a White-eared Honeyeater.  Another diversion down to the water’s edge added Silver Gulls and very good views of a Spotted Pardalote.

White-eared Honeyeater. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Brush Bronzewing. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

This was followed by one of the highlights of the walk – seeing a Brush Bronzewing drinking from a puddle in the middle of the track.  With the sun behind them it gave all the photographers an excellent shot.  Despite the bush looking in fine condition birds were still scarce and apart from a couple of Eastern Spinebills and a Grey Fantail there was little to see.

Reaching the dam wall we saw Welcome Swallows over the water, more Musk Ducks and Cormorants, Masked Lapwings, Magpie Larks, Wood Ducks on the grassland and a Common Bronzewing.  

Musk Duck, male. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Little Eagle and Australian Magpie. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

This was followed by another highlight when a Little Eagle was spotted being harassed by two Magpies. This pale morph Little Eagle provided us all with excellent views sit circled overhead, continuously chased by the Magpies. Walking along the lake’s edge saw us pick up a pair of Pacific Black Ducks, Purple Swamphens, more Cormorants and Silver Gulls.

Little Eagle. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Swamphen. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch, a short walk along Logans Track resulted in a Crested Pigeon and at least three Eastern Yellow Robins being added to the list.  Returning to the carpark we found another pair of Tawny Frogmouths in a tree very close to where we had lunch.

A total of forty species for the day was a fair result considering the time of year and because it was such a lovely day there were large numbers of bike riders and walkers all along the track, ensuring the birds were staying further into the bush, making birding that much more difficult.



Weekday outing to Dandenong Valley Wetland, Wheelers Hill

5 April 2022

Photographs by Steve Hoptroff

We met at Haversham Avenue near Cronia Court on a cool, fine and mainly cloudy day. Grey Butcher bird and Magpie were calling and a pair of White-faced Herons were sitting on a nearby house.

Grey Butcherbird

Dandenong Valley Wetland was opened in July 2010 by Melbourne Water, it is 48 hectares in size and divided into 4 large cells which can be individually filled and emptied. Water is diverted from nearby Dandenong Creek and stored in the cells for 3 days and then released back into the creek. Birdlife Melbourne has been doing monthly surveys here for Melbourne Water since 2010 and recorded over 130 species within the first 2 years.

Red-browed Finch
Superb Fairy-wren, breeding male
Superb Fairy-wren, male in eclipse plumage

We entered the wetland via the bridge over Dandenong Creek and saw Grey Fantail, Spotted Pardalote, Red-browed Finch, Superb Fairy-wren, Brown Thornbill, Golden Whistler, Red Wattle Bird New Holland Honeyeater Gold Finch and Noisy Miner.

New Holland Honeyeater

As we approached the outlet of Cell 3 we were entertained by a White-faced Heron which had just caught a small fish, it dropped it on the ground and picked it up again many times before finally deciding to swallow it. 

Looking into Cell 3 we saw Black Duck, Musk Duck, Dusky Moorhen and Australasian Grebe, White Ibis and Welcome Swallows flew overhead.

On our way to the outlet of Cell 2 we saw a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike while a huge flock of Little Corellas flew over, in the cell we found a Little Pied and Little Black Cormorant. 

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike

Little Black Cormorant, with Australasian Grebe in background

At the outlet of Cell 1 we saw a lone Australasian Darter and heard Pied Currawongs calling from the creek. 

Australasian Darter, female

We then headed east, towards the inlet end of the cells via a track between Cell 1 and Cell 2, didn’t see much along here until near the end where there was plenty of water around, we then came across Reed Warbler, Eurasian Coot, Purple Swamphen and Black Swan.

Black Swan

Heading south along the top of the Cells, we had the distribution channel on our left and the top of the Cells on our right. A White-browed Scrubwren was seen beside the track, we were now coming under the power lines and decided to look for raptors, soon a White-bellied Sea-Eagle was spotted, soaring high above, then a pair of Nankeen Kestrels on a pylon and a Dusky Woodswallow on the power lines. 

White-bellied Sea-Eagle

Further along the track we checked out a clear section of the distribution channel and found a Spotless Crake foraging along the muddy edge.

Spotless Crake

The inlet to Cell 4 had a small amount of water in it with a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels resting on the edge while a Royal Spoonbill was busy swishing its bill in the water. 

Black-fronted Dotterel
Royal Spoonbill

We now started the long walk west to the outlet of Cell 4, no birds were seen until we reached a small pond at the outlet. There were 11 Black-fronted Dotterels and 10 Chestnut Teal here and we heard the calls of many Bell Miners coming from the Creek. As we headed back towards the bridge we heard Grey Shrike Thrush calls several times and when crossing the bridge saw a small flock of Silvereyes foraging in the blackberries and a Yellow-faced Honeyeater resting in a dead Wattle Tree.

It took just under 3 hours to do this walk and we recorded 48 species 

Geoff Russell, Leader

Beginners Outing to Braeside Park

26 March 2022
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veeveres
Species count: 56

Thirty members assembled at the Southern Carpark in perfect weather conditions: sunny, light winds and not too hot. Soon after commencing the walk towards the  wetlands, a very well camouflaged Tawny Frogmouth was spotted in one of the gum trees. It gave everyone a good view and posed for many photographs before we moved on. 

Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Pink-eared Ducks with chicks. Photo by Bevan Hood

On the first pond a pair of Pink-eared Ducks was seen carefully shepherding their eight newly-hatched ducklings from one safe place to another. On the shore were a pair of Masked Plovers which dwarfed a nearby Black-fronted Dotterel, as did three Royal Spoonbills which were feeding in the background. The Dotterel was the first of many to be seen during the morning walk.

Black-fronted Dotterels. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Australian White Ibis. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Continuing clockwise around the ponds some Australian White Ibis and many more waterbirds were seen. These included several more of the common Duck species, Australian Pelicans, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants and Australasian Darters. 

Australian Pelicans. Photo by Bevan Hood
Pink-eared Duck, Eurasian Coot and Chestnut Teal. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Little Black Cormorant and Australasian Darter. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

At the far end of the wetlands a Black-shouldered Kite perched on top of a dead tree, leaving it several times for short hunting trips before returning to the roost. On one such occasion it became involved in a fracas with a much larger Brown Goshawk, effectively chasing it away. 

Black-shouldered Kite. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Black-shouldered Kite. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Several bushbirds were also seen in this area, as well as on the return track, including Grey Butcherbird, European Goldfinch, Superb Fairy-wren and Grey Fantail.

Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Bevan Hood
Common Bronzewing. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch most of the members drove to the northern end of Braeside and parked in the Pelican Carpark. A brief visit to the Visitor Centre was made so that the group could see more of the park’s raptors, albeit stuffed, before setting off on the Heathland Trail. A female Common Bronzewing feeding on the path did not seem threatened by our presence and walked across into the sunshine so that her wonderful feathers shone brightly. On reaching the ponds a few more Ducks were seen, along with Purple Swamphens and Long-necked Turtles. An Echidna was rescued from some children who were poking it with a stick, and then more small bushbirds were spotted. Another new species for the afternoon was a Pied Currawong which was heard calling in the distance.

The beautiful weather and abundant birdlife made this a most enjoyable excursion with 56 species recorded on the day.

Thanks to Eleanor Dilley, Steve Hoptroff and Bevan Hood for providing the photographs.

Weekday outing to Tirhatuan Park

9 March 2022
Laughing Kookaburra. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The weather was fine with a good breeze while we assembled at the car park. After the now-obligatory complaints about the state of the traffic and the freeway roadworks we numbered 17 including a few on their first birding walk.

Grey Butcherbird, adult. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The car park started the list with the reliable Noisy Miners and Rainbow Lorikeets but an Australian Pelican gliding past was less usual and the Eastern Rosellas and Grey Butcherbirds were welcome additions.

Magpie-lark, female. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Initially we headed to the nearest pond where Australian Wood Duck outnumbered the Pacific Black Ducks.

Australian Grebe (female and male). Photo by Steve Hoptroff

The pair of Australasian Grebes appeared fleetingly between dives and a solo Little Black Cormorant dived repeatedly before perching to dry and presumably, digest.

Royal Spoonbill, slightly grubby. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Royal Spoonbill foraging. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Royal Spoonbill in flight. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Royal Spoonbills foraged at the next water’s edge and one had presumably “bitten off more than it could chew” as it repeatedly shook its head and showed a distended gullet. Eventually avian greed was rewarded and the distension and shaking stopped.

Royal Spoonbill sleeping. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

We were now in bush and waterbirds gave way to bird calls from the scrub and trees. Spotted Pardalotes called but sightings were few and most of us recorded very active Grey Fantails plus somewhat fewer Yellow-faced Honeyeaters.

Little Wattlebird. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

The highlight for many people was the discovery of a roost of Tawny Frogmouths – two adults and a youngster (somewhat harder to see) – quite low (2-3 m from the ground) in a tree.  

Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Tawny Frogmouth, well camouflaged. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A large nest box was also observed. About a meter long, it may have been intended for Powerful Owls but perhaps was not ideally long enough compared with some hollows, natural or artificial. A small nondescript brown bird puzzled everyone till sharp eyes spotted a red bill. It was a juvenile Mistletoebird.

Mistletoebird. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Mistletoebird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Mistletoebird. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

This was a new sighting for everyone. Another puzzle was slightly less difficult when the definite breast spots of an Olive-backed Oriole were seen. This bird was also a juvenile and lacked colour.

Olive-backed Oriole. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Olive-backed Oriole. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Back to the car park for lunch where all public seating was already occupied, demonstrating how popular this park is, including on weekdays. Some people needed to leave at this stage and a quick bird call gave 42 species recorded in the morning’s walk.

Silvereye. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Post-lunch the few remaining drove a few kilometers to Tirhatuan Wetland. This is only a very short distance as the bird flies from our morning area so the bird species were mostly the same and the 10 of us only added 3 more species to the cumulative total, Chestnut Teal, Laughing Kookaburra and Australian Reed-Warbler.

White-faced Heron. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

However, we also saw 2 Tawny Frogmouth roosts and a couple of us were delighted to be accepted enough for a duck (Australian Wood Duck) to lead her ducklings to water within a meter of our feet.

Australian Wood Ducks, female. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Plus, the non-avian interest was provided by a paper wasp nest where the new adults seemed to be emerging from their cells. We recorded 20 species in this area and the cumulative total was 44. John received our enthusiastic thanks for his preparation which gave such good results for a small suburban area.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekday outings

Beginners outing to Yan Yean Reservoir Park

26 February 2022
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 45
All photographs by Eleanor Dilley

Thirty members met near the entrance in pleasant sunny weather conditions.  Starting up at the dam wall several good sightings gave an excellent start to the morning:  a male Musk Duck just offshore; an immature male Australasian Darter on the roof of the small hut; a little Pied Cormorant and a White-faced Heron on the crane on the jetty and a pair of Red-rumped Parrots drinking by the slipway.   

Male Musk Duck
Australasian Darter

Members then drove to the third carpark and began the wetlands walk alongside the water. Dusky Moorhens, Australian Wood Ducks and Chestnut Teals were the predominant species, with Pacific Black Ducks, Australasian Grebes and Purple Swamphens in smaller numbers. 

Pacific Black Ducks
Purple Swamphen

Grey Fantails, Spotted Pardalotes and Brown Thornbills were seen in the taller trees, with Superb Fairy-wrens foraging at the water’s edge. After crossing the road to the fenced wetlands, several Parrot species were seen including Little and Long-billed Corellas, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Eastern Rosellas. A bird-scarer was sounding shots from a neighbouring property which no doubt disturbed them, and possibly reduced the number of ducks and waders on these wetlands. A flock of Australasian Grebe with young of various ages were the main waterbirds seen here.

Australasian Grebes with chicks under wings
Wedge-tailed Eagle

A pair of Wedge -tailed Eagles flying overhead caused a lot of interest, as did a lone Red-rumped Parrot well hidden in a tree. On returning to the first wetlands a White-faced Heron was perched on the opposite bank and later a Falcon flew overhead. It was initially thought to be a Peregrine Falcon, but later examination of Eleanor’s photo revealed it to be an Australian Hobby.

Red-rumped Parrot
Nankeen Night-Heron

Lunch was eaten at the top of the hill near the old caretaker’s cottage. There were only 2 Nankeen Night-herons in the nearby Corsican Pine, which was well down on the numbers seen there in previous years. After bird call members drove back to the other end of the park to the Lookout.  Two spotting scopes were set up near the fence, but it was hard to see between the trees.  After some perseverance a Great Crested Grebe was identified as well as a pair of Blue-billed Ducks.

This concluded a satisfying day with 45 species recorded, including 9 Parrot species.

Many thanks to Eleanor Dilley, who provided all the photographs.

Weekdays Outing to Pound Bend

8 February 2022
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 36

Thirty members gathered at Pound Bend on a hot sunny morning, admiring the many Parrots and Kookaburras in the picnic area. Walking the river track, upstream from the carpark, a Little Pied Cormorant fishing in the river was an early point of interest. 

Laughing Kookaburra. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Galahs. Photo by Kathie Thomas

As the vegetation became denser many small birds could be heard and, although hard to see, Silvereyes, Grey Fantails, Yellow-faced and White-naped Honeyeaters were soon identified.

Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Black Ducks and Dusky Moorhens were seen on the river along with a large-tailed Water Dragon which was sunning itself on a rock by the opposite bank.

White-naped Honeyeaters. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Two ladies bathing in the river further along seemed unaware of a Tiger Snake swimming beside them!

Tiger Snake. Photo by Kathie Thomas

Water Dragon. Photo by Alan Veevers

An Eastern Yellow Robin, a pair of White-eared Honeyeaters, several Spotted Pardalotes and an immature Golden Whistler were observed beside the track.

Eastern Yellow Robin. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Eastern Yellow Robin. Photo by Kathie Thomas
Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Unfortunately, one of the ladies at the rear of the group became unwell and subsequently fainted. Fortunately, Alan was nearby and provided first aid. As she was recovering three other members kindly volunteered their assistance, and all four helped to get her back to the carpark.  After resting, she and her car were taken home, by two of our volunteers, to be met by an awaiting friend.

Further along the track the vegetation thinned out and Noisy Miners began to dominate. After reaching the grassed area at the end of the track members retraced their steps along by the river, enjoying several more good sightings, including Crimson Rosella, Superb Fairy-wrens and Welcome Swallows. In the picnic area Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes were heard but not seen.

Sacred Kingfisher. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Australasian Darter. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

After lunch a short walk was taken towards the tunnel where many visitors were sunbathing and cooling-off in the water. Not surprisingly, no further bird species were seen there!  At this point the bird count was 34 species. Two of the members who had assisted Alan, thereby missing out on part of the morning walk, decided to stay behind after the formal closure and re-walk the river track. They photographed 2 extra birds; a Sacred Kingfisher and a female Australasian Darter (included above) – a just reward for the kindness they had shown earlier in the day! Thus, the group recorded a total of 36 species for the day.

Beginners Outing to Point Cook Coastal Reserve

22 January 2022

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 48
Little Eagle. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Twenty six members braved the very hot weather to attend the Point Cook excursion. Whilst assembling at the Beach Picnic Area a Little Eagle circled low overhead providing great views for everyone. Superb Fairy-wrens and Willie Wagtails were the predominant birds as members walked towards the shore. At the beach the only birds which could be clearly seen were dozens of Silver Gulls, with a lone Australian Pelican in the far distance. 

Silver Gull. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Taking the track parallel to the shore, Silvereyes and a Singing Honeyeater were spotted in the bushes and a Nankeen Kestrel flew overhead. On the track back towards the cars a Crested Pigeon obligingly perched on a dead branch while smaller bushbirds were much harder to see.  

Crested Pigeon. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

At the carpark members searched for Yellow Thornbills which proved to be elusive, though seen and heard by a couple of senior spotters. A number of Yellow-rumped Thornbills were, however, clearly seen.

Yellow-rumped Thornbill. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

As we drove to the RAAF Lake carpark it was pleasing to see that the recent heavy rains must have almost filled the lake, as it was still about two-thirds full. Three Australian Shelducks were on the lake and a Masked Plover was roaming the nearside bank. In the distance a White-bellied Sea-Eagle was spotted being determinedly mobbed by Silver Gulls. In the small ponds on the opposite side of the road several species were found, including a family of Australasian Grebes with very small chicks, two of which clambered onto the back of a parent as we watched. Australian Reed Warblers were very vocal, and a few were seen darting in and out of the reeds. Some members, at the rear of the group, saw Zebra Finches and Golden-headed Cisticolas and heard a Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo calling in the distance.

Australasian Grebe, chick(s) under wing. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Australasian Grebe and chicks, one on parent. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Members then drove towards the Homestead area, pausing briefly at the ponds beside the housing estate. Dusky Moorhens and Purple Swamphens were seen on the water and European Goldfinches and House Sparrows were feeding on thistles. On arrival, lunch was eaten in the welcome shade of some old trees beside the carpark. Here, immature Collared Sparrowhawks were very noisy in their demands for food and there were numerous sightings of them as they whizzed past overhead. Members then set off towards the Point at low tide where there were a number of Crested Terns, Pied and Little Pied Cormorants along with many more Silver Gulls. It was disappointing that no migrant waders were seen in this area. Continuing along the shore a Pied Oystercatcher could be seen in the distance, along with scores more Silver Gulls. Walking back inland, towards the carpark, the White-bellied Sea-Eagle flew overhead, giving much closer views this time. On reaching the carpark the young Sparrowhawks were still calling loudly and some members decided to stay behind to have further attempts at photographing them.

Despite the heat it was felt that this had been a successful excursion. 48 species were recorded, and the excellent raptor sightings partly compensated for the absence of waders.

Tawny Frogmouth: from rescue to release

On the morning of 28 October 2021, I was driving down our court when I noticed a small fluff-ball on the footpath below a neighbour’s large Eucalyptus nicholii nature strip tree.  I stopped to check it out and found a very young Tawny Frogmouth which I assumed had fallen out of a nest.  A parent bird was in the tree, on the lowest branch about 4m up, looking down and keeping watch as there was a Pied Currawong showing a lot of interest.

Tawny Frogmouth chick fallen from a nest
Parent keeping watch

I rang my wife Shirley who was quickly on the scene.  We decided that Shirley would ring the Wildlife Emergency Response to seek instructions on what to do while I kept guard.  Shirley was advised that we should make a nest in a container, make some drainage holes, nail the container in a tree, and place the chick in the new nest.  The advice was that hopefully the parent would watch us transfer the chick and attend the nest to look after it.  If this didn’t happen after a few hours, we were to ring them back.  

I made the nest according to instructions, using an ice-cream container and drilled the drainage holes.  I placed broken twigs in the bottom, with a layer of native grasses cut to length as an upper layer.  I can modestly say that it was a more comfortable nest than the parents would have made.  The height of the lowest branch on the E nicholii was far too high for me, so as advised, I fixed it to a lower tree branch in our front garden.  I picked up the chick and transported it to its new home.  Unfortunately during the whole process, the parent bird was very aware of the Pied Currawong and tried to see it off.  Because of this it may not have seen the relocation.

By this stage Shirley had decided that the chick needed a name, and it was named Thursday, because that was the day we found it.

Thursday in new nest

By mid-afternoon, after several checks, there was no sign of the parent bird, so Shirley rang the Wildlife Emergency Response again.  We were asked to email a photo of the chick so that they had a good idea of the age of the rescued bird.  We were then advised to place the chick in its nest in a dark place, and they would arrange for a Wildlife Rescue Service Volunteer (WRSV) to collect the bird.

The WRSV arrived late afternoon to take Thursday into care. She told us that Thursday looked healthy and was probably a female. She expected to release her near the rescue site, in about 2 months, and she would keep us informed.  We felt quite confident that Thursday was in good hands.

Over the next 2 months we received texts from the WRSV, with attached photos showing Thursday’s development.

8 November 2021: Thursday in centre
23 November 2021: Thursday at end right
8 December 2021: Thursday on right
24 December 2021: Thursday

Thursday with friends in the enclosure
Photos by the Wildlife Rescue Service Volunteer

During care the rescued Tawny Frogmouths lived in meshed enclosure, of sufficient size for the birds to take short flights.  The enclosure had many guests, a normal season being a temporary home to a total of about 20 rescued Tawny Frogmouth chicks. They were fed chicken hearts, meal worms and mice.  The enclosure had lighting to attract moths to supplement their diet and introduce them to becoming self sufficient.  

In early Jan we received a text from the WRSV advising that Thursday, with a friend, would be released as soon as the weather was suitable.  The release site was to be the treed corridor along the creek that runs between Waverley Road & Crosby Drive, Glen Waverley, about 200m from the rescue site.  At dusk, on 10 Jan 2022, Thursday and friend were released, both with full stomachs.  Thursday took off and quickly flew to some low vegetation about 30m distant.  The friend flew higher and perched on a horizontal branch about 4m above the ground, 15m distant.  We watched and waited for a while but the birds seemed settled for the night.  The WRSV assured us that they would be OK, and she would check on them the next day.  Sexing the birds is difficult, but because of the greyer plumage, the WRSV thought Thursday was probably female, and because the friend was browner, she thought it was probably male.

On our walk home, Shirley and I wondered if they would be OK and if we would ever see them again.  We decided that the friend deserved a name, so he was named Novak, as the bird’s release date was on the same day as Novak Djokovic’s release from detention.

Next morning at 8:30 we checked out the release site but at first could not find either bird.  After a closer look in the immediate area where Thursday was last seen, Thursday and Novak were there, back from the track, in classic stick posture, with eyes narrowed to slits, on a near vertical fallen branch only about 1m above the ground.  I had concerns about their safety as they were so close to the ground.  Checking HANZAB, one study reported that of roosting birds flushed, 50% were flushed from the ground, so perhaps there was no need for my concern.

Morning of 11 January 2022: Thursday rear, Novak front
Afternoon of 11 January 2022: Thursday rear, Novak front

On a return visit to the site mid-afternoon, I found both birds at the same roosting site, but Novak was much more animated than for the morning visit.

On a visit to the site on the morning of 12 Jan, neither bird could be found, but encouragingly there was no heap of feathers on the ground at the previous day’s roosting site.  Another visit on the same afternoon, and again no bird could be found.  Further visits on the morning and afternoon of 13 Jan also produced no sightings.  The corridor is a well timbered stretch with many suitable roosting sites, both at low level and higher level.  The WRSV advised that released birds are rarely seen at the release site, so no sightings could be a good sign.

I chose to believe that they are hunkered down somewhere in the corridor.  I was resigned to the fact that maybe I would never see either of the birds again, but just maybe one day, on a walk along the creek I will discover one or both Tawny Frogmouths.

Afternoon of 18 January 2022: A third juvenile Tawny Frogmouth 50m from the release site

But there is a sequel to this story.  Late afternoon on 18 Jan I spotted a juvenile Tawny Frogmouth only about 50m from the release site.  I was very excited with my find and hoped it was Thursday or Novak, so I took several photos to try and confirm which one it was.  The bird appeared to be smaller than either of the two, and on close examination of the photos, the tail was shorter and markings on the back, wings and tail didn’t agree with those of either Thursday or Novak.  I can only conclude that it was a third juvenile bird in this small patch of bush.  Of course, I will keep looking.

Bill Ramsay, Jan 2022
All photos by Bill Ramsay unless noted otherwise

Weekdays outing to Donnelly’s Weir

8 December 2021
Photographs by Danika Sanderson
Sacred Kingfisher

The weather forecast was not really reassuring, predicting late showers for Melbourne. This might mean wet weather in the mountains around Healesville but at least winds were not emphasized. Alan and Hazel Veevers led and had spent considerable time and analysis to prepare a well-received outing.

The weir

My main worry was the ford on the track into Donnelly’s. My car is a small sedan and I worried that its clearance might not be enough if I slowed or stopped in the water. As it was I was one of the few who gratefully accepted lifts from drivers with a higher wheel base and spare seats. Most drivers came through without a murmur.  I am just a wimp at bottom.

The group

There were 20 at the outing and even the car park yielded sightings of Eastern Yellow Robin, Crimson Rosella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo

A Sacred Kingfisher proved very hard to locate and Australian King-Parrots moved through very quickly except for a calm male which remained perched near the track until most of our group had walked by.

Sacred Kingfisher

Another bird coping with our party was a female White-throated Treecreeper which stayed stationary on its tree trunk for so long we initially wondered if it might be ill – until we passed “it’s” tree during our return walk and saw that it had departed.

White-throated Treecreeper (female)

Birds heard without being seen included Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Spotted Pardalote. Only a few actually saw the Superb Fairy-wrens and Striated Pardalotes were also present while a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles briefly soared very high overhead.

Superb Fairy-wren (male)

Other elusive small birds were the White-browed Scrubwrens by the well-flowing aqueduct and a flock of Silvereyes briefly sighted as they foraged among dense bushes. It wasn’t totally birds. Plants included flowering spyridium as well as a small colony of hyacinth orchids.

Waterlilies
Yellow-faced Honeyeater

At morning’s end we drove around to the Maroondah Reservoir Park where we lunched in a rotunda even though rain hadn’t arrived yet. We were checked out by 3 Australian White Ibis, living up to their reputation.

Eastern Spinebill

Careful watchfulness meant that no one’s lunch was in jeopardy. A short walk around the base of the dam wall added Corellas, several Little and a single Long-billed Corella plus a few Australian Magpies.

Galah

Bird call revealed we’d noted 39 species which made a satisfactory total. Into the cars just as the long-expected rain started driving across the car park and feeling very grateful to both Veevers for all their planning. 

Grey Fantail

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings