A happy group of 25 bird watchers gathered at the Depot car park for a very warm day’s walk. The contrast in bird calls from last month was noticeable – it was very quiet. Not much going on at all. A couple of Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo flew over to give us hope.
Once again, Wedge-tailed Eagle graced the skies, flying just above us at times. Their banking wings were astounding to watch as they moved through the thermals.
Golden Whistler was calling as were Grey Butcherbird and Grey Fantail. Little Wattlebird was recorded this month and last month – a rare visitor to Yellingbo. As the morning heated up, some of our number slowly returned to the shade of the trees at the car park and lunch area.
A very sharp-eyed walker spied this gorgeous Stick Insect walking across the track. Perhaps the grass was greener on the other side?
Amongst our total of 42 species recorded on the day, Eastern Whipbird called much further along the track than usual. Eastern Yellow Robin and Red-browed Finch also made casual appearances.
And if it’s quiet on the bird front, then what more could we ask for in this peaceful part of Yellingbo?
Well, Wombats are supposed to be nocturnal but this one braved a walk down the same track as our bird watchers, stopped for a look and quickly scampered off into the bush. Quite a healthy looking animal!
The next bird walk at Yellingbo will be on Sunday 2 April (always the first Sunday of the month), strong winds and total fire ban days excepted.
It was pleasantly cool at the Depot car park as we all prepared for our morning walk, greeting others, trying to find car parks for the larger number of people who had arrived and enjoying the wonderful bird calls from the nearby trees and creek. Eastern Whipbird often call here and today was no exception. Smaller bird species graced the upper canopies of the gums. Olive-backed Oriole called from here later on in the day.
As we walked beside the creek, a few different frog species called from the adjacent swamp.
There was excitement from further up the track as one of our 34 bird watchers spied this gorgeous Azure Kingfisher which had flown off from somewhere along the creek line. Luckily it had perched in a nearby tree. The excitement didn’t end there when Rufuous Fantail and nest were discovered.
There were the usual suspects at the dam we visit which backs onto Yellingbo Reserve from one of the small farms. As we headed north there were beautiful but loud calls from a couple of male Satin Flycatcher both vying for the attention of a female spotted close by.
Surely the day couldn’t get any better.
After enjoying a welcome break and lunch close to the depot, a few intrepid bird watchers decided to take a walk back along the same path we took earlier on in the day.
Those returning from the afternoon walk excitedly talked of amazing sights of Wedge-tailed Eagle, two, in a nearby tree. Azure Kingfisher was sighted again as well as Sacred Kingfisher which had not been seen or heard of earlier in the day.
In the fifteen or so years I have been coordinating this bird walk, I don’t remember experiencing a better day as far as bird quality and number of enthusiastic bird watchers were concerned. We recorded 55 species on the day. Thanks so much for coming along everyone!
With the weather largely cleared after Sunday night’s rain a group of 18 midweek birders assembled at the end of Hallam Valley Road. The wetland here is currently undergoing improvement works. The link below provides extra detail on the need for these works for those interested.
Such works clearly involve some disturbance to the nature of the site. The water levels were lower than normal with plenty of exposed mud. Despite this, and the presence of ongoing works and machinery, the morning provided some excellent bird watching.
Early highlights included quite a large flock of Rainbow Lorikeets, Brown Goshawk, Black-fronted Dotterel, Peregrine Falcon, and quite a bit of activity in the grassland to the North of the path.
Identification here was a matter of patience and many pairs of eyes. Golden-headed Cisticola, Silvereyes, and a single Australian Reed-Warbler were noted. As we progressed through the wetland the air began to fill with White-faced Herons and a couple of White-necked Herons also got in on the act.
The lower water levels and exposed mudflats seemed to be offering feeding opportunities not normally present here. Ducks and waterhens were few and far between with Masked Lapwings seeming more numerous.
Heading up to the edge of the Main Hallam Drain we noticed the lifeless bodies of some Eels that had succumbed to the pump out of water.
Taking a short detour toward the Freeway in the South-East corner, the Blackberry and grassy verges along this area provided habitat for New Holland Honeyeaters, European Goldfinch, White-browed Scrubwrens, and Superb Fairy-wrens.
Up near the pond at the end, a group of 20 Red-browed Finch were seen. Retracing our steps and continuing to the South-West the small lake just over the main drain yielded Little Black Cormorant, Australasian Darter, Pelican, Australian White Ibis, Straw-necked Ibis and more White-faced Herons.
Royal Spoonbills were also recorded in this area and some Yellow-billed were seen flying over. The ponds on the North side of this section had somewhat more water in them and held small flocks of Teal, Pacific Black Duck, Dusky Moorhen and Purple Swamphen.
Through to the South-West corner and during the return walk to the main gate we picked up Welcome Swallows, White-plumed Honeyeaters, Noisy Miners, Grey Butcherbird and Wood Duck.
A dead rat being attended by several species of fly and some European Wasps brought home the gruesome face of nature at work (photos by Maarten Grabandt below).
Nineteen members assembled in the car park at Coolart on a warm, overcast and windless day.
Our first walk was to the Minsmire Bird Hide on Coolart’s Lake. Our group occupied most of the upper storey of the bird hide as bushes have grown up and interfere with the view from the lower storey. There were 16 species of waterbirds on the lake and we had especially good views of a male Blue-billed Duck and Hoary-headed Grebes. In the bush beside the bird hide the rattle of Superb Fairy-wrens could be heard. A few people caught sight of an Eastern Yellow Robin, which uncharacteristically, quickly hid itself away in the dense undergrowth.
After 30 minutes at Coolart Lake, the next destination was the Antechinus Bird Hide reached via the track on the western side of the Observatory Wetlands. Most birds seen here had been seen earlier and only the Dusky Moorhen could be added to our list.
Next along the Woodlands Track, Red and Little Wattlebirds were seen while Spotted Pardalote and Grey Shrike-thrush were heard calling. At the junction of two tracks a Grey Shrike-thrush was seen in a thicket, then another emerged and yet a third. Two were adult birds and the third a juvenile with a rufous eyebrow.
Past the garden dam, close to the Homestead was a hotspot of bush birds. Along with Grey Butcherbird and Red and Little Wattlebirds were Spotted Pardalotes, Grey Fantails, Brown Thornbills, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and Eastern Spinebills.
An early lunch was taken in the shade on the lawns surrounding the Homestead and the birdcall for the morning totalled 45 species.
After lunch we drove to Balbirooroo Wetland located close to Balnarring Primary School. The track and boardwalk to the wetland passed through Eucalypt bushland and Melaleuca swamp and came to a bird hide a situated on the edge of a lake. New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters, European Goldfinch, Australian Reed-Warbler and Tree Martins were seen along with a Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo which made a very brief appearance. Continuing around the lake a wooden platform on the right allowed views across a large wetland on the adjoining property.
To our dismay this wetland had very recently been carved up by heavy machinery which was still in the area. A number of channels had been dug across the area and piles of mud lined the banks. Amazingly there were 40 White-faced Herons standing amongst the rubble – a large number that even the experienced among us had rarely seen before. Hopefully some wetland may remain on the site though the future does not look promising.
On the walk back to our cars a large bird flashed across the path at treetop height. It disappeared into the bush before emerging at a distance and was identified as a Brown Goshawk. At the end of the walk a count of birds seen at Balbirooroo totalled thirty-nine, nine of which were additional to those seen at Coolart making a total of fifty-four species for the day.
The weather was kind, the company amicable and a good day’s birding was enjoyed by all.
Alan Stringer and I had a visit to Reef Island in Western Port (about 8km north east of San Remo) on the morning of 24 February 2023. The forecast was for a hot day, but fortunately with a predicted low tide at 10:38am (San Remo), an early start was possible. We set off from the car park at about 8:45am.
Over the years, I have led several MELBOCA and BirdLife Melbourne outings to Reef Island. It is always a great relief to look out from the car park, and no matter what the tide predictions are, to see the gravel bank that is the access to the island fully exposed, and a dry walk to the island is ensured. My preferred time to visit Reef Island is late February/early March, because I believe this is the best chance to see what I call the 4 Reef Island specialities – Pacific Golden Plover, Double-banded Plover, Ruddy Turnstone and Grey-tailed Tattler, all on the same day.
It was a beautiful morning, a gentle breeze, a flat sea, and we were well ahead of the coming heat of the day. We walked along the gravelly beach stopping to look at large groups of Black Swans, numerous White-faced Herons, 40+ Masked Lapwings, 3 Great Egrets, a flock of Crested Terns and several other species From the gravel bank leading to the island we had great views of numerous Pacific Golden Plovers and Double-banded Plovers working the tidal range. 2 out of 4 target species and we hadn’t even made it to the island!
Not far onto the island, looking out to the south, there were about 5 Ruddy Turnstones, 3 adults hunkered down in the rocks, and 2 juveniles in full view standing on top of the rocks. While viewing the birds, we met up with 3 birders from Cape Paterson. We exchanged notes. No, they hadn’t seen any Grey-tailed Tattlers but they did have a sighting of a Broad-billed Sandpiper that took off and could have been anywhere. We shared our Ruddy Turnstones and moved on to the western end of the island to make our way back along the northern side of the island. 3 out of 4 with just the most difficult to get.
My past sightings of Grey-tailed Tattler have always been on the north side, the birds either hunkered down in the rocks close to the water, or sometimes in view perched on top of a rock. The walk over the rocks requires a fair amount of concentration that has to be shared with purposeful looking for a Grey-tailed Tattler, not an easy task. We had probably walked more than 80% of the rocky section with only views of Pied and Little Pied Cormorants and the occasional Pacific Golden Plover. Things were not looking good when 4 birds took off before we could get a decent look and flew off into the distance. However, Alan was confident that the call was that of a Grey-tailed Tattler. Almost immediately another 4 birds took off, making the same call, and not travelling far. This time they sat on rocks close to where we were and gave us some great views and photo opportunities. 4 out of 4, and back to the car park in time for lunch. A highly successful morning’s birding.
Reef Island in late February/early March is a great place for a half day’s birding but needs to be undertaken with some caution. Check the tides and make sure the water level will be low enough to get to the island and return without having to wade through water. Wear solid footwear with a strong sole, suitable for rock hopping on jagged rocks. Take all the necessary gear for a day when you might be exposed to the sun. If you follow this advice you should have a great visit.
Our first Midweek outing for 2023 saw 16 birders gather at Badger Weir Picnic Ground in glorious sunshine. With the temperature in the high teens and heading for the low twenties it promised to be a very comfortable interlude amongst the majestic Mountain Ash and the local Avian community. The Picnic area provided a very pleasing background of birdsong, and we were able to identify many of these before actually seeing them. Plenty of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, some Crimson Rosella, an Eastern Spinebill, a small flock of Silvereyes, a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, and a Pied Currawong.
After welcoming some new faces, we commenced our walk by making for the Lyrebird Track. On the way out of the picnic area, we spotted our first Australian Magpie foraging in the grass. Suddenly 3 Crimson Rosellas flew down onto the path quite near us presenting good opportunities for close-up views.
We crossed the creek and stopped for a while as we noticed the sound of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos overhead. One was seen and then we were able to establish that there were 3 birds flying over. More Yellow-faced Honeyeaters were spotted in the understory ahead of us, so we paused here to listen and watch. One bird call in particular eluded identification and although it was only heard by some of us, it proved rather frustrating and unfortunately never got resolved. This was something of a harbinger for the 800-metre trek along the Lyrebird Track …lots of sounds and not much vision!! We were able to add Brown Thornbill, White-browed Scrubwren and Red Wattlebird to the list, but sadly no Lyrebird. However, it was difficult to ignore the beauty of this walk. The contrast of light and shadow, the various shades of green and brown, the sight of basking Skinks, and the gentle sound of the creek all combined to please the eye.
Right at the end of this part of the walk, just where the track joins up with the gravel road to the weir, there was a lot of bird activity. Although they were mostly Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Silvereyes and Brown Thornbills, we also found a Grey Fantail. We went on down to the weir without much new apart from the call of a Striated Pardalote. However, on the way back along the gravel road, Robert Grosvenor cleverly relocated some Rufous Fantails that we had seen in the vicinity on the previous week’s recce. Excellent views were obtained by the whole group and as luck would have it an Eastern Whipbird was spotted lurking in the shadows just where the Fantails were busily flitting. Thankfully a few members managed to get sight of this often elusive species. At this point I should say that we were hearing White-throated Treecreepers on a regular basis, and it wasn’t long before somebody spotted one. Just a little further back toward the picnic ground we located a family of Superb Fairy-wrens and in the wooded area nearby we got some nice views of a White-throated Treecreeper.
The walk back to the picnic ground was punctuated by the now common sound of Silvereyes and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. However, keen ears in the group were able to pick up the call of the Spotted Pardalote that was working the upper canopy somewhere nearby and the clinking call of the Grey Currawong. With a more open canopy along the road, we got sight of a single Sulphur-crested Cockatoo on several occasions. Perhaps the same bird initially heard at the picnic ground.
A post-lunch amble around the picnic ground yielded more of the common species of the day plus one Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, giving a somewhat satisfactory total of 20 species for the outing.
Photos kindly provided by Marilyn Ellis.
Bird Data for the day can be found via the links below:
Despite the forecast for extreme heat and strong winds, 17 members attended Point Cook Coastal Park. At 10am the group walked through the Beach Picnic Area to the beach. Superb Fairy-wrens and Yellow-rumped Thornbills were the most numerous birds seen in the area. A Crested Pigeon obligingly remained close to the path to enable photographers some close shots. On Port Phillip Bay rafts of Silver Gulls could be seen.
Soon after exiting the Beach Reserve carpark, an unnamed lake on the right contained large numbers of ducks including Australian Wood Ducks, Chestnut and Grey Teal and Pacific Black Ducks. Australasian Grebes were seen gliding across the far end of the lake and Magpie-larks were numerous around the shore.
At the RAAF Lake birds were huddled close to the North shore to avoid the worst of the wind and through the ‘scope Australian Shelducks and Pied Stilts could be identified. Alongside the carpark in a patch of Dock Weed two Golden-headed Cisticolas provided all in the group close sustained views.
Across the road on a small wetland Australian Reed-Warblers were seen flying across the water and landing in the reeds. Both adult and juvenile Dusky Moorhens were seen and members had close views of Australasian Grebes in breeding plumage. Flying over the wetland were Welcome Swallows accompanied by a number of Tree Martins.
The constructed wetland at Saltwater Coast beside Citybay Drive produced sightings of Eurasian Coot and a Little Grassbird. A Little Pied Cormorant was perched atop a viewing platform. In the gardens surrounding the wetland New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters and European Goldfinch were seen.
The lunch location was under the shady trees beside the Homestead parking area. Numerous Little Ravens and Magpies were in the trees there and a number of raptors were seen hawking over the trees to the south including a Brown Falcon and a juvenile Collared Sparrowhawk.
Members set off after lunch toward the Homestead and most walked along the beach toward the Point. Good sightings were had of Pied Cormorants and the youngest member of our group, picked out two Black-faced Cormorants sitting on the remains of an old jetty. Soon after passing the jetty a cooling breeze from the west arrived.
At the Point was a multitude of Silver Gulls and numerous Crested Terns. On closer inspection a couple of flocks of Red-necked Stints were noticed foraging amongst the seaweed and a few Common Terns were perched on rocks alongside the Crested Terns. Two Black Swans were also seen there.
The rain received over the past few months ensured that many of the lakes in this area held water and the vegetation looked healthy. Regardless of the heat members enjoyed the opportunity to see the 49 species some of which were new to some members.
It was lovely to see 15 hardy souls gather to birdwatch what could have been 100 acres of sodden bush. Quite a few donned their waterproof over pants in anticipation of a wet outing. Mercifully, we had two and a half hours of scudding clouds, a little sunshine and only a few drops of rain. The car park yielded a few species as we waited for everyone to arrive. A couple of Wood Duck, some Welcome Swallow, Magpie-lark, and a flyover Australian White Ibis. Little Raven and Noisy Miners were also present.
We thanked Diane for all her years organising the Midweek outings and welcomed Phillip into the role.
A prior recce of the site had established a few problems with fallen trees and extensive water over some paths. Our route through the woodland was tailored accordingly. After a slow start where sounds dominated, and sightings were restricted to glimpses we were presented with some lovely views of a rather tolerant male Common Bronzewing.
We proceeded past Green Dam and came across both Crimson and Eastern Rosella before being surprised by a beautiful Australian King-parrot.
Rainbow Lorikeets and Noisy Miners were very active around here along with a Pied Currawong and a Laughing Kookaburra.
An Australian White Ibis was seen landing in a nearby garden, and an Australian Magpie was heard. The parrot family though, was keen to make its presence felt with a flyover by 2 Galahs and a fly past by 2 Little Corellas, and just as we got near Brown Dam a flyover of 5 Sulphur Crested Cockatoos one of which presented for a photo.
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike also turned up here, submitting to the photographer’s lens.
Small birds were hard to find, and up to this point we’d managed 1 Brown Thornbill and a heard a few Spotted Pardalotes. We continued along Ridge Track and heard Grey Fantail as well as spotting a secretive Superb Fairy-wren. Bird Corner didn’t turn up much for us at the end of the group, but we did hear a Common Blackbird and a White-throated Treecreeper before descending the Northern Boundary Track.
As we neared Chris’s Track the Red Wattlebirds, which had been evident by their calls, revealed themselves along with a few more Superb Fairy-wrens. A Grey Butcherbird also made a brief appearance here.
Descending to Tadpole Dam more Red Wattlebirds became evident, a Grey Shrike-thrush was calling, and another Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike turned up. The Olive-backed Oriole’s rolling call was heard again by some in the group, but it proved rather elusive. Tea Tree Track provided a brief spell of LBJ activity with 2 groups of Thornbills – Brown working the middle canopy and a flock of Striated up top.
We then headed back to the car park and doing a final check with the lead group we were able to add a few more species to the list…Eastern Yellow Robin, Eastern Spinebill, and Fan-tailed Cuckoo. A quick walk over to the far side of the oval yielded some nice views of Eastern Rosellas and an Australian Magpie fossicking around in the grass. No Water birds apart from the Wood Duck and no Whistlers. On a more positive note, we didn’t record any Common Starlings or Common Mynas.
32 Species all up was a very satisfactory total for the morning.
Photos kindly provided by Eleanor Dilley and Steve Hoptroff.
Thirty-two members gathered in glorious sunshine at Pound Bend Carpark and were greeted by lots of birds, both heard and seen, in the surrounding area. A variety of parrots were feeding on the grass, including Little and Long-billed Corellas, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Galahs, as well as Australian Wood Ducks with chicks.
Setting off along the riverside track it was interesting to see the Yarra in full spate after the recent heavy rains. There were many highlights along the track such as an Eastern Yellow Robin sitting on a nest close to the path. It seemed very vulnerable as there were Pied Currawongs, looking threatening, nearby.
A pair of Common Bronzewings came into view walking along the track ahead of us with their wings shining in the sunlight. Seemingly oblivious to our presence they sauntered on, eventually taking wing and disappearing into the bush. Gang-gang Cockatoos and King parrots were among the more unusual birds spotted near the end of the riverside track.
A short circuit walk away from the river was unproductive. However, on regaining the riverside track, a White-faced Heron was spotted standing on its nest in a tall Manna Gum on a small island in the river. Further along, a Laughing Kookaburra was perched, manipulating a large frog in its beak. It quickly flew to a nest hollow, presumably to feed its mate and/or its chicks.
Just before the end of the walk a Sacred Kingfisher was heard and eventually located on a fallen tree in the river. No Cormorants or Darters were seen, maybe because the river was flowing so rapidly that it would have been hard for them to feed. Many of the expected bush birds were heard but not many were so readily seen. Olive-backed Oriole, Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Shining Bronze-Cuckoo came into the latter category. Good views of Superb Fairy-wren and White-browed Scrubwren were obtained by a section of the group in the right place at the right time.
After lunch a short walk was taken to the tunnel exit which was a dramatic sight with water gushing through very fast. No further birds were seen to add to the morning’s total of 50 species. It had been an enjoyable walk in ideal conditions, particularly so for a few members for whom it was their first visit.
Thanks to Eleanor Dilley and Steve Hoptroff for, once again, supplying the excellent photographs.
Ten brave souls travelled the distance and braved the Stygian gloom of a rather damp Dandenong day around Kurth Kiln, so named as it is the sight of a charcoal producing kiln built by Dr. E.E. Kurth during World War 2, but more of that later.
Kurth Kiln car park of which there are two, caused a little confusion but we managed to eventually gather together for our day of birding.
In the car park, an Eastern Yellow Robin seemed very curious about our presence in his territory and the Fairy Wrens were very tame indeed, even joining later for lunch hopping around the picnic table. Grey Fantails flitted amongst the bushes.
There was a lot of bird sound, White Throated Treecreepers, Rufous Whistler, Yellow- faced Honeyeater and Kookaburras.
We set off along Thorntons Track (Dedicated to Ron Thornton, the caretaker of Kurth Kiln for many years) in a light drizzle. Once into the tall trees we didn’t notice it. Lots of sound, Rufous and Golden Whistlers, Spotted Pardalotes, GST, Shining Bronze Cuckoo were a few, but no visuals until Phillip at the front of line saw a Superb Lyrebird flit across the track. We waited hopeful that it would reappear. After five minutes it called, very near to us and a few lucky folks caught a fleeting glimpse in the thick undergrowth.
Continuing along the track we crossed the river to a clearing where we were treated to two minutes of a Shining Flycatcher high in the trees.
Continuing on Scout Loop we headed back to the car park via Kurth Kiln for lunch watching a pair of wet Kookaburras foraging for grubs on the way.
The charcoal produced at Kurth Kiln was used in Gas producing Units to power motor vehicles in WW2 because of the shortage of Gasoline. It was built in 1942 to Dr. Kurth’s patent but discontinued in 1943 due to abundance of Charcoal available from other sources.
Once out in the open the precipitation was more apparent and lunch was rather a damp affair. Undeterred six of us ventured out again along the Tomahawk Creek circular track to see what birds we could find. The rain got heavier, birds sheltered and kept out of sight except for a pair of White-throated Treecreepers collecting bark nesting material and depositing it in a hole in a nearby tree of which we had good views.
This is a beautiful location and no doubt is stunning on a sunny day. Well worth another visit. The consensus was that it was a day of quality rather than quantity.
Finally two of us decided to go around Thornton Track again anticlockwise to seek the elusive Lyrebird. Sadly this was not to be but a group of Red-browed Finches and a Crimson Rosella posed for pictures.
At the end of the walk the sun came out (for a few minutes) and two Golden Whistlers were seen at the edge of the forest.