Beginners Outing to Newport Lakes and Jawbone Reserve

26 November 2016
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers. Photographs by Eleanor Dilley

 

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White-plumed Honeyeater

A fine but overcast day provided good conditions for the 34 members attending the excursion beginning at Newport Lakes. A local birdwatcher, Mary Burbridge, joined in and advised us to take the ridge track to where she had earlier seen a Horsefield’s Bronze-Cuckoo.

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Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo

We heard it first, calling repeatedly, then located it and enjoyed the excellent views it gave to all the beginners. Nearby Whistlers were heard and a female Golden and a female Rufous were seen, but unfortunately their colourful mates did not put in an appearance. A Common Bronzewing was then sighted, which delighted Mary as, according to her records, the last report at Newport Lakes was in 2009.

Dusky Moorhen and chick, Newport Lakes
Dusky Moorhen

Superb Fairy-wrens, New Holland Honeyeaters and White-plumed Honeyeaters were plentiful throughout the walk, though there were very few Ducks and Cormorants on the lakes. A pair of Black Swans with cygnets, a Dusky Moorhen with chicks and Australasian Grebes were amongst the birds on the water.

Superb Fairy-wren (F), Jawbone Reserve
Superb Fairy-wren

A Willie Wagtail on a nest close to the track provided good opportunities for the photographers amongst us.

Willie Wagtail on nest, Newport Lakes
Willie Wagtail

Before returning to the car park a short walk was taken to the arboretum where Common Greenfinch and Masked Plover were added to the tally.

Common Greenfinch, Newport Lakes
Common Greenfinch

After lunch most of the members drove down Maddox Road to the Bay where it was high tide. Australian Pelicans, Pied Oystercatchers, Great, Pied and Little Black Cormorants, a Crested Tern and numerous Silver Gulls were perched on the breakwater.

Common Greenshanks, Jawbone Reserve
Common Greenshanks

A walk was then taken through Jawbone Reserve. Ten Common Greenshanks in a pond on the saltmarsh and a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels near the new housing development were highlights of this walk.

Black-fronted Dotterels, Jawbone Reserve
Black-fronted Dotterels

Again very few Ducks were seen and Spoonbills and Stilts were completely absent. A hovering Nankeen Kestrel was the only raptor seen for the day.

Despite the low numbers of water birds there were still some good sightings and a creditable 53 species was recorded for the day.

Thanks to Eleanor Dilley who provided all the photographs for this posting.

See the complete bird list for the day: bm-nov-2016-bird-list-newport-lakes-jawbone-reserve

November 2016 education report

The October weather pattern continued with a damp day for the walk through the Yarran Dheran Nature Reserve in the City of Whitehorse on Saturday 12 November. Geoff Russell led a group of 19 people where they viewed 27 species and heard two others. A feature of the morning was a nesting Eastern Yellow Robin. A good mixture of small bush birds were also present in the reserve.

I had organised two members to lead bird walks at The Pipemakers Park in Maribrynong on Sunday 13 November for an Environmental Day. Unfortunately the communication from the council failed to continue with the leaders and we did not attend on the day. Thank you Joab Wilson and Pat Bingham for offering to help.

On Thursday 17 November, Pat Bingham spoke at the Friends of Salt Creek and Associated Parklands AGM in Macleod. Her topic of “Australia – Land of Parrots” was well received and generated lots of questions. This group has a small membership so it was good that about 20 attended the AGM. They do regular bird surveys of the Macleod Parklands and enter their data in the BirdLife database. They missed out on Swift Parrots this winter but had their first record of Little Lorikeet instead.

On Friday 18 November, the Hawthorn U3A had their last monthly bird walk for this year in Wilson Park in Ivanhoe. As usual Pat Bingham led this walk. The best birds were several Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrikes, a nesting Magpie-lark, Red-browed Finches feeding in the grass with a nest not far away, a pair of Red-rumped Parrots about a metre away from them and Crested Shrike-tits calling but not seen. It is marvelous that this group is continuing in March 2017 due to popular request.

After being postponed last month, Sunday 20 November, saw us take part in the sixth bird survey on a Kinglake West property as part of the Discover Whittlesea’s Native Birds sponsored by the City of Whittlesea. This warm day saw Pat Bingham, Jane Moseley and Geoff Russell lead the walks. Unfortunately the warm weather must have frightened off some who booked as the leaders, council staff and the property owners outnumbered the locals. 32 species were recorded on the morning with five new species being added to the list. These were Gang-gang Cockatoo, Sacred Kingfisher, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Eastern Spinebill and a Nankeen Kestrel. This takes the property list to 61 species. A light luncheon and a cold drink were appreciated at the end of the walk.

Thank you to everyone who has assisted with our education activities this year. 23 different people have made my organisation so much easier. We covered 38 walks, talks and displays this year. As the bookings roll in for next year I hope I can count on everyone’s support again.

Season’s Greetings to everyone and a Happy New Year.

Janet Hand, BirdLife Melbourne Education Coordinator (9842 4177)

Vale Peggy Mitchell

Sadly Peggy Mitchell passed away on 3 October 2016 at age 94 years.

Peggy and her husband Hartley came to live in Mount Eliza in 1968 and immediately became involved with conservation of plants and wildlife on the Mornington Peninsula. She was a committed bird watcher, travelling the length and breadth of Australia in search of new birds for her list and her 600th tick was a Red-tailed Tropicbird at Esperance in Western Australia. This made her a member of ‘The 600 Club’, an exclusive club. She was a Life Member of BirdLife Australia/BOCA and was collater of the Unusual Sighting Reports, published in The Bird Observer, from 1984 until 2002, a mighty job.

peggy-mitchell

She was a member of the Peninsula Field Naturalists Club and coordinated their birding outings for many years. She and husband Hartley hosted the Field Naturalist committee meetings at their house and she was eventually made a Life Member of the Peninsula Field Naturalists Club.

Peggy and Hartley were instrumental (with others) in saving the Langwarren Military Reserve from development in the 1980’s so it is now a great nature reserve full of wildflowers and birds.

A wonderful character and we will miss her. We send our condolences to the family.

David Ap-Thomas
per BirdLife Mornington Peninsula December 2016 Newsletter

October education report

The unpredictable weather has had a negative effect on our October activities.

On Sunday, 9 October 2016 Graeme Hosken led a group of 11 people on a walk through Wilson Park in Berwick. The area was sheltered from the worst of the wind and an 8am start assisted too. Twenty eight species were found on their walk and this was followed by a lovely breakfast supplied by the Friends of Wilson Park.

On the same day Sonja Ross and Sally Heeps were to lead a walk through the Granite Hills in South Morang. This walk was cancelled due to the dangerous high winds forecast. It was organised by a staff member from the City of Whittlesea. Hopefully we can assist them at a later date.

On Saturday, 15 October 2016 Janet Hand set up an information table at the Mitchell Annual Spring Plant Expo and sales in Kilmore. It was the first lovely weekend for a while and many people decided to attend other outdoor activities in the district but many interesting conversations were had.

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Information stall at Kilmore Plant Expo

The sixth bird survey was scheduled on Sunday, 16 October on a Kinglake West property as part of the Discover Whittlesea’s Native Birds sponsored by the City of Whittlesea. Again the weather was responsible for this being postponed until Sunday, 20 November. Thank you Tazmin Duggan and Sally Heeps for volunteering for the 16th.

On Friday, 21 October 2016 Pat Bingham led 11 walkers from the Hawthorn U3A along the Blackburn Lake Creeklands. Pat reported the ‘weather was grey, no rain at the time but very wet underfoot.’ They found 20 species including three of those nesting (Noisy Miner, Pied Currawong and Tawny Frogmouth). They also saw a large melon-sized, very cold and bedraggled bee swarm hanging from an Acacia twig – probably took off on Thursday (very warm day) and got caught out by the change of weather.

On Saturday, 22 October 2016 Pat returned to the same venue to assist the Friends of Blackburn Lake Creeklands conduct their survey. On this occasion 20 people came and they found 24 species. It was another cold start (mufflers and gloves all round) so it was great that anyone turned up at all to join Ian Moodie (Pat’s co-leader) and Pat, and with all the local knowledge and extra pairs of eyes and ears they helped to make it a good morning in spite of the weather. The bee swarm was still on its twig, colder and wetter and less movement of bees around it than the day before. The group found five more Tawny Frogmouths but still only one nest; nesting Kookaburras and Grey Butcherbirds both feeding young; nesting Wood Ducks as well as Pacific Black Ducks with families of fluffy ducklings. The rain started after about an hour so the hot drinks and lovely breakfast after the walk, courtesy of the Friends’ Committee, was very much appreciated.

The same weather pattern continued onto Sunday, 23 October 2016 when we had our 18th Breakfast with the Birds at Banyule. With an occasional shower predicted, half of those who had booked chose to stay in bed. The ground was wet under foot from the 22ml of rain on the Saturday but the participants who did arrive and my leaders had dressed appropriately. It’s a pity that the 50 people who booked, and didn’t turn up, obviously don’t care about the effort and expense that goes into organising such a function. The Banyule City Council organised another wonderful sit-down breakfast spread with plenty of food left over. Thank you to Jim Mead and his six staff members from the Banyule City Council for all their help and preparation.

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Breakfast with the Birds at Banyule

I appreciate the distances that many of my leaders travelled on the day with most not being locals. Special thanks to my leaders Pat Bingham, Peter Dynes, Lyn Easton, Anthea Fleming, Carol Griffiths, Robert Grosvenor, Daphne Hards, Richard Loyn, Elva and Ian Muir, Shirley and Bill Ramsay, Sonja Ross and Scot Sharman.

Again the bird list didn’t disappoint. Daphne and Shirley’s group added the 123rd species to our BwtB list with two Rufous Fantails found down near the river. 61 species were found within Banyule Flats and 39 in the Warringal wetlands area. With five species being found in the Warringal area that weren’t found in Banyule, the total species for the day was 66 species. Ten species were noted breeding in Banyule Flat and only one in Warringal. With the wetlands full, all the waders have left and there was no raptors seen on the day. Shining Bronze-Cuckoos and Fan-tailed Cuckoos were observed as well as five species of Honeyeaters.

My thanks to all those who have been kind enough to help with our BirdLife Melbourne Education activities.

Janet Hand, BirdLife Melbourne Education Coordinator (9842 4177)

Weekdays outing to Cranbourne Royal Botanic Gardens

8  November 2016

Our group numbered 18 with Pat Bingham as leader. The weather was bird-watching perfect – fine, mild with blue skies and little wind, a welcome change from the previous blustery week. The car park, as they do, yielded numerous species, both calling and visible. Unfortunately one species was the introduced Common Myna but others included the Red Wattlebird (almost always seen or heard throughout the park) and the smaller Brown Thornbill. Lucky observers had brief views of the Southern Brown Bandicoot but most could simply hope for future success. Both Australian and Little Ravens called, and Spotted Dove was heard at the same time as Crested Pigeon. Other calls were White-eared Honeyeater (later sighted many times) and Shining Bronze-Cuckoo which confused with its unexpected variety of calls and was only seen briefly. Spotted Pardalotes called and then delighted many with brief glimpses while Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes announced their presence with calls and then lived up to their old name of ‘Shuffle-wing’ as they landed on a perch.

We headed off on the Wetlands Walk and Lake Track 2, adding Superb Fairy-wren among the bracken and Grey Fantail in the middle storey. A Swamp Harrier attempted to upstage our main interest in a pair of Pallid Cuckoos who appeared to briefly try to mate before separating. We walked beside grassland between housing and the park where we observed the Swamp Harrier using a thermal to gain altitude and where a Brown Goshawk later quartered the tree tops. Golden Whistlers had been vocal but it was during watching the Pallid Cuckoos that we added the first Rufous Whistler to our list.

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Rainbow Lorikeets. Photo by Dennis Hill

Reaching the first lake there was considerable discussion when teal were observed – was the first seen a Grey Teal with young? Certainly the second family contained a male, female and young Chestnut Teal. After consideration the consensus was we had observed two Chestnut Teal families. Waterbirds were not common but included a solitary Little Pied Cormorant on a dead branch and a Purple Swamphen with three fluffy black young – the numbers were probably down as the season’s rains had provided many alternative locations. Parrots were uncommon; there were only a couple each of Rainbow Lorikeets and Eastern Rosellas. Fan-tailed Cuckoos called but were seldom seen and Eastern Yellow Robins were heard only. We were pleased to record only one Noisy Miner on the periphery of the park. Where they invade, the species count always seems to plummet, especially White-plumed Honeyeaters. Black Wallabies delighted all who saw them and the sightings of a Copperhead and an Eastern Bearded Dragon were a bonus. Eastern Common Froglets produced a continual chorus beside any water, a contrast to the drought years, and a colony of onion orchids was reported. By day’s end we had recorded 52 species of birds and we thanked Pat for sharing her knowledge and experience with us.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekdays outing to Phillip Island

10-11 October 2016

Two youngsters joined 23 adults at the information centre on Phillip Island Road. The previous day’s storm winds had closed some areas but our leaders, Sally and Derek Whitehead, adjusted their itinerary to accommodate the changing weather. The cold wind and intermittent rain were challenging but all had dressed for the weather. The birds showed less enthusiasm for the wintry conditions and there were few species around the car park – Masked Lapwing, Welcome Swallow and Little Raven dominated though both a Shining Bronze-cuckoo and a Fan-tailed Cuckoo called. We drove to the Newhaven jetty and the bird list grew as Silver Gulls and Crested Terns sheltered near several immature Pacific Gulls, one of which was pecking determinedly at the long backbone (about 80 cm) and head of a rather large fish. Australian Pelicans and Little Pied Cormorants stood further out and in the distance a white dot resolved into a Royal Spoonbill which obligingly flew over us as we were leaving and was added to the Common Blackbird, New Holland Honeyeater and Willie Wagtail foraging in the park side bushes. It was only a short drive to Fishers wetland where the birding was very busy. Cape Barren Geese had clearly had a most successful couple of breeding seasons as they were present not only in the sanctuary but in most paddocks and also in housing estates where the vegetation was grassy. Black Swans with cygnets of varying ages swam at Fishers, to the delight of youngsters and adults. A highlight here was a lone Cattle Egret in breeding plumage. Scopes revealed more distant birds – Australasian Shoveler, White-fronted Chat and Chestnut Teal plus an unexpected Wood Sandpiper– while passing above our heads were Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and Whistling Kite. We left the wetland with regret, pausing to admire a fluffy Dusky Moorhen chick among the reeds. A bush walk added Brown Thornbill, White-naped and White-plumed Honeyeaters as well as Grey Butcherbird.

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Bar-tailed Godwit. Photo by Derek Whitehead

The next stop was at the Shearwater estate where a well-vegetated water retention/purification pond hosted numerous calling Little Grassbirds. Some were lucky enough to glimpse one, including a fortunate birder who’d only ever heard them, infrequently. Over the water Fairy Martins twisted and flew and a happy spotting was a pair of Spotted Pardalotes which flew into a low street tree beside us. The small flock of foraging Red-browed Finches delighted those who saw them. When you consider the bird list (not given comprehensively here) for this housing estate you realise how much has been learnt recently about creating an area which controls water, provides recreation, looks attractive and provides a wildlife habitat. On to the cemetery next as clouds once more built up on the horizon. The day was darkening and fewer birds were detected though a Grey Currawong obligingly perched on a dead tree and posed against grey sky long enough for most to see. As a rainstorm approached it was decided to postpone the day’s birdcall till next morning and finish the day to give everyone a chance to reach their accommodation reasonably comfortably.

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Whimbrel. Photo by Derek Whitehead

The next morning we reassembled by the info’ centre, did our best to recall what each had recorded the previous day and created the Monday bird list. A quick count indicated that the group had recorded 64 species for that afternoon. First drive was out to Kitty Miller wetlands, on private property with permission to visit. Birding from the road added Australasian Pipit as well as the usual PI suspects, geese, magpies, Common Starlings and Great Cormorant. Then we made our way through some very wet, sticky and slippery mud (who said birdwatching is for wimps?) up to the bank of a chain of ponds where young geese were shepherded by their adults and swans nested. The duck count mounted as Pink-eared, Musk and Australian Shelduck were added to Pacific Black and Australian Wood Duck.

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Musk Duck, male. Photo by Derek Whitehead

All good things must end so it was off to the Oswin Roberts sanctuary which had been reopened after being shut Sunday and Monday due to the dangerous winds. Here were bushbirds – Eastern Rosella, Laughing Kookaburra and Grey Shrike-thrush joined Superb Fairy-wren and female Golden Whistler. The short walking track was chosen as once again we were pressed for time under darkening skies. The children especially were delighted to encounter Black (Swamp) Wallabies watching us from near the path. We then drove to the Rhyll observation point above Rhyll Inlet. There were Whimbrels and Bar-tailed Godwits on the edge of the sand and Crested and Caspian Terns joined cormorants and pelicans on the sandspit. A lone Little Egret walked animatedly in the shallows while a Pied Cormorant flew over. The last birds to be added were Red-necked Stints and Red-capped Plovers bringing the bird list for the two days to 89 species. We thanked Sally and Derek most enthusiastically for all their work and preparation which so successfully overcame the obstacles created by the extreme weather. Far from disappearing, some of us stayed for ‘just a little more’ birding with afternoon tea and others were heard planning return visits now that they knew of more locations than the well-publicised Nobbies and the penguin parade.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings

Beginners Outing to Banyule Flats

22 October 2016
Leaders: Alan and Hazel Veevers; species count 47

Despite a very poor weather forecast, 36 members came to Banyule Flats and were delighted to see a resident Tawny Frogmouth on a nest beside the car park.

Tawny Frogmouth, Banyule
Tawny Frogmouth on nest. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Setting off towards the swamp, a male Mistletoebird, a Grey Currawong and a pair of Common Bronzewings provided good sightings.

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Common Bronzewing. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After the heavy winter rains the swamp was full to overflowing and so there was no visible mud available for waders. A lone Pacific Black Duck was the only duck to be seen and a Dusky Moorhen made a brief appearance ‘running’ across the water.

Dusky Moorhen, Banyule
Dusky Moorhen. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants perched on the dead trees in the water, whilst male and female Red-rumped Parrots investigated nest hollows on the same trees.

Taking the track around the billabong there was little bird activity, though a female Golden Whistler, a pair of Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes and a pair of Laughing Kookaburras were seen. Upon reaching the river a second male Mistletoebird and several Red-browed Finches provided clear views and a few lucky members saw a pair of Sacred Kingfishers in bright breeding plumage.

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Mistletoebird. Photo by Yun Shao

Several birds were heard but not seen, including Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo and Rufous Whistler.

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Young Noisy Miners waiting for food. Photo by Yun Shao

Noisy Miners were the most evident species, being present on almost all sections of the walk. The forecast rain then began to fall as the group quickened pace on the walk back to the carpark.

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Noisy Miners receiving food. Photo by Yun Shao

Due to the inclement weather it was decided to take a second short walk to the ‘Grotty Ponds’, before lunch. This yielded two further Tawny Frogmouth nests, each occupied by one of their respective pairs, with the other partner also located nearby in each case.

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Tawny Frogmouth and chick. Photo by Yun Shao

Also, Australian Wood Ducks were loitering near the track but neither crakes nor rails were found. The rain then became torrential and the wind blew very strongly and so it was decided not to have an afternoon walk. Lunch was eaten in the shelter of the sports pavilion and it was amusing to watch six Pacific Black Ducks enjoying the soggy conditions of the oval.

Laughing Kookaburra, Banyule
Laughing Kookaburra. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

Although most people went home rather damp there had been some very good sightings and several new members were very enthusiastic and vowed to return on a sunnier day. Grateful thanks go to Eleanor Dilley and to our overseas visitor Yun Shao for providing excellent photographs taken in difficult conditions. A total of 47 species was recorded.

See the full bird list: bm-oct-2016-bird-list-banyule-flats

The new Birdata web portal and mobile app

Balwyn meeting report, 27 September 2016

In early October, Birdlife Australia released its new and improved Birdata web portal, plus a free mobile app. Andrew Silcocks, Birdlife’s Atlas and Birdata Project Manager, came to showcase it to members. The first Atlas of Australian Birds collated data collected from 1977 to 1981, and established species distribution. The second atlas, which ran from 1998 to 2002, gave definition to point locations. Since 1998 bird survey data has been collected continuously and stored in the old Birdata. Currently approximately 3,000 surveys are submitted per month. A new portal was needed to streamline reporting, survey management and to make data available to registered users.

The underlying objective of the first Atlas was to map species distribution. The second Atlas shed light on changes in abundance and distribution. It is hoped that a new easy-to-use portal will engage the wider community in bird science and biodiversity. Most current atlassers live in the SW, SE and Tasmania; in Central Australia surveys mostly occur on roadsides. The new Birdata seeks to involve bird enthusiasts Australia-wide.

What kind of data does Birdata accept?

Andrew stressed the point that all data entries are checked. The following surveys are explained in detail in the portal:

  1. Incidental search or one-off sighting.

2. 2 hectare/20 minute survey – rated the most useful data.                                                                                            3. Area search within 500m or 5km radius for longer than 20 minutes.                                                                               4. Fixed route search.                                                                                                                                                                                         5. Embedded search – this comprises doing a 2 ha search for 20 min, and then recording birds noted outside the 2ha plot over a longer period.

‘Make the counts count’

That is, record not only species but the numbers of birds present. Estimates for a flock are acceptable. And the most value arises from repeat surveys at the same site; so you might want to visit regularly a site not too far from home. The portal allows you to set up a survey site with GPS readings, survey method etc. Or, ‘Shared Surveys’ are available; set up by Birdata and visible on a map, to which you can contribute.

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Australian Painted Snipe. Copyright Patrick Kavanagh, 2013
Who uses information from Birdata?

Overwhelmingly it is environmental scientists conducting environmental impact assessments. Data on the endangered Painted Snipe was used in the assessment of the Abbot Point Coal Port expansion in Queensland. Users of Birdata are:

Environmental Scientists                                                  49.3%                                                                                                             Universities (Staff and Students)                                    14.2%                                                                                                     Federal and State Government Agencies                      13.8%                                                                                       Private Individuals                                                               11.0%

Birdlife Australia uses Birdata to identify significant habitat for birds, especially that of endangered species, and thus protect that land from development. The status of threatened species may be monitored and inform their listing under the EPBC Act. Birdata is used in compiling the regular State of Australia’s Birds report, and the identification of Important Bird Sites.

All previous acceptable bird survey data has been entered into the new Birdata. That includes Atlas data 2006-15, original Birdata records, and data from eBird and Eremaea – although this data has not always been collected within strict survey guidelines.

Andrew then demonstrated the new portal. The Home page has a section on getting started plus articles of interest. A map of Australia shows where the most recent surveys have been conducted. To progress further one has to log in. If you already log in to Birdlife Australia, that login will get you into the new Birdata. If not, you will have to register. It is highly recommended that you pay Birdata a visit at http://birdata.birdlife.org.au and see for yourself the scope of the new portal. And the mobile app is available free for Apple or Android users from app stores.

Get out on surveys and join the current 7000 atlassers. Never has it been more important to record bird data.

Daphne Hards

Photo credit: Patrick Kavanagh, Australian Painted Snipe, Crusoe Reservoir, Kangaroo Flat Vic., 2013, https://www.flickr.com/photos/63175631@N02/8426819200

 

Education report – August/September 2016

With terrible weather predicted on Friday 19 August, 2016 eight members of the Hawthorn U3A met for their Monthly Bird Walk at Ricketts Point, Black Rock with Pat Bingham. They stayed for only one hour. In that time they found 26 species of birds. Both Gulls (both adult and juveniles), three species of Cormorants, Hoary-headed Grebes, Common Bronzewings, Australian Pelicans and both species of Wattlebirds were sighted.

On Wednesday 31 August, 2016 Janet Hand made her annual visit to Mercy Place at Boronia. This year her topic was ’61 birds that you won’t see in Boronia.’ This brought back memories for those who had travelled to other parts of Australia. Twenty five ladies enjoyed the afternoon.

On Friday 2 September, 2016 Graeme Hosken gave a Powerpoint presentation at the Mt Waverley Youth Centre to approximately 100 members of the Combined Probus of Monash. His presentation was on bird migration entitled ‘Catching up with the illegals’. Many of the audience had little knowledge of the birds that travel here each year and how they make the long journey and were fascinated by the presentation.

Because of renovations to the Eltham Community Centre, the Annual Yarra Yarra Plant Expo in September was cancelled this year.

Janet Hand visited Rylands of Kew on Monday 12 September and spoke about ‘Birds of the Kew area’.  27 people crowded into the theatre to see the presentation which was followed by a lovely afternoon tea made by two of the residents.

On Tuesday 13 September, 2016 Bill Ramsay spoke to the Whitehorse Day Group at the Box Hill RSL  about ‘Attracting birds to your backyard and what you can hope to see’.  This created a lot of interest and many questions. Approximately 50 people attended.

On the night of our monthly meeting at Balwyn (Tuesday 27 September, 2016) Sally Heeps addressed a smaller group of the Whitehorse Greens in the Box Hill Community Arts Centre. Sally spoke about the birds of Box Hill and the problem with the Common Mynas.

I thank all my presenters and the various organisations for making donations that assist in bird conservation.

Janet Hand, BirdLife Melbourne Education Coordinator (Phone: 9842 4177)

Beginners Outing to Coolart Wetlands and Homestead

24 September 2016
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 57

Fine sunny weather greeted the 31 members gathered in the car park at Coolart Wetlands. The outing began by taking the track towards Luxton Lagoon, along which a ‘hot spot’ was soon reached. Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Shining Bronze-Cuckoo were both heard and eventually seen.

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Eastern Yellow Robin. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

An Eastern Yellow Robin was observed feeding chicks in a well-hidden nest and a pair of Red-browed Finches flew to-and-fro across the path carrying nesting material deep into the low bushes. Many other bush birds were found on the approach to Minsmere Hide, including Brown Thornbills, Superb Fairy-wrens and Golden Whistlers.

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Australian White Ibis. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Great views were had from the two-level hide of Australian White Ibis nesting on nearby log islands in the lagoon. Some nests were still being built and some had two or three eggs in already. Males were proudly presenting their mates with freshly collected sticks and leaves and joining in the squabbling going on between the closely packed birds.

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Australian White Ibis. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Blue-billed Ducks were well spotted in a distant reed bed and Chestnut Teal were seen keeping a close watch on their fluffy youngsters.

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Grey Shrike-thrush. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Although there was plenty of water in the lagoon, the other wetland areas had very little. Consequently, there was not much bird activity in these areas. Lunch was had in the pleasant surroundings of the picnic area, joined by a fearless Grey Shrike-thrush and some rather pushy Australian Magpies.

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Red-capped Plover. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

The afternoon walk followed the woodland track to the beach where Red-capped Plovers were known to have nested. Three adults and three young were located in various parts of the roped area and also at the water’s edge.

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Red-capped Plover. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

A large number of hoof marks showed that the beach was heavily used by horse riders, emphasising the importance of protecting the area around the nest sites. A Little Pied Cormorant took no notice of us as it continued fishing some way offshore.

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King Parrot, female. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Both Red and Little Wattlebirds were evident in the woodlands and two female King Parrots engaged the group, feeding in track-side bushes.

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Little Wattlebird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A skull in the middle of the track had people guessing its origin, which was later verified (by Merrilyn Serong) to be that of a Koala. Back at the car park our attention was drawn to a Tawny Frogmouth which was hard to see, though everyone remaining managed to get on to it before the final bird call; a fitting finale to the day with a count of 57 species.

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Hardhead, female. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Despite our searches we had failed to find the Hardheads and Swans known to frequent the Luxton Lagoon. However, Merrilyn found both species after the formal close and provided lovely photographic evidence of what we had missed.

See the full bird list: bm-september-2016-bird-list-coolart

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Hardhead, male. Photo by Merrilyn Serong