Birds in Schools

Birds in Schools continues to build momentum in Melbourne. Nine schools, and approximately 460 students, are now participating in the program, which is a joint effort by teachers and students from participating schools, BirdLife staff and volunteers, and local councils. The Birds in Schools program is designed to teach students to identify and survey birds, investigate their habitat requirements, and ultimately, take action to make their school more bird-friendly. The students and teachers involved have been engaged and excited, and are becoming very keen bird-watchers! Our BirdLife volunteers, Bill, Sally, Jacinta, Cody and Melissa have been invaluable on school visits with their birding expertise and enthusiasm.

Action days have now been held at two schools to make the school grounds more bird-friendly. Teachers and students at Spotswood Primary School and Coburg Primary School have put in an enormous effort to learn about birds and their habitats, and decided to have planting days to increase native vegetation to support bird populations. A huge thank you must go to Andrew from Hobsons Bay City Council and Vince from Moreland City Council, who have supported these school plantings through providing local native plants, tree guards and stakes, tools and their expert knowledge and assistance on the days. Thank you also to wonderful BirdLife volunteer, Jacinta, who assisted with the Coburg PS action day

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Students at Spotswood Primary School water their new plants

Many schools are integrating Birds in Schools into other areas of the curriculum and the results are impressive! After learning about the lack of suitable habitat in urban areas, students from grades 5 and 6 from Coburg Primary School and Cornish College have been getting creative with their new knowledge.

Joshua from Coburg Primary School has written a beautiful and educational poem about the importance of native shrubs for our birdlife.

The Spikey Bush – By Joshua

Prickly and harsh but plentiful with flowers,

A sea of pink and green.

Sharp but uncontested for our soaring friends of wings.

Looks can be deceiving,

From nature to raw stone.

Stop and take a look,

For this is our home.

Dion from Cornish College has recorded the class’s observations of a big old eucalyptus tree at their school in a detailed illustration showing Red-rumped Parrots using tree hollows.

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Lily from Cornish College has this to say about their participation in Birds in Schools so far:

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This is me and my friends comparing our survey results.
Birds in Schools is a great program that we all enjoy, so this was really fun.
Lily.

Students from Coburg Primary School have been able to investigate birds that interest them. Evie researched and illustrated this Orange Bellied Parrot.

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Schools all around Australia can participate independently in the Pardalote Package, the first two modules of the program any time by registering at www.birdsinbackyards.net/Birds-Schoolsor contacting birdsinschools@birdlife.org.au

We welcome new schools and volunteers for the program. If you are interested in volunteering for Birds in Schools, or if you are a teacher who is interested in participating in the program, please get in touch with Alex by email at: alexandra.johnson@birdlife.org.au

 

 

 

 

Beginners Outing to Jells Park

24 August 2019
Leader: Robert Grosvenor
Attendees: 35; Species count: 52
Little Raven, Jells Park
Little Raven. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

While waiting for all attendees to arrive Eastern Rosella, Noisy Miner and White Ibis were all seen overhead but what was most surprising was the sight of a large hare which took off down the path near the car park.

Laughing Kookaburra - B Hood
Laughing Kookaburra. Photo by Bevan Hood

Eventually it was time to commence the walk by then we had 35 eager birders ready to go. It was a lovely sunny winter’s morning, only hampered by the strong, cold northerly wind.  A Laughing Kookaburra waited for us at the start of our walk.

Grey Butcherbird, Jells Park
Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A Striated Pardalote was calling in a large gum tree but proved impossible to see due to the windy conditions. Shortly into the walk we deviated from our planned route to try and find a Tawny Frogmouth which had been seen in the area. Although unsuccessful, we did find a Grey Fantail and a female Golden Whistler.  Some also had close views of a Grey Butcherbird.

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike - B Hood
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Bevan Hood

Back on track, many were fortunate to see a Spotted Pardalote flying into and out of its nest in the side of the creek. This was quickly followed by a Grey Shrike Thrush, a Black Faced Cuckoo Shrike, Brown Thornbill and a male Golden Whistler looking resplendent in the bright sunshine.

Pink-eared Duck, Jells Park
Pink-eared Duck. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Eventually we arrived at the bird hide by the lake where Pink Eared Duck, Grey Teal and a few Freckled Ducks were seen together with hundreds of White Ibis, a Darter, Little Pied Cormorant, Eurasian Coot and both Hoary Headed and Australasian Grebes.

Little Pied Cormorant, Australian White Ibis, Dusky Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Jells Park
Little Pied Cormorant, Australian White Ibis, Dusky Moorhen, Eurasian Coot. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Darter - B Hood
Australasian Darter. Photo by Bevan Hood

Further down the track, a solitary Chestnut Teal was found as well as a pair of Pacific Black ducks, Purple Swamp hens and Dusky Moorhens.

Chestnut Teal male - B Hood
Chestnut Teal, male. Photo by Bevan Hood

A single Australian Pelican was seen flying above the lake, and was later seen on the water.

Australian Pelican - B Hood
Australian Pelican. Photo by Bevan Hood

When we reached the lake again some eagle-eyed birders managed to find a single Royal Spoonbill amongst the many hundreds of White Ibis. A pair of Little Ravens watched us pass by on our way out of the sanctuary.

Australian Pelican, Jells Park
Australian Pelican. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Following our walk around the lake, we picked up Wood Duck, Willy Wagtail and a White-faced Heron before we returned for lunch.

Australasian Swamphen, Jells Park
Australasian Swamphen. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Over lunch Galahs, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Eastern Rosellas were seen.

White-faced Heron - B Hood
White-faced Heron. Photo by Bevan Hood

After lunch with a slightly reduced number we crossed the bridge and headed north towards Nortons Park. Although the strong wind made birding difficult in this exposed area we managed an extra seven species for the day with Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Straw-necked Ibis, Silver Gull, Blackbird, Indian Myna and Starling all seen, giving a grand total for the day of 52 species.

A good total for the conditions and a good walk for the birders.

View complete bird list: Bird List Jells Park 2019

 

Weekdays Outing to Yarra Bend Park, Fairfield

12 August 2019
Photographs by Kat Mun Loh

The group numbered 20, of whom two were international visitors, from the UK and Canada, and another couple were visitors from the support group Regenerate. Elsmaree Baxter led and all were grateful that the weather, though very cold, was dry. The ground was still wet and muddy with plenty of large puddles after several days of rain so care was needed when walking. Early arrivals were treated to a flock of 20 Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos flying overhead and some later arrivals counted the last bird while it perched in a bare tree. Other car park species included the inevitable Noisy Miners plus a few Australian Wood Ducks, Eastern Rosellas, Red-rumped Parrots and Rainbow Lorikeets plus a pair of Magpie-larks. Overhead flew a Great Cormorant and then, to the alarm calls from many species, a slender-winged Australian Hobby.

Superb Fairy-wren - male - Kat Mun Loh
Superb Fairy-wren, male

We walked past the golf course, noting a White-faced Heron patrolling near a green, apparently unfazed by the driving practice going on at the far end of the range. The grass was covered with yellow golf balls which must presumably be collected mechanically. Turning back into the bush section we noted the calls of Pied Currawong and Little Raven and watched Corellas flying near exercising dogs, presumably Long-billed Corellas as only this species had been seen from the start.

the group - Kat Mun Loh
The group walking

We headed back towards the Yarra which was flowing strong and high. A highlight here was a female Australasian Darter perched on a snag near a couple of Pacific Black Ducks. Some in the front of the group saw a robin which was another highlight – it was a female Scarlet Robin. The visitors were smiling and listing more and more.

Australasian Darter -female - Kat Mun Loh
Australasian Darter

A Dusky Moorhen swam near but did not try to fight the very strong river current. An Eastern Spinebill called but was only seen by one or two while Red Wattlebirds were heard at intervals. Superb Fairy-wrens’ calls were identified to the visitors but sightings were few and a “little brown job” was initially misidentified as a thornbill but on closer inspection was a White-browed Scrubwren being unexpectedly obvious on a low bare branch. Another good sighting, though often brief, was a calling Spotted Pardalote, much admired. One observer’s wish was granted when a clear close view of a Laughing Kookaburra was obtained as up till then she had only heard or briefly glimpsed this iconic Australian.

Laughing Kookaburra - Kat Mun Loh
Laughing Kookaburra

We were heading toward the boathouse when a sharp pair of eyes penetrated the great camouflage of a pair of Tawny Frogmouths huddled closely together against the cold. A great sighting for everyone.

Tawny Frogmouths - Kat Mun Loh
First glimpse of a pair of Tawny Frogmouths
Tawny Frogmouth - Kat Mun Loh
Tawny Frogmouth

Back to the shelter near the car park for lunch where we were checked out by Noisy Miners which made the most of every slight food spill. Wood ducks were still foraging on the near grass and were joined peaceably by a lone Crested Pigeon. At intervals some heard a distant call of an Olive-backed Oriole which was then picked up by all during a quiet pause in our chatter. However no sighting was obtained despite careful peering upwards. Unfortunately Elsmaree had to terminate her walk at lunchtime so she joined those finishing then because of fatigue or prior engagement. We thanked her wholeheartedly for all her preparation and wished her well.

Pat Bingham led the smaller remaining group around the Macfarlane Burnet circuit where the only addition to the species list was an overhead V of Straw-necked Ibis which brought the total of species to 48. We thanked Pat for the additional walk with its terrain and information boards.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Beginners Outing to Woodlands Historic Park

27 July 2019
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 39
Photographs by Eleanor Dilley
Little Eagle - E Dilley
Little Eagle

Perfect weather conditions awaited the members gathered at the Somerton Road Carpark for the Woodlands excursion.  Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Galahs and Rainbow Lorikeets were all busy checking out the numerous tree hollows in the fine old River Red Gums in this area.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo - E Dilley
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Crossing the bridge and walking alongside the creek numerous Superb Fairy Wrens were seen foraging on the ground while Striated Pardalotes were constantly calling and one of these individuals obligingly perched in clear view for several minutes giving everyone a good look.

Striated Pardalate - E Dilley
Striated Pardalote

Further along the track a small flock of Red-browed Finches were seen feeding alongside the Fairy Wrens and Weebills were seen in the trees. Near the end of the path was a ‘hotspot’ containing Eastern and Crimson Rosellas, New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters, Yellow-rumped Thornbills and a Grey Shrike-thrush.

New Holland Honeyeater - E Dilley
New Holland Honeyeater

On turning the corner by the horse paddocks a row of Red-rumped Parrots were perched on the wire fence and Willie Wagtails and Australian Wood Ducks were feeding in the field. Dozens of Eastern Grey Kangaroos were seen throughout the grassy areas.

Red-rumped Parrots - E Dilley
Red-rumped Parrots

Tree Martins were circling overhead which caused some discussion as to whether they had not migrated north or whether they had returned early.

Australian Wood Ducks - E Dilley
Australian Wood Ducks

A raptor perched high in a tree was identified as a Brown Falcon and a soaring Little Eagle flew high in the sky. A circuit was taken around the old homestead and then back towards the carpark, highlights being a low flying Little Eagle and a pair of Laughing Kookaburras.  It was disappointing that no robins of any kind were located, as in previous years red robins could always be seen at Woodlands during the winter months.

Laughing Kookaburra - E Dilley
Laughing Kookaburra

After lunch most of the members drove to the Old Cemetery Carpark and a short walk was taken to the old hospital lake. Sadly the water looked very murky and there were no birds on it, though Grey Fantails and a Yellow-faced Honeyeater were in nearby trees. Despite everyone’s best efforts still no red robins were seen. However everyone felt they had enjoyed the day with the unexpectedly good weather and superb old trees being major contributing factors. 39 species were recorded for the day.

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

View complete bird list: BM July 2019 Bird List Woodlands Historic Park

 

 

 

Weekdays outing to Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands Environmental Area

17 July 2019
Photographs by Diane Tweeddale
Black Swan - Tweeddale
Black Swan

Cold wind but no rain was the day’s weather. Fifteen assembled at the walk’s start and Rob Grosvenor, our leader, had contacted Margaret Hunter of the Friends of Edithvale Wetlands who very kindly opened the bird hide on a week day. The drought had almost emptied the lake and the recent rain had partially refilled it, producing a water depth of 0.4 m near the hide. Black Swans had arrived and were breeding. In the distance there were at least 6 occupied mounds where nesting was in progress or soon to be so. Feathers were ruffled and necks arched and it was fascinating to realise the time the pens needed to hold their breath while underwater during copulation. On or around the water there were also many Chestnut Teal and Purple Swamphens with fewer numbers of Pacific Black Ducks and a couple of Willie Wagtails.

Black Swan and Chestnut Teal - Tweeddale
Black Swans and Chestnut Teal

Strong reed growth (now dry) limited vision and we were very glad of the elevation provided by the bird hide. The reeds also provided habitat for Superb Fairy-wrens and at least two brilliantly coloured males were using the area beside the hide. Heading across Edithvale Road (by the safe convenience of the pedestrian crossing lights) we quickly added Crested Pigeons, Galahs and Red-rumped Parrots.

Walking off the path but keeping to the north side there were the (almost inevitable) Noisy Miners as well as Australian Magpies and Magpie-larks. Eastern Rosellas moved quickly through the open forest and a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets seemed to be checking out a hollow stump. The golf course hosted Eurasian Coot, Australian Wood Ducks, a Masked Lapwing and a lone Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. There was also the much-viewed Magpie Goose which seems to have spent some lonely time there. Nearer the pond it was easier to use the height of the observation deck to check out the bird population on or by the water – a White-faced Heron, a Little Pied Cormorant, a male Australasian Shoveler, two Musk Ducks (male and female) and at least one Hoary-headed Grebe. A Swamp Harrier slowly quartered the pond edges, causing alarm calls and some change of direction in a small flock of teal.

Heading back to the cars and lunch we recorded a rather unusual sighting for the area. The sharp eyes of Geoff Deason picked up a well-hidden Tawny Frogmouth in a eucalypt beside the path. Few had previously seen one in this area.

Tawny Frogmouth - Tweeddale - 2
Tawny Frogmouth

While doing a preliminary bird call after eating lunch we paused when a somewhat unfamiliar call came from the reeds. Confirmation of a White-browed Scrubwren came from call recordings. After lunch several had to depart but the rump of nine continued walking along the track beside the golf course. We didn’t expect to add much to the morning’s respectable species total of 43 or 44 but it wasn’t long before someone saw four Australian Pelicans. Later our second raptor, a Black-shouldered Kite, hovered and soared close to the track not far from a perched Grey Butcherbird (which had only been heard before). Little Wattlebirds were heard along the track and Red Wattlebirds had been recorded in the morning. Spotted Pardalotes called from the trees but none were seen.

Back to the cars we thanked Rob enthusiastically for his preparation and felt rather satisfied to realise the species list now totalled 50. It was an excellent result for a grey, cold and breezy day, so typical of Melbourne in July.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Education activities June 2019

On Saturday 15 June 2019, the City of Boroondara Backyard Biodiversity Program held their final gathering with refreshments and an evaluation of the program. Janet Hand attended and considered this was a very positive program for plants, gardens and birds.  The residents involved in the program landscaped parts of their gardens with input from a landscape gardener and plants from an indigenous nursery after a nature walk by a plant expert.  A bird talk and bird walk by our members preceded this. A win for all.

On Friday, 21 Junet, 18 members of U3A Hawthorn and one American visitor visited East Kew and braved the cold air, the heavy showers and then enjoyed the fabulous rainbows in the sunny breaks in between. Walking down to Kew Billabong was soggy but there was, finally, not only water but even a Dusky Moorhen visiting the area that has been so dry for so long. They also walked along the newish Darebin Creek Trail finding Gang-Gang Cockatoos, hearing a King Parrot, and watching a pair of Wood Ducks exploring a big tree hollow while fighting off noisy Rainbow Lorikeets. Highlights for two members of the group were spotting two different Tawny Frogmouths high in two different gums in an area where Pat hasn’t seen frogmouths before, so hopefully, they will stay around and breed later in the year.  24 species were recorded in total in an area few members of the group had ever visited before and were keen to visit again. Thank you Pat Bingham for leading the walk.

On Friday 28 June, Sally Heeps and Bill Ramsay attended the Birds in Schools program with the Grade 5 at Wooranna Park Primary School in Dandenong North.  They are part of a program run by Alexandra Johnson from BirdLife Australia. She has provided the following information about the program and how you can become part of it too.  Thank you Sally and Bill for being part of this program.

Birds in Schools in Melbourne is well and truly underway! The program is designed to teach students to identify and survey birds, investigate their habitat requirements, and ultimately, take action to make their school more bird-friendly. It’s an enjoyable and rewarding program to be part of for the students, teachers and BirdLife staff and volunteers involved.

During Term 2 BirdLife staff and volunteers (including Bill Ramsay and Sally Heeps) supported teachers with the program, through delivering lessons to students from Grade 1-6 in three schools. At one participating school, eighty Grade 1/2 students have completed the program. They celebrated their learning with an action day planting of native species. The students were so engaged and excited, and are now very keen bird-watchers!

Term 3 is almost booked out with BirdLife and volunteers set to visit seven schools to assist teachers in delivering the program. Thank you to the volunteers that have signed up to help! We still have the following upcoming Birds in Schools lessons, which we require volunteers for:

  • July 17, Coburg Primary School
  • July 31, Coburg Primary School
  • Aug 30, Action Day Coburg Primary School
  • Aug 26, Oak Park Primary School
  • Aug 28, Oak Park Primary School
  • Aug 29, Oak Park Primary School
  • Sept 2, Oak Park Primary School

We will also have new dates to be confirmed for Term 4.

If you are interested in volunteering for Birds in Schools (on the above dates or Term 4 dates TBC), or if you are a teacher who is interested in participating in the program, please get in touch with Alex at:  alexandra.johnson@birdlife.org.au

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

Beginners Outing to Banyule Flats

22 June 2019
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 48
Tawny Frogmouth pair - B Hood.jpg
Tawny Frogmouths (second pair sighted). Photo by Bevan Hood

There was a chaotic start to this excursion as the intended carpark was full of baseball players’ cars and the beginners had to find parking spaces in the surrounding streets.  However, this was soon forgotten when a pair of Tawny Frogmouths were located in one of their usual trees to the left of the carpark.  In overcast conditions the 29 members then walked to the lagoon which was full of water from the recent rains. Pairs of Long-billed Corellas and Red-rumped Parrots, along with numerous Silver Gulls, were perched in the old dead trees on the far side. Two Pink-eared Ducks were seen swimming across the lagoon and then resting on partially submerged logs.

ink-eared Ducks - Eleanor Dilley
Pink-eared Ducks. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Grey and Chestnut Teals, Pacific Black Ducks, a Eurasian Coot, a Dusky Moorhen and a Hoary-headed Grebe could be seen in the distance. After leaving the lagoon on a track towards the river, Pied Currawongs were noisy and plentiful.

Pied Currawong - Eleanor Dilley
Pied Currawong. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A huge River Red Gum hosted a mixed flock of smaller birds, including a pair of Golden Whistlers, Grey Fantails, Spotted Pardalotes and Brown Thornbills.

Golden Whistler (F) - Eleanor Dilley
Golden Whistler (f). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Near the river a male Common Bronzewing was perched high on a branch and several White-browed Scrubwrens were seen foraging in shrubs on the riverbank. Returning along the track from the windmill, a few Yellow-faced Honeyeaters were seen and this proved to be the only honeyeater species recorded for the day, apart from the ever present Noisy Miners. Near to the Main Yarra Trail a Gang-gang Cockatoo was heard giving its “creaky gate” call and was soon located and identified as an immature male.

Gang-gang Cockatoo - Eleanor Dilley
Gang-gang Cockatoo. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A small flock of Silvereyes fluttered around nearby and more Yellow-faced Honeyeaters were seen in a profusely flowering eucalyptus tree. Magpie-larks could readily be seen and heard on the ground.

Magpie-lark (F) - Eleanor Dilley
Magpie-lark. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

On returning to the now empty carpark the members retrieved their vehicles from the surrounding streets and then had lunch beside the oval where they watched a mixed feeding flock of Galahs, Long-billed and Little Corellas. A short walk was then taken along the main trail towards the ‘grotty ponds’.

Tawny Frogmouths - B Hood
Tawny Frogmouths. Photo by Bevan Hood

The sun finally put in a brief appearance, shining onto a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets feeding in a flowering ironbark. Nearby a second pair of Tawny Frogmouths was located and then a pair of Crested Pigeons was seen giving a courtship display.

Crested Pigeons (F and M) - Eleanor Dilley
Crested Pigeons. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

From the raised level of the track an Australasian Grebe could be seen on the lagoon – an unusual sighting for Banyule Flats. The ‘grotty ponds’ had been cleared of vegetation, so disappointingly there was no sign of any crakes or rails. In a nearby flowering gum a mixed flock of Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets could be seen noisily feeding.

Rainbow Lorikeet - B Hood
Rainbow Lorikeet. Photo by Bevan Hood

At this point dark clouds were approaching, threatening very heavy rain, and so all the members hurried back to their cars.

Musk Lorikeet - Eleanor Dilley
Musk Lorikeet. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A pleasing total of 48 species was recorded for the day which was a good result for mid-winter in mainly dull and overcast conditions.

View the complete bird list: BM Jun 2019 Bird List Banyule Flats

 

Weekdays outing to Pipemakers Park, Maribyrnong

10 June 2019
Photographer: Katmun Loh
Little Pied Cormorant
Little Pied Cormorant

The overnight weather was not reassuring as wind and rain had been widespread and our first arrivals needed to shelter during a brief fall. However the rain radar showed the band of showers passing and we drew reassurance from that, especially when the clouds occasionally broke and bright sunshine resulted. When all had assembled we numbered 17 with Pat Bingham leading the group. Some had visited Pipemakers in the past and some were quite new to birding so we were a happily mixed group.

The group - Katmun Loh
The group

The car park area was the domain of White-plumed Honeyeaters and Red Wattlebirds but there were also several Willie Wagtails, Australian Magpies and Common Blackbirds.

White-plumed Honeyeater - Katmun Loh
White-plumed Honeyeater

Little Ravens called overhead and the honeyeaters were augmented by New Holland Honeyeaters and those purveyors of ‘false news’, the frequently alarm-calling Noisy Miners. Not far from the car park a few House Sparrows interested those whose local birds had disappeared. This commensal species seems to be in worldwide decline without a single definitive cause.

New Holland Honeyeater - Katmun Loh
New Holland Honeyeater

Superb Fairy-wrens were common, flying low, foraging in the understory and dashing across the paths. Many were males in eclipse plumage. The well-grown lignin plantings provide such smaller birds with shelter. We set off toward the river which is vastly improved from its past as an industrial dump. Now fish have returned and Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebes, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants and Eurasian Coots plus an Australasian Darter were joined by Silver Gulls and a few humans with rods taking advantage of the piscine possibilities.

Superb Fairy-wren adult F - Katmun Loh
Superb Fairy-wren, adult female

The flock of gulls was an indicator of the weather along the coast today and this was confirmed by a Crested Tern using the river rather than the coast. Musk Lorikeets in a tree beside the path delighted us and at least one watcher was very happy to have clear, close and prolonged views showing the birds’ markings.

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Red-rumped Parrots foraging in the grass beside the path also gave good, close views but also challenged photographers to clearly record the differences between the brilliant male and the drabber female.

F and M Red-rumped Parrot
Female and male Red-rumped Parrots

 

Our path took us beside the golf course, where a magpie’s nest had been made with the usual sticks plus bright green plastic string (human refuse recycled in a good avian cause). Across to the Sanctuary Walk where the ponds supported Pacific Black Ducks (swimming in tandem as if mating season was starting) plus Dusky Moorhen and a lone Hardhead which was considered the best bird today.

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The riverbank Australasian Darter was a young female, perching inconspicuously on a ‘whitewashed’ rock not far away from a White-faced Heron. Fallen boughs must not be allowed to menace the public and the maintenance tractor drivers were working despite the holiday when we visited. They expressed interest in our sightings in their area.

Chestnut Teal M - Katmun Loh
Chestnut Teal, male

We lunched and after walked further along the riverside but added only a few species to the morning’s tally. By day’s end our bird list totalled 40 species and we thanked Pat wholeheartedly for her preparation which resulted in such a satisfactory day’s birding.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Education report – April and May 2019

The Blackburn Creeklands Survey was held on Saturday, 13 April. The regular Autumn Survey started from a new venue, Kalang Park Pavilion, at 0730 am and brought 29 people out on a rather cool, dull, morning to look for the local birds. Good start – Long-billed Corellas (two adults and a noisily-begging youngster), a small flock of Crested Pigeons, ubiquitous Noisy Miners and a couple of Welcome Swallows greeted the two parties as they set off, westwards led by Ian Moodie and eastwards by Pat Bingham.  A couple of hours later on returning for morning tea, they had a total of 29 species including good looks at Gang-gang Cockatoos, King Parrots, White-faced Heron and a new record for the Creeklands, an Australasian Darter. The unusualness of this species for this location was recognised by the numerous alarm calls and harassment it induced in the local Noisy Miner population, some fifteen members of which vigorously chased the bird away upstream (towards Blackburn Lake itself, some 2 kms away). As usual, several pairs of Tawny Frogmouths were spotted along the Creeklands and many people were amazed at their ubiquity – saying -“I walk along here every day/week/….. and haven’t ever seen them”!

Saturday, 4 May 2019 was the start of City of Boroondara Backyard Biodiversity Program in Ashburton. An introductory workshop was held by the Coordinator Amy Shaw and involved approximately 45 people spread over two sessions. Each session outlined the program for the next seven weeks before a Powerpoint was given on the birds found in 2018 and 2019 in Boroondara as per Birdata records. The second half of each session was all about entering Birdata and how you can search Birdata. Both these presentations were given by Janet Hand.

Picture1
Photo by Amy Shaw

Saturday 11 May 2019 was the second part of the City of Boroondara Backyard Biodiversity Program. This was a ramble and birdwalk held at the Willsmere Billabong in East Kew.  Week two saw Sally Heeps and Pat Bingham take the participants for a very successful bird walk on avery dull day which meant finding birds was quite difficult in the gloom. Some 40 lovely local people (7 – 80 years and a babe in a backpack), attended; half went off to look at plants and Sally and Pat split the rest into two groups and headed off in opposite directions around the billabong.  The groups swapped over after about 45 mins and repeated the activity. Some of the birds identified were Brown Thornbills, Superb Fairy Wrens, a Common Bronzewing, White-faced Heron, several Crested Pigeons, a Willie Wagtail, Magpie lark and many Rainbow Lorikeets. They also heard Common froglets after the rains on the Friday before the walk.  There were some excellent questions from young and old alike and though they probably only saw 20 species, everyone seemed to have enjoyed the session and are interested in planting habitat in their own gardens.

On Wednesday 15 May 2019 ten ladies and their carers from Mercy Place Boronia joined us at the Blackburn Lake Education Centre for a short Powerpoint about the 15 most common birds found around Boronia before doing a craft activity of making bookmarks using stickers and textas. Morning tea was enjoyed before some went for a short walk near the lake.  Janet Hand was assisted by Gay Gallagher, Jenny Frohlich and Peter Dempsey.

Picture2
Photo by Lisa Menahem

Picture3

The U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk, Friday 17 May was again led by Pat Bingham. Sixteen members of U3A Hawthorn gathered at Rickett’s Point, Beaumaris for a walk along the foreshore and through the adjacent bush. First highlight for the day were ‘Scaly-breasted’ Lorikeets at the Tea House.  They found a mixed pair (Rainbow & ‘Scaly-breasted’) jointly excavating a hole in a Coast Banksia and then a pair of ‘Scaly-breasted’, doing likewise less than 10 feet away. The ‘Scaly-breasteds’ were probably all, themselves, hybrids, as they had rather blue heads and are well-known to hybridise with Rainbows.  Second highlight was a sighting of over 300 Little Black Cormorants lining the shore on all the rocky outcrops exposed at low tide. There must have been some good breeding locally, and/or rich feeding for such a number to be roosting together. They saw 26 other species during the morning including close views of a Spotted Pardalote at eye-level, a small flock of Hoary-headed Grebe in the shallows off-shore and a Red Wattlebird at 3 feet stealing crumbs from an adjacent table as they coffeed at the Tea House after our walk.  Photographs by Jim Sharpe.

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Birds in Schools Program held a professional development session for teachers and volunteers on Wednesday 29 May.  The program was run by Alexandra Johnson from BirdLife and is to be implemented in some schools in the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne.  The training session was held at the Moreland City Council Offices in Hadfield. The plan is to teach children about birds and their habitat and finally plan and execute an improved habitat at their schools. Bill Ramsay attended this first session.

Thank you to all the above people who have helped and those who have supplied information and photographs.

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

 

Beginners outing to The Briars

25 May 2019
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Photography: Eleanor Dilley
Species Count 34
Eastern Yellow Robin - Eleanor Dilley
Eastern Yellow Robin

Despite a forecast for wet weather, 22 members attended the Briars outing and were fortunate to enjoy fine and sunny conditions. Noisy Miners were the dominant species in the carpark, interrupted by several Rainbow Lorikeets and Eastern Rosellas flying overhead.

Eastern Rosella - Eleanor Dilley
Eastern Rosella

This set the tone for the day with all three species being seen many times during the walk.

Rainbow Lorikeets - Eleanor Dilley
Rainbow Lorikeets

The effect of the prolonged dry spell was immediately apparent as we entered the wetland area. There was very little water in the ponds; no ducks, swans or cormorants and very few small bush-birds. Purple Swamphens, a Grey Shrike-thrush and a Laughing Kookaburra were observed from the boardwalk.

Black-fronted Dotterel - Eleanor Dilley
Black-fronted Dotterel

Eurasian Coots could be seen from the Chechingurk Hide, as could two Black-fronted Dotterels foraging in the mud at the water’s edge.

Superb Fairy-wren - Eleanor Dilley
Superb Fairy-wren

A Willie Wagtail and some Superb Fairy-wrens were also seen from the hide. Taking the Kur-Bur- Rer track into the Eucalypt-dominated woodland area, it was disappointing that only two more honeyeater species were added to the ever present Noisy Miners, namely Red Wattlebirds and  White-eared Honeyeaters.

Laughing Kookaburra - Eleanor Dilley
Laughing Kookaburra

Later, Grey Butcherbirds were heard and seen and eventually a “hotspot” was reached where good views of a Grey Fantail, an Eastern Yellow Robin and a pair of Golden Whistlers were enjoyed. Turning eastwards near the fence line a Brown Goshawk flew overhead, but otherwise there was little bird activity.

Brown Goshawk - Eleanor Dilley
Brown Goshawk

When nearly back at the Visitor Centre another mixed feeding flock was seen, this time comprised of an Eastern Yellow Robin, a Grey Shrike-thrush, several Spotted Pardalotes and more Superb Fairy-wrens.

Spotted Pardalote - Eleanor Dilley
Spotted Pardalote

Lunch was eaten near the carpark overlooking the vineyard, above which a Black-shouldered Kite was seen hovering before it perched in a nearby dead tree. Several plump Crested Pigeons were feeding on the grass near the members and a pair of Masked Plovers were seen further uphill.

Crested Pigeon - Elenaor Dilley
Crested Pigeon

After lunch a short walk was taken towards the Homestead where a number of Eastern Rosellas were seen, some perched and others feeding on the ground.  Their plumage looked beautiful with the sun shining on it. Two ducks, one a Chestnut Teal and the other an Australian Wood Duck, surprised us by flying overhead before landing on a small pond near the Shire Nursery. The usual noisy throng of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, much reduced in number, was present near the Homestead. A flock of Welcome Swallows, the first and only sighting for the day, was seen in a valley some distance away.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos - Eleanor Dilley
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos

The total species recorded was a modest 34 which was well down on counts at this site in previous years. It was thought that the very dry weather had affected not only the wetland environment but had reduced the number of insects needed to sustain small birds. Despite this, most of the members felt they had enjoyed their time in this lovely park and vowed to return when there had been some good rains.

Many thanks to Eleanor Dilley who took all the photographs appearing in this month’s Report.

See full bird list for the day: BM May 2019 Bird List The Briars