Weekday outing to Braeside Park

5 October 2022

Pink-eared Ducks. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

The day promised fine weather, calm and clear for birdwatching, and it didn’t disappoint. Seventeen started the walk under the leadership of Rosemaree Mclean and Malcolm Brown of The Friends of Braeside Park. 

Eastern Rosella. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Our interest was high as the morning’s walk was to be through the heathland area which is as yet not publicly accessible. The heathland has formed on low-nutrient sands and our track passed along white sand where tiny insectivorous sundews grew. At the start, Rosemaree’s favourite Tawny Frogmouth, was beautifully cooperative as it sat patiently and photogenically on its tree fork nest. 

Tawny Frogmouth on nest. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After the aggressive Noisy Miners in the car park a Tawny was a great sighting. Trees are more spaced and fewer on the heaths so birds are restricted, though we still noted Little Raven and Rainbow Lorikeet while the calls of Grey Butcherbird, Red Wattlebird and Spotted Pardalote reached us as we walked. 

Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Rainbow Lorikeet. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A skein of Straw-necked Ibis flew over and a couple of birders were briefly able to glimpse a Brown Goshawk pass above.

The call of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo reached us and a small pond contained a Chestnut Teal – birds took advantage of any resource.

Swamp Harrier. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Swamp Harrier. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch back at the cars we farewelled Rosemaree and Malcolm with many thanks. A couple of people with afternoon appointments also departed and the remainder arranged to visit the wetlands and bush, walking in 3 groups according to walking ability. This covered a variety of habitats and so the afternoon species list added a range of species. 

Red-rumped Parrot, male and female. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Black Swan with cygnets. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Waterbirds were present in numbers – Black Swans with fluffy cygnets, male and female Musk Ducks, Pink-eared Ducks in a tree, both Chestnut and Hoary-headed Grebes and Great, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants while Cattle Egrets foraged around the small herd of cattle in the adjacent paddock. 

Musk Duck, male. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Musk Duck, female. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Pink-eared Duck. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Cattle Egret. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Blue-billed Duck, male. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

A Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike was first heard then finally seen as it exited the tree canopy. 

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike with prey. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The walk finished with the separate groups comparing lists and noting the variation with habitat. We recorded 34 species in the heathland and 27 in the bush and wetlands later in the day. 

Little PIed Cormorant, breeding adult. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The cumulative total was 50 species, a very pleasing result.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekday outings

Beginners’ outing to Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

27 August 2022

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers

Species count: 57

A fine weather forecast no doubt helped in attracting 46 members to Cranbourne Botanical Gardens for the August Beginners Outing. It was misty as the group assembled at Stringybark Carpark, seeing Superb Fairy Wrens and Grey Shrike Thrushes whilst listening to the trilling call of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo. As the walk began the Cuckoo was spotted close to the track, but the poor light made it hard to distinguish its colours. Soon afterwards several other species were sighted, including Eastern Rosellas and Brown Thornbills and, some distance away, a large Koala was found reclining in the fork of a tall tree. 

A female Flame Robin provided fleeting glimpses as she flew up to perch briefly on the new boundary fence before returning to forage in the grass. An Eastern Yellow Robin was sighted high up in a tree and this proved to be the first of many of this species seen on the day. As members left the wooded area the mist cleared, and the rest of the day was bright and sunny. A Brown Goshawk was circling overhead in the clear blue sky, and, to the delight of the watchers, it was soon joined by an impressive Little Eagle.

Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Australasian Shoveler. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Just before reaching the wetlands a small flock of Spotted Pardalotes were observed feeding low down in small trees, giving excellent views.  On the first pond there appeared to be only Pacific Black Ducks, but then a lone Australasian Shoveler was seen at the far side of the water. There was a greater variety of birds on the second pond, including Chestnut Teal, Dusky Moorhen and both Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes. On the way back towards the carpark there were lots of Swamp Wallabies showing themselves and, as if not to be outdone, a large flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos appeared flying overhead. Fortunately, a few of them landed in a nearby tree thus providing a longer and much closer view of them. A Grey Butcherbird was heard many times before it showed itself to some of the group.

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

It was pleasing to see that there were very few Noisy Miners in the park, the result being that there was a greater variety of honeyeaters than on many of our recent excursions. New Holland Honeyeaters were the most common but there were also White-eared, White-plumed, White-naped and Yellow-faced, as well as Eastern Spinebills.

New Holland Honeyeater. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

After lunch most of the members drove the short distance to the Australian Garden Carpark and, as they approached, Bell Miners could be heard beside the road. Shirley (one of our members and also a Friend of C.B.Gardens) gave some information on the gardens and pointed out some spectacular flowering plants as she led a walk to the far end of the gardens. Highlights included Little Pied Cormorants, more New Holland Honeyeaters, and a family of Pacific Black Ducks with a dozen very small ducklings. 

Pacific Black Duck with chicks. Photo by Alan Veevers

Some of the group were fortunate to see a young Southern Brown Bandicoot foraging near a picnic table, seemingly oblivious to human observers.

Southern Brown Bandicoot. Photo by Alan Veevers
Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

A grand total of 57 bird species was recorded on what was a most enjoyable and productive excursion. Thanks to our two photographers for the day, Steve Hoptroff and Alan Veevers, who, despite the early mist, managed to produce some excellent photographs to illustrate the Report. Also, thanks to Shirley Smith for leading the afternoon walk in the Australian Garden.

Weekdays outing to Murrindindi Scenic Reserve

2 August 2022

The Murrindindi Reserve is about 70 km north of Melbourne, east of the Melba Hwy and just south of the Yea River. The reserve covers the lower reaches of the Murrindindi River which flows through Mountain Ash Forest. Unfortunately, the 2009 wild fires destroyed a large part of the reserve but the area visited on the day was spared destruction and minor damage, now replaced with regrowth creating a different habitat for fauna and flora.

The day was cold, with sunshine at times, but no wind that was forecast. With over 80 bird species listed for the reserve. A challenge awaited.

At our meeting point near Devlins Bridge, two species of Mistletoe were in flower, attracting an Eastern Spinebill and several Silvereyes. A Pied Currawong was eyeing off the small birds. Proceeding to the reserve we passed a hay distributing trunk which attracted both Little and Long-billed Corella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and Galah. Didn’t seem to worry the sheep also feeding on the hay.

Our next stop was a parking area near the suspension bridge. Toilets and picnic tables available. Leaving the vehicles and walking across the bridge, we took the track heading upstream along the eastern side of the river. Grey-shrike Thrush and Superb Lyrebird calling. A Swamp Wallaby was startled while feeding along the track and hastily left our view. A few parties of Brown Thornbill were feeding in the regrowth. A brief sighting of a Bassian Thrush as it flew across the track caused some discussion as its identity. Small flocks of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo passed overhead. Those in our party that had cameras tried to obtain opportunities for photographing an up-turned cockatoo ripping the bark from a eucalypt. On returning across the river and along the road to the vehicles for lunch, both White-throated Treecreeper and Eastern Yellow Robin were calling.

Lunch in the Sun and a “Bird Call” resulted in 25 species listed. After lunch we drove to the Wilhelmina Falls car park, and crossing the river headed towards the falls viewing area. Unfortunately, the regrowth after the fires obscured the view. Although away from the noise of the river, no calls could be heard. The only sighting was a Blackbird taking the total for the day to 26 bird species. Even with the small number seen, all attended enjoyed and for some it was a new area for them.

Graeme Hosken, Leader.

Beginners’ Outing to Jells Park

23 July 2022

Leader: Robert Grosvenor

Number of species: 45

Ten intrepid birders braved the cold and wet of mid-winter Melbourne to attend the beginners outing at Jells Park. When we first arrived the usual cacophony of squawking Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and squealing Rainbow Lorikeets was replaced with an eerie silence. This didn’t last long, as both of the above-mentioned birds soon made their present felt, along with numerous Noisy Miners.

Nankeen Night-Heron. Photo by Loh Katmun
Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Heading off on the walk, a Striated Pardalote was heard but could not be seen.  Then the bird of the day was found, a resting Nankeen Night Heron.  We also had excellent views of a Grey Butcherbird in this area before heading off again.  We then entered the domain of the Spotted Pardalote with numerous pairs seen along the next 500 or so metres, along with Grey Fantails and Brown Thornbills.

Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

We continued to the bird hide where we saw a good range of waterbirds, highlighted by a male Blue-billed Duck, but also including the usual suspects: Pacific Black Duck, Australian Wood Duck, Australasian Darter, Dusky Moorhen, Australasian Swamphen, Eurasian Coot and Australasian Grebe. Being a relatively small contingent, everybody was able to obtain good views of all the birds.

White-faced Heron. Photo by Judi Kercher
Australian White Ibis. Photo by Judi Kercher

Further around the lake we encountered a feeding White-faced Heron, Great and Little Pied Cormorants, Hardheads, a Hoary-headed Grebe, Musk Ducks and of course the resident colony of Australian White Ibis.  Grebes were extremely common on our walk today, particularly the Australasian.

Musk Ducks. Photo by Loh Katmun
Eastern Rosella, male. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

In a grassy paddock we were fortunate to see a small flock of about ten Eastern Rosellas looking resplendent in their multi-coloured plumage. This was the only Rosella species seen but they were at a number of sites along both the morning and afternoon walks and their beauty was always appreciated.

Almost back to the carpark for lunch we at first saw Musk Lorikeets flying over but were then fortunate to find a small number in a tree close to the carpark. Good views were had and it was a first for one of the beginners

We tallied 41 species for the morning walk, which was a respectable total for mid-winter.

Cattle and Cattle Egret. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Chestnut Teal, male. Photo by Judi Kircher

After lunch we went over the bridge and headed north hoping to find some new species to add to our list. It didn’t take long to find some Cattle Egrets in an adjacent cow paddock. This was followed by a large flock of Starlings, a Masked Lapwing and a pair of Chestnut Teal.

As the rain was threatening to increase we called it a day, and retreated to the car park.  The additional four species from the afternoon walk took our tally to 45.

Weekdays Outing to Lysterfield Lake Park

4 July 2022

Photographs by Steve Hoptroff

Grey Butcherbird

Skies were blue and the air was calm so conditions for birding looked very favourable as 13 people met in the car park near the start of the Lake Circuit Track. Our leader was Rob Grosvenor who had visited the area many times over the past years. He could advise on likely locations for the different species.

White-eared Honeyeater
Yellow-faced Honeyeater

Initial walking was northerly in the bush. It was cold – see the weather conditions – and birds
were not overactive though Grey Fantails maneuvered acrobatically for insects near the tree
canopies. Spotted Pardalotes called unseen and the honeyeaters observed were the White-eared, Eastern Spinebill, Red Wattlebird and that so-familiar Noisy Miner. No blossom was seen.

Grey Shrike-thrush

Superb Fairy-wrens were active at the edges of the track and Red-browed Finches seemed to accompany Brown Thornbills foraging while Silvereyes moved about in small flocks. Good sightings of Golden Whistlers brought smiles to the observers. Around the lake waterbirds predominated. Musk Duck males were making the splashing display which seems to be visible over quite a distance.

Musk Duck, male

The females/ immature males were taking no apparent notice but formed small groups or couples at a distance. Eurasian Coots were the most numerous but were travelling to different spots around the lake so not always obvious.

Masked Lapwing

On the shore there were Masked Lapwing, Australian Wood Duck and Purple Swamphen with Dusky Moorhen and Pacific Black Duck dividing their time between shore and water. Grebes were mostly the Hoary-headed species in flocks and Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants rested on the marker buoys.

Hoary-headed Grebe

The only raptor observed was a Swamp Harrier and the only parrots were Rainbow Lorikeets, Crimson Rosellas and brief views of an Eastern Rosella. No cockatoos were detected.

Swamp Harrier
Crimson Rosella

The highlight for many of us was the observation of Common Bronzewing near the park entrance and the subsequent sighting of a male Brush Bronzewing as we descended
the hill towards the cars.

Common Bronzewing, male

By walk’s end we recorded 42 species (later adjusted to 43 with the addition of a pair of Black Swans). Our heartfelt thanks to Rob for sharing his knowledge of the area.
Diane Tweeddale coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekday outings

Beginners Outing to Woodlands Historic Park

25 June 2022

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers

Species count: 40

Thirty-three members gathered at the Somerton Road Carpark, appreciating the exceptionally fine winter’s day. High in the magnificent old River Redgums were various parrot species, including Long-billed Corellas, Red-rumped Parrots and Rainbow Lorikeets, sunning themselves, while on the grass numerous Superb Fairy-wrens were foraging for insects

Superb Fairy-wren. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Rainbow Lorikeets. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Setting off along the Creekside track Striated Pardalotes were very vocal and good views of them were enjoyed by all the members. A flock of Red-browed Finches was seen beside the path along with many more Superb Fairy-wrens. 

Red-rumped Parrots. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Long-billed Corellas. Photo by Roger Needham

An unusual sighting was that of a Quail-shaped bird which flew low down across the track landing behind a bush. Only the members at the front of the group got a brief glimpse before it scurried off into the undergrowth. After much discussion it could not be decided whether it was a Brown or Stubble Quail or even a Painted Button-quail. Also seen in the area were Yellow Thornbills, New Holland Honeyeaters and an Eastern Spinebill.

Red-browed Finch. Photo by Bevan Hood
Red-browed Finches. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

On leaving the creek-side track and entering the open area beside the horse paddocks, a Brown Falcon was seen and, in the far distance, a Wedge-tailed Eagle. There was also a large flock of Red-rumped Parrots which took off from a grassy patch and landed in the nearby trees. After a brief stop at the Homestead, where House Sparrows mingled with yet more Fairy-wrens, the group followed the track downhill towards the picnic area. On route, a Galah demonstrated its acrobatic ability as it seemed to be preparing a nest hole for future use. Meanwhile, a Nankeen Kestrel whizzed past overhead as did another, more leisurely, Brown Falcon.

Galah. Photo by Roger Needham
Little Eagle. Photo by Roger Needham

After lunch most of the members drove  to the Cemetery Carpark for a short second walk. There were great views of a Little Eagle as it circled overhead which was a delight to the photographers in the group. Not as many Robins were seen as in previous years, possibly because of the huge amount of housing development taking place along the park boundaries.

Scarlet Robin. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Scarlet Robin. Photo by Roger Needham

However, one male Scarlet Robin was found, much to the relief of the leaders! Other birds seen in the woodland included a male Golden Whistler and Striated Thornbills.

A total of 40 birds were recorded on what was a most enjoyable excursion.

Thanks to Eleanor Dilley, Bevan Hood, Steve Hoptroff and Roger Needham for contributing photographs.

Weekday outing to The Briars, Mt Martha

7 June 2022

All photographs by Steve Hoptroff

Laughing Kookaburra

The alarm clock went off to the sound of heavy rain on the roof and that meant the weather bureau was right and birdwatching might not be the best occupation for the day. Unsurprisingly the drive from Melbourne needed your whole attention and it was probably this combination which kept attendance down to four people. Sue Brabender led us and most ably as she frequently birds The Briars and had worked there for some years. 

Eastern Yellow Robin

The weather sent a large mixed flock of Australian Wood Ducks, Pacific Black Ducks and Purple Swamphens onto the grass near the car park entrance. The bird list had started early. 

Dusky Moorhen

These species were joined by Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Noisy Miners, Eastern Rosellas, Australian Magpies and Crested Pigeons in and around the car park. The highlight here was a Buff-banded Rail in the grounds of the café. Skittish but briefly visible. 

Eastern Rosella

Also appreciated was a break in approaching dark clouds and accompanying rain. We set off to the Boonoorong bird hide, pausing on the way to find and admire two Tawny Frogmouths cuddled together in a tree fork. 

Tawny Frogmouth

At the hide we added Australasian Grebe, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants. 

Australasian Grebe
Little Black Cormorant

Superb Fairy-wrens were noted in the closer reed bed but there were few small birds, probably because a Swamp Harrier was quartering the area. A Grey Teal was noted at our stop at the Chechingurk hide and then we concentrated on woodland birds as we followed the Woodland Walk track. 

Swamp Harrier (taken through tinted window at the bird hide)
Grey Teal

Cute companions throughout the walk were many Black (Swamp) Wallabies and a few Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Several Grey Shrike-thrushes were noted though there was little calling. Contrast in the greyness meant mostly flying silhouettes were seen and this made the distinction between Spotted and Striated Pardalotes difficult in the absence of calls. 

Grey Shrike-thrush with prey

This also applied to a couple of thornbills foraging silently low in a medium tree so there was neither Brown nor Striated Thornbill on our final list though subsequent photo development showed Brown Thornbill was more likely. As the weather had been favourable for the whole time we decided to finish with bird call. 

Grey Butcherbird

The final list numbered 32 species which was very pleasing in the conditions and we warmly thanked Sue for sharing with us her considerable knowledge of the area.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator Melbourne BirdLife weekday outings

Beginners outing to The Briars

28 May 2022

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers

Species Count: 47

The 23 members gathered near the Visitor Centre were pleased to see a variety of birds before starting the Sanctuary walk. These included Eastern Rosella, Grey Butcherbird, Masked Lapwing, Purple Swamphen and King Parrot.

Masked Lapwing. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Purple Swamphen. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Soon after starting off along the boardwalk a Great Egret was spotted preening in a nearby dead tree, thus providing a good opportunity for photographers. From the first hide a pair of Black Swans and a Yellow-billed Spoonbill were found on the water. 

Great Egret. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Yellow-billed Spoonbill. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Continuing along the boardwalk a number of bushbirds showed themselves, including Superb Fairy-wrens, Silvereyes, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and two Golden Whistlers. From the large hide there were great views of another Yellow-billed Spoonbill as it foraged for food close to the window. A White-faced Heron flew in, landing nearby, and a pair of Pacific Black Ducks swam nonchalantly across the field of view. 

White-faced Heron. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Black-fronted Dotterel. Photo by Alan Veevers

On leaving the hide some of the first group were fortunate to see a male Mistletoebird fly overhead, while those who lingered in the hide saw a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels fly in. Continuing along the boardwalk a Swamp Wallaby was seen feeding beside the track whilst more Superb Fairy-wrens busied themselves finding food. A White-eared Honeyeater showed itself as it foraged in the outer foliage of a flowering eucalyptus tree. 

Swamp Wallaby. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
White-eared Honeyeater. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A flock of Little Corellas was seen, and heard, flying past the lookout overlooking the wetlands. As we walked along the high part of the track, Noisy Miners and Rainbow Lorikeets were the dominant species, though a pair of Long-billed Corellas and some Galahs were seen in a distant tree. A pair of Australian Pelicans flying gracefully in formation overhead were a delight to see. On the descent towards the creek New Holland Honeyeaters, Grey Fantails and Dusky Moorhens were sighted.

At lunch, back in the picnic area, the sun appeared and highlighted the colourful plumage of the many Crested Pigeons that foraged underfoot. Most of the members stayed for the afternoon walk up the hill towards the old homestead. Species seen here included Australian Wood Ducks, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Spotted Doves and lots more Crested Pigeons. The heritage chickens and pigs were admired along with the vast plantings of heritage fruit and vegetable species.  A distant raptor created a lot of interest and, after examining photographs, it was positively identified as a Brown Goshawk.

Crested Pigeon. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Tawny Frogmouths. Photo by Alan Veevers

On returning to the carpark a few members decided to revisit the first section of the wetlands walk and, following a tip-off from a Ranger, found 3 Tawny Frogmouths high up in a tree near the first hide.

A total of 47 species were recorded for the day which was deemed to be excellent for the time of year.

Thanks once again to Eleanor Dilley who provided all but two of the above photos and also for those used to verify the Brown Goshawk sighting.

Weekday outing to Coburg and Merri Creek

11 May 2022

All photographs by Bevan Hood

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

Dusky Moorhen, adult
Dusky Moorhen, immature

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

Australian White Ibises

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

Black Swan on nest

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

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

Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet

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

Pacific Black Duck

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

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

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekday outings