27 May 2023 Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers Species count: 56
This month the Beginners were very fortunate with the weather, having a beautiful sunny day at Braeside Park. Three Cattle Egrets were feeding just outside the Southern Entrance and a Buff-banded Rail was seen crossing the track just inside the gate. Above the carpark a pair of Little Eagles, both in the dark morph, were seen circling high overhead and they were soon joined by a lone Swamp Harrier.
A female Common Bronzewing was resting beneath a nearby bush whilst an Eastern Rosella and several Rainbow Lorikeets were also spotted close to the cars. Unfortunately, there were also lots of Noisy Miners close by (and throughout the park) which no doubt reduced the number of small bushbirds willing to show themselves. Purple Swamphens were also in abundance, both in and out of the water.
Walking anticlockwise around the wetlands a variety of Duck species were seen. The most unusual of these being Freckled, Blue-billed and Pink-eared. Apparently, word of the Freckled Ducks had spread amongst other birders, and we met several people who were eager to find and photograph them. We were happy to be of assistance.
A Little Pied Cormorant struggling to eat an enormous fish caused some amusement! Eurasian Coots and Dusky Moorhens were plentiful but there was only single sightings of Great Egret, Australasian Darter and White-faced Heron.
Several Golden-headed Cisticolas kept popping up and down on a large expanse of tall grass, causing much frustration to some of the photographers. After the morning walk most of the members drove to the Northern Entrance and had lunch near the Visitor Centre. The Heathland Trail was the route for the afternoon walk, where rabbits appeared to be in plague proportions, outnumbering the bird species. Alongside the ponds there were fewer noisy Miners and hence more bushbirds to be seen. These included Yellow-faced and White-plumed Honeyeaters, Superb Fairy-wrens and Grey Fantails.
At the conclusion of a most enjoyable excursion the total number of species recorded was 56.
Thanks to Eleanor Dilley and Steve Hoptroff for providing the excellent photographs.
What a blessing that the weather had cleared up somewhat in the still, cool and damp clearing of O’Donohue’s picnic ground. Two wallabies grazed quietly in one corner while, car by car, a bevy of birdwatchers gathered on the other. Sixteen keen and hardy souls, most of whom would have been forgiven for staying under the covers on such a miserable Melbourne morning, were now rugging up for a walk in the forest.
We started on O’Donohue’s track. After a brief glimpse of a Grey Shrike-thrush near the gate, our leader Rhonda proceeded slowly and alertly. The forest, we know, can be slow to reveal and quick to hide. The majesty of the mountain ash, the beauty of the tree ferns, the moss and lichen covered trunks and logs and the damp leaf litter all helped to paint a wonderful picture, even on a cool grey morning.
We stayed on O’Donohue’s track down to Sherbrooke Falls and were soon rewarded with some brief sightings of White-browed Scrubwrens, Brown Thornbills, Yellow Robin, and a female Golden Whistler.
Sightings were harder to come by than sounds…Sulphur-crested Cockatoos continually announced their presence, screaming and squawking high up in the canopy. Crimson Rosellas also seemed numerous with their bell-like calls and squeaky chattering, and just occasionally they perched in the mid-story nearby.
Our patient progress paid off as Rhonda got us a Superb Lyrebird at the side of the path…probably a female or a young male judging by the tail…the bird was very obliging as it stayed in the same small area at the base of a large eucalypt scratching and digging at litter, affording everybody a look.
Arriving at the area near the falls the openness of the canopy was quite striking…very light and open compared with much of the forest…. a result of a very bad storm in June 2021 and massive fallen trees. The following link gives some interesting detail about the forest here.
Laughing Kookaburra (top left and top right by Maarten Grabandt; bottom right and bottom by Steve Hoptroff)
No new species were added at the falls. We continued our loop with a walk back up the Sherbrooke track to the Sherbrooke picnic ground. We added a Grey Fantail, a couple of Kookaburras and a single Lewin’s Honeyeater before some of the group were lucky enough to see a second Superb Lyrebird at the Link Track.
From the Sherbrooke picnic ground, we took the Sherbrooke Lodge Road back to O’Donohue’s Picnic ground. This short stretch proved productive with a good sighting of a White-throated Treecreeper and some further small birds which turned out to be Striated Thornbills. An Australian Magpie and two Little Ravens were also noted here.
A quick check of the list at lunch resulted in the addition of a Pied Currawong and 2 Galahs.
After lunch at the car park, we set off in convoy to the nearby Ferny Creek Reserve to explore a landscape that was a little more open. We did another loop walk from the oval around the back of the ornamental gardens to the Tan track and then a return via the track alongside Sherbrook Road. This walk added a few species not seen in the forest. Little Wattlebird, Red Wattlebird, Grey Butcherbird, Pacific Black Duck, Welcome Swallow and Australian King Parrot.
Four species I think rate a special mention…
Eastern Yellow Robin for being quite numerous but photo shy.
Kookaburra for being playful and photogenic.
Australian King Parrot for hiding away too long.
Superb Lyrebird for showing up…twice!
The bird records for the day are spread over two surveys, one for the morning and one for the afternoon and can be found via the links below.
22 April 2023 Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers Species count: 46
Photographs by Eleanor Dilley
Twenty-nine beginners assembled at Yan Yean Reservoir Park on a beautiful sunny autumn day. They were greeted by several noisy Australian King Parrots flying around the nearby trees. The walk started on the path along the top of the reservoir dam, where good sightings, aided by a spotting scope, were had.
First, a female Australasian Darter gave everyone a good view as it remained perched on the roof of the nearby control building. Great and Little Pied Cormorants were resting on the breakwater, and a few Blue-billed Ducks could be seen swimming in the distance. Eurasian Coots were plentiful, though the numbers of other water birds were noticeably smaller than in previous years. A Whistling Kite flew overhead whilst a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles were circling serenely in the distance.
The wetlands walk began after moving the cars to the parking area at the far end of the dam wall. Two pairs of Chestnut Teal were the only duck species seen, though there were many Dusky Moorhens and yet more Eurasian Coots. Crossing the vehicle track to the large ponds proved much more productive. There were lots of Australasian Grebes, Hardheads, Pacific Black Ducks, Australian Wood Ducks, Chestnut Teal, Purple Swamphens and a lone Masked Lapwing.
A pair of Red-rumped Parrots bathing at the edge of the second pond provided good photographic opportunities as did a pair of Musk Lorikeets feeding in a waterside tree. Both Eastern and Crimson Rosellas were also seen in this area.
Lunch was eaten at the top of the hill, with a magnificent view over the reservoir to the hills beyond. Not far away, a pair of Fan-tailed Cuckoos, which had been calling earlier in the day, were finally located sunning themselves in tall eucalypts.
It was pleasing to see that six Nankeen Night-Herons were roosting in their usual tree beside the old Caretaker’s Cottage. Nearby there was a good sighting of a Striated Pardalote perched on a bare branch. Whilst walking down the hill to the reservoir fence a male Musk Duck could be seen close to shore.
The final location for the day was at the lookout at the entry end of the park. No new species were added there, but the pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles seen earlier flew low overhead providing a fitting finale to a most enjoyable outing. A total of 46 species was obtained for the day.
Our thanks to Eleanor Dilley who provided all the photographs for this report.
What a marvellous day, a massive turnout, and a monumental bird list! Thirty-four members squeezed their cars into the car park outside the Bird Hide and gathered around for a short introduction from the Friends of Edithvale Wetlands who were kindly on hand to open the hide for us: https://www.edithvale-seaford-wetlands.org/ .
The first hour or so was spent rotating observers through the hide and the nearby viewing platform giving everyone reasonable views of the lake and reed beds. Recent rain had put the water level back up to about 400mm. The waterbirds were spread out and somewhat less numerous than hoped for. But there were small numbers of the more common ducks and waterfowl… Chestnut Teal, Grey Teal, Pacific Black Duck, Black Swan, Eurasian Coot, Dusky Moorhen and Purple Swamphen. Scopes proved useful in identifying some Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes. The larger species – Australian White Ibis, Royal Spoonbill, Australasian Darter, and the noisy species – Masked Lapwing – were easy additions to the list. The first highlight was the appearance of a very acrobatic Swamp Harrier performing twists and turns over the reeds before disappearing into them. The next raptor to turn up – a Black-shouldered Kite – delighted the group on the viewing platform by circling over them. Some keen ears on the viewing platform also heard a single Australian Reed-Warbler. The air above the water and reeds was mostly populated by Welcome Swallows. Other fly overs included Little Raven and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.
The vegetation around the hide was watched carefully for some of the elusive smaller species and yielded views of Brown Thornbill, White-browed Scrubwren, Golden Whistler, Silvereye, Willie Wagtail and White-plumed Honeyeater. A common Blackbird and a Superb Fairy-wren were also heard in the area. The most elusive was a probable female Robin that avoided the scrutiny of 5 or 6 observers.
A pre-lunch walk along the Western side near the golf course yielded Spotted Pardalote, Rufous Whistler, Noisy Miner, Crested Pigeon, and a Spotted Dove.
After lunch at the car park, we set off to explore the wetland on the Northern side of Edithvale Road and were rewarded immediately with some nice views of Red-rumped Parrots feeding in the grassland. Several Australian Magpies were also fossicking there. Eastern Rosellas played hide and seek in the trees along the gravel path. A few Rainbow lorikeets were spotted in a flowering Banksia but the Noisy Miners seemed to be the dominant nectar feeder. The lakes and lagoons in this area yielded some new waterbird species – Hardhead, Buff-banded Rail, Little Pied Cormorant, Australian Pelican and a single female Musk Duck as well as more small numbers of Teal, Coot, Pacific Black Duck, and another Australasian Darter. A Magpie Goose was seen gliding into the top lake behind a pair of Black-shouldered Kites who were proving very photogenic. Some careful observation of the Hirundines that were hawking for insects over the reeds revealed the presence of at least 3 Fairy Martins.
Photos of Black-shouldered Kite above, provided by Clancy Benson
Photos of Black-shouldered Kite above, provided by Graham Gill
The return trip past the golf course turned up a few Australian Wood Duck, Musk Lorikeet, a single Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater and an Australian Kestrel.
There were arguably several candidates for “Bird of the Day” but as no vote was taken and only a few people saw the Buff-banded Rail and the Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, I think the photogenic presence of the Black-shouldered Kite puts it in top spot.
The complete Bird Data for the day can be found via the link below.
Twenty-four hopeful bird watchers arrived at the Shield Road Depot for a warm, sunny morning’s walk. There was enough bird song from the surrounding trees to keep us occupied until 9:30 when the walk began. The incomparable David Ap-Thomas bravely led the group.
Eastern Whipbird was calling, as were White-naped Honeyeater.
Along the track there was the odd bird call as well as plenty of conversation between the birdos when the birds weren’t so evident.
Laughing Kookaburra (top left), Eastern Yellow Robin (top right) and White-eared Honeyeater (bottom) (photos supplied by Steve Hoptroff) are three endemic species at Yellingbo.
Raptor species can be few and far between at times. This day did not disappoint. Great views were had of this Brown Goshawk. Wedge-tailed Eagle made a couple of appearances as well.
During the Autumn months we are often blessed by the appearance of fungi as they do their remarkable work in the forest.
There were good views of the surrounding hills/mountains as we headed further north along the track. Some of the more observant of the group encountered European Goldfinch and Satin Flycatcher.
This gorgeous bird had been calling during the morning, giving us the occasional glimpse of its beauty.
We slowly headed back to the Depot where we sat to have a well-earned lunch. A few members of the group went off on a second shorter walk led by David after lunch. Thanks for your company everyone!
Forty members assembled at the East Carpark in pleasant weather conditions and set off to walk clockwise around the lake. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were very vocal and provided easy sightings along with a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets which were peering out of a nest hollow.
A Laughing Kookaburra was perched above the track near the first bend and a pair of Tawny Frogmouths was spotted nearby.
On the lake there were good views of Australasian Darters, Australasian Grebes, Little Pied Cormorants and Black Swans. Nesting on the main island were Royal Spoonbills, Little Black Cormorants and numerous Australian White Ibis.
There was not as many different species of duck as in previous years, with the majority being Australian Wood Ducks and Pacific Black Ducks.
There was a pleasing number of bushbirds seen, such as Superb Fairy-wrens, Red-browed Finches, Magpie-larks and a Spotted Dove. However, ‘bird of the day’ was a female Satin Flycatcher which was in trees near the path and was clearly seen by all the members and was a ‘lifer’ for many of them.
Lunch was eaten near the carpark, where Eastern Rosellas and Galahs flew close by giving good views to all. A short walk was taken in the afternoon towards Shepherds Bush and 4 extra species were added to the list including Pied Currawong and Welcome Swallows.
A creditable total of 49 species was recorded for the day, with lots of really good sightings, especially the uncommon Satin Flycatcher which was the most cooperative bird.
Thanks to Eleanor Dilley and Steve Hoptroff for, once again, providing many excellent photos from which the ones used above were selected.
A happy group of 25 bird watchers gathered at the Depot car park for a very warm day’s walk. The contrast in bird calls from last month was noticeable – it was very quiet. Not much going on at all. A couple of Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo flew over to give us hope.
Once again, Wedge-tailed Eagle graced the skies, flying just above us at times. Their banking wings were astounding to watch as they moved through the thermals.
Golden Whistler was calling as were Grey Butcherbird and Grey Fantail. Little Wattlebird was recorded this month and last month – a rare visitor to Yellingbo. As the morning heated up, some of our number slowly returned to the shade of the trees at the car park and lunch area.
A very sharp-eyed walker spied this gorgeous Stick Insect walking across the track. Perhaps the grass was greener on the other side?
Amongst our total of 42 species recorded on the day, Eastern Whipbird called much further along the track than usual. Eastern Yellow Robin and Red-browed Finch also made casual appearances.
And if it’s quiet on the bird front, then what more could we ask for in this peaceful part of Yellingbo?
Well, Wombats are supposed to be nocturnal but this one braved a walk down the same track as our bird watchers, stopped for a look and quickly scampered off into the bush. Quite a healthy looking animal!
The next bird walk at Yellingbo will be on Sunday 2 April (always the first Sunday of the month), strong winds and total fire ban days excepted.
It was pleasantly cool at the Depot car park as we all prepared for our morning walk, greeting others, trying to find car parks for the larger number of people who had arrived and enjoying the wonderful bird calls from the nearby trees and creek. Eastern Whipbird often call here and today was no exception. Smaller bird species graced the upper canopies of the gums. Olive-backed Oriole called from here later on in the day.
As we walked beside the creek, a few different frog species called from the adjacent swamp.
There was excitement from further up the track as one of our 34 bird watchers spied this gorgeous Azure Kingfisher which had flown off from somewhere along the creek line. Luckily it had perched in a nearby tree. The excitement didn’t end there when Rufuous Fantail and nest were discovered.
There were the usual suspects at the dam we visit which backs onto Yellingbo Reserve from one of the small farms. As we headed north there were beautiful but loud calls from a couple of male Satin Flycatcher both vying for the attention of a female spotted close by.
Surely the day couldn’t get any better.
After enjoying a welcome break and lunch close to the depot, a few intrepid bird watchers decided to take a walk back along the same path we took earlier on in the day.
Those returning from the afternoon walk excitedly talked of amazing sights of Wedge-tailed Eagle, two, in a nearby tree. Azure Kingfisher was sighted again as well as Sacred Kingfisher which had not been seen or heard of earlier in the day.
In the fifteen or so years I have been coordinating this bird walk, I don’t remember experiencing a better day as far as bird quality and number of enthusiastic bird watchers were concerned. We recorded 55 species on the day. Thanks so much for coming along everyone!
With the weather largely cleared after Sunday night’s rain a group of 18 midweek birders assembled at the end of Hallam Valley Road. The wetland here is currently undergoing improvement works. The link below provides extra detail on the need for these works for those interested.
Such works clearly involve some disturbance to the nature of the site. The water levels were lower than normal with plenty of exposed mud. Despite this, and the presence of ongoing works and machinery, the morning provided some excellent bird watching.
Early highlights included quite a large flock of Rainbow Lorikeets, Brown Goshawk, Black-fronted Dotterel, Peregrine Falcon, and quite a bit of activity in the grassland to the North of the path.
Identification here was a matter of patience and many pairs of eyes. Golden-headed Cisticola, Silvereyes, and a single Australian Reed-Warbler were noted. As we progressed through the wetland the air began to fill with White-faced Herons and a couple of White-necked Herons also got in on the act.
The lower water levels and exposed mudflats seemed to be offering feeding opportunities not normally present here. Ducks and waterhens were few and far between with Masked Lapwings seeming more numerous.
Heading up to the edge of the Main Hallam Drain we noticed the lifeless bodies of some Eels that had succumbed to the pump out of water.
Taking a short detour toward the Freeway in the South-East corner, the Blackberry and grassy verges along this area provided habitat for New Holland Honeyeaters, European Goldfinch, White-browed Scrubwrens, and Superb Fairy-wrens.
Up near the pond at the end, a group of 20 Red-browed Finch were seen. Retracing our steps and continuing to the South-West the small lake just over the main drain yielded Little Black Cormorant, Australasian Darter, Pelican, Australian White Ibis, Straw-necked Ibis and more White-faced Herons.
Royal Spoonbills were also recorded in this area and some Yellow-billed were seen flying over. The ponds on the North side of this section had somewhat more water in them and held small flocks of Teal, Pacific Black Duck, Dusky Moorhen and Purple Swamphen.
Through to the South-West corner and during the return walk to the main gate we picked up Welcome Swallows, White-plumed Honeyeaters, Noisy Miners, Grey Butcherbird and Wood Duck.
A dead rat being attended by several species of fly and some European Wasps brought home the gruesome face of nature at work (photos by Maarten Grabandt below).
Nineteen members assembled in the car park at Coolart on a warm, overcast and windless day.
Our first walk was to the Minsmire Bird Hide on Coolart’s Lake. Our group occupied most of the upper storey of the bird hide as bushes have grown up and interfere with the view from the lower storey. There were 16 species of waterbirds on the lake and we had especially good views of a male Blue-billed Duck and Hoary-headed Grebes. In the bush beside the bird hide the rattle of Superb Fairy-wrens could be heard. A few people caught sight of an Eastern Yellow Robin, which uncharacteristically, quickly hid itself away in the dense undergrowth.
After 30 minutes at Coolart Lake, the next destination was the Antechinus Bird Hide reached via the track on the western side of the Observatory Wetlands. Most birds seen here had been seen earlier and only the Dusky Moorhen could be added to our list.
Next along the Woodlands Track, Red and Little Wattlebirds were seen while Spotted Pardalote and Grey Shrike-thrush were heard calling. At the junction of two tracks a Grey Shrike-thrush was seen in a thicket, then another emerged and yet a third. Two were adult birds and the third a juvenile with a rufous eyebrow.
Past the garden dam, close to the Homestead was a hotspot of bush birds. Along with Grey Butcherbird and Red and Little Wattlebirds were Spotted Pardalotes, Grey Fantails, Brown Thornbills, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and Eastern Spinebills.
An early lunch was taken in the shade on the lawns surrounding the Homestead and the birdcall for the morning totalled 45 species.
After lunch we drove to Balbirooroo Wetland located close to Balnarring Primary School. The track and boardwalk to the wetland passed through Eucalypt bushland and Melaleuca swamp and came to a bird hide a situated on the edge of a lake. New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters, European Goldfinch, Australian Reed-Warbler and Tree Martins were seen along with a Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo which made a very brief appearance. Continuing around the lake a wooden platform on the right allowed views across a large wetland on the adjoining property.
To our dismay this wetland had very recently been carved up by heavy machinery which was still in the area. A number of channels had been dug across the area and piles of mud lined the banks. Amazingly there were 40 White-faced Herons standing amongst the rubble – a large number that even the experienced among us had rarely seen before. Hopefully some wetland may remain on the site though the future does not look promising.
On the walk back to our cars a large bird flashed across the path at treetop height. It disappeared into the bush before emerging at a distance and was identified as a Brown Goshawk. At the end of the walk a count of birds seen at Balbirooroo totalled thirty-nine, nine of which were additional to those seen at Coolart making a total of fifty-four species for the day.
The weather was kind, the company amicable and a good day’s birding was enjoyed by all.