Weekdays Outing to Tirhatuan Park, Dandenong North

6 June 2018
Australian Wood Duck - Chestnut Teal - Bevan Hood
Australian Wood Duck and Chestnut Teal. Photo by Bevan Hood

For early arrivals birding started promptly as there was a large flock of ducks, Australian Woods plus a few Pacific Blacks, beside the entrance road. Not fazed by vehicles they waddled suicidally in front of cars and drivers were required to stop and wait for “the bird problem” to resolve itself.

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Group assembling in the car park. Photo by Danika Sanderson

The birding continued in the car park where the early arrivals listed cockatoos and parrots as dominant.

Straw-necked Ibis - Bevan Hood.jpg
Straw-necked Ibis. Photo by Bevan Hood

A large mob of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos plus some Little Corellas arrived then a lone Long-billed Corella foraged near a Straw-necked Ibis across from the playground while flying around were Galahs, Rainbow Lorikeets, Eastern and Crimson Rosellas and Australian King-Parrots.

Eastern Rosella - Danika Sanderson
Eastern Rosella. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Spotted Pardalotes called and our first Common Bronzewings were sighted here. Australian Magpies seemed to be aggressively “sorting out” their young and Noisy Miners, as always, attempted to drive off other species.

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike - Danika Sanderson
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Danika Sanderson

John Bosworth led the walk and the attendance of 25 people included members from other branches and visitors. We set off to the first pond south-east of the car park where our waterbird list grew with the addition of Chestnut and Grey Teal as well as Eurasian Coot, that cosmopolitan species.

Grey Butcherbird - Bevan Hood
Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Bevan Hood

Continuing on our circular course past the larger pond, where most saw Golden-headed Cisticola, we walked under Stud Road via the pedestrian underpass. The hope here was to proceed to the area where adjacent paddocks come close to the reserve and scan the fence line for robins. No robins were observed but a low-flying Australian Pelican was noted.

Australian Pelican - Danika Sanderson
Australian Pelican. Photo by Danika Sanderson

We returned along the western edge of the park, again checking out the potential of the larger lake’s edges. Lunch was starting to look very good as we headed back to the cars and the morning’s bird call numbered 48 species at first count, a very pleasing result.

Common Bronzewing - Bevan Hood
Common Bronzewing. Photo by Bevan Hood

Only two raptors had been recorded – a Little Eagle and a Brown Goshawk – both soaring above the tree tops. Some had to depart after lunch but 16 drove to the bush at the Police Paddocks Reserve, which was only a very short distance as the raven flies from our morning walk but took some time to reach by road.

Brown Thornbill - Danika Sanderson
Brown Thornbill. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Here the habitat differed from the morning and among the denser trees we added a female Golden Whistler, White-eared Honeyeater and good sightings of Brown Thornbill, Grey Shrike-thrush and Eastern Spinebill.

White-plumed Honeyeater - bevan hood
White-plumed Honeyeater. Photo by Bevan Hood

At walk’s end the species list totalled 53, and all voted it a great day’s birding as we thanked John for his care and preparation.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Beginners Outing to Woodlands Historic Park

26 May 2018

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 45

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Long-billed Corellas. Photo by Bevan Hood

A fine weather forecast and Woodlands’ reputation as a red robin hotspot enticed 42 members to attend this month’s excursion. Setting off along the creek from the Somerton Road car park lots of Superb Fairy-wrens were seen foraging on the ground, the first of many located in this section of the Park.

Red-rumped Parrots (M and F), Woodlands
Red-rumped Parrots (m and f). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Parrots were plentiful throughout the day with the numerous nest hollows in the magnificent ancient River Red Gums providing first class accommodation.  Red-rumped Parrots were of particular interest to the Beginners with the males’ brilliant plumage gleaming in the sunshine.

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Red-rumped Parrot (m). Photo by Bevan Hood

Several small flocks of Weebills were seen in eucalypts alongside the creek, though these were harder for the newer beginners to identify.

Weebill, Woodlands
Weebill. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Also in good numbers, but difficult to see, were Striated Pardalotes, perhaps staking their claim to small yet desirable holes in the trees. There were not as many Spotted Pardalotes evident, mostly being heard, though rarely seen, near to the creek.

AV-Striated Pardalote-IMG_6601
Striated Pardalote. Photo by Alan Veevers

A few Long-billed Corellas were feeding on the ground whilst others were canoodling high in the trees. No raptors were seen on the morning walk. Possibly, the regular low-flying aircraft provided a major reason for their absence.

Long-billed Corellas, Woodlands
Long-billed Corellas. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Upon reaching the Woodlands Homestead members were delighted to see a pair of Flame Robins on a fence between two horse paddocks.

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Flame Robin (m). Photo by Bevan Hood

Returning towards the carpark a large flock of Red-browed Finch was seen, and three lucky stragglers saw a pair of Scarlet Robins, albeit some distance from the track.

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Scarlet Robin (m). Photo by Alan Veevers

After lunch most of the group drove round the perimeter to the area close to the Aboriginal Cemetery for an afternoon walk. Heading towards the disused reservoir several additional species were seen, including Golden Whistler, Crimson Rosella and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike.

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Woodlands
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

As members watched a pair of Australasian Grebes on the water a Spotless Crake suddenly shot out from the nearside reeds and appeared to run on the surface of the lake in its rush to reach the denser reeds on the opposite side. Its red legs flashing in the sunlight provided a key identification feature. Sadly it was too speedy for anyone to take a photograph.

Australasian Grebe, Woodlands
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley.

Meanwhile the only raptors for the day, a pair of Whistling Kites, were circling overhead. Members then walked back along the outside of the Back Paddock fence (which was closed to the public) and saw several more small bush birds, including another pair of Scarlet Robins, White-throated Treecreepers and Yellow-rumped Thornbills.

No further red robins were seen on the track back to the cars – a sad decline in their numbers having taken place over the past few years from the days when many pairs could reliably be found. Despite this, members felt they had enjoyed some unusual sightings amidst the ancient trees of the Park.  A total of 45 species was recorded for the day.

View the full bird list: BM May 2018 Bird List Woodlands Historic Park

Education report – May 2018

Wednesday 2 May

23 members of U3A Deepdene came to hear Pat Bingham speak about “Australia – Land of Parrots”.  The lecture covered historical records, old World Maps, modern genetics and recent taxonomy, and stimulated lots of discussion and personal experiences (with both positive and negative comments) of interactions with the Australasian representatives of the family.

Ten ladies from Mercy Place Boronia made their way to the Yarran Dheran Nature Reserve in Mitcham for our annual activities morning. This involved watching a PowerPoint presentation by Janet Hand on ‘Same bird, different feathers’ – the different appearance of birds due to their age and sex. This was followed by a craft activity of making greetings cards using bird photographs and then morning tea. Later, the ladies went for a short walk in the Reserve. Thank you Gay Gallagher and Sonja Ross for your assistance, and Gay for arranging the use of the Yarran Dheran Education Centre.

Sunday 6 May

As part of this year’s Mullum Mullum Festival, Geoff Russell gave a presentation and a short talk in the Information Centre about the history of Yarran Dheran Nature Reserve and the birds that have been recorded in the Reserve. He had a group of 28 people which included a couple children. Weather wise it was a perfect day for birding –  18C, fine, sunny and most importantly no wind. After the talk, he took them on a 3 km walk through the Reserve and along the Mullum Mullum Creek. This lasted just over two hours and they recorded 29 species. They had several good views of Common Bronzewings and King Parrots. Spotted Pardalotes were heard many times but were very difficult to see because of their small size and the tall, dense forest.

Tuesday 15 May

On a cold day, 25 ladies of the Ladies Guild braved the elements at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Doncaster. Janet Hand gave a PowerPoint presentation on how to attract birds to their gardens naturally.  This presentation was well received and was followed by a lovely afternoon tea.

Friday 18 May

Hawthorn U3A’s monthly Birdwalk this month was at Norton’s Park & Shepherd’s Bush. As usual this group was led by Pat Bingham. They had 14 attendees and saw 22 species.  The parks were rather quiet except for a very noisy mob of about thirty Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.  Several Eastern Rosellas were feeding in the short grass, a quiet Kookaburra looked for prey in the longer grass and a Grey Currawong having called, moved off quickly.  Once again, the group had good looks at young male Superb Fairy-wrens in non-breeding plumage, but, sadly, the Scarlet Robins, seen well last year, were missing in 2018.

Thank you everyone for your contribution to our program.

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

Weekdays outing in the Wonthaggi area

16 May 2018

The meeting point car park filled with cars as 24 assembled under cloudy skies in Wonthaggi. Rain storms had fallen the previous day so we were grateful for a cold but dry day. Nola Thorpe led the walk and warned us that her recent recce had yielded very few birds in the heathland. However we were a hopeful mix of Melbourne and Wonthaggi birders as we drove off in convoy – you never know with birding.

Eastern Spinebill - Bevan Hood
Eastern Spinebill in the heathlands. Photo by Bevan Hood

The heathlands car park was already occupied by a pair of horse riders, regulars, who wished us good birding as they set off. Initially Nola’s dire prediction looked accurate for we saw and heard little. Then there were Grey Shrike-thrush calls and glimpses of New Holland Honeyeaters. In more timbered country there were Spotted Pardalote, Grey Fantail and Grey Butcherbird. Near a small dam, five Australasian Shelducks flew overhead.

Walking the heathland track - Tweeddale
Walking the track. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

The dam, which birds frequent in summer, was uninhabited as recent rains had provided plenty of surface water elsewhere. A small flock of Red-browed Finches foraged on the ground and White-eared Honeyeaters called and perched on emergent boughs, seeming to take on the roles of Singing Honeyeaters elsewhere. A cool burn had been done about a month previously and it was interesting to see the growth of grass blades and of the Xanthorrhoea bases below the burn line.

The heathlands are a mosaic of different burnt zones which will hopefully provide habitat for many species. We searched unsuccessfully for the elusive Southern Emu-wren and the Striated Fieldwren before returning to the cars to drive to the desalination plant. The car park was under surveillance as we assembled – several Eastern Grey Kangaroos watched quietly from a bracken patch.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo - Bevan Hood
Eastern Grey Kangaroos watching the car park. Photo by Bevan Hood

We lunched at the picnic area of the desal plant before walking on the trails and checking the ponds. Here waterbirds predominated with large flocks of Pacific Black Ducks and Grey Teal. A few Eurasian Coots and fewer Chestnut Teal and Australasian Grebes were also present.

Pacific Black Duck - Grey Teal - Chestnut Teal - Bevan Hood
Pacific Black Ducks and Grey and Chestnut Teal on the desalination plant pond. Photo by Bevan Hood

Both White-faced and White-necked Herons used the ponds and Straw-necked Ibis flew over. Raptors here were Black-shouldered Kite, Nankeen Kestrel, Swamp Harrier and Peregrine Falcon while Welcome Swallows swooped across the ponds. As always, Superb Fairy-wrens were among the reed beds. Back to bird call and the group’s lists were 36 species in the heathlands, 39 species at the desalination plant and a gratifying total of 59 species for the day.

Heathland flowers - Tweeddale
Heathland flowers. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

We thanked Nola for all her preparation which had produced such a great result for this cold season of the year.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings.

April Education Report

The Autumn Survey at Blackburn Creeklands was held on Saturday 14 April, which was very windy and dull, but the 27 participants, including visitors from South Australia, Holland and China, enjoyed the 27 species they found. Everyone had superb views of Gang-gang Cockatoos, feeding on gumn uts, squabbling over perches and trying to get away from a very persistent youngster who wanted to be fed. Other Autumn visitors like King Parrots and Grey Fantails were good to see but the resident Tawny Frogmouths, Brown Thornbills and White-browed Scrubwrens were rather hard to find. 27 species is a low number for the survey (now in its 7thyear) but the dry conditions and the wind on the day may have contributed to this rather poor result.

This survey was led by Pat Bingham and Ian Moodie. Pat also led the Karkarook walk (below).

The U3A Hawthorn outing was on Friday 20 April. There were 14 attendees including six newcomers to this programme. There was bright sunshine in Melbourne but they hit a bank of fog just as they got to Karkarook Park in Heatherton, so that the birds seemed quiet and the wetlands ‘disappeared’. Luckily, a few Noisy Miners continued to chase a Brush-tailed Possum through the gums (did the possum think it was still night-time?) and Pied Currawongs called eerily from the gloom – so they at least had something to peer for! Eventually the mistiness cleared and they found six species of duck, a busy flock of Red-browed Finches acrobatically collecting grass-seed, a party of Superb Fairy-wrens including young males in their sombre winter colours and blue tails, and a Little Wattlebird (uncommon at Karkarook). The wren’s winter plumage change and the differentiation of Little and Red Wattlebirds made good talking-points for beginning birders, and the total of 33 species for the morning sent them home with lots of ‘homework’ to do. The following photographs were taken by Sue Wilson – a member of this group. I thank Pat and Sue for their contributions.

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

Beginners Outing to The Briars

28 April 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 43

All photographs by Eleanor Dilley

Eastern Yellow Robin, The Briars
Eastern Yellow Robin

Lots of Australian Wood Ducks on the grass beside the main drive greeted the Beginners as they arrived at the Briars on a bright sunny morning.  At the Visitor Centre car park, Noisy Miners were the dominant species, although a mixture of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Little Corellas also announced their presence very loudly. A Brown Goshawk flying overhead provided an early highlight.  As the usual track to the wetlands was closed for repairs, the group had to enter the Wildlife Enclosure from the other entrance and it was immediately evident how dry the bushland was. Ponds which normally are home to ducks and Dusky Moorhens were bone dry, though fortunately there was still a little water in Balcombe Creek.

Rainbow Lorikeet, The Briars
Rainbow Lorikeet

Taking the Woodland track it was pleasing to see Eastern Yellow Robins, the first of several pairs seen throughout the morning. Birds were in short supply along the higher part of the track apart from Eastern Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets and a pair of canoodling Galahs. From the lookout it could be seen that the water level was very low in the main lagoon and hence was not attracting many birds.

Galahs, The Briars
Galahs

However, from the track towards the hide there were excellent views of a Swamp Harrier flying low overhead, followed by more distant views of a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles. Three species of honeyeater were seen from the boardwalk section; Yellow-faced, White-eared and New Holland. From the hide it was disappointing that the only birds seen were a Chestnut Teal and a White-faced Heron, no doubt a result of the low water levels.

Swamp Harrier, The Briars
Swamp Harrier

On returning to the lookout a Nankeen Kestrel skimmed rapidly past and there were distant views of a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels. The group then returned via the Fire Track towards the Visitor Centre and near the creek saw a female Rufous Whistler which was a surprising sighting so late in the season. On leaving the Wildlife Enclosure most members chose to walk a short distance along the Balcombe Creek Track, hoping that the moist conditions would attract more small birds, but sadly this was not to be.

Rufous Whistler (F), The Briars
Rufous Whistler, female

Lunch was taken in the picnic area where the Noisy Miners again made their presence felt and members had to keep tight hold of their sandwiches!  A further walk was then taken up the hill towards the Homestead from which there were distant views of a pair of Nankeen Kestrels perched on fence posts. A pair of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes flew low overhead while a White-faced Heron in a paddock allowed close views.

White-faced Heron, The Briars
White-faced Heron

Walking back down the track to the car park two Whistling Kites were seen, bringing the raptor count to 5. A total of 43 species was recorded for the day which was very respectable given the dry conditions. Many of the members vowed to return when the wetlands are once again full of water.

View the bird list: BM APR Bird List The Briars

Weekday outing to Cape Schanck, Mornington Peninsula National Park

16 April 2018
All photographs by Katmun Loh, member

There had been hope that strong winds would result in albatrosses close to shore but the winds of the day far exceeded anything requested. We were a group of 11 and our leader, Pat Bingham, had prepared well for the walk. Gales bent the trees and drove rain squalls horizontally to our backs so the occasional dip in the path or thicker stand of scrub that broke the force was welcome.

Group huddling by thte cars - Katmun Loh
The group huddling by the cars

Initially not a bird was seen and only a couple of squeaks were heard from the scrub. Despite a rainbow it did not look promising but, never say die, we kept alert, even though the car park “total” was two unidentified glimpses. Up to the lookout where we watched the spray on white-topped waves blow backwards. Few birds and then “gannet”! Determination was needed but most detected an Australasian Gannet, some saw a Silver Gull and shearwaters were present. A couple of Welcome Swallows appeared and hope was restored. Towards Bushrangers Bay Superb Fairy-wrens were mostly heard and other calls perplexed until they were identified as crickets.

Superb Fairy-wren, male in eclipse plumage - Katmun Loh
Superb Fairy-wren, male in eclipse plumage

An autumnal Red Wattlebird flock of about 20 included at least one Little Wattlebird. The track runs by the park boundary and Australian Magpies were in the adjacent paddocks with a Nankeen Kestrel and Silver Gulls overhead. Those in front saw a Grey Shrike-thrush as we neared our return point and the few who descended to the watercourse added Grey Fantails. Back at lunch we were soon checked out by the locals as the weather eased. A young Grey Shrike-thrush (recognisable by its markings) came first, and an adult approached afterwards.

Grey Shrike-thrush - Katmun Loh
Grey Shrike-thrush

Superb Fairy-wren and Brown Thornbill gave brief views. Little Ravens first flew and then called, confirming the species. Post lunch we set off in the opposite direction, west toward the lighthouse. Both Kelp and Pacific Gulls were observed from the cliff and optimism grew as the weather calmed, briefly. Better views of Shy Albatross, Short-tailed Shearwaters and Australasian Gannet were obtained. A demonstration of the intensification of the wind speed at the top of a cliff compared to a few steps behind the crest was instructive. Calls from Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater were followed but few sightings were obtained. The group recorded only three honeyeater species, two wattlebirds and the Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, but two members who left later were able to photograph a Singing Honeyeater which had presumably ventured out in the sunnier conditions.

Singingh Honeyeater - Katmun Loh
Singing Honeyeater

The bird list for the group added to 20 species and we thanked Pat for all her preparation which had resulted in successful birding under such challenging conditions.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator Melbourne BirdLife weekdays outings

 

Weekday outing to Warrandyte State Park

26 March 2018

Overcast skies and a cool wind greeted 16 birdwatchers at the Jumping Creek car park. Our leader was Geoff Russell and he advised us of his plans for the walk and reassured everyone that the steep, narrow trails with roots and stones would be avoided, to considerable relief all round as the previous two days had been very wet. The river was running fast and deep and few birds were using it. Single Pacific Black and Australian Wood Ducks swam and a Little Pied Cormorant and a female Australasian Darter flew over the water while two immature Dusky Moorhens swam the river and at least two adults foraged by the banks. Superb Fairy-wrens were the most common bush bird but Grey Fantails were also numerous and amused with their foraging antics.

After a short walk we reached Blue Tongue Bend and birded quietly for some time. A highlight here was brief sightings of a female Golden Whistler which had only been heard previously. A Grey Shrike-thrush was also in the vicinity. Brown Thornbills were heard and Striated Thornbills fluttered in the high canopy. Silvereyes had been added to the list just before the bend. Cockatoos were more heard than seen and the list included Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and Galah. Corellas were often heard but were not included officially as both Little and Long-billed were possible but neither were confirmed. Honeyeaters included flights of Red Wattlebirds high above, calls of Eastern Spinebills and Noisy Miners and sightings of White-eared and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. The agitated calls of Crimson Rosellas signalled the presence of a Pied Currawong. Two walkers advised us that they had seen a robin in the valley below the road to Stane Brae. Those at the rear of our group investigated and were pleased to observe a male Scarlet Robin among many wrens. Catching up with the rest of the group later enabled all to share the pleasure as the bird had obligingly moved in the same direction. A female robin was also present but did not present good views. We checked the Stane Brae outbuildings but nothing appeared to be roosting there.

The siren call of lunch took us back to the car park and under the roof of the picnic shelter. Optimistic Laughing Kookaburras patrolled the area but were disappointed, as were the local Common Mynas. Some people had to leave at this stage so we recorded a bird list. As we finished rain arrived, heavily. It was decided to forgo an afternoon walk as conditions were deteriorating and the species total stood at 40. Attempting a higher count seemed greedy so we thanked Geoff for all his careful preparation which had resulted in such a pleasant morning.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne

Beginners Outing to Braeside Park

24 March 2018
Photographs by Eleanor Dilley

The Beginners’ outing to Braeside Park coincided with the end of a two-month dry spell in the Melbourne area! The rain began in earnest soon after the start and it poured down relentlessly for the rest of the excursion!

Musk Lorikeet, Braeside
Musk Lorikeet

Setting off down Cypress Drive there were good views of Eastern Rosellas feeding in the grass, and of Musk and Rainbow Lorikeets feeding in eucalypts. Walking anticlockwise around the back of the wetlands two fluffy, cream-coloured, Australasian Darter chicks were seen on a nest in a tree on an island.

Australasian Darter chicks, Braeside
Australasian Darter chicks on nest

Eurasian Coots were plentiful, as were Grey and Chestnut Teal. Australian Pelicans, Black Swans, Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants

Australian Pelican, Braeside
Australian Pelican

White-faced Herons, a lone Royal Spoonbill, Hardheads and Blue-billed Ducks could all be seen without the aid of binoculars, which by that time had steamed up. Harder to distinguish were Red-kneed and Black-fronted Dotterels on mud flats at the back of the ponds. Noisy Miners were present in huge numbers and did not seem deterred by the soggy conditions but other bushbirds were harder to find.

Black Swans, Braeside
Black Swan

The only raptors seen were Swamp Harrier and Whistling Kite. It was a very bedraggled group that returned to the car park with many deciding to head straight for home and hot showers. Others stayed for lunch in the welcome shelter of the visitor centre. After a short discussion it was unanimously agreed that the planned afternoon walk be cancelled.

It had been a commendable effort for all those involved, and especially for our photographer, Eleanor Dilley, whose battle with the elements produced the above photographs. A tally of 52 species was recorded, a creditable total given the conditions. Although very wet, everyone was really glad to see the rain falling on the parched bushland. The homeward journey for most was no doubt filled with thoughts and hopes that rain had also fallen on their own backyards!

View the full bird list: BM Mar 2018 Bird List Braeside Park

 

Education report – January to March 2018

The BirdLife Melbourne Education Group has started off the year with early activities.

On Wednesday, 10 January Janet Hand addressed approximately 40 members of the Hawthorn U3A Summer School in Glen Iris. There were two parts to her presentation. First there was a PowerPoint on the work of BirdLife titled “BirdLife – preserving the future of birds.” That presentation was followed by another PowerPoint with tips on identifying birds and showing those birds found around the Hawthorn/Glen Iris area.

On Tuesday 20 February, Gay Gallagher visited the Walmsley Village Garden Club, Kilsyth. Approximately 35 people attended to see her PowerPoint on “Attracting birds to our gardens.” She said the audience was very interested and she fielded many interesting questions.

On Monday 26 February, Susan Bailey was the lunchtime speaker at a meeting of the Ferntree Gully VIEW Club who met at the Knox Club in Wantirna. Approximately 75 members were present on the day. Susan also spoke on how to attract birds into their gardens.

On Saturday 10 March Graeme Hosken led an early morning walk at Jells Park, Waverley for the Friends of Diamond Valley Parklands. Twelve members of the FODVP attended an early morning bird walk from the Information Centre and clockwise round the lake and returning to the Information Centre. A perfect morning weather-wise but groups of runners and bike riders kept them on the lookout to prevent an accident. Late nesting by a Darter was a highlight with four young in a nest.  One member asked what is a small bird with red breast? A further sighting produced a male Mistletoebird with its mate close at hand.  A rewarding sight for all the members. At the end of the three hour bird walk, 37 species were recorded.

Tuesday 13 March saw Graeme Hosken speak to members of the Australian Plant Society, Wilson Botanic Park, Berwick on the subject “Catching up with the Illegal’s”  Shorebird Migration – Australian/Asian Flyway. Thirty-two APS members attended.

On Thursday 15 March Janet Hand was a last minute replacement Guest Speaker at the Community of Ringwood Indigenous Species Plant (CRISP) Nursery AGM in Ringwood. She spoke about “Attracting birds to your garden naturally” 30 members were present and appreciative of the effort that Janet had made to attend with only 24 hours notice.

The first U3A Hawthorn monthly Birdwatching Group walk for the year was at the Sinclair Wetlands, Glen Iris on Friday 16 March. 19 attenders including several newcomers; 20 species recorded. Best birds were a young-ish Nankeen Night-heron patiently waiting for prey adjacent to the opening of a stormwater drain while a very healthy-looking Brown Rat played about on the rocks above.  Bird and rat ignored each other.  Also much amusement was caused by a Kookaburra, in a very noisy dispute with two attacking Little Ravens, just over their heads.  The observers thought they might, too, get dive bombed!  The group also had good looks at Musk Lorikeets and a pair of Red-rumped Parrots. Thank you Pat Bingham for leading this group.

Breakfast with the Birds was held on Sunday 18 March, at Wilson Botanic Park, Berwick from 7 – 9.30am. Breakfast with the Bird walks at Wilson Botanic Park commenced in 2004 with two walks, one in Spring and the other in Autumn. Unfortunately weather conditions for the day’s walk were not pleasant with a strong north wind and the possibility for rain. Luckily the rain and a cool change came after the walk concluded. The recent dry conditions have had an effect on many plant species in the park and the ‘bush’ birds are not in their usual haunts.  Missing were Superb Fairy-wren and White-browed Scrubwren.  A Hoary-headed Grebe with young was the highlight for the morning.  No new species were added on Sunday for the WBP Bird list which stands at 87. This list contains highlights being: Satin Bowerbird, Australasian Bittern and Channel-billed Cuckoo. Thanks to Graeme Hosken for leading the Wilson Botanic Park walks.

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