Beginners outing to Hawkestowe Park and Morang Wetlands

24 May 2014; leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers

Species count: 56

Thirty-five members gathered in near perfect weather conditions in Red Gum Car Park. We headed north, across grassland, towards Morang Wetlands, soon coming across a male Scarlet Robin in a hedge-like row of trees and bushes. Also, a few Musk Lorikeets were located feeding in a flowering Eucalypt. The wetlands produced a good number of species, highlights being a pair of Australasian Darters circling on thermals above us and a White-necked Heron in full breeding plumage sitting on top of a waterfowl nest box amidst the reeds. Several Australasian Shovelers on a large log provided good views for the beginners.

After lunch, near the cars, we walked down to Le Page Homestead and spent some time identifying the waterbirds in and around the small lake. An Australasian Grebe in non-breeding plumage tested the experts’ abilities to explain to the uninitiated the subtle differences between it and an imaginary Hoary-headed Grebe (we had seen some earlier at the wetlands). The ‘lucky ones’ were fortunate to see a Spotless Crake on the muddy bank. Male and female Scarlet Robins were seen in nearby trees and again after we had regained the ridge track to head back to the cars. Male and female Flame Robins were also spotted on the grassy ridge. Literally hundreds of Grey Kangaroos noticed our presence on their land, to the delight of the photographers amongst us. No raptors had been seen until a few minutes after the final bird call when, as some had already begun their drive home, the remaining members were treated to a pair of low-flying Wedge-tailed Eagles which landed on a nearby tree, eventually being driven off by mobbing Magpies. A fitting end to a great day’s birding.

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