18 June 2014
Starters numbered 18 as we met in the car park under low grey skies. John Bosworth led and the former quarry site was an eye-opener to those who hadn’t visited before. Quarry bottoms were now rush-fringed ponds. Quarry edges were covered with extensive established plantings of native and introduced vegetation except where the steepness afforded views of the underlying basalt geology. Birds were numerous despite the proximity of housing and we started well with numerous Eastern Spinebill around the car park, a life species for some of us.
Other honeyeaters were White-plumed, New Holland and Little and Red Wattlebird. Waterbird species were limited to Pacific Black Duck, a couple of Hardhead, numerous Eurasian Coot, a few Dusky Moorhen and several grebes which caused intense observation and some discussion before it was accepted that there was a mix of Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebe.
Up and around we walked, taking in the view from the Hoo Hoo Tower despite the grey day. No raptors were observed but an obliging Common Bronzewing pleased many. Down to the visitor centre for lunch followed by a bird call recording 33 species for the area before some of us needed to leave.
The wetlands south of Golf Links Road, Narre Warren, which is a Melbourne Water survey site, was next visited. This is a grassed low-lying area with scattered plantings of trees beside a housing development. Here recent rain had brim-filled the low levels and frogs were calling (as they were at Wilsons). No mud was visible and naturally no mud feeders, though the ducks were numerous and included Grey and Chestnut Teal and ‘dinner’ ducks of indeterminate parentage. A pair of Black Swan was displaying to each other and giving us a good view of their white plumage. Our only raptor today was a Black-shouldered Kite perching and hovering.
Masked Lapwing and White-faced Heron flew. Then a flock of Straw-necked and Australian White Ibis was examined unsuccessfully for spoonbills and some saw an Australian Pelican soaring high. Introduced birds included Common Blackbird, numerous Common Starling, a few Common Myna, a small flock of European Goldfinch and a solitary Common Greenfinch. More appreciated were brief views of a Golden-headed Cisticola and a male Superb Fairy-wren in full breeding plumage. Back to the cars and a bird call which recorded 40 species for the site. This gave us a total for the day of 52 species and we thanked the leader for showing us areas so unexpectedly rich.
Contributor: Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings