14 July 2014
Our company numbered 11 and the weather was calm and good for birding. Geoff Russell, our leader, gave a brief history of the reserve and later we noted the remains of the watermill on the creek. Birding started with very good views for everyone of an unexpectedly close Australian Reed-Warbler foraging on the jetty. Australasian Darter were clearly finding the area suitable, at least 11 were seen. Eurasian Coot were numerous and a ‘dinner duck’ accompanied a Northern Mallard and a Pacific Black Duck which was clearly keeping bad company. After the recent rain every pond was full so no mud was visible and consequently, no crakes or rails, but plenty of frogs heard. An Australian Pelican looked rather precarious on a duck nesting box but clearly felt secure as it remained there throughout our visit. Little Corella were numerous and calling. One flock of corellas flew with at least eight Cattle Egret which then perched near a Great Cormorant, giving good contrast. Wedge-tailed Eagle soared overhead for some minutes. A walk away from the main lake yielded Australian King-Parrot, several Grey Fantail, Laughing Kookaburra, numerous Superb Fairy-wren and Brown Thornbill calling and a small flock of Red-browed Finch as well as female and male Golden Whistler. The morning walk had 46 species in total.
After lunch a short walk in Spadoni’s Nature Reserve yielded 31 species despite numerous dogs (not always on the required lead). The slight surprise here was the Yarra running a banker, necessitating care where shallow water was covering a short stretch of the path. We debated on ‘intrepid’ or ‘stupid’ but decided on the former as there had been no rain for at least two days and the river was unlikely to suddenly rise. A pity none of us had a camera to record the sight as it flowed brown, fast and deep. The wild weather earlier had downed quite a few tree tops and the area would not have been safe then. Again frogs were vocal in the reed beds and numerous wrens and thornbills were calling. A small flock of Striated Thornbill came low and helpfully foraged in a bare shrub affording excellent views of a species usually in the high canopy. We added Black-shouldered Kite and Collared Sparrowhawk plus a defensive Straw-necked Ibis, which buzzed a Peregrine Falcon which then flew further from a small ibis flock. Bush birds were similar to those at Lillydale Lake and the total species count for both locations was a satisfying 56; not bad for winter birding.
Contributor: Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings