Weekday outing to Long Forest Nature Conservation Reserve and Merrimu Reservoir, Coimadai

22 September 2014

First an apology: The Day and Date listed in the Newsletter caused confusion. The Date was correct but the Day should have been Monday not Wednesday. For any members that came on Wednesday, I hope you enjoyed the area and if you have species not recorded on the listing for the 22 September, please let me know.

The Long Forest Conservation Reserve consists of several ‘blocks’ of predominant Bull Mallee (Eucalyptus behriana) covering an area of 245ha. It is 50km west of Melbourne and the only Mallee south of the Great Dividing Range. First reports of a birding nature was in 1894 and to this date, 160 species are listed with 68 breeding. Several species previously occurring in the area, Australian Bustard, Bush Stone-curlew, White-browed and Grey-crowned Babbler have long gone. What it must have been like for the earlier ‘Birders’.

Monday 22 Sep was a perfect ‘birding’ day. Little or no wind, clear sky and a moderate temperature.

The morning’s venue was at the northern end of the Reserve from the Canopus Circuit entry point, along Long Point Track through Bull Mallee then descending to Coimadai Creek with a change of habitat, larger Eucalyptus and Acacia replacing the Bull Mallee. With 14 persons in ‘tow’, what rewards were in store. Keen ears picked up the calls of Brown Treecreepers, then the highlight for the day, a Red-capped Robin male feeding a young with the female on a nest. Mistletoebird in the same area and three Cuckoo species calling. A ‘must’ for the area is the Yellow-tufted Honeyeater. Hard to find at first but a pair sighted along the Coimadai Creek. The Yellow-rumped sub-species of the Spotted Pardalote, was also recorded, taking the tally for the morning to 43 species.

After lunch, we drove north towards Merrimu Reservoir stopping briefly along the Diggers Rest – Coimadai Rd then into the Picnic Area at the reservoir. The first raptors for the day. Brown Goshawk, Swamp Harrier, Wedge-tailed Eagle and Nankeen Kestrel. Scopes were out as we overlooked the exposed mud banks and open water of the reservoir. Australian Pelican, Australasian Darter, Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel, and a pair of Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.

The afternoon’s total, also 43 species with the combined total at 65 species for the day.

A most rewarding day, especially for a few, being their first visit to the area and an overseas visitor from Great Britain who couldn’t believe the ‘red’ of the male Red-capped Robin. A highly recommended birding area.

Contributor: Graeme Hosken, Leader for the day, BirdLife Melbourne (gahosken@bigpond.com)

 

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