Beginners outing to Coolart Wetlands and Homestead

27 September 2014; leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers

Species count: 64

Weather conditions were perfect as 36 members, including several ‘new’ beginners, assembled at Coolart Wetlands. Heading first to the Lagoon, a pleasing number of small bush birds such as Red-browed Finches and Superb Fairy-wrens lined the track. From the Minsmere Hide great activity amongst the two types of nesting Ibis was witnessed at close quarters. All stages from incubation to the feeding of chicks were represented. Also present were several duck species, including Freckled and Blue-billed. The group then took to the wetlands tracks and watched an unconcerned Eastern Great Egret jabbing its beak into the water seeking food. From the Antechinus Hide two pairs of Australasian Shovelers were studied whilst they rested on a log. Descending onto the woodland, a Fan-tailed Cuckoo was heard calling loudly, and as the group tracked it down a large koala was spotted in a fork of a nearby gum tree. The cuckoo was located at the top of a dead tree, affording excellent views for the beginners.

After lunch in the Homestead picnic area, most of the group took the Woodland Walk to the beach where two dolphins were frolicking just offshore. The sharp eyes of Geoff Deason found a well-camouflaged pair of Red-capped Plovers not far away and, approaching cautiously, everyone was able to see them with ease. Other birds were subsequently seen flying close to the waves, including an Australasian Gannet and a Pied Cormorant. On the return walk through the woodlands several more bush bird species were seen as well as a snake and a second koala. As the group returned to the car park across the Homestead’s formal garden, a Wedge-tailed Eagle and a Black-shouldered Kite appeared above as if to provide a rousing finale to a most pleasant and rewarding day on which the species count reached 64.

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