5 November 2014
A cool south westerly chilled 11 post-Cup dedicated birders as they assembled. Hazel and Alan Veevers led our group and the first concern was to drive to the Cheetham wetlands coast to look for shorebirds as the tide rose. We paused to check the small ponds in a new housing estate where Pacific Black Duck, Chestnut Teal and Eurasian Coot had joined the adaptable Common Starling and Little Raven. The tide beat us and a challenging lone Red-capped Plover was the only shorebird but the birding was still eye-opening. Few of us had encountered Hoary-headed Grebe on the sea but here several were diving among the waves. The many Chestnut Teal and Black Swan in such a location were more familiar. Taking the long route back to the cars we encountered territorial squabbles between honeyeaters with a Singing Honeyeater prevailing over a New Holland for possession of the valued high perch on one of the few scattered bushes. Whiskered (Marsh) Terns were numerous along the coast and close inland but we saw only one Crested Tern. Raptors were initially scarce but a perched Australian Hobby ‘broke the drought’ and the final tally included a courting pair of Whistling Kite, a juvenile Black-shouldered Kite, a hunting Nankeen Kestrel and a Brown Falcon. The area is extremely dry with cracked clay and almost no standing water. In only one place were frogs calling though white butterflies were numerous enough to be a distraction as they flew. Golden-headed Cisticola and Eurasian Skylark were finally tracked down by their calls as we walked to the Migration Tower. This area yielded brief glimpses of White-fronted Chat and distant views of Australian Pied Oystercatcher. Near the homestead a determined Willie Wagtail harassed a Little Raven, making audible contact, until the raven departed. After lunch we checked the beach near the homestead where our first approach was made memorable by more than 100 teal flushing from the beach to separate into smaller groups on the water. A short walk brought us to the remains of a jetty with Pied, Little Pied and Black-faced Cormorant roosting.
A quick check of the beach picnic area added a couple more bush birds to the day, Grey Fantail and Silvereye, though this area had been recently burnt and slashed so it supported less than previously. Bird call resulted in a final tally of 50 species and broad smiles all round as we thanked Hazel and Alan for showing us the potential of the park.
Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings