24 November 2014
Being so close to the airport, Woodlands is not quiet. Planes are usually landing every minute and the roar of their deceleration on touchdown is extremely loud. Still there are many birds in the park and the grey skies and heavy short showers with occasional thunder did not deter 19 enthusiasts from coming to look for them. Rob Grosvenor led the group and even in the car park birds were active with Tree Martins flying around and, interestingly, landing not far from the cars to collect ground material before flying off with, presumably, nesting loads in their bills.
They were not alone and we had good views of a Striated Pardalote carrying a 30cm grass blade to a tree hollow. From the frequent calling both Striated and Spotted Pardalotes were common though the park. Besides birds we noted great numbers of rabbits, presumably all resistant to myxomatosis and Calici virus. Ants’ nests were common, some huge and some with Echidna scratchings, while at least one had the winged alates emerging, to become potential bird food. Eastern Grey Kangaroos were also numerous.
The park is very dry with no running water in the creek bed and only the occasional small pond, from which Australian Reed-Warbler were calling loudly. After one of the rain showers we observed the front waters of a miniature rivulet heading towards one of the ponds. The aged eucalypts with their twisted trunks and numerous holes support large numbers of birds.
A Brown Goshawk flushed from its nest as we approached and we hoped it hadn’t deserted the nest due to disturbance. A happier view was a juvenile Dusky Woodswallow perched on a branch and being fed by an adult. The discovery of a geocaching cylinder near the track inspired the inclusion of one name on the contact list inside – it’s an advertising technique which would only reach the interested. When one of the heavier showers caught us in an open area we made a retreat to the homestead, birding in the garden and noting House Sparrow and Common Blackbird but appreciating more the White-browed Scrubwren and Grey Shrike-thrush using the cover and bird bath. The woodlot seemed to be a bird-free zone but further on in a post-lunch walk we had excellent views of perched Brown-headed Honeyeater (usually only glimpsed as it dashes around the tree canopy) and a bonus male White-winged Triller.
Much more common were numerous Superb Fairy-wrens.
With yet more rain and thunder pending we decided to call it a day and counted up the bird list. There were 46 species recorded and we thanked Rob enthusiastically for reminding us or introducing us to this great area..
Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings