11 August 2015
We each had hopes that the weather forecast of fine and breezy with only a chance of late rain would prove correct and luckily it was so. A group of 28 assembled in the car park and our leader, Cecily Falkingham, shared her long term knowledge and enthusiasm for the area.
She has seen reduction in the bird species recorded over time but we were optimistic that a creditable list for a winter’s day would be recorded. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos screeched alarm as we met and a few Crimson Rosellas and Brown Thornbills were noted.
The river was running deep and fast and few waterbirds were initially recorded though by final bird list time, a White-faced Heron, a couple of Dusky Moorhens and a Eurasian Coot had made the list. Australian Wood Duck called but were observed in paddocks near the reserve entrance rather than near the water. The recent rains had left the riverside path narrow and slippery so we avoided such areas and walked instead on the main ‘inland’ track in the morning. The ground either side was covered with vivid green mosses responding to the rains but the track was drained dry and provided good footing thanks to the steep nature of the terrain. Australian Raven and Grey Shrike-thrush called (the latter now in full song, no longer single note) and were eventually seen, as were Superb Fairy-wrens.
The group fragmented as walkers found their pace, or even better, studied birds in different locations. A lagging group watched a Black Wallaby hop rapidly across the track while the birders ahead caught Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo calls. Laughing Kookaburras seem to be holding their own in this area, possibly due to theft from picnickers to judge by their lunchtime behaviour.
Honeyeaters were rather light on in the morning but after lunch we walked up the entry road and encountered mixed feeding flocks. Our honeyeater list suddenly grew as White-naped, Yellow-faced, White-plumed and Lewins joined the list of White-eared Honeyeater and Eastern Spinebill.
Noisy Miner was only recorded on the far side of the river close to some houses. Distinguishing Striated from Brown Thornbills was challenging when a clear view of their eyes was not obtained, but numbers of us were able to list the two different species after much work.
There were also Weebills among the feeding flock of honeyeaters. A female Brown Goshawk flushed from the canopy in the morning and later a male was also recorded. This was the only raptor species seen. Calls of Eastern Yellow Robin and White-throated Treecreeper were heard but only the latter was seen and was close enough to delight several photographers.
By walk’s end the list comprised 41 species; a creditable total for a winter’s day in an area close to houses. Cecily had certainly planned well and we thanked her sincerely.
Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings