4 November 2015
A warm and humid day did not deter 16 birders and photographers from assembling in the car park. Our leader, Lyn Easton, led us down to the main wetlands where eyes, bins and scope were kept busy. Highlights were Latham Snipes on the mud and the most frequent conversation was the question and answer about their location as they moved around. An Australian Spotted Crake was also seen by a few but was less cooperative than the snipes. It appeared that Buff-banded Rails were not to be on the list but once we reached the grotty pond several were seen on the edge and among the grass, delighting photographers.
Waterbirds included Silver Gulls (using nest boxes), Eurasian Coots and Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes plus Chestnut and Grey Teal and Pacific Black Duck. No swans were seen. Other sightings in this area included Little Corellas, Superb Fairy-wren, Red-rumped Parrots and Welcome Swallows.
Also present were Long-necked Turtles sunning on logs.
The walk around the western side of the wetlands didn’t yield much, unless you counted Red Wattlebird, Purple Swamphen and Common Blackbird, though glimpses of White-browed Scrubwrens were had by some. A very recently fledged Little Raven had a conspicuous pink gape.
We walked past the 2005 centenary planting by BOCA which showed good growth over the past decade. Hopefully this will support birds. Back to the car park and lunch in the shade of the trees.
The afternoon walk was beside the river towards the power lines and was notable for the number of nesting Tawny Frogmouths observed. Cute little heads watched us from below their parent while the brooding parent sat quietly vigilant.
These were not the only breeders – Noisy Miners attended to noisy chicks and Grey Butcherbirds were importuned by brown youngsters. Rainbow Lorikeets appeared at tree holes and thornbill nests were noted in bushes. Sacred Kingfishers were nesting in holes in the river bank close to a female Australasian Darter on a snag drying her wings. After several calls Mistletoebirds perched in clear view to everyone’s delight. No raptors were reported for the day.
A call was initially interpreted as a Whistling Kite but Lyn’s extensive experience corrected this. At least one Common Blackbird has been observed mimicking a kite call which it had added to its repertoire. Another challenge for birders is mimicry.
By walk’s end the bird call totalled 61 species and at least one person had notched up two lifers. Our thanks to Lynn were heartfelt and numbers of us are planning return visits.
Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings