5 March 2016
Report and photographs by Merrilyn Serong
Despite a hot, high 30s temp the day before, our March You Yangs birding and boneseeding day was pleasantly cool and calm. The cloud cover persisted and made viewing colours of birds challenging and hampered photography. The park continues to be dry, so dry. There is little water in the dam near the entrance. The level is about as low as I’ve seen it; similar to that in June 2009.
An amazing sight from the Park Office area during the morning was the regular lines of Magpie Geese that streamed overhead from approximately north to south. They were apparently on their way to Lake Connewarre, south-east of Geelong. Due largely to the poor light quality and the appearance of a totally unexpected species, we were initially confused and in some disagreement regarding their identity. Once this was established, we were surprised by the first few hundred, impressed when the numbers exceeded 1000 and stunned when they climbed to an estimated 5000.
Other highlights in the area near the Park Office were several Purple-crowned Lorikeets, a pair of Crested Shrike-tits and a Wedge-tailed Eagle.
Another Wedge-tail was flying over the Gravel Pit Tor area in the middle of the day. We saw the usual Scarlet Robins there, but we found them at all our stops. A couple of goats were wandering on the hillside opposite the Tor, where we have seen them before.
Lunch by the Fawcett’s Gully picnic table and nearby dry dam was followed by a walk to the reedy upper dam. We were fortunate to see Varied Sittellas on the way there. The dam was quite dry and dotted with holes where animals had apparently tried to dig, unsuccessfully, for water. A rather emaciated and possibly thirsty Black (Swamp) Wallaby approached the dam while we were there.
We spent more than an hour pulling out boneseed plants to the north of our site, bordering on the Eastern Flat (Seed Garden). Two of us had good views of two Speckled Warblers. They had been seen by some in our group in September 2014, but this is the first time I have seen them there. We looked for them again later when we walked to the Eastern Flat, but could not find them. However, we added Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Tree Martin and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike to our list.
The total of identified bird species for the day was 51. Some of us also saw a small raptor take off from a tree at our lunch stop, but weren’t sure if it was a Brown Goshawk or a Collared Sparrowhawk. A bird list for the day will be posted on the BirdLife Melbourne site http://www.birdlifemelbourne.org.au/outings/. Scroll down and click on the ‘You Yangs Regional Park’ link (outing number 512). I have included another report with photos on my website http://www.timeinthebush.com/you-yangs-2016.html
Our next YY Birding and Boneseeding visit will be on Saturday 4 June. All members are welcome to attend.