Weekday outing to Jells Park, Wheelers Hill

15 June 2016
Photographs by Margaret Bosworth

A perfect day for birding with sunshine from a clear blue sky and no wind. Twenty attendees assembled at the car park for Jells Park East, an area considerably less busy than the main car parks. Our leader John Bosworth had done his preparation thoroughly. He hadn’t prepared the ‘bee-eater on steroids’ in one of the trees – a tangled and very colourful kite – but the area did have the expected population of Noisy Miners and Australian Magpies while Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Little Ravens were calling. Rainbow Lorikeets were plentiful and Musk Lorikeets also gave good views to those less familiar with this species.

Female Freckled Duck - Margaret Bosworth
Female Freckled Duck

There were even glimpses of Australian King-Parrots and a few Crimson and Eastern Rosellas. Then we started walking beside the creek and added bushbirds – Brown Thornbills, Superb Fairy-wrens and Grey Fantails dominated and there were plenty of calls from Spotted Pardalotes. Frogs called from the wetlands but it was the ‘haul’ of duck species on the east end of the lake which surprised and delighted everyone. There were Chestnut and Grey Teal, Pacific Black, Freckled, Blue-billed, Pink-eared and Australian Wood Duck as well as Australasian Shoveler (male and female) and Hardhead. Eurasian Coots and Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebes were repeatedly diving and Little Pied Cormorants dried their wings not far from a female Australasian Darter.

Male and female Australian Shelduck - Margaret Bosworth
Male and female Australian Shelduck

It’s not every walk where we record nine species of ducks in a small area and they were possibly escaping the duck hunting season in this refuge. We retraced our steps back to the cars as continuing the lake circuit entered the busy area where few birds had been observed during preliminary walks. Birds still joined the list – Red-browed Finch and Laughing Kookaburra, Eastern Spinebill, Red Wattlebird and White-plumed Honeyeater while Australian White and Straw-necked Ibis were now present at the lake and at least one Cattle Egret.

Cattle Egret among cattle - Margaret Bosworth
Cattle Egret (among cattle)

Back for a welcome lunch break followed by a walk northward with paddocks beside the park where the border of bush and grassland might have harboured robins. Alas, that hope did not materialise despite a female Scarlet Robin having been present two days previously.

Female Scarlet Robin - Margaret Bosworth
Female Scarlet Robin (photograph taken two days earlier)

There were plenty of Noisy Miners and several pairs of Magpie-larks. Those who completed the walk added Masked Lapwing and Common Bronzewing and at the final bird call the group had recorded 55 species. We voted it a great day’s birding and thanked John for his leadership.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings

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