6 September 2016
The weather was perfect, mild, sunny and calm as 28 people gathered in the farthest car park. Seven of these were young people from the Green Army planning to acquire bird ID skills and we were happy to assist with loaned binoculars, field guides and advice.
The immediate area near the car park was well populated with Crested Pigeons, magpies, Superb Fairy-wrens, Galahs and Red Wattlebirds while a few Red-browed Finches were less easy to find though one was sighted carrying a long grass stalk as nesting material.
There were Willie Wagtails and Grey Fantails with Little Ravens calling and flying overhead. Introduced birds were also present – flocks of Common Starlings, some Spotted Doves, fewer Common Mynas with occasional Common Blackbird calling. Small birds among the denser foliage included Spotted Pardalotes and Silvereyes.
The drainage channel and catchment ponds initially looked empty but persistence revealed Chestnut Teal and Pacific Black Duck and a further bankside walk added White-faced Heron, croaking as they flew near, and Eurasian Coot and Dusky Moorhen.
Little Grassbirds called plaintively just after we had identified a Horsefield’s Bronze-Cuckoo by its call. Much searching by many failed to repeat the brief sighting of a Spotless Crake. The Laverton Creek mouth area added Australian Pelican, Little Pied Cormorant and, initially, an extremely distant Great Egret. Then, closer to the group a second egret provided much better views.
The Bird of the Day arrived here – an immature White-bellied Sea-Eagle which flew toward us and then turned direction over our heads, giving great views to all those present. Another bird which proved most cooperative was a Singing Honeyeater which showed great loyalty to the bare dead tree on which it perched, returning there after many short flights and allowing excellent views.
It joined Red Wattlebird and White-plumed and New Holland Honeyeaters on our list. The party divided on its way back to lunch and the car park but neither group added any species to an already impressive list.
After lunch those who stayed on headed north, adding a Brown Falcon and a challenging Australasian Pipit while delighting in the White-fronted Chats on the low bushes. One photographer was recording a chat when another bird flew into the camera’s field. After taking many photos in the brief time available these were compared with field guides and finally we concluded that the intruding bird was a Jacky Winter. Definitely serendipity.
By the walk’s end we counted 60 species for the day and we thanked Gina Hopkins, our leader, for her preparation and enthusiasm which gave such a great result.
Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings