9 April 2019
The participants numbered 18 with Graeme Hosken leading the group. The weather was clear and cool after the overnight showers and the first bird calls were the raucous ones of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. The dam at the start of the walk had only Dusky Moorhen and Pacific Black Duck and at the start of the walk only these and Little Raven, Australian Magpie and Red Wattlebird were recorded.
The country is dry in the continuing drought and the roadside forest was very open with little understorey. Further walking added numerous Grey Fantails, one Crimson Rosella and the calls of Spotted Pardalote.
Flowering eucalypts hosted Varied Sitellas, thornbills and Weebills while Grey Shrike-thrush and New Holland Honeyeaters called.
Here the highlight was an Australian Owlet-nightjar perched on a branch in the open.
This was the first view for many of this cute nocturnal bird outside a tree hole. The walk proceeded by returning to the cars at intervals and then driving north to further locations. Three Chain Road owes its name to the government’s provision of sufficient space for turning traffic, for example bullock drays, in the nineteenth century. Only the central section was surfaced and the roadsides are here left unaltered giving habitat for the wildlife.
Birds were the winners but the current subdivision of the larger farms into “hobby farms” may impact on birds in the future with less grass, more people and more traffic. The next walk added both Rufous and Golden Whistler males, glimpses of Laughing Kookaburra and the single note winter calls of Grey Shrike-thrush.
The highlight here was a pair of Scarlet Robins, male and female in brilliant plumage, foraging along the fence-line.
Scopes were needed at the next stop as the dam was distant and the birds in silhouette. Persistence was rewarded with the addition of Black Swan, Hardhead, Australasian Shoveler, Chestnut Teal and Hoary-headed Grebe. Eurasian Coot and Little Pied, Little Black and Great Cormorant also joined the list while Welcome Swallows swooped through the scopes’ viewing fields.
Only one wader, a Black-fronted Dotterel, was detected. The next stage was the turn of the raptors, first a Brown Goshawk caused a chorus of alarm calls then a Whistling Kite elicited some birdwatchers’ debate before its identification. Two Wedge-tailed Eagles soaring high above completed our day’s raptors. A large colony of White-winged Choughs, about 20 in number, occasionally called mournfully while foraging high and low through the forest.
Parrots were few today with only the cockatoos and both Crimson and Eastern Rosellas seen. However both White-throated and Brown Treecreepers were watched closely as they foraged.
The latter is not seen in Melbourne so sightings were especially appreciated.
By walk’s end all the “usual” thornbills had been listed – Yellow-rumped, Yellow, Striated, Brown and Buff-rumped. Jacky Winter joined Scarlet Robin in the robin list. The list of small birds’ predators detected also included Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Pied and Grey Currawongs and Australian Raven.
By walk’s end we had a list of 55 species and we thanked Graeme most enthusiastically for his leadership.
Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings