Beginners’ outing to Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

27 August 2022

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers

Species count: 57

A fine weather forecast no doubt helped in attracting 46 members to Cranbourne Botanical Gardens for the August Beginners Outing. It was misty as the group assembled at Stringybark Carpark, seeing Superb Fairy Wrens and Grey Shrike Thrushes whilst listening to the trilling call of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo. As the walk began the Cuckoo was spotted close to the track, but the poor light made it hard to distinguish its colours. Soon afterwards several other species were sighted, including Eastern Rosellas and Brown Thornbills and, some distance away, a large Koala was found reclining in the fork of a tall tree. 

A female Flame Robin provided fleeting glimpses as she flew up to perch briefly on the new boundary fence before returning to forage in the grass. An Eastern Yellow Robin was sighted high up in a tree and this proved to be the first of many of this species seen on the day. As members left the wooded area the mist cleared, and the rest of the day was bright and sunny. A Brown Goshawk was circling overhead in the clear blue sky, and, to the delight of the watchers, it was soon joined by an impressive Little Eagle.

Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Australasian Shoveler. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Just before reaching the wetlands a small flock of Spotted Pardalotes were observed feeding low down in small trees, giving excellent views.  On the first pond there appeared to be only Pacific Black Ducks, but then a lone Australasian Shoveler was seen at the far side of the water. There was a greater variety of birds on the second pond, including Chestnut Teal, Dusky Moorhen and both Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes. On the way back towards the carpark there were lots of Swamp Wallabies showing themselves and, as if not to be outdone, a large flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos appeared flying overhead. Fortunately, a few of them landed in a nearby tree thus providing a longer and much closer view of them. A Grey Butcherbird was heard many times before it showed itself to some of the group.

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

It was pleasing to see that there were very few Noisy Miners in the park, the result being that there was a greater variety of honeyeaters than on many of our recent excursions. New Holland Honeyeaters were the most common but there were also White-eared, White-plumed, White-naped and Yellow-faced, as well as Eastern Spinebills.

New Holland Honeyeater. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

After lunch most of the members drove the short distance to the Australian Garden Carpark and, as they approached, Bell Miners could be heard beside the road. Shirley (one of our members and also a Friend of C.B.Gardens) gave some information on the gardens and pointed out some spectacular flowering plants as she led a walk to the far end of the gardens. Highlights included Little Pied Cormorants, more New Holland Honeyeaters, and a family of Pacific Black Ducks with a dozen very small ducklings. 

Pacific Black Duck with chicks. Photo by Alan Veevers

Some of the group were fortunate to see a young Southern Brown Bandicoot foraging near a picnic table, seemingly oblivious to human observers.

Southern Brown Bandicoot. Photo by Alan Veevers
Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

A grand total of 57 bird species was recorded on what was a most enjoyable and productive excursion. Thanks to our two photographers for the day, Steve Hoptroff and Alan Veevers, who, despite the early mist, managed to produce some excellent photographs to illustrate the Report. Also, thanks to Shirley Smith for leading the afternoon walk in the Australian Garden.

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