25 February 2023
Leaders: Roger and Inta Needham
Species count: 54
Nineteen members assembled in the car park at Coolart on a warm, overcast and windless day.
Our first walk was to the Minsmire Bird Hide on Coolart’s Lake. Our group occupied most of the upper storey of the bird hide as bushes have grown up and interfere with the view from the lower storey. There were 16 species of waterbirds on the lake and we had especially good views of a male Blue-billed Duck and Hoary-headed Grebes. In the bush beside the bird hide the rattle of Superb Fairy-wrens could be heard. A few people caught sight of an Eastern Yellow Robin, which uncharacteristically, quickly hid itself away in the dense undergrowth.
After 30 minutes at Coolart Lake, the next destination was the Antechinus Bird Hide reached via the track on the western side of the Observatory Wetlands. Most birds seen here had been seen earlier and only the Dusky Moorhen could be added to our list.
Next along the Woodlands Track, Red and Little Wattlebirds were seen while Spotted Pardalote and Grey Shrike-thrush were heard calling. At the junction of two tracks a Grey Shrike-thrush was seen in a thicket, then another emerged and yet a third. Two were adult birds and the third a juvenile with a rufous eyebrow.
Past the garden dam, close to the Homestead was a hotspot of bush birds. Along with Grey Butcherbird and Red and Little Wattlebirds were Spotted Pardalotes, Grey Fantails, Brown Thornbills, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and Eastern Spinebills.
An early lunch was taken in the shade on the lawns surrounding the Homestead and the birdcall for the morning totalled 45 species.
After lunch we drove to Balbirooroo Wetland located close to Balnarring Primary School. The track and boardwalk to the wetland passed through Eucalypt bushland and Melaleuca swamp and came to a bird hide a situated on the edge of a lake. New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters, European Goldfinch, Australian Reed-Warbler and Tree Martins were seen along with a Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo which made a very brief appearance. Continuing around the lake a wooden platform on the right allowed views across a large wetland on the adjoining property.
To our dismay this wetland had very recently been carved up by heavy machinery which was still in the area. A number of channels had been dug across the area and piles of mud lined the banks. Amazingly there were 40 White-faced Herons standing amongst the rubble – a large number that even the experienced among us had rarely seen before. Hopefully some wetland may remain on the site though the future does not look promising.
On the walk back to our cars a large bird flashed across the path at treetop height. It disappeared into the bush before emerging at a distance and was identified as a Brown Goshawk. At the end of the walk a count of birds seen at Balbirooroo totalled thirty-nine, nine of which were additional to those seen at Coolart making a total of fifty-four species for the day.
The weather was kind, the company amicable and a good day’s birding was enjoyed by all.