On Friday 21 July, Pat Bingham lead 15 members from the Hawthorn U3A on their monthly bird walk. This month the venue was Rigby’s (Dandenong Creek Wetlands) where they saw 31 species. They saw a Swamp Harrier, Flame Robins (including three lovely males) and 50+ Red-browed Finches. The pondages were very full and overflowing, so there were very few wading birds but they did see two White-faced Herons squabbling in a tree adjacent to Dandenong Creek, very close to a tree where they have previously nested. Are they planning to nest there again?
Thanks Pat and thank you Sue Wilson (U3A Hawthorn) for your photos.
Twenty eight hardy birders braved the very strong and cold wind to attend the beginners outing at Lysterfield Lake.
While waiting for all attendees ,Crimson and Eastern Rosellas, Purple Swamp Hen, Magpie-lark and Rainbow Lorikeets were viewed in the carpark. A Masked Lapwing was spotted closer to the Lake’s edge.
On the reccie more Kangaroos were seen than birds and it looked like this outing would be more of the same as the first twenty minutes went by before we sighted our first bird – a Brown Thornbill, quickly followed by a White-eared Honeyeater.
There were long periods of inactivity until we would come upon a small hot spot. The first of which produced excellent sightings of Grey Shrike-thrush, Grey Fantail, both male and female Golden Whistlers and the two birds of the walk, a male Rose Robin and a Brush Bronzewing.
Unfortunately not all the beginners were able to see both. The Rose Robin surprised everyone when it appeared in a tree at eye level not more than two metres in front of us but did not stay for long. Still, many of the group got their first look at this beautiful bird. The Bronzewing skulked in the undergrowth, making sighting difficult before it was disturbed and flew off.
The strong wind was keeping the small birds hidden but in a more protected spot we found Superb Fairy-wren, Silvereye and Spotted Pardalote.
Venturing down to the edge of the lake enabled us to see Musk Duck, Hoary-headed Grebe, Hardhead and Coot all on the water, before returning to the main track.
Again there was a long period of inactivity with only a Grey Butcherbird heard and a Little Raven overhead. We were now back at the lake wall where Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants, Australasian Grebe and Dusky Moorhen were seen.
With the wind howling across the lake we were all glad to break for lunch and find an area out of the wind to partake of some refreshments.
After lunch we walked to the eastern end of the carpark and a short distance along the Logan track. In the more open fields we saw Straw-necked and White Ibis, Wood Duck, Cattle Egret and in the distance a few Red-rumped Parrots.
Returning to the carpark we had excellent views of another Brush Bronzewing together with a number of common Bronzewings.
Overall 45 species were seen for the day which, considering the wintery conditions, was noteworthy.
It was cold as we set off from our homes. Not as chilling as a week previously but still very low temperatures. Sixteen braved the still, cold but sunny morning and Jane Moseley led us. We checked out the Australian Wood Ducks, Magpie Larks, Purple Swamphens, Eurasian Coots and Dusky Moorhens on the grass beside the car park and also noted Australian Magpies, Red Wattlebirds, Rainbow Lorikeets and the inevitable Noisy Miners in the surrounding trees.
On the adjacent wetland there were a couple of Pacific Black Ducks and teal. It was some of the latter which occasioned close examination and discussion. The Chestnut Teal were readily counted but the two or three paler birds catching the sunlight, which teal were they? Careful attention to the plumage decided Grey Teal. It was that frequent “Which teal is that?” discussion. Our visitors and newcomers had been promised darters and Lillydale Lake did not disappoint. As we were moving out the first darter was pointed out and from then on we admired and compared male and female Australasian Darters both near and far. We kept our eyes out for Azure Kingfishers which had been seen a few days previously but the first location drew a blank. On the boardwalk we watched an Australasian Grebe warm its fluffy backside in the morning sun before we passed the structure which has been voted “world’s worst bird hide”. It consists of a fence with rectangular holes cut at different heights which look out onto an impenetrable stand of tall vegetation. Still, after we had dismissed it we rounded the corner and started to check the lake and the reed beds. The cry went up “Pink-eared Duck!” and there they were. Two pinkies which had not followed the rains inland. Voted bird of the day on the spot.
Then we wondered if we’d been a bit premature with the award when an Azure Kingfisher was sighted, not on its previously-favoured nest box but on a farther one and from which it flew to a low perch and afforded everyone good or brief views. Spotted Pardalotes called but it seemed that only a couple of watchers at a time were able to chalk up good views. Still, most people had seen them well by day’s end. Grey Shrike-thrushes gave their beautiful single winter calls and Grey Butcherbirds were finally seen as well as heard. The south-western wetlands are undergoing “rectification works” and new plantings are covered with nets so that no birds are currently using that area. Five years should see an improvement. The lake supports lots of fishers, the darters, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants and humans on the banks and occasionally in boats. It wasn’t all waterbirds. As well as the lorikeets mentioned above there were Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Little Corellas, Crimson (adult and immature) Rosellas, Eastern Rosellas and Australian King Parrots (male and female).
After lunch we walked out to Bellbird Park where a pair of Black Swans paddled unconcerned by our presence while they cropped the pond plants. Walking back added Eastern Spinebill, then White-faced Herons and finally a Laughing Kookaburra to our list which numbered 45 species at the end of the walk. Very creditable birding for a cold mid-July day. We thanked Jane most enthusiastically for all her preparations and leading.
On Wednesday 7 June, Bill Ramsay did a presentation at the Hawthorn Library for their Everyday English Class which is run as part of the Library’s Multicultural Program. The audience consisted of seven women plus the Coordinator. Usually she expected 12 but a few had pulled out. Bill spoke about “Attracting birds to your garden and what you may hope to see”. There was a fair bit of audience interaction and questions during the presentation which was a good sign. This was the purpose of such presentations and everyone seemed appreciative of Bill’s efforts.
Approximately 50 people were present when Sally Heeps addressed the Mill Park Garden Club on Friday 16 June. Sally’s topic was ‘Attracting birds to your garden naturally”. They seemed to enjoy hearing how to attract birds by plantings and liked identifying the birds which did visit their gardens. Sally also talked a little about nest boxes, and digressed into how the changes in natural vegetation can impact bird species – how the Kinglake fires opened the canopy to birds of prey. The Club donated $50 to BirdLife Melbourne in appreciation of our work.
On the same day – Friday 16 June, Pat Bingham led the Hawthorn U3A monthly Birdwalk to Norton’s Park & Shepherd’s Bush. They had a lovely sunny morning with 17 participants. 27 species were sighted including three Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos chewing up pinecones, a female Scarlet Robin and several Sulphur-crested Cockatoos exploring tree hollows and raucously defending their choices. Then for the lucky late leavers, they had a Peregrine Falcon circling over the car park.
Sue Wilson from the Hawthorn U3A group supplied the following photos.
Words by Robert Grosvenor; photographs by Eleanor Dilley
Despite the cold weather and the forecast rain, which fortunately did not eventuate, 39 enthusiastic birders met at Westerfolds Park for this outing.
There were at least five new members and a couple of visitors on their first outing.
Prior to starting Eastern Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, White Faced Herons and a lone Pied Currawong were all seen overhead.
Starting the walk a couple of Kookaburras were the first to sighted, followed by Rock doves under the bridge. Grey Butcherbirds were calling regularly and excellent views were had by all.
Together with Common Bronzewing and Noisy Miners they were probably the most common birds seen.
Near the bridge, a pair of Galahs was sitting in a tree.
On the way to the observation platform overlooking the river a Little Pied Cormorant and Australasian Grebe were spied on the river, together with Dusky Moorhen and a solitary Purple Swamphen on the bank.
A magnificent Wedge-tailed eagle overflew and although missed by some returned later in the walk to allow everybody to see it.
We were fortunate to find a single Musk Lorikeet which made a welcome change from all the raucous Rainbows. Both male and female Golden Whistlers were observed on the way back for lunch and a lucky few also saw a female Scarlet Robin. While enjoying our lunch break a King Parrot called and eventually showed itself to the joy of all present.
The morning walk produced a total of 41 species.
In the afternoon we went in the opposite direction to the rapids observation lookout.
Although the birding was initially quiet it was a very pleasant walk through some lovely bush. Fortunately we then hit on a small hot hot patch with Yellow faced Honeyeaters, Silver Eyes, Grey Shrike Thrush, Grey Fantail, Spotted Pardalote and a Black Faced Cuckoo-shrike, all seen well.
At the rapids a pair of Coots were seen, surprisingly the first for the day. Returning to the carpark provided a fleeting glimpse of a Brown Goshawk but a good look at a resting White Ibis.
Overall we spotted 46 species, far better than we expected considering the weather and the start of winter.
Despite the overnight rain and the showers on the drive to Wonga Park, 12 of us assembled in the car park as conditions started to ease. Some interest was expressed in a car and trailer in the car park which seemed to have been there overnight. Perhaps an illegal camper? Geoff Russell led our group and our first walk followed the short trail downstream where calls were heard from Superb Fairy-wrens, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Brown Thornbills.
Both Little and Australian Ravens were heard as well as the single winter call of Grey Shrike-thrushes. An unexpected sighting was a single Silver Gull overhead while a brief glimpse of an Eastern Spinebill was much appreciated by the few who were looking in the right direction at the moment.
Eastern Grey Kangaroos were numerous on both sides of the river and apparently used to humans on the path. We returned to the car park where a school kayaking session was about to start. We didn’t envy them as the river was flowing high and fast, even at this part of its course.
We went on upstream, bypassing the unused stile. The river edge gave us female Australasian Darters perched on snags, Dusky Moorhen swimming near the bank and an Australasian Grebe diving near one of the darters.
Further along the walk there were very good views of a trio of Common Bronzewings in a dead tree. Heading across the golf course by the public path we sighted Grey Butcherbird, a female Australian King-Parrot, Noisy Miners and Australian Wood Ducks while Magpie-larks and Masked Lapwing called.
A solitary Crested Pigeon preferred clear ground beyond the manicured gardens. Back on the river path we added New Holland Honeyeater, Silvereye, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and Red-browed Firetail. Turning around with thoughts of lunch becoming more prominent, most were disappointed to miss the sole sighting of a platypus which dived before even the adjacent birder could see it. Never mind, lunch was next.
However, lunchtime proved considerably more entertaining than usual. Things started with a request for jumper leads by the guy from the “overnight” car. Then a police car arrived and there was much interviewing. When the car was restarted the police donned blue gloves for a car search and we speculated on the reason. Eventually both vehicles left with drivers smiling. As said above, it was different from our regular lunch breaks.
The eight people remaining after lunch then tackled the uphill walk which starts about 400 m before the car park. We hoped for views and we were not disappointed. The view up the valley is great, even when misty in the distance, with the mountains in silhouette. A bonus was the sighting of our only raptors for the day, a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles and another of Whistling Kites. Carrying on to the highest point we were able to add brief views of a wary female Flame Robin, thus doubling our robin count as there had been a sighting of a female Scarlet Robin earlier.
Now it was time to descend and make our way through a great mob of roos. The males tended to rear up and scratch their flanks, which we interpreted as a threat action, but they allowed us to carry on walking. Down at the cars again we were able to count up 49 species for the day and we thanked Geoff very much for extending our experiences of this varied area.
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 46
The 42 members who attended the Woodlands excursion were lucky to see more water in the creek than had been seen for some time. Also, the vegetation looked healthier than in past years, presumably due to the recent rains.
This no doubt contributed to the large number of small bush birds seen, especially Superb Fairy-wrens and Red-browed Finches.
An early highlight of the morning walk was the sighting of both male and female Flame and Scarlet Robins in the same area close to the track.
Throughout the walk parrots were plentiful, especially Red-rumped Parrots apparently investigating the numerous nesting hollows available in the wonderful old River Red Gums.
A few Long-billed Corellas were spotted resting high in a tree, amongst many Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, with Galahs feeding in the grass below.
Whistling Kites and a Brown Goshawk were the only two raptor species seen. Up near the homestead several more Flame Robins were seen along the fence lines with Yellow-rumped Thornbills close by.
On the return track to the car park another hotspot was found with a Fan-tailed Cuckoo, more Flame Robins and a male Mistletoebird, which was seen by the lucky few.
After lunch most of the group drove to the section of the Park near the old Aboriginal Cemetery for a second walk. Heading towards the Sanatorium Lake a few extra species were recorded, including Grey Currawong and Crimson Rosella.
The only waterbirds seen on the lake were a pair of Australasian Grebes.
Inside the feral-proofed Back Paddock, Dave and Dorothy Jenkins kindly helped to track down a pair of Red-capped Robins, providing members with the highlight of the day.
A few Scarlet and Flame Robins were also seen in this area.
We had achieved our objective of finding three of the red Robin species, with the Red-capped Robin once again being a feature of the Woodlands visit. A total of 46 species was recorded on a most enjoyable and rewarding day.
On the morning of Wednesday 17 May, BirdLife Melbourne hosted ten ladies and three carers from Mercy Place Boronia at the Education Centre at Blackburn Lake. This hostel is a long time member of BOCA and now BirdLife. The morning started with a PowerPoint entitled ‘Birds in Flight’ about how birds change their shapes as they fly. This was followed by morning tea and a craft activity of making bird mobiles. This annual outing ends with the ladies going for a short walk to the Lake. The weather cleared and it was possible to do this again this year. Janet Hand was assisted by Jenny Frohlich and Gay Gallagher. Thank you ladies.
On the evening of the same day Gay Gallagher addressed approximately 45 people from the Springvale Garden Club. She spoke about how to attract birds to your garden naturally. Everyone was very happy and rewarded BirdLife Melbourne with a $50 donation.
On Friday 19 May, Pat Bingham led her monthly walk with the members of the Hawthorn U3A. The venue on this occasion was Ricketts Point in Black Rock. She had 14 participants and they saw 27 species. It was a dull but mild morning with calm seas. Tide was about half-way in so plenty of exposed rock shelves. Best birds were White-necked Heron and Pied Cormorant. Local wildlife rescue personnel were keeping an eye on a Little Pied Cormorant and a Pelican, both with fishing line entanglement, and were hoping to get close enough to capture and free them of the line. One male swan with a black collar and white script (K40) was seen offshore.
On Wednesday 25 May, Graeme Hosken gave a PowerPoint to the ladies of the Vermont South Ladies Probus Club in Forest Hills. His Powerpoint was “Catching up with the illegals” (bird migration) and was very well received by the 50 ladies present. Many commented to Graeme that they had no idea about the movements of our bird migrants and had enjoyed his presentation.
Thank you to everyone who has assisted with our Education Program this month.
“A misty, moisty morning in the merry month of May” did not really apply to a cold foggy start to the day but still 15 people met at the Troups Creek car park. John Bosworth led our group and the incessant traffic noise from the adjacent Hallam Road faded slightly as we walked out. Recently the grass had been mowed – so considerate – and we greatly appreciated the shorter grass which meant minimum water on trouser legs.
Both areas, Troups Creek and River Gums, are part of the flood mitigation planning by Melbourne Water and BirdLife Melbourne has succeeded BOCA in performing the monthly surveys of the birds living in and around the plantings and ponds. The nearer ponds were not crowded with birds but a few Purple Swamphens and Eurasian Coots foraged around the edges and Welcome Swallows and Rainbow Lorikeets flew over. A Spotted Pardalote was heard from the garden trees to the south. Heading north initially we heard, then saw, Superb Fairy-wrens in the reed beds while Masked Lapwings were unexpectedly common – at least eight adults were sharing one grassy area. Further on a “conference” of about 20 Australian Magpies took place on the short grass where grubs were accessible but the birds dispersed as we approached.
There have been extensive plantings to generate patches of bush in the zone and a recent one of these hosted numerous European Goldfinches. Some of the ponds carried Hoary-headed Grebes but it was not till after lunch that we encountered Australasian Grebes at the River Gum wetlands. The morning, in contrast, had Red-browed Finches flitting between the bushes beside the ditch by the surfaced path. Both the ditch and its sides showed the flood levels of the rain about three weeks previously when the flood mitigation design of the basin had been tested and passed with flying colours. Ducks were Pacific Black, Chestnut and Grey Teal and Australian Wood Duck plus a few Black Swans, including a nesting pair. Other waterbirds included Australian White and Straw-necked Ibis, a Great Egret and both White-faced and White-necked Herons. Both male and female Australasian Darters were present at Troups and a pair of Black-winged Stilts at River Gum was interesting as we could compare the adult plumage with that of the immature.
The highlight for many started with the call of “Bittern!” It really was an Australasian Bittern which flushed and then flew around us in circles giving everyone excellent opportunities to study its markings under differing light conditions. It was a “lifer” for at least four people (including one who’d given up and consigned the species to the mythical category). Happily walking back to the cars, we then moved to River Gum Creek and lunch. Our numbers were reduced in the afternoon as several had other afternoon activities scheduled.
Raptors had not been common as the early fog would not have produced useful thermals but several species flew in the sunnier afternoon – Black-shouldered Kite and Nankeen Kestrel were seen by most and Peregrine Falcon and Brown Goshawk by a couple then the “Bird Call bird” appeared – indubitably an Australian Hobby pair – as we totalled up the day. Quite a finish for a day as we counted 54 species for the group. We thanked John enthusiastically for sharing his knowledge of the zone.
On Friday 21 April, Pat Bingham led the U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk at Blackburn Lake Sanctuary. On this cold, wet morning, umbrellas were put to good use by the 15 people who attended. Twenty five species were seen with nice views of Spinebills feeding in Correa bushes as well as both Pied and Grey Currawongs. They walked right under the roosting Tawny Frogmouths but it was too wet to look up much. Pat found them the next day when she was again at the same location.
On Saturday 22 April Pat Bingham led the Friends of Blackburn Creeklands Bird Survey. Eighteen people attended and they found 29 species. There were plenty of ‘big’ birds like Gang-gangs, Galahs, King Parrots, Pied Currawongs and Little Ravens. The many Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets were all very noisy. Only Brown Thornbills and a couple of Grey Fantails of the smaller fry were sighted.
Graeme Hosken again led the Breakfast with the Birds at Wilson Park in Berwick walk on Sunday 23 April. It was a perfect morning for birding with no wind and mild conditions. Several new faces joined the group for the two hour walk around the park. Twenty four species were sighted during the morning with Striated Thornbill being added to the list. The list for this bi-annual activity now totals 86 species. All enjoyed their breakfast at the walk’s end.