All posts by pardalotus

Education report: September 2017

September and October are traditionally the busiest months for education activities and this year is no exception. We started with three different activities on Friday, 8 September.

Firstly, on 8 September Pat Bingham led members of the Deepdene U3A on a birdwalk through Banyule Flats. 11 people attended and 32 species were seen and a good time had by all. Lyn Easton (who happened to be doing her regular morning walk in the area) showed them a Tawny Frogmouth on a nest.  At the swamp they saw Hardheads, Chestnut Teal and Australasian Grebes. Several pairs of Red-rumped Parrots disputed over nest hollows in the old trees in the swamp.  Along the Main Yarra Trail they saw a Fan-tailed Cuckoo and had a pair of Gang-gang Cockatoos fly over.

Also on Friday, 8 September Janet Hand addressed the Hawthorn Glen Combined Probus Club in Camberwell. About 60 members were present to hear about the birds found in the area. Many expressed their surprise at the large number of species around.

That afternoon Janet Hand, Bill Ramsay and Ron Hand set up our display and information stall at the Eltham Plant Expo at the Eltham Community Centre.

The Expo ran on Saturday and Sunday 9-10 September and was run by the APS Yarra Yarra branch of the Australian Plant Society. Many other ‘plant related’ organisations were present as well as many plant sales and displays. Over 700 people attended over the weekend. This number did not include the organisers and helpers at the different displays. Janet Hand was assisted over the weekend by Elizabeth Ainsworth, Daphne Hards, Susan Bailey, Sally Heeps and Anthea Fleming.

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The monthly Hawthorn U3A Birdwalk on 15 September was at Wattle Park. 14 people attended on this warm morning with lovely wattles and a big patch of Nodding Greenhood orchids but rather few birds (11 species).  They saw a Tawny Frogmouth on a nest and found another pair, surviving, but their nest had been destroyed and broken egg-shells were on the ground beneath the nest site.  Once again Pat Bingham led this walk.

Also on 15 September Graeme Hosken led a group of 12 people on a bird walk to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Fairy Dell. This area was part of the old Healesville Freeway reserved land behind the Wantirna shops. Much of the land was sold for development but this section was saved.

On Monday 25 September Susan Bailey addressed the members of the Darebin U3A.  She spoke about the birds found in that area of Melbourne. With over 50 people attending it was the second largest crowd at a function this year. The topic obviously created a lot of interest and discussion.

‘Attracting birds to your garden naturally’ was the subject of Janet Hand’s Powerpoint to the ladies of the Yarra Valley VIEW Club at Chirnside Park on Tuesday 26 September. Fifty ladies were present for this luncheon and presentation.

On Thursday 28 September Janet Hand made her annual visit to the ladies at the Mercy Hostel in Boronia. This hostel is a member of BirdLife Australia and they are blessed with a range of birds visiting their gardens. The topic changes each year but it was back to the basics of talking about local birds again this year.

My thanks to all those who have assisted this month.

Janet Hand, Birdlife Melbourne Education Coordinator (Phone: 9842 4177)

Weekdays outing to Banyule Flats

2 October 2017

All photographs by Bevan Hood, BirdLife Melbourne member

Spotted Dove - Bevan Hood
Spotted Dove

A crowd of 23 assembled in the car park under grey skies. There may have been clouds but there was no wind, even hot air balloons were being safely launched. Lyn Easton led our walk and explained the white foam on the sports ground to the early arrivals. It was fertilizer which became absorbed over the next hour. Car park birds included Red Wattlebirds, Rainbow Lorikeets, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Australian Magpies but the best sightings here were the pair of Tawny Frogmouths on and near their nest.

Tawny Frogmouth - Bevan Hood
Tawny Frogmouth

By the morning’s end it was a bit “Another frogmouth! How many does that make?” Lyn knew her birds and we ticked nine frogmouth sightings with five active nests. Quite a haul, but the detection of this cryptic species remained challenging. The calls of Fan-tailed Cuckoo initially caused discussion but a solitary sighting helped the unsure watchers and from then on the many calls were readily identified. Horsefield’s and Shining Bronze-Cuckoos were less cooperative and did not show themselves despite much looking in the direction of the calls. Bush birds were listed first and Yellow and Brown Thornbills joined White-browed Scrubwren and Superb Fairy-wren. Red-browed Finches took longer for all to see but were worth the wait. Flocks of Silvereyes moved through the area, flying high and foraging actively. Moving along the river bank we were delighted to find an Azure Kingfisher perched just above the water. No Platypus was seen today but the river was running high and had been considerably higher.

Easterm Grey Kangaroos - Bevan Hood
Eastern Grey Kangaroos

Looking uphill we recorded a mob of Eastern Grey Kangaroos that was spooked by some cyclists allowing us to admire their speed and to count more than 20 in the mob. The only other non-avian sighting was a long-necked turtle but rabbit scratchings and wombat and fox scats were often seen beside the track. Higher up the hillside black cattle grazed, apparently indifferent to the Cattle Egrets foraging beside them. Past the golf course, over the bridges over the Plenty River and a lesser tributary we walked, under the powerlines (which yielded a Laughing Kookaburra but little else). Retracing our steps some encountered a pair of Australian King-Parrots as well as Eastern Rosellas.

Australian King-Parrot female - Bevan Hood
Australian King-Parrot, female

A nesting White-faced Heron was difficult to see but that, after all, was the preferred situation if you’re incubating eggs or brooding nestlings. Raptors were few, a Brown Goshawk soared high against the late morning grey cloud but no other bird of prey was recorded. The cloud broke at lunch time and we finished the day in mild sunshine.

White-faced Heron on nest - Bevan Hood
White-faced Heron on nest

Down to the wetlands where the count rose again. Grey and Chestnut Teal and Hardhead joined Pacific Black and Australian Wood Duck. Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebes dived as did Eurasian Coot. No swamphens were seen as they were probably brooding young but Australasian Darter and Little Pied Cormorant dried their wings after fishing. The dead trees in the water added Red-rumped Parrots in nesting hollows while Welcome Swallows dipped over the water surface.

The final parrot and cockatoo count was quite impressive – Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Little and Long-billed Corella, Australian King-Parrot, Eastern Rosella, Red-rumped Parrot and Musk and Rainbow Lorikeet were all seen. The day’s end saw people with tired feet and large smiles as they contemplated a total of 70 species for the day. We thanked Lyn most enthusiastically for sharing her “home patch” with us so successfully.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Beginners Outing to Pound Bend

23 September 2017
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers: Species Count: 50
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Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Local knowledge revealed a Tawny Frogmouth sitting on a nest close by, which provided an interesting start for those assembled in Pound Bend car park on a hot Spring day. Lots of Rainbow Lorikeets and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were observed noisily claiming nesting hollows in the surrounding eucalypts.

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Rainbow Lorikeets. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Little and Long-billed Corellas were also in the car park area, giving an opportunity to compare their distinguishing features.

Little Corella, Pound Bend
Little Corella. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Both Eastern and Crimson Rosellas were also found.

Laughing Kookaburra, Pound Bend
Laughing Kookaburra. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Walking upstream along the river track a number of smaller bush birds were heard and sighted, including Eastern Yellow Robin, Laughing Kookaburra, Golden Whistler and several species of honeyeater.

Golden Whistler (M), Pound Bend
Golden Whistler. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A Whistling Kite and a Brown Goshawk were also spotted from this track. Some fortunate members also saw a silent Shining Bronze-Cuckoo calmly perched in a bush close to the path. Fan-tailed Cuckoos were also heard and seen.

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Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. Photo by Alan Veevers

Everyone enjoyed seeing a White-faced Heron nesting high in a tree on an island in the river. Had an adult bird not been sitting on it, the unremarkable nest might have been passed over with a cursory glance.

White-faced Heron on nest, Pound Bend
White-faced Heron on nest. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Fewer birds were evident on the higher inland slopes, but good views were had of Spotted and Striated Pardalotes. On returning to the car park a White-bellied Sea-Eagle was sighted as it flew quickly along the river.

Spotted Pardalote (F), Pound Bend
Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch a short walk was taken towards the tunnel exit where a flock of White-winged Choughs flew across the river and landed in nearby trees. Finally, some members drove the short distance to the Gold Memorial car park and took a short walk along Andersons Creek. White-throated Treecreepers were heard but not seen and a Collared Sparrowhawk flew overhead, bringing the day’s raptor total to four.

A total of 50 species were recorded for the day, with the number of actively nesting birds reminding us that Spring had finally arrived.

See the full bird list: BM Sep 2017 Bird List Pound Bend

 

 

Weekdays Outing to Rigby’s Wetland

20 September 2017
All photographs by BirdLife Melbourne member, Graeme Dean
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White-faced Heron

A fine breezy day with blue sky changed to cloudy and the wind became cold, causing everyone to don windproof overclothing. There were 22 rugged up participants with Graeme Hosken leading the group. Haversham Avenue, where the cars were parked, is suburbia on one side with the reserve facing it and so initial birds were simply a few flyovers and such garden birds as Red Wattlebird and Common Starling. We started walking to the south and started listing birds as we entered the reserve. Waterbirds flying over included Australian White Ibis, White-faced Heron, Australasian Darter and Pacific Black Duck.

Australian White Ibis - Graeme Dean
Australian White Ibis

Later the ponds yielded Royal Spoonbill in breeding plumage, Black Swan, Australian Pelican, both Chestnut and Grey Teal and initially a lone Eurasian Coot which became at least 20 on the adjacent water.

Australian Pelican - Graeme Dean
Australian Pelican

Purple Swamphens foraged singly and Dusky Moorhen and both Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes were represented by solitary sightings. Cormorants were present – Little Pied, Little Black and Great – flying over, fishing and perched plumply while digestion proceeded. Water levels were high after recent rains and the absence of exposed mud meant neither crakes nor rails was detected.

Little Pied Cormorant -Graeme Dean
Little Pied Cormorant digesting its catch

A Swamp Harrier flying over was announced by alarm calls and we later watched it quartering the reed beds. It, plus Brown Goshawk and Nankeen Kestrel made up the raptor sightings for the walk. Several areas had been planted and protected with extensive netting which in one area made the sighting of a Great Egret through the netting challenging. Welcome Swallows swooped and in some places were joined by Fairy Martins whose mud bottle nests were detected below the bridging of one of the outlets.

Fairy Martin - Graeme Dean
Fairy Martin collecting mud for nest

No one saw a Little Grassbird but the population must have been considerable to judge by the amount of calling heard. Glimpses were obtained of Golden-headed Cisticola and Australian Reed-Warbler among the grass and reeds. Eastern Common Froglets were the most frequently heard frogs. A Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo really needed scoping as it perched distantly but those with powerful bins considered it identified.

Superb Fairy-wren - Graeme Dean
Superb Fairy-wren

A welcome lunch break was taken at the eastern East Link service area (coffee, toilets and hot food) much appreciated on a carry-lunch walk. Bush birds were encountered once we left the edge of the water and Grey Shrike-thrush, Golden Whistler and both Spotted and Striated Pardalotes joined the list. Honeyeaters included New Holland and Yellow-faced as well as Eastern Spinebill and Noisy Miner. White-browed Scrubwrens were glimpsed in the undergrowth while Superb Fairy-wrens were common throughout the walk. Grey Butcherbird and Grey Currawong called, Grey Fantails were common and only a couple of Willie Wagtails were detected. A female Flame Robin was seen by many and Red-browed Finches often foraged beside the path.

Red-browed Finches - Graeme Dean
Red-browed Finches by path

Introduced birds were “the usual”, Common Myna, Starling and Blackbird plus Spotted Dove and Feral Pigeon/Rock Dove.

Grey Fantail - Graeme Dean
Grey Fantail

In all 59 species were detected and there were smiles all round as people planned to add the area to their walking lists. We thanked Graeme heartily for sharing the knowledge he had gained during the Melbourne Water surveys.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

BirdLife Melbourne Education report

August 2017

On Tuesday, 1 August Gay Gallagher addressed the ladies of the Bulleen Baptist Pathways Church. About 50 ladies attended to hear her speak about attracting birds to their gardens. Great interest was shown and many questions followed. I thank Gay for standing in for me on this occasion.

On Thursday, 3 August Sally Heeps attended Lauriston Girls School in Armidale. She spoke to the Grade one girls about which birds they may see in their backyards. The chosen birds were those featured on the Victorian Birds in Backyards poster. The girls got very excited when they saw one that they recognised. Thanks Sally.

Karkarook Park in Cheltenham was the latest venue for the Hawthorn U3A’s monthly bird walk on Friday, 18 August. The day was very, very windy and cold and all birds were taking shelter (especially bush birds).  Eleven people attended and they saw 27 species.  The best birds were Hardheads, Caspian Tern and two Black-fronted Dotterel. A Black Swan was on a nest very close to the pedestrian bridge on the approach to the main lake – hope it survives people, push-chairs and dogs! Pat Bingham led this walk and the following photographs were taken by Hawthorn U3A member Sue Wilson. Thank you Pat and Sue.

Janet Hand, BirdLife Melbourne Education Coordinator (Phone: 9842 4177)

Weekdays outing to Long Forest Reserve

5 September 2017
Photographs by Bevan Hood, member BirdLife Melbourne

 

 

 

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Grey Fantail

The weather forecast could best be described as dire, with rain, hail and wind among the expected attractions. Still, there were nine slightly apprehensive birdwatchers gathered by the reserve entrance. Graeme Hosken was leader and his experience from several years of surveys allowed him to take an optimistic stance. The reserve is in a rain shadow which results in mixed flora, including Mallee due to the dry conditions. The creeks have cut through the sedimentary rocks and the resulting valleys were sheltered from the strongest of the wind gusts. Still there were few birds around the entrance and we walked some distance before the occasional calls of Superb Fairy-wren and Spotted Pardalote gave way to glimpses of Brown-headed Honeyeaters and Grey Fantails. An Australian Raven called in the distance and the closer calls of a White-eared Honeyeater were not the usual “chock” but more complex so both of these caused some discussion. Recent rain had fallen, if the greening of moss in patches was any evidence and Echidnas’ broad scratches showed in many of the ant mounds we passed. The ‘Steep Track’ lived up to its name and required careful planning and placement of feet. However the creek at the bottom was actually flowing and bird twitters were frequent though sightings were mostly of fairy-wrens and fantails. A lone Australian Wood Duck was the closest to a water bird for the walk. Our walk was cut short, however, when we arrived at the ford to find it well covered with water – gum boots might have crossed but no one was wearing them – so we turned back and eventually lunched by the entrance. Here the birding had improved compared to the morning and small flocks of honeyeaters flew past us while we sat.

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Laughing Kookaburra

After lunch we drove the few kilometres to Lake Merrimu where the wind was whipping up white caps on the water surface and scopes would have been made useless by excessive wind judder. Initially few birds were seen but then flocks of cockatoos, Little Corellas and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, flew over calling. Then we started adding more – Common Starlings on a wooden gate, Magpie-larks in the paddock, a flock of Little Ravens against a stormy sky. Welcome Swallows demonstrated their aerial ability as they swooped near and through a wire fence. Then we watched carefully as two White-plumed Honeyeaters harassed a Red Wattlebird. Were they defending a nesting site? A Willie Wagtail foraged near a grazing cow. The western sky looked threatening and so we called it a day.

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Grey Fantail

The bird count was 30 species in total – 22 for Long Forest and 11 for Lake Merrimu – and we thanked Graeme for sharing his knowledge of this unique area. By the way, it didn’t rain on people till they had left the reserve well behind.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Beginners outing to Jells Park

26 August 2017

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 64
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Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

It was a fine but cool morning as 42 members set off to walk around Jells Park Lake. A lone Nankeen Night-Heron was sighted through the bushes and on closer investigation this proved to be a group of four adults and one juvenile. An early distant view of a single Tawny Frogmouth was later followed by two more separate views of pairs of them, making a total of five individuals for the day.

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Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Alan Veevers

There was a great deal of activity around the lake with dozens of Australian White Ibis nesting on the islands and on the edges of reed beds, often on communal rafts which they had constructed from dead twigs. Australasian Darters, Great and Little Pied Cormorants were also nesting, but in much smaller numbers. Interestingly, their nests were constructed from live twigs, complete with leaves.

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Australian White Ibis. Photo by Alan Veevers

Freckled, Blue-billed and Pink-eared Ducks were amongst the less common species on the lake.

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Pink-eared Duck. Photo by Alan Veevers

A Great Egret was spotted on a small pond to the left of the track, fishing amongst dense red weed, apparently oblivious to the activities of the nearby Purple Swamphens.

Freckled Duck, Jells Park
Freckled Duck. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Parrot species were plentiful, with Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets and Eastern Rosellas being the most noticeable as they jostled for nest hollows.

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Purple Swamphens. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After completing the lake circuit a short walk was taken along the track towards Norton Park. Two Cattle Egrets could be seen among livestock in the distance and a Nankeen Kestrel was seen hovering and diving, then perched in a far-off dead tree.

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Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

This was the only raptor seen during the day. Noisy Miners were dominant amongst the smaller bush birds and it was a challenge to find other species. A friendly Grey Butcherbird was an exception.

Great Egret, Jells Park
Great Egret. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch the members drove to Carpark 4 where profusely flowering Ironbarks were attracting birds, most surprisingly including a pair of Princess Parrots (presumably aviary escapees).

Eastern Rosella, Jells Park
Eastern Rosella. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A final short circuit walk was taken where good views of Australian King-Parrots and Musk Lorikeets were the highlights.

King Parrot(M), Jells Park
Australian King Parrot. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A total of 64 species was recorded for the day – an excellent result for a suburban park in August.

See the full bird list here: BM Aug 2017 Bird List Jells Park

Weekday outing to Sherbrooke Forest, Dandenong Ranges

Date & Time: 21 August 2017     10.00am to 1.30pm

Persons Attending: 13   Species Recorded: 17

A very cold and wet start for the walk through Sherbrooke Forest. Temperature range from 4°C to 8°C with misty rain for most of the morning.

Rhonda Miller was the outing leader and with her local knowledge of the forest we did a circuit from the car park in Sherbrooke Road via Sherbrooke Falls, return. Walking tracks very muddy and bird activity and their calls minimal. Eastern Yellow Robin and White-browed Scrubwren were first additions to the ‘list’. Crescent Honeyeaters were feeding and calling high in the Mountain Ash trees. A bit hard on the neck muscles trying to identify the species as the light was also poor. A group of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were disturbed as we crossed the bridge near the falls. It was hard work detecting movement in the forest due to the poor light conditions although a couple of Swamp Wallabies observed our presence.

Recent scratching along the edge of the track indicated both Lyrebirds and Wombats had been active earlier in the morning. Only a feint call of a Lyrebird enabled a tick for this species.

Lunch back at the picnic area under a flowering Wattle as we were joined by several Crimson Rosellas at our feet looking for tit-bits, but they were unlucky. After lunch we decided to visit the Ray Littlejohn’s memorial a few hundred meters along Sherbrooke Road. The memorial, a seat facing the forest, was donated by the Bird Observers Club in the early 1960’s for the work Ray had done on the study of the Lyrebirds in Sherbrooke in the 1930-40’s. In his book, Lyrebirds Calling from Australia (1943), he quoted; the Lyrebird is the largest of the world’s songbirds, certainly the most efficient one of this country. Little did he know as recent discoveries have shown that the Lyrebird is the ‘top’ of all the worlds’ songbirds.

Walking back to the picnic area, Grey Shrike-thrush, Magpie and Eastern Spinebill took the ‘list’ total to seventeen for the outing.

Our thanks to Rhonda for leading the outing on such a cold and damp day.

Graeme Hosken for Diane Tweeddale who is holidaying overseas.

Note: Re Ray Littlejohn’s book, Lyrebirds Calling (1943). The Lyrebird’s song was first recorded in the early 1930’s with a direct broadcasts from Sherbrooke in 1932,1933 and 1934 to ABC studios in Melbourne.

In 1934, about 34 minutes of singing was recorded on ‘sound-film’.

View the bird list for the day: Sherbrooke WO Blog Rep 21AUG17

July 2017 Education Activities

Picture 1

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?

Picture 2

Thanks Pat and thank you Sue Wilson (U3A Hawthorn) for your photos.

Janet Hand, BirdLife Melbourne Education Coordinator (Phone: 9842 4177)

Beginners Outing to Lysterfield Lake

23 July 2017
Leader: Robert Grosvenor; Species Count: 45
Golden Whistler (M), Lysterfield Lake
Golden Whistler, male. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

Twenty eight hardy birders braved the very strong and cold wind to attend the beginners outing at Lysterfield Lake.

Magpie-lark (M), Lysterfield Lake - Dilley
Magpie-lark, male. Photograph by Eleonor Dilley

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.

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Masked Lapwing. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

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.

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Eastern Grey joey. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

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.

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Little Pied Cormorant. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

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.

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Little Black Cormorant. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

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.

Common Bronzewing (F), Lysterfield Lake
Common Bronzewing. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

Returning to the carpark we had excellent views of another Brush Bronzewing together with a number of common Bronzewings.

Brush Bronzewing (M), Lysterfield Lake
Brush Bronzewing. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

Overall 45 species were seen for the day which, considering the wintery conditions, was noteworthy.

See the complete bird list for the outing: BM July 2017 Bird List Lysterfield Lake