All posts by pardalotus

Flockwiz event with quizmaster, the Flaming Galah

Think you know your birds? Then why not put it to the test in this fun, irreverent and in depth knowledge of all things birdy. Grab a bunch of like-minded friends to book a table and resolve once and for all who is the Bird Brain of 2017!
Drinks and snacks will be served, and free parking out front.
There are only 10 tables of 8 people available, so get in quick and register a table now, this will help us out with running the night and providing prizes.
We look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday 14 December, 7.30-10.30pm

Go here to register!

Education activities November 2017

Photographs by Sue Wilson, Hawthorn U3A

On Saturday 11 November, Geoff Russell lead a Bird Walk through the Yarran Dheran Reserve in Mitcham. The activity was limited to 25 participants and 30 species were seen. The most interesting sighting was Olive-backed Orioles.

Graeme Hosken addressed the Australian Plants Society – Wilson Park Berwick Group on “Catching up with the illegals” (Bird migration between Australia and the Northern hemisphere) on Tuesday 14 November. The audience was fascinated by the movement of these birds.

201711 picture 1The U3A Hawthorn 2017 Birdwalks finished the programme at Wilson Reserve, Ivanhoe, on November 17. It was a rather warm, muggy morning but they succeeded in doing the circuit before the thunder rolled and the rain started. 14 people attended and 24 species were recorded. The best birds were Nankeen Night-heron, Common Bronzewing, and a glimpse of an Azure Kingfisher by a lucky few people. A tiger snake was also close to the billabong so they needed to remember to look at their feet as well as the heavens!

201711 picture 2The final planned activity for the year was on Tuesday 28 November at the Mooroolbark Library. Janet Hand’s Powerpoint was about “Attracting birds to your Garden naturally”. This was a community event where 30 plus people booked at attend, thus a very interested group with plenty of questions. Problems/questions about Pied Currawongs killing the smaller birds and bats in Upwey and Eastern Koels calling at two different locations. ‘How do you discourage Noisy Miners?’ seems to be a common question everywhere.

I wish to thank the 25 people who have assisted me this year with our 43 activities. Without your help we could not have made so many people in the community aware of our lovely birds and their needs.

Season’s Greetings to all.

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

Beginners Outing to the You Yangs

25 November 2017
Leaders: Roger and Inta Needham
Photographs by Alan Veevers

Twenty-eight members met near the Rangers’ Office in hot and dry conditions hoping to see some of the less common birds which have historically visited the You Yangs for the summer months. Sadly this was not to be the case and very few birds were seen for most of the day.

IMG_5781
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Near the car park Galahs and Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes were spotted and Superb Fairy-wrens were seen foraging by the path. A circuit walk was taken on which Common Bronzewing, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Laughing Kookaburra and Brown Falcon were clearly seen. Large numbers of Common Brown butterflies fluttering in the treetops increased the challenge of spotting bird movement.

Kookaburra
Laughing Kookaburra

Flying majestically overhead were four Australian Pelicans and a small flock of Woodswallows which were identified as White-browed by the reddish-brown colour of their breasts. A vociferous group of White-winged Choughs foraged near the murky Duck Pond, providing some enjoyment when there were few other species to see.

IMG_5789
White-winged Coughs

After lunch most of the members car-pooled to drive to the Eastern Flats which, although dry, had healthier looking vegetation. There were rather more birds to be seen here, including Red-browed Finch, Grey Shrike-thrush and a pair of Willie Wagtails. Over the fence a Nankeen Kestrel was seen in the far distance while a small flock of Tree Martins circled above the nearby eucalypts. A colourful Jewel Spider provided an interesting sight, capturing the imagination of some of the group.

IMG_5783
Jewel Spider

Roger and Inta Needham kindly led this walk as we had only returned from overseas the previous day. They were warmly thanked by everyone for their efforts. A total of 39 species was recorded for the day, but not many of these were seen by the majority of the participants. It was thought that the very dry conditions combined with the lack of clean fresh water contributed to the low bird count.

Alan and Hazel Veevers

See the complete bird list: BM Nov 2017 Bird List You Yangs

Weekdays outing to Bellarine Peninsula

20 November 2017
All photographs by Bevan Hood, member
Whiskered Tern - Bevan Hood.jpg
Whiskered Tern

Blues skies and a light breeze combined with heat. Leaders were Leonie Robbins and Diane Tweeddale and at Balyang initially there were 12 people which swelled to 13 at our second stop, Jerringot. The sanctuary deserves to be more widely known.

Rainbow Lorikeet - Bevan Hood.jpg
Rainbow Lorikeet

High water levels from recent rains meant no mud was visible around any ponds making seeing crakes and rails unlikely. Australasian Darters were rearing pairs of well-grown young in nests overhanging the Barwon River and Little Pied Cormorants were nesting in the trees around and in the large pond. Not bad for a constructed wetland. Australian Pelicans sat on the tops of duck nesting boxes.

Purple Swamphen - Bevan Hood
Purple Swamphen

Rainbow Lorikeets and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos investigated nesting holes while a few Red-rumped Parrots and a lone Long-billed Corella foraged on the grass. This was the only location of the outing where we recorded parrots and cockatoos.

Grey Teal - Bevan Hood
Grey Teal

The ducks showed plenty of cross-breeding but a couple seemed purebred enough to call Northern Mallard and Pacific Black Duck. Chestnut Teal swam aloof from the riffraff and a very few of Grey Teal were also observed.

Chestnut Teale male - Bevan Hood
Chestnut Teal

Welcome Swallows swooped near the bridge and House Sparrows favoured the picnic area. Far above a Brown Goshawk circled and soared. The sanctuary recorded 34 species.

White-faced Heron - Bevan Hood
White-faced Heron

Next was the Barwon Heads golf club with adjacent Jerringot. Little Grassbird and Australian Reed-Warbler were calling among the reeds. A couple of Crested Pigeons bobbed near our shady lunch spot but flushed when we began assembling.

Australasian Grebe - Bevan Hood
Australasian Grebe

A highlight was the presence of several White-necked Herons flying around with one obliging bird foraging, apparently unconcerned by us eating our lunches about 4 m away.

White-necked Heron - Bevan Hood
White-necked Heron

It foraged delicately but no prey appeared to be taken despite more than one frog species calling. There were two fluffy Purple Swamphen chicks in the company of two protective adults. Time spent here, including lunch, allowed us to record 23 species.

The Hospital Swamp drive features two left turns with minimum warning and the group straggled in to the meeting area but we all made it. Again, no visible mud for crakes, rails or waders. Whiskered Terns quartered the water while our sole sighting of a Great Egret was here, across the lake on the top of a nesting box. A Swamp Harrier gave good views.

Swamp Harrier - Bevan Hood
Swamp Harrier

Less obliging was a Double-fronted Dotterel which flew rapidly in from the lake, calling, and then as quickly flew out again. Time was passing so we left this area, recording 11 species during our brief visit.

Our last stop was Tait’s Point, high above Lake Connewarre where we’d hoped for Caspian Tern. Never go hoping, it doesn’t work. Scopes came in useful here and confirmed Australian Shelduck and Wedge-tailed Eagle far away. A distant “branch-lump” resolved into an Australian Magpie which was less exciting than we’d hoped. Cormorants perched on a jetty and Great, Little Pied, Little Black and Pied were noted.

Little Pied Cormorant - Little Black Cormorant - Great Cormorant - Bevan Hood
Little Pied Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Great Cormorant

A New Holland Honeyeater lifted our “bag” of honeyeaters which had been only White-plumed Honeyeaters and numerous Red Wattlebirds till then. The sun was hot enough at 3pm to lead to a group decision to stop the outing here and tot up the list. Tait’s Pt yielded 22 species and the overall count was 54 species. Not bad considering the weather. The only birds recorded at all locations were Australian Magpie and Masked Lapwing which reflects the adaptability of these species.

Diane Tweeddale, co-leader and Co-ordinator Weekdays Outings

Weekdays outing to Toorourrong Reservoir

8 November 2017
Recently fledged Silvereye - Bevan Hood.jpg
Silvereye, recently fledged. Photo by Bevan Hood

The weather was ideal, calm and sunny, as 20 people assembled in the car park. Car park birding kept us focused before Graeme Hosken, our leader, led us downhill towards the dam wall.

Grey Fantail- Christina Law.JPG
Grey Fantail. Photo by Mundell Thomas

The early birds included Little and Long-billed Corellas which gave many a good chance to compare size and the distribution of pink plumage. Other parrots here included Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Galah and Crimson Rosella.

Crimson Rosella - Bevan Hood
Crimson Rosella. Photo by Bevan Hood

After a short walk 6 Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos joined the list. Welcome Swallows dipped over the dam and twittered over the outlet. A Little Raven pursued a Brown Goshawk till out of sight. Down in the swamp beyond the dam wall a Sacred Kingfisher perched obligingly, allowing many to obtain reasonable views.

Sacred Kingfisher - Christina Law
Sacred Kingfisher. Photo by Mundell Thomas

As we walked flitting honeyeaters foraged in the trees offering considerable challenges to identification as they disappeared behind foliage or branches. Yellow-faced, White-eared and White-naped Honeyeaters dominated but then sharp eyes saw red. Lots of red.

Scarlet honeyeater - Christina Law
Scarlet Honeyeater. Photo by Mundell Thomas

The rest of the group peered up and eventually there it was – a male Scarlet Honeyeater. In the end we had recorded both male and female of this species and several people had a “lifer” for the day. High in the trees nesting Striated Pardalotes were noted, calling and disappearing into small holes.

Striated Pardalotes juv - Cristina law
Striated Pardalotes, juvenile. Photo by Mundell Thomas

Walking continued toward the dam and a White-necked Heron was sighted in an adjacent paddock while a grebe was initially identified as Hoary-headed. Later this ID was queried and an Australasian was claimed. Hmm. A re-check found both Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebes in the same section of lily pond. Reassurance all round and two more species for the list.

Lauging Kookaburra with prey - Tweeddale
Laughing Kookaburra with prey. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

The dam yielded the only duck sighting – a distant male Musk Duck. A single Purple Swamphen foraged at the lily pond’s edge. Here were the memorials for the local people killed in the 1990 bushfires. So many had been lost.

dam - Tweeddale
Toorourrong Reservoir and car park. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

A small flock of European Goldfinch flew over the dam wall but not many introduced species were observed – Common Myna and Common Blackbird were also reported. Birds in the canopies included Rufous Whistler and Pied Currawong while Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike appeared to favour high perches in bare dead trees.

female Rufous Whistler - Bevan Hood
Rufous Whistler, female. Photo by Bevan Hood

At walk’s end we paused for the bird call and the often-observed happened – the only Wedge-tailed Eagle of the walk flew past, harassed by Little Ravens and a Brown Goshawk.

Wedge-tailed Eagle - Christina Law
Wedge-tailed Eagle. Photo by Mundell Thomas

Another for the list (the goshawk and ravens had been recorded earlier). Non-birds included sightings of Echidna and Eastern Blue-tongue and calls of assorted frogs by the dam.

Eastern Blue-tongue - Tweeddale
Eastern Blue-tongue Lizard. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

By walk’s end we had 54 species on the list and we thanked Graeme enthusiastically for all his work which had reintroduced us to the area in its recovery from the fires.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Education activities October 2017

Pat Bingham gave a talk to the East Burwood Probus on 2 October entitled ‘Birding with BirdLife’ – so it was both a bit of history of the formation of the organization and what it does, including advertisement of Bird Week activities. 80 people attended on the day.

On Friday 6 October, Sally Heeps spoke to the Greensborough Salvation Army Triple L Club (Laughter, Lunch and Leisure). Approximately 25 people attended on this day. Her PowerPoint presentation was about the birds of the area with special reference to the Doreen wetlands.

On Saturday 7 October, the Whitlesea Council planned a walk through the Quarry Hills Park, South Morang covering both the Hunters road and Granite Hills sections. This same walk was planned last year but cancelled because of the dangerous windy conditions. This year it was cancelled because of lack of numbers. I thank Sally Heeps for volunteering both years to lead the walks.

A Kinglake West Birdwalk was held on Sunday 8 October. This was the seventh annual birdwalk since the 2009 bushfires which burnt much of this property. Strong winds made it very difficult to hear or see birds this year. I thank Graeme Hosken and Peter Dynes for leading the bird walk this year. Eastern Whipbird was added to the list this year. The total species seen on the property on survey days is now 66.

Janet Hand made a trip to Kilmore to set up an information stall on Saturday 14 October, at the APS Mitchell Plant Expo and Plant sale. The weather was kind and over 200 people attended. Country people certainly are very interested in their gardens and the birds that live in them. It made for some very interesting discussions.

Picture 1

On Sunday 15 October, Graeme Hosken led a Spring Bird Walk at Wilson Botanic Park in Berwick. This was a Breakfast with the Birds event starting at 8am. Although the attendance number was low Graeme tells me the supplied breakfast was lovely. The group saw 24 species and added a Yellow-faced Honeyeater to the Park’s list.

About 40 ladies attended a PowerPoint presentation on Monday 16 October, for the Templestowe Ladies Probus Club. Janet Hand gave this presentation about the ‘Birds found in Manningham.’

Picture 3

On Friday 20 October, Pat Bingham had the U3A Deepdene walk at Jells Park; 20 people, 40 species and a good time was had by all as the Freckled Ducks (two females) sailed past; a pair of Sacred Kingfishers called and were seen briefly; the breeding White Ibis, Cormorants (Great and Little Black) and Reed-Warblers were cacophonous. Attached photos, by Sue Wilson, are fun, especially the Wood Duck with attitude – ‘What a big breast I’ve got!’.

Picture 2

The next day, October 21, Ian Moodie and Pat Bingham led the Spring Bird Survey at Blackburn Lake Creeklands. They had about 25 people and 21 species. Lots of breeding – including Chestnut Teal with ducklings, Magpie-larks building a mud nest, Grey Butcherbird, Kookaburras and White-browed Scrubwrens feeding young, and three Tawny Frogmouths on nests but no sign of young on these nests yet.

Our 19th Annual Breakfast with the Birds at Banyule was held on Sunday 22 October, 2017. With 116 people enrolled we were ready with our leaders at 7.30am. As light showers passed Janet Hand sent off groups of eight with each leader. Towards the end it was obvious that many of those who had booked failed to attend. I thank my leaders on the morning – Susan Bailey, Pat Bingham, Emma Bond, Alan Crawford, Peter Dynes, Lyn Easton, Anthea Fleming, Robert Grovenor, Sally Heeps, Meg Houghton, Owen Lishmund, Richard Loyn, Ian Muir, Geoff Russell, Scot Sharman. Thanks also to Daphne Hards, Bill Ramsay and Sam (Banyule Council employee) for their assistance with the telescopes at the wetlands. Special thanks to Jim Mead, his assistants and the Banyule City Council for a beautiful sit down breakfast. 73 species were seen in Banyule and 37 in the Warringal area. Three Warringal species were not seen in Banyule so we had a grand total of 76 species for the morning. A dozen species were observed breeding in Banyule and two in Warringal. Eastern Whipbird was added to the Banyule list this year. Our list now totals 123 species for this one day in October. Well done everyone.

Picture 4.png

My thanks to the many people who have helped with these activities.

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

Beginners Outing to Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

28 October 2017
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 66

 

Spotted Pardalote (F), Cranbourne
Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Scarlet Honeyeaters calling from the trees in Stringybark Carpark set the scene for a remarkable day for the Beginners at Cranbourne Botanical Gardens. There were numerous sightings of these beautiful little birds throughout the day and everyone became familiar with their melodious call.

Scarlet Honeyeater (M), Cranbourne
Scarlet Honeyeater (m). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

 

Cuckoos were also in good voice. A close encounter with a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo provided much interest whilst more distant views of Pallid and Fan-tailed Cuckoos were enjoyed.

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, Cranbourne
Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

An Olive–backed Oriole continually repeated its distinctive call as it allowed the group to walk directly underneath its perch.

Olive-backed Oriole, Cranbourne
Olive-backed Oriole. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Wylie Wetlands were full to overflowing and there were plentiful views of different waterbirds, including six duck species. Three Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flying from a nearby tree gave a graceful flying display.

Swamp Wallaby, Cranbourne
Swamp Wallaby. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Several small Swamp Wallabies were seen throughout the walk while back near the carpark a Southern Brown Bandicoot and an Echidna were seen foraging for food.

Grey Shrike-thrush Cranbourne
Grey Shrike-thrush. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Lunch was taken in the Stringybark Picnic Area where we were joined by a very tame Grey Shrike-thrush and yet more Scarlet Honeyeaters.

The afternoon walk was in the Australian Gardens which were looking splendid with lots of colourful Spring-flowering plants.

IMG_5130
Scarlet Honeyeater (m). Photo by Alan Veevers

 

A Spotted Pardalote was keenly watched as it gathered nesting material and then entered its hole in a nearby embankment, only to return moments later for another load.

Spotted Pardalote (F) in nesting hole, Cranbourne
Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Excitement peaked when a male White-winged Triller flew overhead and perched in a distant tree well-within binocular range.

White-winged Triller, Cranbourne
White-winged Triller. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Several honeyeater species were seen in a wetland just outside the fence enclosing the formal garden. A Dusky Woodswallow sitting on a nest in a bush alongside the path seemed unconcerned as several members took advantage of a good photographic opportunity.

Dusky Woodswallow on nest, Cranbourne
Dusky Woodswallow. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

There were very few ducks on the garden ponds, but a Black-fronted Dotterel and Australasian Grebes were of interest. Light rain began to fall as the Eucalypt Walk was reached, bringing the excursion to a slightly damp close. It was certainly an exceptionally good outing, with Scarlet Honeyeaters and White-winged Trillers being outstanding sightings. A total of 66 species was recorded for the day.

See the full bird list for the day: BM Oct 2017 Bird List Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

Weekday outing to Woodlands Historic Park, Greenvale

17 October 2017

Skies were blue but a strengthening wind promised challenges in detecting birds. Still the weather was warm as we assembled under the leadership of Rob Grosvenor. Once all had arrived there were 22 in the group and all were delighted by the Tree Martins circling overhead and plunging down among the trees where several were observed feeding young in nests located in tree holes. Spotted Pardalotes called occasionally while Striated Pardalotes were calling and plunging inside the tree hollows around the car park. We watched as they dived into diminutive spaces and then exited very swiftly. They had reason for caution as we observed a Little Raven removing a Noisy Miner nestling despite the adult birds’ attempts to divert it. Other ravens had clearly found a food source somewhere as numbers flew past carrying something bright yellow-orange in their bills. We wondered – loquats, takeaway chips, orange? None was close enough to identify.

003.JPG
A ‘survivor’ eucalypt – found in the Park. Photograph by Diane Tweeddale

An interesting brief sighting near the car park area was a Varied Sittella foraging down one of the tree trunks. Both Horsefield’s and Shining Bronze-Cuckoos were heard and the latter was seen though that took some effort. The other seen cuckoo was a rufous morph of the Pallid Cuckoo which was rather quieter. The wetland was dry and the creek was reduced to a couple of very small muddy puddles in this section so waterbirds were restricted to an overflying Pacific Black Duck and a solitary White-faced Heron. Parrots were numerous – screeching Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, quieter Little Corellas, and pairs of Rainbow Lorikeets, Crimson and Eastern Rosellas and Red-rumped Parrots flew past while Galahs were heard and over at the Homestead we found Long-billed Corellas perched in a tall pine tree. The glossy-coated retired racing legends were duly admired as we walked past their paddocks.

Cleared ground was favoured by Eastern Grey Kangaroos and we saw a couple of mobs with at least 20 individuals. House Sparrows occurred near the homestead buildings plus some in the picnic area by our cars. Raptors were restricted to a Peregrine Falcon in the afternoon and in the morning a Brown Falcon and a pair of Brown Goshawks which caused many alarm calls. The falcon appeared to successfully dominate the goshawks. No robins were observed this day; Red-browed Finches were seen a couple of times; as for whistlers, there was a vocal Rufous Whistler beside the trail in the morning and a Grey Shrike-thrush in the homestead garden. The introduced species were also there – Common Starlings seemed to be having a successful breeding season around the car park, feeding young in the nests in the hollows, removing faecal sacs and trying to evade ravens which were clearly checking out the nests. Common Mynas and Blackbirds were also recorded and by walk’s end the bird list totalled 44 species, two for each participant, and we thanked Rob for his careful preparation which had reminded some of us how good this location was and had introduced others to the area for the first time.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

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.

September.png

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