Category Archives: Alan Veevers

Beginners outing to Lillydale Lake

23 March 2019
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 48
Australasian Darter - Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Darter. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Umbrellas and raincoats were the order of the day for the 33 members attending the Lillydale Lake outing. On the grass beside the carpark were Galahs, Long-billed Corellas and Australian White Ibis foraging on the ground which had been softened by the previous night’s storms.

Long-billed Corella - Eleanor Dilley
Long-billed Corella. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Galah - Alan Veevers
Galah. Photo by Alan Veevers

On the lake several Australasian Darters could be seen swimming and fishing, while on a nearby railing a lone Tree Martin was perched alongside a row of Welcome Swallows.

Welcome Swallows and Tree Martin - Eleanor Dilley
Welcome Swallows and Tree Martin. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A Brown Goshawk was seen flying above the lake and this proved to be the only raptor for the day.

Australian White Ibis - Alan Veevers
Australian White Ibis. Photo by Alan Veevers

The members then set off towards the wetlands boardwalk where they encountered a large Eastern Water Dragon on the path. Unfortunately it took fright, dashing off on its rear legs and plunging into the water before the photographers had a chance to record this most unusual sighting. Few waterbirds could be seen from the boardwalk, though there were good views of an Australian Reed Warbler and Superb Fairy-wrens. Walking towards Hull Road Wetlands a Crimson Rosella and a Laughing Kookaburra provided good photo opportunities.

Lauhing Kookaburra - Eleanor Dilley
Laughing Kookaburra. Photo Eleanor Dilley

Beside the wetlands was a hot spot where there was a mixed feeding flock of White-eared and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Grey Fantails and Brown and Striated Thornbills.  There were not many birds on these wetlands until a large flock of Australian Wood Ducks flew in.  Walking back towards the lake Eastern Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets and a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike were seen.

Crimson Rosella, - Eleanor Dilley
Crimson Rosella. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Lunch was taken near the car park, by which time the rain had stopped and the sun had appeared. After this a short afternoon walk was taken across the wetland boardwalk again, then down to the lake track. There was a good view of a Little Pied Cormorant and back at the lake a number of the Darters were perched in an island tree.

Little Pied Cormorant, Eurasian Coot - Eleanor Dilley
Little Pied Cormorant and Eurasian Coot. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Nearly all were females with their light coloured breasts, but then back in a small gully a beautiful dark male was seen drying his wings. An adult Purple Swamphen was also seen ushering her offspring away from the walking track.

Australasian Swamphen and chick 2 Eleanor Dilley

Australasian Swamphen and chick 1 - Eleanor Dilley
Australasian (Purple) Swamphen and chick. Photos by Eleanor Dilley

Despite the less than optimal viewing conditions a total of 48 species was recorded for the day and members went home relieved to think that the long dry spell might finally be coming to an end.

View complete bird list: BM Mar 2019 Bird List Lillydale Lake

Beginners outing to Yan Yean Reservoir Park

23 February 2019
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 70
Photographs by Eleanor Dilley

Light winds and mild temperatures provided perfect weather conditions for the 44 members attending the February excursion. With the aid of three scopes, large numbers of birds could be seen on the reservoir. Looking from the dam wall, these included Blue-billed Ducks, Great-crested Grebes, Eurasian Coots and three kinds of Cormorant: Great, Little Black and Little Pied.

Red-browed Finch - E Dilley.jpg
Red-browed Finch

The cars were then moved to be nearer to the wetlands where Yellow Thornbills, Red-browed Finch and Red-rumped Parrots were among the more colourful bush-birds seen. Ducks and Dusky Moorhens were plentiful on the water but a major highlight was the good sighting of a Spotless Crake on the mud beside a clump of reeds and then clambering up on top of it.

Spotless Crake - E Dilley
Spotless Crake

A Wedge-tailed Eagle soaring overhead added further excitement. On entering the fenced area the second pond provided good sightings including a Common Sandpiper, Black-fronted Dotterels plus a group of nine Freckled Ducks.

Common Sandpiper - E Dilley
Common Sandpiper

 

Returning to the cars around the back of the wetlands four lucky members had a brief view of a Latham’s Snipe before it shot off out of sight.

Freckled Duck - E Dilley
Freckled Ducks

Soon afterwards a female Australasian Darter circled low overhead giving everyone a good look.

Australasian Darter -Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Darter

Lunch was taken at the top of the hill where it was pleasing to see that the Nankeen Night-herons were still roosting in their usual Corsican Pine, though sadly the vegetation on the tree was much sparser than in previous years.

Nankeen Night-heron - E Dilley
Nankeen Night-heron

A short afternoon walk was taken along the fence line down towards the reservoir where two flocks of White-winged Choughs were seen, one foraging in the leaf litter beyond the fence and the other flying through the picnic area. Using the scopes a Great Egret and an Australian Pelican were identified and then at the carpark a Little Eagle was seen, bringing the total number of species recorded to 70. This was an excellent total and 19 more than in the same month in 2018. Perhaps the water provided by the reservoir in this very dry summer was a major reason.

Many thanks to Eleanor Dilley for providing all the photographs.

See complete bird list: BM Feb 2019 Bird List Yan Yean Reservoir Park

Beginners Outing to Point Cook Coastal Reserve

26 January 2019

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 60

Crested Terns - 1 - Eleanor Dilley
Crested Terns posturing

Thirty members assembled on Australia Day in the Beach Car Park in pleasantly cool conditions following horrendously hot weather the previous day.  On the way in, several people had seen a pair of Spotted Harriers flying over the RAAF Lake. Walking towards the shore, several Superb Fairy-wrens were seen foraging in the undergrowth and from the beach the majority of the birds seen were Silver Gulls with distant views of Australian Pelicans and Australasian Gannets.

Australian Hobby - Eleanor Dilley
Australian Hobby

An Australian Hobby flew low overhead and soon afterwards a Black-shouldered Kite gave everyone good views as it hovered over a nearby saltbush patch.

Black-shouldered Kite - Eleanor Dilley
Black-shouldered Kite

There were good views of a Singing Honeyeater but the real hot spot was back in the carpark where numerous small birds were feeding in a large old casuarina. Included were Yellow and Yellow-rumped Thornbills, European Goldfinch and Grey Fantail.

Singing Honeyeater - Eleanor Dilley
Singing Honeyeater

The members then drove to the RAAF Lake Carpark to see the new small wetland which contained plenty of water despite the dry weather. This was very productive with views of three Australian Spotted Crakes, Australasian Grebes, Pacific Black Ducks, Australian Reed-warblers and Zebra Finch.

Australian Spotted Crake - Eleanor Dilley
Australian Spotted Crake

A pair of Black-shouldered Kites perched in a dead tree and a large snake slithered off into the reeds.

After lunch the members drove to the Cheetham Wetlands car park, pausing en-route at the wetlands by the new housing estate. There, Purple Swamphens and Dusky Moorhens could be seen and a Brown Falcon perched on a power pole for a while before flying off.

Brown Falcon - Eleanor Dilley
Brown Falcon

From the car park members walked down to the shore.  As it was low tide a lot of seabirds were at the Point and as the group cautiously approached they had good views of Common and Crested Terns, Little Pied and Pied Cormorants, Masked Plovers and with the aid of a telescope were better able to see Red-necked Stints and Curlew Sandpipers.

Eleanor Dilley
Variety of species on Point Cook

Walking back through the grounds of the old homestead Galahs were seen and an unidentified raptor was heard calling loudly.

Crested Terns - 2 - Eleanor Dilley
Crested Terns feeding youngster

Everyone agreed that this had been a most enjoyable excursion, with delightful views of numerous yachts sailing on the Bay enhancing the pleasure of recording 60 species for the day including several unusual sightings.

Many thanks go to Eleanor Dilley who provided all the photographs in this Report.

View complete bird list: BM Jan 2019 Bird List Point Cook

Beginners outing to Pound Bend and 100 Acres

24 November 2018

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 47

Family Tawny Frogmouth - Bevan Hood
Family of four Tawny Frogmouths. Photo by Bevan Hood

Eighteen members gathered in damp overcast conditions at Pound bend carpark where a noisy gathering of Rainbow Lorikeets and Sulphur Crested Cockatoos were proclaiming their presence.

Sacred Kingfisher - Eleanor Dilley
Sacred Kingfisher. Photo by Bevan Hood

Walking upstream along the river track a pair of Sacred Kingfishers perched in dead trees on the opposite bank, while several small bushbirds, including Eastern Yellow Robins and White-browed Scrubwrens, were foraging beside the track.

Sacred Kingfisher Pound Bend
Sacred Kingfisher. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The poor light, due to the drizzly weather, made it challenging to identify small birds high up in the canopy.

Pacific Black Duck Pound Bend
Pacific Black Duck. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A few waterbirds were seen on the river including Pacific Black Duck and Dusky Moorhen while a juvenile White-faced Heron was seen perched in the usual nesting tree.

White-faced Heron Pound Bend
White-faced Heron in nest tree. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A large mob of Eastern Grey Kangaroos were relaxing on the paddock at the far end of the track and as the members started to walk up the hill a family group of four Tawny Frogmouths was spotted in a nearby tree (see photo above).

A sad sight was that of a young, only partially fledged, Eastern Rosella on the muddy track. A person from the Wildlife Rescue who was telephoned assured us this was normal behaviour as rosellas leave the nest before they can fly and have to teach themselves. Sadly this one looked very frail and his chance of survival did not look good.

Eastern Rosella (juvenile) Pound Bend
Young Eastern Rosella hoping for food. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

At the top of the hill an Olive-backed Oriole called lustily from a nearby tree while a Common Bronzewing and a group of White-winged Choughs were feeding on a grassy paddock.

Common Bronzewing - Bevan Hood
Common Bronzewing. Photo by Bevan Hood

Making our way back to the river track, a pair of Spotted Pardalotes was soon seen repeatedly flying in and out of a hole in the bank beneath a foot bridge.  They were so immersed in their activity that they ignored the observers and close up (rear) views of these beautiful little birds were obtained.

Spotted Pardalote (M) Pound Bend
Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The weather improved around lunchtime and members had to closely guard their sandwiches from some very enterprising Australian Magpies!  A short walk was then taken to look at the famous tunnel which was in full spate after the recent rains.  A total of 42 species were recorded for Pound Bend.

Tawny Frogmouth - Alan Veevers

Tawny Frogmouth - Alan Veevers - 2
Front (above) and rear views of a Tawny Frogmouth with two youngsters. Photos by Alan Veevers

Eight members then opted to drive to the 100 Acres Reserve in Park Orchards for a second short walk and were well rewarded.  Near the Green Dam an adult Tawny Frogmouth was on a nest with two very small fluffy chicks and nearby a young Grey Butcherbird was seen near its nesting tree.

Down near the Tadpole Dam there was much bird activity.  No doubt the sunshine had brought out some insects for them to eat.  A Satin Flycatcher was heard and this was located near the Low Track and soon afterwards a group of Varied Sitellas were seen feeding on the bark of a tree.  Both of these species were ‘lifers’ for most of the beginners.  A family group of Eastern Spinebills and a close up view of an Eastern Yellow Robin concluded an excellent session with 27 species recorded in less than an hour, 5 of these being different to those at Pound Bend, giving a combined total of 47 for the day.

View the complete bird list: BM Nov 2018 Bird List Pound Bend and 100 Acres

Beginners outing to Banyule Flats

27 October 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 56
Pacific Black Duck and chicks - Eleanor Dilley
Pacific Black Ducks and chicks. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

In fine weather conditions 51 participants gathered at the Somerset Drive carpark and were well entertained by a nearby family of Tawny Frogmouths.

Tawny Frogmouth - Alan Veevers
Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Alan Veevers

One stood guard in an adjacent tree as its mate endeavoured to conceal two fluffy chicks which kept popping out from under its protective feathers. This was to be the first of six pairs found during the day.

Tawny Frogmouth and chick - Eleanor Dilley
Tawny Frogmouth and chick. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The group walked first to the main lagoon in which the water level was rather high with no surrounding mud, hence the lack of any of the often present waders. However, there was plenty to be seen on the water including a pair of Pink-eared ducks with young and a pair of Pacific Black Ducks with nine very small ducklings.

Pink-eared Duck - Eleanor Dilley
Pink-eared Duck. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A few Hoary-headed Grebes as well as several other duck species were identified. An Australian Spotted Crake was briefly seen by a few lucky observers.

Hoary-headed Grebes - Eleanor Dilley
Hoary-headed Grebes. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The dead stags in the middle of the lagoon provided perches for many birds, including Red-rumped Parrots as well as both Little and Long-billed Corellas.

Red-rumped Parrot - Alan Veevers
Red-rumped Parrot. Photo by Alan Veevers

The beginners then set off towards the river and saw Eastern Rosellas, Galahs and more Red-rumped Parrots feeding in the grass beside the track. Noisy Miners and Red-wattlebirds were dominant in the trees and very few other honeyeaters were seen.

Noisy Miner - Graeme Dean
Noisy Miner. Photo by Graeme Dean

Along the riverside track Grey Fantails were plentiful and a Grey Shrike Thrush was gathering nesting material.

Grey Fantail - Graeme Dean
Grey Fantail. Photo by Graeme Dean

A Fan-tailed Cuckoo could be heard making its trilling call on the opposite side of the river but was not seen.

Mistletoebird - Graeme Dean
Mistletoebird (m). Photo by Graeme Dean

On the track leading away from the river another pair of Tawny Frogmouths was seen, but this was eclipsed by wonderful sightings of a pair of Mistletoebirds.

Mistletoebird - f - Bevan Hood
Mistletoebird (f). Photo by Bevan Hood

These birds remained in the dead trees and nearby mistletoe for several minutes enabling everyone to have a good look. For many of the beginners this was a ‘lifer’. Walking back towards the cars the only raptor of the day, a Brown Goshawk, was seen flying overhead being harassed by a little Raven. Lunch was eaten at the edge of the oval during which a pair of Australian King Parrots flew past and landed in the grass.

King Parrot - Bevan Hood
King Parrot. Photo by Bevan Hood

After this a second shorter walk was taken up to the “Grotty Ponds”. A pair of Purple Swamphen was seen there, though sadly no crakes.

Purple Swamphen - Eleanor Dilley
Purple Swamphen. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Four further pairs of Tawny Frogmouths were located, giving a total of six pairs for the day.  Banyule Flats certainly lived up to its reputation of being the Tawny Frogmouth capital of Melbourne!

On returning to the cars a final birdcall recorded 56 species for the day – an excellent result for a suburban park.

See complete bird list for the day: BM Oct 2018 Bird List Banyule Flats

 

Beginners outing to Hawkstowe Park

22 September 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 64

 

White-eared Honeyeater, Hawkstowe Park
White-eared Honeyeater. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Leafless deciduous trees around the carpark by Le Page homestead enabled the assembled 28 members to have very good views of Striated Pardalotes and Yellow Thornbills, which are normally much harder to see when hiding in thick foliage.

Striated Pardalote, Hawkstowe Park
Striated Pardalote. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Setting off along the Wonga Walk in bright sunshine with little wind it was good to see that the ponds near the homestead had been filled with water after several years of being almost empty.

B Hood 1
Striated Pardalotes. Photo by Bevan Hood

Consequently, several wetland species were present including Australasian Grebe and Hardhead.

Australasian Grebe, Hawkstowe Park
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Both Pallid and Fan-tailed Cuckoos could be heard calling in the distance but were not visible. Following the track by the Plenty River it was great to see a variety of small birds, including Eastern Yellow Robins, Brown-headed and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters along with numerous Grey Fantails.

B Hood 2
Hardhead. Photo by Bevan Hood

Two of the birds spotted flying over were White-necked Heron and Australian Pelican.

B Hood 3
Grey Fantail. Photo by Bevan Hood

 

In the distance a Wedge-tailed Eagle could be seen being mobbed by Little Ravens, while in the other direction a pair of Brown Goshawks were being harassed by a Peregrine Falcon.

B Hood 4
Australian Pelican. Photo by Bevan Hood

 

Also, announcing their presence vocally were Pied Currawongs, one of which perched nearby allowing it to be easily viewed.

Little Raven, Hawkstowe Park
Little Raven. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

At the far end of the track by the Plenty river a White-eared Honeyeater obligingly posed on the top of a dead stump while nearby a small flock of Dusky Woodswallows perched in high dead branches.  After that it was up the track skirting below the scout camp, then pausing at a parrot hot spot where Musk and Rainbow Lorikeets, Eastern and Crimson Rosellas, Galahs and Long-billed Corellas were all found.

Pied Currawong, Hawkstowe Park
Pied Currawong. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Lunch was eaten back near the homestead after which most of the members drove round to the Morang Wetlands where a reception committee of Eastern Grey Kangaroos awaited. At the pond below the Ridge Track a mixed flock of Fairy Martins and Welcome Swallows circled overhead.

Galah, Hawkstowe Park
Galah. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A number of species including (pointy-headed) Freckled Ducks, Dusky Moorhens and Chestnut Teal were seen on the water. On gaining the higher track another Pallid Cuckoo was heard, and this time it was eventually traced to its perch in a tall tree.

Freckled Ducks, Hardheads, Eurasian Coots, Chestnut Teal, Hawkst
Freckled (and other) Duck(s). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

 

Soon afterwards a Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo was seen and heard and there was a brief sighting of a female White-winged Triller.  The previously known Wedge-tailed Eagle’s nest could still be seen down in the river gorge but it did not appear to be active so far this season.

Pallid Cuckoo, Hawkstowe Park
Pallid Cuckoo. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

On returning to the cars everyone agreed it had been an excellent day’s birding in perfect weather conditions with some unusual sightings amongst the 64 species recorded.

View complete bird list: BM Sep 2018 Bird List Hawkstowe Park

Beginners Outing to Jells Park

25 August 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 52
Australasian Darter - Bevan Hood
Australasian Darter. Photo by Bevan Hood

It was a sunny morning with little wind as 46 members set off to walk around Jells Park Lake. Almost immediately Nankeen Night-Herons were seen in dense vegetation near the water’s edge.

Nankeen Night-Heron, Jells Park
Nankeen Night-Heron. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Initially two birds were located, but closer inspection revealed two more.  Nearby, a pair of Grey Butcherbirds were busily building a nest of small twigs.

Grey Butcherbird, Jells Park
Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Soon afterwards a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo caused much amusement, screeching loudly and repeatedly flashing its crest.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Jells Park
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Rainbow Lorikeets were also seen displaying their magnificent multi-coloured feathers.

Rainbow Lorikeets, Jells Park
Rainbow Lorikeets. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Throughout the park Noisy Miners were dominant, which probably explained why few other honeyeaters were seen. Close to the track two sightings of Tawny Frogmouths caused much interest; first a single one and then a pair. All three birds were well camouflaged, with one in particular adopting the classic pose that looks just like a broken branch jutting out from a fork in the tree.

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There was much activity at the far end of the lake with scores of noisy Australian White Ibis nesting in huge island rookeries. They seemed to have been successful in pushing out the Cormorants and Darters which used to nest alongside them.

Australian White Ibis, Jells Park
Australian White-Ibis. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

However, four Australasian Darters were seen drying their wings and there were brief sightings of Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants.

Blue-billed Duck (M), Jells Park
Blue-billed Duck. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Some of the less common duck species were present on the water, with excellent views of Blue-billed and Pink-eared Ducks. Freckled Ducks were also present, but harder to see.

Pink-eared Duck, Jells Park
Pink-eared Duck. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

There was a flock of Red-browed Finches feeding in Casuarina trees and several Superb Fairy-wrens and Brown Thornbills in the lakeside vegetation. On the track heading back towards the car park, a few Eastern Rosellas, Galahs and Crested Pigeons were seen.

Galah - Bevan Hood
Galah. Photo by Bevan Hood

Most of the group stayed for lunch, taken after moving the cars to the upper car park where some Ironbark trees were just coming into flower.  Having been asked to look out for Swift Parrots the group assiduously scanned all possible trees but saw none. Rainbow Lorikeets and Noisy Miners were the only species seen feeding from the early blossoms on the trees.

Crested Pigeon - Bevan Hood
Crested Pigeon. Photo by Bevan Hood

A short circuit walk around the top of the hill finished the day’s agenda, but no further species were added to the morning total of 52.  Somewhat surprisingly, no raptors were seen despite the perfect weather conditions. Nevertheless, everyone seemed to enjoy the day, relishing the late winter sunshine.

View the complete bird list: BM Aug 2018 Bird List Jells Park

 

Beginners Outing to Lillydale Lake

28 July 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species Count: 49
Little Pied Cormorant, Lillydale Lake
Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Thirty-one members gathered by the lake in perfect weather for bird-watching – sunshine and very little wind. Water birds were plentiful with many Eurasian Coots, Purple Swamphens, Dusky Moorhens, and lots of Australasian Darters.

Pink-eared Duck, Lillydale Lake
Pink-eared Ducks. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Unfortunately the wetlands boardwalk was closed for repair, but from the track around the outside of it there were good views of Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants as well as a pair of Pink-eared Ducks.

Little Pied Cormorant with fish - Bevan Hood
Little Pied Cormorant with fish. Photo by Bevan Hood
Little Black Cormorant, Lillydale Lake
Little Black Cormorant. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

On some rocks alongside the lake, a young Darter was wrestling with a huge fish, desperately trying to manipulate it into a swallowing position.

Australasian Darter with fish, Lillydale Lake
Australasian Darter with fish. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Two Whistling Kites circling overhead provided close-up views for the beginners but were the only raptors seen all day.

Whistling Kite, Lillydale Lake
Whistling Kite. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

It was pleasing to see family groups of Superb Fairy-wrens in many different locations on the route away from the lake towards Hull Road wetlands. Despite everyone’s best efforts, none of the expected Tawny Frogmouths could be found in that area.

Golden Whistler (F), Lillydale Lake
Golden Whistler (f). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

However, Golden Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, King Parrots, Rainbow Lorikeets, Eastern Spinebills, as well as White-plumed and New Holland Honeyeaters, were seen.

Rainbow Lorikeet, Lillydale Lake
Rainbow Lorikeet. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The Hull Road Wetlands contained plenty of water but very few birds, though an Eastern Yellow Robin and Crimson Rosellas were spotted in the surrounding trees.

Grey Teal - Eleanor Dilley
Grey Teal. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Both Grey and Chestnut Teal were also found but only two and four, respectively, of each species. Returning to the carpark, two White-faced Herons were feeding in a small pond.

White-faced Herons, Lillydale Lake
White-faced Herons. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch a short walk was taken beside the lake. A lone Masked Lapwing stood on the beach, seemingly minding its own business as we walked by.

Masked Lapwing - Bevan Hood
Masked Lapwing. Photo by Bevan Hood

Members stood for a while on a look-out platform enjoying the sight of an Australasian Darter swimming and diving for fish, clearly demonstrating how it got the nickname “snake bird”. A Grey Butcherbird, perched obligingly close to the group, gave the photographers an ideal opportunity for a photo.

Grey Butcherbird - Bevan Hood
Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Bevan Hood

Heading back over the hill members paused to admire the distant view towards the Dandenong Ranges before returning to the car park. A very pleasant outing ended with a tally of 49 species.

View the complete bird list for the day: BM Jul 2018 Bird List Lillydale Lake

Beginners Outing to Woodlands Historic Park

26 May 2018

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 45

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Long-billed Corellas. Photo by Bevan Hood

A fine weather forecast and Woodlands’ reputation as a red robin hotspot enticed 42 members to attend this month’s excursion. Setting off along the creek from the Somerton Road car park lots of Superb Fairy-wrens were seen foraging on the ground, the first of many located in this section of the Park.

Red-rumped Parrots (M and F), Woodlands
Red-rumped Parrots (m and f). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Parrots were plentiful throughout the day with the numerous nest hollows in the magnificent ancient River Red Gums providing first class accommodation.  Red-rumped Parrots were of particular interest to the Beginners with the males’ brilliant plumage gleaming in the sunshine.

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Red-rumped Parrot (m). Photo by Bevan Hood

Several small flocks of Weebills were seen in eucalypts alongside the creek, though these were harder for the newer beginners to identify.

Weebill, Woodlands
Weebill. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Also in good numbers, but difficult to see, were Striated Pardalotes, perhaps staking their claim to small yet desirable holes in the trees. There were not as many Spotted Pardalotes evident, mostly being heard, though rarely seen, near to the creek.

AV-Striated Pardalote-IMG_6601
Striated Pardalote. Photo by Alan Veevers

A few Long-billed Corellas were feeding on the ground whilst others were canoodling high in the trees. No raptors were seen on the morning walk. Possibly, the regular low-flying aircraft provided a major reason for their absence.

Long-billed Corellas, Woodlands
Long-billed Corellas. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Upon reaching the Woodlands Homestead members were delighted to see a pair of Flame Robins on a fence between two horse paddocks.

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Flame Robin (m). Photo by Bevan Hood

Returning towards the carpark a large flock of Red-browed Finch was seen, and three lucky stragglers saw a pair of Scarlet Robins, albeit some distance from the track.

AV-Scarlet Robin-IMG_6619
Scarlet Robin (m). Photo by Alan Veevers

After lunch most of the group drove round the perimeter to the area close to the Aboriginal Cemetery for an afternoon walk. Heading towards the disused reservoir several additional species were seen, including Golden Whistler, Crimson Rosella and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike.

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Woodlands
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

As members watched a pair of Australasian Grebes on the water a Spotless Crake suddenly shot out from the nearside reeds and appeared to run on the surface of the lake in its rush to reach the denser reeds on the opposite side. Its red legs flashing in the sunlight provided a key identification feature. Sadly it was too speedy for anyone to take a photograph.

Australasian Grebe, Woodlands
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley.

Meanwhile the only raptors for the day, a pair of Whistling Kites, were circling overhead. Members then walked back along the outside of the Back Paddock fence (which was closed to the public) and saw several more small bush birds, including another pair of Scarlet Robins, White-throated Treecreepers and Yellow-rumped Thornbills.

No further red robins were seen on the track back to the cars – a sad decline in their numbers having taken place over the past few years from the days when many pairs could reliably be found. Despite this, members felt they had enjoyed some unusual sightings amidst the ancient trees of the Park.  A total of 45 species was recorded for the day.

View the full bird list: BM May 2018 Bird List Woodlands Historic Park

Beginners Outing to The Briars

28 April 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 43

All photographs by Eleanor Dilley

Eastern Yellow Robin, The Briars
Eastern Yellow Robin

Lots of Australian Wood Ducks on the grass beside the main drive greeted the Beginners as they arrived at the Briars on a bright sunny morning.  At the Visitor Centre car park, Noisy Miners were the dominant species, although a mixture of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Little Corellas also announced their presence very loudly. A Brown Goshawk flying overhead provided an early highlight.  As the usual track to the wetlands was closed for repairs, the group had to enter the Wildlife Enclosure from the other entrance and it was immediately evident how dry the bushland was. Ponds which normally are home to ducks and Dusky Moorhens were bone dry, though fortunately there was still a little water in Balcombe Creek.

Rainbow Lorikeet, The Briars
Rainbow Lorikeet

Taking the Woodland track it was pleasing to see Eastern Yellow Robins, the first of several pairs seen throughout the morning. Birds were in short supply along the higher part of the track apart from Eastern Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets and a pair of canoodling Galahs. From the lookout it could be seen that the water level was very low in the main lagoon and hence was not attracting many birds.

Galahs, The Briars
Galahs

However, from the track towards the hide there were excellent views of a Swamp Harrier flying low overhead, followed by more distant views of a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles. Three species of honeyeater were seen from the boardwalk section; Yellow-faced, White-eared and New Holland. From the hide it was disappointing that the only birds seen were a Chestnut Teal and a White-faced Heron, no doubt a result of the low water levels.

Swamp Harrier, The Briars
Swamp Harrier

On returning to the lookout a Nankeen Kestrel skimmed rapidly past and there were distant views of a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels. The group then returned via the Fire Track towards the Visitor Centre and near the creek saw a female Rufous Whistler which was a surprising sighting so late in the season. On leaving the Wildlife Enclosure most members chose to walk a short distance along the Balcombe Creek Track, hoping that the moist conditions would attract more small birds, but sadly this was not to be.

Rufous Whistler (F), The Briars
Rufous Whistler, female

Lunch was taken in the picnic area where the Noisy Miners again made their presence felt and members had to keep tight hold of their sandwiches!  A further walk was then taken up the hill towards the Homestead from which there were distant views of a pair of Nankeen Kestrels perched on fence posts. A pair of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes flew low overhead while a White-faced Heron in a paddock allowed close views.

White-faced Heron, The Briars
White-faced Heron

Walking back down the track to the car park two Whistling Kites were seen, bringing the raptor count to 5. A total of 43 species was recorded for the day which was very respectable given the dry conditions. Many of the members vowed to return when the wetlands are once again full of water.

View the bird list: BM APR Bird List The Briars