Category Archives: Alan Veevers

Beginners Outing to Banyule Flats

22 October 2016
Leaders: Alan and Hazel Veevers; species count 47

Despite a very poor weather forecast, 36 members came to Banyule Flats and were delighted to see a resident Tawny Frogmouth on a nest beside the car park.

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Tawny Frogmouth on nest. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Setting off towards the swamp, a male Mistletoebird, a Grey Currawong and a pair of Common Bronzewings provided good sightings.

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Common Bronzewing. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After the heavy winter rains the swamp was full to overflowing and so there was no visible mud available for waders. A lone Pacific Black Duck was the only duck to be seen and a Dusky Moorhen made a brief appearance ‘running’ across the water.

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Dusky Moorhen. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants perched on the dead trees in the water, whilst male and female Red-rumped Parrots investigated nest hollows on the same trees.

Taking the track around the billabong there was little bird activity, though a female Golden Whistler, a pair of Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes and a pair of Laughing Kookaburras were seen. Upon reaching the river a second male Mistletoebird and several Red-browed Finches provided clear views and a few lucky members saw a pair of Sacred Kingfishers in bright breeding plumage.

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Mistletoebird. Photo by Yun Shao

Several birds were heard but not seen, including Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo and Rufous Whistler.

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Young Noisy Miners waiting for food. Photo by Yun Shao

Noisy Miners were the most evident species, being present on almost all sections of the walk. The forecast rain then began to fall as the group quickened pace on the walk back to the carpark.

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Noisy Miners receiving food. Photo by Yun Shao

Due to the inclement weather it was decided to take a second short walk to the ‘Grotty Ponds’, before lunch. This yielded two further Tawny Frogmouth nests, each occupied by one of their respective pairs, with the other partner also located nearby in each case.

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Tawny Frogmouth and chick. Photo by Yun Shao

Also, Australian Wood Ducks were loitering near the track but neither crakes nor rails were found. The rain then became torrential and the wind blew very strongly and so it was decided not to have an afternoon walk. Lunch was eaten in the shelter of the sports pavilion and it was amusing to watch six Pacific Black Ducks enjoying the soggy conditions of the oval.

Laughing Kookaburra, Banyule
Laughing Kookaburra. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

Although most people went home rather damp there had been some very good sightings and several new members were very enthusiastic and vowed to return on a sunnier day. Grateful thanks go to Eleanor Dilley and to our overseas visitor Yun Shao for providing excellent photographs taken in difficult conditions. A total of 47 species was recorded.

See the full bird list: bm-oct-2016-bird-list-banyule-flats

Beginners Outing to Coolart Wetlands and Homestead

24 September 2016
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 57

Fine sunny weather greeted the 31 members gathered in the car park at Coolart Wetlands. The outing began by taking the track towards Luxton Lagoon, along which a ‘hot spot’ was soon reached. Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Shining Bronze-Cuckoo were both heard and eventually seen.

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Eastern Yellow Robin. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

An Eastern Yellow Robin was observed feeding chicks in a well-hidden nest and a pair of Red-browed Finches flew to-and-fro across the path carrying nesting material deep into the low bushes. Many other bush birds were found on the approach to Minsmere Hide, including Brown Thornbills, Superb Fairy-wrens and Golden Whistlers.

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Australian White Ibis. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Great views were had from the two-level hide of Australian White Ibis nesting on nearby log islands in the lagoon. Some nests were still being built and some had two or three eggs in already. Males were proudly presenting their mates with freshly collected sticks and leaves and joining in the squabbling going on between the closely packed birds.

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Australian White Ibis. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Blue-billed Ducks were well spotted in a distant reed bed and Chestnut Teal were seen keeping a close watch on their fluffy youngsters.

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Grey Shrike-thrush. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Although there was plenty of water in the lagoon, the other wetland areas had very little. Consequently, there was not much bird activity in these areas. Lunch was had in the pleasant surroundings of the picnic area, joined by a fearless Grey Shrike-thrush and some rather pushy Australian Magpies.

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Red-capped Plover. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

The afternoon walk followed the woodland track to the beach where Red-capped Plovers were known to have nested. Three adults and three young were located in various parts of the roped area and also at the water’s edge.

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Red-capped Plover. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

A large number of hoof marks showed that the beach was heavily used by horse riders, emphasising the importance of protecting the area around the nest sites. A Little Pied Cormorant took no notice of us as it continued fishing some way offshore.

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King Parrot, female. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Both Red and Little Wattlebirds were evident in the woodlands and two female King Parrots engaged the group, feeding in track-side bushes.

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Little Wattlebird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A skull in the middle of the track had people guessing its origin, which was later verified (by Merrilyn Serong) to be that of a Koala. Back at the car park our attention was drawn to a Tawny Frogmouth which was hard to see, though everyone remaining managed to get on to it before the final bird call; a fitting finale to the day with a count of 57 species.

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Hardhead, female. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Despite our searches we had failed to find the Hardheads and Swans known to frequent the Luxton Lagoon. However, Merrilyn found both species after the formal close and provided lovely photographic evidence of what we had missed.

See the full bird list: bm-september-2016-bird-list-coolart

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Hardhead, male. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Weekday outing to Pound Bend, Warrandyte

20 September 2016
Photos by Alan Veevers
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Rainbow Lorikeet

A sunny mild day saw 26 enthusiasts assemble in the car park. Our number included some new to birding and among these were two young primary students with their parents. Their enthusiasm was infectious and both birds and flowers were pointed out to them by other walkers. The car park and adjacent picnic grounds were raucous with Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Rainbow Lorikeets with Noisy Miners filling in any quiet spells.

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Long-billed Corella

They didn’t monopolise the place, though. There were Australian Wood Ducks, Australian Magpies and both Little and Long-billed Corellas. The last two gave good views which enabled all to compare and contrast their colouring and bill shape. Lorikeets and cockatoos were determinedly examining potential nest holes in the tree trunks and branches and if the breeding season is favourable return birdwatching visits may find many young birds. We followed the riverside track, heading northeast under the leadership of Alan and Hazel Veevers. Small bush birds were conspicuously absent from the open picnic area but were now encountered more frequently and we enjoyed sightings of Grey Fantail and White-browed Scrubwren while Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Grey Shrike-thrush called. Striated and Brown Thornbills were seen and Golden Whistlers, male and female, were also present. Honeyeaters appeared and we recorded Yellow-faced, White-eared and White-naped Honeyeaters as well as Red Wattlebirds. Spotted and Striated Pardalotes called loudly but were more challenging to locate among the foliage as the breeze strengthened.

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Little Corella

The river was flowing very fast and deep and there were few waterbirds noted. However their absence was more than compensated for by excellent sightings of a platypus swimming against the current and “holding station” once it had reached its preferred position. Further along a loud chorus of Banjo Frogs also indicated that the recent rains were very welcome. A brief detour to show the beginners Eastern Grey Kangaroos also added an Olive-backed Oriole to the list and several times one or two Common Bronzewings flew from us. Not all observed them but an unexpected list of raptors was achieved – Peregrine Falcon and Collared Sparrowhawk were seen as well as a Wedge-tailed Eagle which was being harassed by a Little Raven.

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Sulphur-crested Cockatoos

Back to the cars for a welcome lunch break after which some had to leave but 16 remained to drive to Longridge Camp where we had permission to enter as there were no current campers. It was interesting to see the old farm buildings and speculate on when and for what they were last used. There were few birds and we only added those unpopular introductions, Common Myna and Common Starling, but the views from the ridge were breathtaking. At walk’s end the bird list totalled 44 species and we thanked Alan and Hazel for all their preparations which had resulted in a great day’s birding.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Beginners Outing to Jells Park

27 August 2016

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 50
All photographs by Eleanor Dilley

Forty-six members set off from the Eastern Carpark in fine weather conditions to begin the walk around the lake. After entering the wildlife enclosure a few small birds were seen including Striated Pardalotes and Superb Fairy-wrens.

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Immature Grey Butcherbird

Grey Butcherbirds and Laughing Kookaburras were plentiful but Noisy Miners were very much the most numerous species.

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Laughing Kookaburra

At the lake there were only a few ducks but these included a Freckled Duck, an Australasian Shoveler and Chestnut and Grey Teals.

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Male (left) and female (right) Chestnut Teal

Of great interest were the birds nesting on a small treed island where there was much activity. Many Australian White Ibis were nesting at ground level, while higher up in the bare trees several pairs of Little Pied Cormorants, Great Cormorants and Australian Darters tended their nests. Sticks were still being brought in to build some nests, but many birds were clearly incubating eggs.

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Australian White Ibis

An Eastern Great Egret looked dazzling in its beautiful white breeding plumage contrasting with a few dirty-looking Ibis perched on the same log. On completing the lake circuit a short return walk was taken along the track towards Norton Park and a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and White-faced Heron were added to the morning tally.

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Great Egret

Lunch was taken near the carpark, after which about half the group drove to the top of the hill where a second shorter walk was taken.

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Purple Swamphen

Highlights of this included a well camouflaged Tawny Frogmouth and great views of Musk Lorikeets in the flowering Ironbark trees.

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Tawny Frogmouth
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Musk Lorikeet

Those at the rear of the group were fortunate to witness a Peregrine Falcon flying rapidly overhead – the only raptor spotted during the day. Eight Parrot species added a wonderful range of colours to the sightings, making up for the near zero contribution from the few Honeyeaters that were around.

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Galah
Jells Park 2016 Eastern Rosella
Eastern Rosella

A total of 50 species were recorded on a most interesting and enjoyable excursion.

See the bird list for the outing: BM Aug 2016 Bird List Jells Park

Beginners Outing to Braeside Park

23 July 2016
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species Count: 51

Twenty-four members braved a chilly morning and a dismal weather forecast to meet at Braeside Park, where they were greeted by very loud Noisy Miners which were by far the most dominant of the bushland species. Setting off from the Visitor Centre towards the Heathland Track, three Little Eagles circled overhead. It was clear that one of them was in the light morph and another in the dark morph.

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Noisy Miner. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Several Eastern Rosellas and Grey Butcherbirds were near the path and at the small wetlands both Chestnut and Grey Teals were seen. In the nearby bush was a ‘hotspot’ where both male and female Scarlet Robins were observed feeding, along with an Eastern Yellow Robin, a male Golden Whistler and a Spotted Pardalote.

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Male Chestnut Teal. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

The members then walked down the main drive towards the Ranger Station unsuccessfully seeking a Tawny Frogmouth known to have previously been in that region. However, they did see a male Red-rumped Parrot, Cattle Egrets, Striated Pardalotes and Crested Pigeons. Returning via the Howard Road Track a flock of Red-browed Finches were observed for some time foraging in the mown grass alongside the path.

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Crested Pigeon. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Lunch by the Visitor Centre was nearly finished when the forecast rain began to fall. Despite this, half the group stayed on for the afternoon walk at the Woodland Road Environmental Wetlands, a short drive away. Several species were added there, including Black Swan, Australasian Grebe and Dusky Moorhen. A male Australian Darter was seen catching and eating a fish as the rain increased in intensity. Several members left at this point, but the six who continued were rewarded with great views of Hardheads, more Grebes, a Nankeen Kestrel, and even the sun.

A total of 51 species were recorded for the day – very good for a suburban park on a cold winter’s day.

See the full bird list: BM July 2016 Bird List Braeside Park

Beginners outing to Woodlands Historic Park

25 June 2016

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 46

After a week of wild winter weather a fine sunny day greeted the 30 attendees gathered at Somerton Road Picnic Area where Red-rumped Parrots, Rainbow Lorikeets and Crimson Rosellas were perched in the magnificent River Red Gums.

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Australian Wood Duck. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Taking the creek-side track, two Australian Wood Ducks were seen perched near the top of a large dead tree with lots of hollows. This was of particular interest to those unaware of their nesting habits.

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Crested Shrike-tit. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Weebills and Crested Shrike-tits were among the less common species seen foraging in nearby eucalypts, whereas Superb Fairy-wrens were evident in large numbers throughout the day.

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Female (top) and male Superb Fairy-wrens. Photos by Eleanor Dilley

Walking up the hill towards Woodlands Homestead a Brown Falcon flew overhead and a large flock of Red-browed Finches was seen on the grass inside the gated area.

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Brown Falcon. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

An ancient Peppercorn Tree beside the house was eagerly searched as, earlier in the day, one of the members had seen and photographed a male Mistletoebird feeding on its berries. Sadly, the bird had moved on and we had to make do with seeing the excellent photographs. A female Scarlet Robin and lots of Eastern Grey Kangaroos were seen by everyone as we walked back towards the car park.

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Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

After lunch most of the group stayed for a second walk beginning a short drive away, at the Aboriginal Cemetery car park. Near to the dam beside the old hospital more Scarlet Robins were seen, along with another Crested Shrike-tit and a pair of Golden Whistlers. A Wedge-tailed Eagle and a Whistling Kite circled high overhead. A short walk was then taken inside the Wildlife Enclosure and, thanks to the local knowledge of David and Dorothy Jenkins, resident Red-capped Robins were tracked down and eagerly photographed by those suitably equipped. Nearby a Flame Robin and a Varied Sittella were also spotted. Returning down the main track towards the car park there were further sightings of Scarlet and Flame Robins.

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Red-capped Robin. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

46 species were recorded in total and it was very gratifying to have located three species of red robins, though sadly they were far less abundant than in previous years.

View the bird list for the outing: BM June 2016 Bird List Woodlands Historic Park

Beginners Outing to The Briars

28 May 2016
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 50

Thirty-three members gathered at the Visitor Centre in overcast conditions and entered the wildlife enclosure where a female Golden Whistler, a Grey Fantail and Brown Thornbills were seen just inside the gate. From the bird hides several species were recorded, including Hoary-headed Grebe, Black Swan and White-faced Heron. An Eastern Grey Kangaroo and a Swamp Wallaby added to the interest as the members began the walk up towards the Wetlands Lookout.

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Swamp Wallaby. Photo by Alan Veevers.

Swamp Gums were flowering alongside the track which attracted several species of Honeyeater, including Yellow-faced, White-eared and New Holland, as well as Red and Little Wattlebirds. Unfortunately rain started to fall heavily as the group followed the Woodland Walk. Few birds were seen until a lone (captive) Emu was spotted as we approached the gate leading back to the car park.

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Emu. Photo by Alan Veevers.

 

An early lunch was taken under the veranda outside the Visitor Centre, during which the rain-clouds cleared, giving way to some welcome sunshine. Noisy Miners were evidently very interested in our food but a pair of Masked Lapwings took no notice whatsoever and continued their foraging in the adjacent paddock.

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Noisy Miner. Photo by Merrilyn Serong.
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Masked Lapwing. Photo by Merrilyn Serong.

Afterwards, the group walked up towards the old homestead where several Parrot species were observed at close quarters. Eastern Rosellas and Rainbow Lorikeets were the most colourful, enhanced by the bright sunlight. Walking along the Farmland Track members were entertained by two litters of young free-range piglets which came rushing up to the fence. Shortly afterwards a Black-shouldered Kite was seen perched on a nearby dead tree, enabling everyone to get a good look.

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Rainbow Lorikeet. Photo by Merrilyn Serong.

After returning to the car park another track was taken alongside Balcombe Creek, where a pair of Eastern Yellow Robins provided members with a great view as they repeatedly darted from the shrubs to the path for food. A Grey Shrike-thrush, a Common Bronzewing and Numerous Superb Fairy-wrens were amongst other birds seen on this final walk.

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Free range piglet. Photo by Merrilyn Serong.

The day’s tally was a creditable 50 species (not counting the Emu), which was felt to be very good for an excursion at this time of year in less than perfect weather conditions.

View the bird list for the outing: BM May 2016 Bird List The Briars

 

Beginners Outing to Lillydale Lake

23 April 2016
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species Count: 50

The 24 members who gathered at Lillydale Lake in overcast conditions were greeted by almost as many Australasian Darters. Some swimming in the lake, others perched on the banks and in trees, as well as several circling overhead.

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Australasian Darters (male at left; female at right). Photos by Eleanor Dilley

On crossing the boardwalk over the wetlands a most unusual sighting was that of a Rakali (Water Rat) swimming through the reeds. Here we found ‘Bird of the Day’, an Azure Kingfisher, which perched for several minutes at the far side of the pond, enabling everyone to get a good view.

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Water Rat (left); Azure Kingfisher (right). Photos by Eleanor Dilley

Walking upstream along Olinda Creek, three Tawny Frogmouths were seen very well camouflaged in a dead wattle tree. At Hull Road Wetlands a very close Black Swan was unconcerned as the group walked slowly by. Soon afterwards we came upon a ‘hot spot’ of small bush birds, including Spotted Pardalote, Eastern Yellow Robin and Red-browed Finch. Highlights of the return walk included Australian King-Parrots, a huge flock of Little Corellas and a single Cattle Egret. A total of 47 species were recorded for the morning.

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Darter in almost ‘snake bird’ pose (left); Tawny Frogmouths (right). Photos by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch, back at Lillydale Lake, a short walk was taken around the nearby wetlands where Pink-eared Ducks and a Little Pied Cormorant were added to the tally. To everyone’s delight further great views of the Azure Kingfisher were enjoyed, as well as many more sightings of the Darters. A creditable 50 species were recorded on a very enjoyable outing.

See full outing bird list: BM Apr 2016 Bird List Lillydale Lake

Beginners Outing to Pound Bend, Warrandyte

26 March 2016
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 45

The 47 participants celebrating Easter Saturday at Pound Bend enjoyed plenty of bird activity in the carpark, mainly from Rainbow Lorikeets, which proved to be the dominant species throughout the day.

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Rainbow Lorikeet (L) Laughing Kookaburra (R). Photos by Ron Garrett

Walking along the riverside track overcast conditions made it hard to identify the smaller species, especially as their calls were drowned out by the more, raucous parrots. On the river Dusky Moorhens were seen foraging amongst the reeds and a Little Pied Cormorant flew past finally perching on a dead log further upstream. Two Tawny Frogmouths huddled close together were a highlight of the walk, though keen observers at the rear of the group spotted a further Tawny nearby. In the paddock at the far end of the track a huge mob of 60+ Eastern Grey Kangaroos were reclining, totally ignoring our members. A flock of White–winged Choughs and a White-faced Heron were seen beside the dam near the native plant nursery.

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Australian Magpie (L) White-browed Scrubwren (R). Photos by Merrilyn Serong

The track alongside the road proved to be a real hotspot, with good views of a female Scarlet Robin, Male Golden Whistler, White-eared and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. Walking back towards the river a Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike was seen, then along the river track good views of Eastern Yellow Robins and White-browed Scrubwrens were enjoyed.

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Golden Whistler. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Lunch was taken beside the carpark, closely supervised by a pair of Laughing Kookaburras and several Australian Magpies, so that members were obliged to guard their sandwiches! Afterwards a short walk was taken to the tunnel exit where Crested Pigeon was the only new bird to add to the list. A creditable total of 45 species were recorded on a very relaxing and enjoyable excursion.

See the bird list for this excursion: BM Mar 2016 Bird List Pound Bend

 

Beginners Outing to Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

27 February 2016
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 51

In pleasantly mild conditions 49 members gathered at the Stringybark Carpark and were pleased to observe several species of honeyeater in the nearby trees, including Brown-headed, New Holland and White-eared. The bush tracks leading to the wetlands were similarly rewarding, with Rufous Whistlers and an immature Shining Bronze-Cuckoo being among the more unusual sightings.

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New Holland Honeyeater (L) and Immature Shining Bronze-Cuckoo (R). Photographs by Kathy Zonnevylle

The water level at the wetlands was low resulting in fewer ducks than usual, though there was a White-faced Heron and both Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebes present. Two Whistling Kites were seen circling in the distance and an immature Laughing Kookaburra was making strange noises as he practised his cackle.

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Australasian Grebe (L). Photo by Kathy Zonnevylle. Southern Brown Bandicoot (R). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Soon afterwards those lucky members at the front of the group saw a male Mistletoebird perched beside the track displaying his brilliant red breast and vent. There were good views of a pair of Eastern Yellow Robins and two Swamp Wallabies as the group returned to the carpark. In the information shelter a Southern Brown Bandicoot was feasting on a yellow jelly snake (clearly it had not read the notice saying they live on fungi and beetles!). The animal was without a tail, but in otherwise good condition and kept the members well entertained at lunchtime as it darted under chairs and between legs foraging for any interesting tit-bit.

Amongst the smaller bush-birds were several Spotted and Striated Pardalotes, and a lone Striated Thornbill graced us with its presence.

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Spotted Pardalote (L). Photo by Eleanor Dilley. Striated Thornbill (R). Photo by Kathy Zonnevylle

After lunch about half the group continued on to the Australian Gardens and, before entering, walked up to the Trig Lookout. No additional species were seen from the top, though two extras for the bird list: Eastern Spinebill and European Goldfinch, were spotted in the Gardens. Members enjoyed walking round this area and observing the progress since the last visit, though it would appear that the birds prefer the wild bushland area to the native gardens. Fifty-one bird species were recorded for this visit – exactly the same total as for our last visit in July 2014.

See the full bird list: BM February 2016 Bird List Cranbourne Botanical Gardens