Category Archives: Beginners Outing

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 Shepherds Bush

23 June 2018
Leader: Robert Grosvenor; Species Count: 47
All photographs by Eleanor Dilley
King Parrot (M), Shepherds Bush
King Parrot, male

A cold, grey morning greeted the 29 birders (including a number of first timers) at the beginners outing at Shepherds Bush in Glen Waverley.  Although there was a very light shower just prior to the start, the forecast rain fortunately did not eventuate and it remained dry for both the morning and afternoon walks.

There was some activity in the car park prior to starting, with Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets, Pied Currawongs, Noisy Miners, and a solitary Common Bronzewing also flew overhead.

Shortly after the morning start we all had excellent views of both male and female King Parrots as we headed towards High Street Road.

King Parrot (F), Shepherds Bush
King Parrot, female

Further along a Little Pied Cormorant was spied before Wood Ducks, a Kookaburra, Eastern Rosella, Galahs and a pair of White Faced Herons were all seen near the baseball diamond.

Little Pied Cormorant, Shepherds Bush
Little Pied Cormorant

Continuing on, a female Golden Whistler, Spotted Pardalote, Brown and Striated Thornbills were all seen before a couple of Little Corellas flew overhead.  In the paddocks Welcome Swallows chased a feed and White and Straw-necked Ibis were plentiful. There was also a single Cattle Egret but unfortunately no Robins.

White-faced Herons, Shepherds Bush
White-faced Herons

A Dusky Moorhen was spotted browsing on the steep bank of the creek.

Dusky Moorhen, Shepherds Bush
Dusky Moorhen

Just prior to returning for lunch we detoured off the main road to check one of a number of possible roosting sites of a Powerful Owl. Luckily it was present and we all had good views; a first for many of the beginners.

Powerful Owl, Shepherds Bush
Powerful Owl

After lunch it was on to the Paperbark trail where good views were had of a Laughing Kookaburra, a Yellow Robin, a White-browed Scrub-wren, both male and female Golden Whistlers, White Eared and White-plumed Honeyeaters.

Laughing Kookaburra, Shepherds Bush
Laughing Kookaburra
White-browed Scrub-wren, Shepherds Bush
White-browed Scrubwren

The noisy squawks of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos accompanied us throughout both morning and afternoon walks, and towards the end of the walk, another Spotted Pardalote sat for quite some time high up on a thin branch, giving us good, if distant, views.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Shepherds Bush
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos
Spotted Pardalote, Shepherds Bush
Spotted Pardalote

Back at the car park a final count revealed that we had seen 47 species which, considering the weather, day and time of year was a good result.

See final bird list for the day: BirdLife Melbourne Outing Bird List

 

 

Beginners Outing to Woodlands Historic Park

26 May 2018

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 45

P5263306
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.

P5263285
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.

P5263316
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

Beginners Outing to Braeside Park

24 March 2018
Photographs by Eleanor Dilley

The Beginners’ outing to Braeside Park coincided with the end of a two-month dry spell in the Melbourne area! The rain began in earnest soon after the start and it poured down relentlessly for the rest of the excursion!

Musk Lorikeet, Braeside
Musk Lorikeet

Setting off down Cypress Drive there were good views of Eastern Rosellas feeding in the grass, and of Musk and Rainbow Lorikeets feeding in eucalypts. Walking anticlockwise around the back of the wetlands two fluffy, cream-coloured, Australasian Darter chicks were seen on a nest in a tree on an island.

Australasian Darter chicks, Braeside
Australasian Darter chicks on nest

Eurasian Coots were plentiful, as were Grey and Chestnut Teal. Australian Pelicans, Black Swans, Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants

Australian Pelican, Braeside
Australian Pelican

White-faced Herons, a lone Royal Spoonbill, Hardheads and Blue-billed Ducks could all be seen without the aid of binoculars, which by that time had steamed up. Harder to distinguish were Red-kneed and Black-fronted Dotterels on mud flats at the back of the ponds. Noisy Miners were present in huge numbers and did not seem deterred by the soggy conditions but other bushbirds were harder to find.

Black Swans, Braeside
Black Swan

The only raptors seen were Swamp Harrier and Whistling Kite. It was a very bedraggled group that returned to the car park with many deciding to head straight for home and hot showers. Others stayed for lunch in the welcome shelter of the visitor centre. After a short discussion it was unanimously agreed that the planned afternoon walk be cancelled.

It had been a commendable effort for all those involved, and especially for our photographer, Eleanor Dilley, whose battle with the elements produced the above photographs. A tally of 52 species was recorded, a creditable total given the conditions. Although very wet, everyone was really glad to see the rain falling on the parched bushland. The homeward journey for most was no doubt filled with thoughts and hopes that rain had also fallen on their own backyards!

View the full bird list: BM Mar 2018 Bird List Braeside Park

 

Beginners Outing to Yan Yean Reservoir Park

24 February 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 51
Black-fronted Dotterel AV
Black-fronted Dotterel. Photograph by Alan Veevers

A large flock of Long-billed Corellas foraged in a paddock by the entrance gate, as if greeting the 22 members who arrived at Yan Yean Reservoir on a windy, hot and humid morning. Those arriving early were taken to look over the reservoir from the dam wall near the entrance.

Long-billed Corella AV
Long-billed Corella. Photograph by Alan Veevers

A few Great Crested Grebes and several Musk Ducks could be seen amongst the plentiful Eurasian Coots in the choppy water.

Great Crested Grebe AV
Great Crested Grebe. Photograph by Alan Veevers

When all were assembled, the group drove to the car park at the far end of the wetlands from where the main walk of the day was to begin. Noisy Miners were dominant and only a few small bush-birds were seen. There were a lot of waterbirds in the wetland, mainly Dusky Moorhens and Chestnut Teals.

Latham's Snipe - Graeme Dean
Latham’s Snipe. Photograph by Graeme Dean

There was great excitement when a Latham’s Snipe was sighted on the opposite bank, though it soon walked off to hide in the undergrowth.

Red-rumped Parrot (m) AV
Red-rumped Parrot, male. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Very good views were had of Red-rumped Parrots on the ground and resting in small trees near the water’s edge.

Red-rumped Parrot - Graeme Dean
Red-rumped Parrot. Photograph by Graeme Dean

The walk continued across the track into the fenced area containing three large ponds. Several Australasian Grebes and more Ducks, including Hardheads, were spotted.

Australasian Grebe AV
Australasian Grebe. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Good views were had of a Black-fronted Dotterel feeding at the water’s edge and soon afterwards, to the delight of all, a Common Sandpiper was sighted, also feeding in the mud. Both of these birds stayed around long enough for everyone to have a good look.

Common Sandpiper AV
Common Sandpiper. Photograph by Alan Veevers

A Purple Swamphen with two very small chicks provided a lot of amusement as the little ones dashed along trying to keep up with mum.

Purple Swamphen and chick - Graeme Dean
Purple Swamphen and chick. Photograph by Graeme Dean

Just as the group was leaving the area two Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flew slowly by. On returning to the main wetlands several raptors could be seen soaring above the reservoir. They were identified as three Wedge-tailed Eagles (perhaps a breeding pair with a juvenile) and two Whistling Kites.

Common Bronzewing AV
Common Bronzewing. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Walking around the back of the wetland, where it was more sheltered, several Common Bronzewings were feeding on the ground. Nearby, a few lucky participants had a brief sighting of a Spotless Crake trudging through mud at the edge of a small island. The group then drove up to the top of the hill and walked to the Corsican Pine near the Caretaker’s Cottage and were rewarded with the sight of several Nankeen Night Herons roosting in the canopy.

Juvenile Nankeen Night Heron AV
Juvenile Nankeen Night Heron. Photograph by Alan Veevers
Nankeen Night Heron AV
Nankeen Night Heron. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Lunch was eaten in the rotunda and then a brief walk was taken down to the fence alongside the reservoir. A White-bellied Sea-Eagle’s nest was pointed out by a local member but the bird was not seen in the short time available. On the water were large numbers of Blue-billed Ducks and Hardheads as well as two Little Pied Cormorants perched on an overhanging dead branch.

Blue-billed Duck AV
Blue-billed Duck, male. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Rain had been forecast and storm clouds were threatening so it was agreed to have an early finish to this very rewarding outing. The bird call revealed a total of 51 species for the day.

View the bird list for the day: BM Feb 2018 Bird List Yan Yean Reservoir Park