Category Archives: Beginners Outing

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


Beginners Outing to Newport Lakes and Jawbone Reserve

27 January 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 60
Chestnut Teal - Roger Needham
Chestnut Teal. Photo by Roger Needham

Despite the forecast for a hot and humid day, 37 members attended the January Beginners excursion. Many small birds were seen in the car park area, including surprisingly high numbers of Superb Fairy-wrens and Willie Wagtails. Soon after the walk started, a Royal Spoonbill was spotted circling high overhead. Whilst watching it, a Brown Goshawk appeared on the scene apparently inspecting the larger bird.

Dollarbird - Roger Needham
Dollarbird. Photo by Roger Needham

There was great excitement when a Dollarbird (seen two weeks earlier on the recce.) was spotted perched on the top of a tall dead tree-trunk rising from the water. It stayed in place for many minutes, enabling everyone to have a really good look.

Dollarbird - Eleanor Dilley
Dollarbird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A Little Black Cormorant and several Little Pied Cormorants were resting lower down in the same group of dead trees. One Little Pied Cormorant went fishing and caught and ate a decent sized one!

Little Pied Cormorant eating fish Newport Lakes 2018 01 27 800x500 M Serong

Little Pied Cormorant eating fish Newport Lakes - M Serong
Little Pied Cormorant feeding. Photos by Merrilyn Serong
0065 little pied cormorant eating fish newport lakes 2018 01 27 800x500 m serong
Little Pied Cormorant eating fish. Photo by Merrilyn Serong.

Continuing down-hill to the water level track enabled good views to be had of Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes, as well as young Eurasian Coots begging for food from their parents.

Hoary-headed Grebes Newport Lakes - M Serong
Hoary-headed Grebes. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

There were very few ducks on the lake which may be attributed to the presence of some large carp which are known to nibble on the feet of ducks.

Young Eurasian Coot - Eleanor Dilley
Young Eurasian Coot. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A welcome lunch was enjoyed in a convenient shaded picnic shelter near the car park. A bird call tallied 34 species for the morning at the lakes.

About 20 members stayed on to drive down Maddox Road to the shore for the afternoon session. The tide was rather high and no small waders were initially seen. However, several Common Greenshanks were observed as they foraged at the edge of the shore. A large group of Black Swans and Australian Pelicans were disturbed into flight by a very low-flying microlight aircraft.

Blue-billed Duck male Jawbone Res - M Serong
Blue-billed Duck. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Nothing much was seen from the track across the salt marsh but walking around the first lake in Jawbone Reserve revealed a remarkable number of species. Included were Great-crested Grebe, Blue-billed Duck, Hardhead, Australasian Shoveler and Musk Duck.

Great Crested Grebe Jawbone Res - M Serong
Great-crested Grebe. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Several Royal Spoonbills on a small island still had their breeding head plumes on display.

Royal Spoonbill - Eleanor Dilley
Royal Spoonbill. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

They were accompanied by both Chestnut and Grey Teal, mostly resting with their heads tucked under a wing.

Further into the reserve, many different birds were seen resting at the edge of an island in one of the lakes.

Black-winged Stilt - Roger Needham
Black-winged Stilt. Photo by Roger Needham

These included Black-winged Stilts, Pink-eared Ducks and several Pied Cormorants along with their smaller relatives.

Pied Cormorant - Eleanor Dilley
Pied Cormorant. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Whilst watching the roosting birds, a White-faced Heron flew gracefully overhead as if to remind us it was time to turn for home.

Returning towards Maddox Road a flock of Yellow-rumped Thornbills were seen in low bushes. Surprisingly these were the only thornbills seen on the excursion.

White-faced Heron Jawbone Res - M Serong
White-faced Heron. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Back at the shore the tide had receded, leaving more mud banks available for the waders. Pied and Sooty Oystercatchers were on the distant sand-banks, and a small flock of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers with a lone Red-kneed Dotterel were in the drainage channel.

Little Pied Cormorant - Eleanor Dilley
Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

46 species were recorded for the afternoon, with a combined total of 60 for the day. Although it had been hot and humid, everyone felt they had enjoyed some excellent sightings, with ‘Bird of the Day’ clearly awarded to the Dollarbird.

View full bird listing: BM Jan 2018 Bird List Newport Lakes and Jawbone Reserve

Beginners Outing to the You Yangs

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

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

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

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

Laughing Kookaburra

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

White-winged Coughs

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

Jewel Spider

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

Alan and Hazel Veevers

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

Beginners Outing to Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Swamp Wallaby, Cranbourne
Swamp Wallaby. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

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

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

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

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

Scarlet Honeyeater (m). Photo by Alan Veevers


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beginners Outing to Pound Bend

23 September 2017
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers: Species Count: 50
Tawny Frogmouth (M)%2c Pound Bend.jpg
Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

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

Rainbow Lorikeets%2c Pound Bend.jpg
Rainbow Lorikeets. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

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

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

Both Eastern and Crimson Rosellas were also found.

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

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

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

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

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. Photo by Alan Veevers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Beginners outing to Jells Park

26 August 2017

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 64
Grey Butcherbird%2c Jells Park.jpg
Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

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

Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Alan Veevers

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

Australian White Ibis. Photo by Alan Veevers

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

Pink-eared Duck. Photo by Alan Veevers

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

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

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

Purple Swamphens mating%2c Jells Park.jpg
Purple Swamphens. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

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

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos%2c Jells Park.jpg
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beginners Outing to Lysterfield Lake

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

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

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

While waiting for all attendees ,Crimson and Eastern Rosellas, Purple Swamp Hen, Magpie-lark and Rainbow Lorikeets were viewed in the carpark. A Masked Lapwing was spotted closer to the Lake’s edge.

Masked Lapwing Lysterfield 2017 07 22 1588 800x944 M Serong
Masked Lapwing. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

On the reccie more Kangaroos were seen than birds and it looked like this outing would be more of the same as the first twenty minutes went by before we sighted our first bird – a Brown Thornbill, quickly followed by a White-eared Honeyeater.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo joey Lysterfield 2017 07 22 1468 800x1067 M Serong
Eastern Grey joey. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

There were long periods of inactivity until we would come upon a small hot spot. The first of which produced excellent sightings of Grey Shrike-thrush, Grey Fantail, both male and female Golden Whistlers and the two birds of the walk, a male Rose Robin and a Brush Bronzewing.

Unfortunately not all the beginners were able to see both. The Rose Robin surprised everyone when it appeared in a tree at eye level not more than two metres in front of us but did not stay for long. Still, many of the group got their first look at this beautiful bird. The Bronzewing skulked in the undergrowth, making sighting difficult before it was disturbed and flew off.

Little Pied Cormorant Lysterfield 2017 07 22 1513 800x836 M Serong
Little Pied Cormorant. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

The strong wind was keeping the small birds hidden but in a more protected spot we found Superb Fairy-wren, Silvereye and Spotted Pardalote.

Venturing down to the edge of the lake enabled us to see Musk Duck, Hoary-headed Grebe, Hardhead and Coot all on the water, before returning to the main track.

Little Black Cormorant Lysterfield 2017 07 22 1516 800x704 M Serong
Little Black Cormorant. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

Again there was a long period of inactivity with only a Grey Butcherbird heard and a Little Raven overhead. We were now back at the lake wall where Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants, Australasian Grebe and Dusky Moorhen were seen.

With the wind howling across the lake we were all glad to break for lunch and find an area out of the wind to partake of some refreshments.

After lunch we walked to the eastern end of the carpark and a short distance along the Logan track. In the more open fields we saw Straw-necked  and White Ibis, Wood Duck, Cattle Egret and in the distance a few Red-rumped Parrots.

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

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

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

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

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




Beginners Outing to Westerfolds Park

24 June 2017
Leader: Robert Grosvenor; Species Count: 46
Words by Robert Grosvenor; photographs by Eleanor Dilley
Laughing Kookaburra, Westerfolds Park.jpg
Laughing Kookaburra

Despite the cold weather and the forecast rain, which fortunately did not eventuate, 39 enthusiastic birders met at Westerfolds Park for this outing.

There were at least five new members and a couple of visitors on their first outing.

Prior to starting Eastern Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, White Faced Herons and a lone Pied Currawong were all seen overhead.

Starting the walk a couple of Kookaburras were the first to sighted, followed by Rock doves under the bridge. Grey Butcherbirds were calling regularly and excellent views were had by all.

Grey Butcherbird, Westerfolds Park
Grey Butcherbird

Together with Common Bronzewing and Noisy Miners they were probably the most common birds seen.

Common Bronzewing, Westerfolds Park
Common Bronzewing

Near the bridge, a pair of Galahs was sitting in a tree.

Galahs, Westerfolds Park

On the way to the observation platform overlooking the river a Little Pied Cormorant and Australasian Grebe were spied on the river, together with Dusky Moorhen and a solitary Purple Swamphen on the bank.

Australasian Grebe, Westerfolds Park
Australasian Grebe

A magnificent Wedge-tailed eagle overflew and although missed by some returned later in the walk to allow everybody to see it.

We were fortunate to find a single Musk Lorikeet which made a welcome change from all the raucous Rainbows. Both male and female Golden Whistlers were observed on the way back for lunch and a lucky few also saw a female Scarlet Robin. While enjoying our lunch break a King Parrot called and eventually showed itself to the joy of all present.

Dusky Moorhen, Westerfolds Park
Dusky Moorhen

The morning walk produced a total of 41 species.

In the afternoon we went in the opposite direction to the rapids observation lookout.

Although the birding was initially quiet it was a very pleasant walk through some lovely bush. Fortunately we then hit on a small hot hot patch with Yellow faced Honeyeaters, Silver Eyes, Grey Shrike Thrush, Grey Fantail, Spotted Pardalote and a Black Faced Cuckoo-shrike, all seen well.

Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Westerfolds Park
Yellow-faced Honeyeater

At the rapids a pair of Coots were seen, surprisingly the first for the day. Returning to the carpark provided a fleeting glimpse of a Brown Goshawk but a good look at a resting White Ibis.

Grey Shrike-thrush, Wessterfolds Park
Grey Shrike-thrush

Overall we spotted 46 species, far better than we expected considering the weather and the start of winter.

View the birdlist for the outing: BM JUNE 2017 Bird List WESTERFOLDS PARK




Weekdays outing to Wonga Park/Heritage wetlands

6 June 2017
All photographs by Danika Sanderson
Rainbow at start of the walk - Sanderson
Rainbow at the start of the walk

Despite the overnight rain and the showers on the drive to Wonga Park, 12 of us assembled in the car park as conditions started to ease. Some interest was expressed in a car and trailer in the car park which seemed to have been there overnight. Perhaps an illegal camper? Geoff Russell led our group and our first walk followed the short trail downstream where calls were heard from Superb Fairy-wrens, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Brown Thornbills.

Superb Fairy-wren male in breeding plumage - Sanderson
Superb Fairy-wren, male in breeding plumage

Both Little and Australian Ravens were heard as well as the single winter call of Grey Shrike-thrushes. An unexpected sighting was a single Silver Gull overhead while a brief glimpse of an Eastern Spinebill was much appreciated by the few who were looking in the right direction at the moment.

Superb Fairy-wren male - Sanderson
Superb Fairy-wren, male in eclipse plumage

Eastern Grey Kangaroos were numerous on both sides of the river and apparently used to humans on the path. We returned to the car park where a school kayaking session was about to start. We didn’t envy them as the river was flowing high and fast, even at this part of its course.

We went on upstream, bypassing the unused stile. The river edge gave us female Australasian Darters perched on snags, Dusky Moorhen swimming near the bank and an Australasian Grebe diving near one of the darters.

Australasian Darter - female - Sanderson
Australasian Darter, female

Further along the walk there were very good views of a trio of Common Bronzewings in a dead tree. Heading across the golf course by the public path we sighted Grey Butcherbird, a female Australian King-Parrot, Noisy Miners and Australian Wood Ducks while Magpie-larks and Masked Lapwing called.

Australian Wood Ducks - Sanderson
Australian Wood Ducks on golf course dam

A solitary Crested Pigeon preferred clear ground beyond the manicured gardens. Back on the river path we added New Holland Honeyeater, Silvereye, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and Red-browed Firetail. Turning around with thoughts of lunch becoming more prominent, most were disappointed to miss the sole sighting of a platypus which dived before even the adjacent birder could see it. Never mind, lunch was next.

Silvereye - Sanderson

However, lunchtime proved considerably more entertaining than usual. Things started with a request for jumper leads by the guy from the “overnight” car. Then a police car arrived and there was much interviewing. When the car was restarted the police donned blue gloves for a car search and we speculated on the reason. Eventually both vehicles left with drivers smiling. As said above, it was different from our regular lunch breaks.

Walkers - Sanderson
Walkers participating in the outing

The eight people remaining after lunch then tackled the uphill walk which starts about 400 m before the car park. We hoped for views and we were not disappointed. The view up the valley is great, even when misty in the distance, with the mountains in silhouette. A bonus was the sighting of our only raptors for the day, a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles and another of Whistling Kites. Carrying on to the highest point we were able to add brief views of a wary female Flame Robin, thus doubling our robin count as there had been a sighting of a female Scarlet Robin earlier.

Red-browed Firetail - Sanderson
Red-browed Firetail

Now it was time to descend and make our way through a great mob of roos. The males tended to rear up and scratch their flanks, which we interpreted as a threat action, but they allowed us to carry on walking. Down at the cars again we were able to count up 49 species for the day and we thanked Geoff very much for extending our experiences of this varied area.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings.

Beginners Outing to Woodlands Historic Park

27 May 2017
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 46


Superb Fairy-wren. Photograph by Alan Veevers

The 42 members who attended the Woodlands excursion were lucky to see more water in the creek than had been seen for some time. Also, the vegetation looked healthier than in past years, presumably due to the recent rains.

Red-browed Finch. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

This no doubt contributed to the large number of small bush birds seen, especially Superb Fairy-wrens and Red-browed Finches.

Red-rumped Parrot, male. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

An early highlight of the morning walk was the sighting of both male and female Flame and Scarlet Robins in the same area close to the track.

Red-rumped Parrots, male and female. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Throughout the walk parrots were plentiful, especially Red-rumped Parrots apparently investigating the numerous nesting hollows available in the wonderful old River Red Gums.

Galah Woodlands 2017 05 27 7877 800x800 M Serong
Galah. Photograph by Merilyn Serong

A few Long-billed Corellas were spotted resting high in a tree, amongst many Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, with Galahs feeding in the grass below.

Long-billed Corella, Woodlands
Long-billed Corella. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

Whistling Kites and a Brown Goshawk were the only two raptor species seen. Up near the homestead several more Flame Robins were seen along the fence lines with Yellow-rumped Thornbills close by.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo Woodlands 2017 05 27 7891 800x700 M Serong
Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

On the return track to the car park another hotspot was found with a Fan-tailed Cuckoo, more Flame Robins and a male Mistletoebird, which was seen by the lucky few.

Brown Goshawk, Woodlands
Brown Goshawk. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch most of the group drove to the section of the Park near the old Aboriginal Cemetery for a second walk. Heading towards the Sanatorium Lake a few extra species were recorded, including Grey Currawong and Crimson Rosella.

Flame Robin. Photograph by Alan Veevers

The only waterbirds seen on the lake were a pair of Australasian Grebes.

Australasian Grebe. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Inside the feral-proofed Back Paddock, Dave and Dorothy Jenkins kindly helped to track down a pair of Red-capped Robins, providing members with the highlight of the day.

Flame and Red-capped Robins Woodlands 2017 05 27 7950 800x640 M Serong
Flame Robin, female and Red-capped Robin, male. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

A few Scarlet and Flame Robins were also seen in this area.

Red-capped Robin Woodlands 2017 05 27 79952 800x700 M Serong
Red-capped Robin, female. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

We had achieved our objective of finding three of the red Robin species, with the Red-capped Robin once again being a feature of the Woodlands visit. A total of 46 species was recorded on a most enjoyable and rewarding day.

See bird list for the day: BM May 2017 Bird List Woodlands Historic Park