Category Archives: BirdLife Melbourne

Education report for October and November

In October there was a BirdLife display in the Nunawading Library.  This was removed on Tuesday 30 October.  We thank the Library for the opportunity to run this display.

The Spring survey walk along Blackburn Creeklands took place on Saturday 6 October, led by Pat Bingham and Ian Moodie on behalf of the Blackburn Creeklands Advisory Committee.  It was a bright, sunny morning; 26 participants; 24 species. Best birds were a pair of Gang-Gangs, a King Parrot and several nesting Tawny Frogmouths, though no young were to be seen.  A Straw-necked Ibis flew over – the first to be recorded in the area on a survey day and a female Kookaburra with very untidy tail feathers was photographed. The feathers had probably been roughed-up on going in and out of a nesting hollow.

On Friday 19 October Pat again led the Hawthorn U3A Bird walk toJells Park. Warm and windy but spring breeding was definitely in the air.  They had a Tawny Frogmouth on a nest, Noisy Miners and Mudlarks feeding young in the nest, and a hoard of Australian White Ibis with young of all ages completely destroying the tea-tree habitat on both the big and small islands in the lake.  They asked a passing Ranger if Parks Victoria were going to do anything to try to stop the destruction but were told that no decision had been taken and that our concerns would be sent up the line to the more senior decision-makers.  Darters have stopped breeding on the islands and a majority of the ducks including Freckled, Pink-eared and Hardhead had retreated to a much quieter part of the lake to roost.  They did see a gorgeous pair of Blue-billed Duck, however, in the open water.  Altogether 34 species were seen and enjoyed by 14 Hawthorn members and two visitors.

On the same day Sonja Ross addressed over 50 members of the Boronia VIEW Club.   Sonja chose the topic “Birds add colour, song and interest to our lives and they are useful too”.  She said they laughed in the right places and the left-handed ladies were pleased with the quote from Tim Lowe’s book about cockatoos (which are left-footed) being intelligent, etc.

The Mitchell Australian Plant Society (Kilmore) was the venue for a BirdLife information table on Saturday 20 October.  More than 190 people visited that day.  Mitchell have this year launched their Gardens for Wildlife  Program so people were very knowable about birds. Janet Hand attended on this day.

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Sunday 28 October was the date of the 20th Breakfast with the Birds run in partnership with the Banyule Council and BirdLife Melbourne.  The Banyule Council takes the bookings and supplies the delicious breakfast and BirdLife Melbourne supplies the Bird Guides to led small groups around the Banyule Reserve and Warringal Wetlands for two hours.  We had two members at the wetlands with telescopes and 13 leaders. The weather was perfect on the day. The event was booked out (100) before the end of August and a reminder email was sent out earlier in the week so we were all extremely disappointed that only 42 who booked, turned up out of 102 people expected.  The Banyule Council had organised (and paid for) the food and arranged for 102 residents to have a sit-down breakfast and BirdLife Melbourne members were inconvenienced as many had travelled great distances to be there before 7.15am.

Five groups of eight people were sent off early but the remaining seven BirdLife members formed their own group and walked around Banyule for two hours before returning for breakfast.  Our thanks go to Jim Mead, Banyule’s Environmental and Sustainability Officer and his six staff members who worked on the day, for their organisation.  The people who attended were very happy with the event but upset that so many chose not to attend.  A total of 70 birds were seen in Banyule that morning. Nine of these species were breeding.  The Warringal Wetlands total was 25, a bit lower than previous years.  The hall has been booked for October 27th2019 but this ‘free event’ may not be a free again.  Thank you to Susan and Kevin Bailey, Pat Bingham, Emma Bond, Alan Crawford, Lyn Easton, Anthea Fleming, Daphne Hards, Sally Heeps, Meg Houghton, Kay Jolly, Margaret Lo, Ian Muir, Ken Patrick, Bill Ramsay, Sonja Ross and John Young who assisted Janet Hand on the day.

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Pat Bingham spoke at the monthly meeting of the Ringwood Field Naturalists Club on 14 November, on the topic of “Australia, Land of Parrots – or is it?”.  About 30 people attended, some joining in the discussion and adding their comments on their experiences with these somewhat pesky birds.

The final U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk for 2018, led by Pat Bingham, took place at Wilson Reserve on 16 November.  21 people participated and 31 species were seen.  Though the Yarra River itself was low, the billabongs were full of water and yellow with irises and buttercups.  Best birds were an adult Nankeen Night-heron, Grey Fantails and Willie Wagtails both with nests, and Red-rumped Parrots exploring a possible nest hollow in one of waterside gums.

On Sunday 18 NovemberAlan Crawford and Owen Lishmund were on a stall at the Alphington Wetland Festival.  It was great with lots of other environment groups there.  We were happy that BirdLife had a presence too. Several bands playing kept the crowd of a few hundred entertained.  Alan and Owen probably spoke to at least 50 people and gave out leaflets, etc. The activity books were popular with the kids and the shorebirds ID booklets all went. A few people asked about joining or supporting BirdLife, so hopefully we will get some new members.

As 2018 draws to a close I wish to thank the 25 people who have assisted with the 37 activities run this year.  Your assistance and support has been greatly appreciated and has helped spread the word about our organisation and our feathered friends.

May you all enjoy a well-earned rest in the coming holiday period and look forward to 2019.  We already have some bookings so will asking for your assistance again.

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

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

Weekdays outing to Adams Creek and Jam Jerrup

9 October 2018

Birds at edge - D Tweeddale
Birds at water’s edge. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

Lowering grey skies and light drizzle greeted nine birders as they assembled. Our leader was John van Doorn. The car park birding was most rewarding, as is often the case, and highlights were a calling Pallid Cuckoo and close sightings of a well-coloured Spotted Pardalote. Other sightings were blue, red and yellow, otherwise listed as Superb Fairy-wren, Red-browed Finch and Yellow-rumped Thornbill.

Silvereye - Danika Sanderson
Silvereye. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Several horse floats were parked in the adjacent area and it was interesting that the birds seemed unfazed by the horses or riders. The busy truck traffic to and from the adjacent sand mines was impressive and brought home the necessity of observing the stop signs at the intersection with Hookers Road. The sand in this area is used for high quality glass, think optics (or even expensive wine glasses). Other car park bird observations included a Dusky Woodswallow, numerous New Holland Honeyeaters, a couple of sightings of Grey Fantail and a Little Raven. An Australian Raven was also heard and a White-faced Heron overflew.

Orchid - Danika Sanderson
Orchid. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Walking the track we passed brilliant green moss beds – much appreciated by those with drought-stricken Melbourne gardens – and further on there were beautiful displays of flowers, including peas, fan flowers, Banksia, Hibbertia, Tetratheca and Epacris with the occasional sun orchid.

Flowers - a pink tetratheca and a pea - Danika Sanderson
Flowers (Pink Tetratheca and a Pea). Photo by Danika Sanderson

A birding “hot spot” near the flowers would be better described as “incandescent” as there were so many birds active in a small area, among them Varied Sitellas foraging down branches and tree trunks, Grey Butcherbird and Grey Shrike-thrush calling and Brown Thornbills and White-browed Scrubwrens briefly sighted.

Brown Thornbill - Danika Sanderson

Brown Thornbill 2 - Danika Sanderson
Brown Thornbill. Photos by Danika Sanderson

Walking back to the cars (we had to be on time to catch the tide at Stockyard Point near Jam Jerrup) we came across “the bird of the morning” – a male Brush Bronzewing in beautiful plumage who stayed quietly and closely perched for long enough to allow each person at least a quick sighting. Lunch was eaten at Lang Lang where a picnic shelter in a small park provided seating out of the increasing rain. Most of us elected to continue to Stockyard Point near Jam Jerrup after lunch so we drove to the start of the track and then walked determinedly to catch the rising tide and any waders or shorebirds roosting at the point.

Mangrove 2 D Tweeddale
Mangroves. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

Mangroves grow close to the coast and twitters were heard from there but there was no time for identifications. After traversing an area of fallen dead trees beside the water we eventually reached the point and were greeted with waders flying in beautiful waves. When they settled there were some Silver Gulls and many Whiskered Terns but as our vision adjusted there were Red-necked Stints and Curlew Sandpipers also.

Mangrove 1 - D Tweeddale
Mangroves. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

A pair of Australian Pied Oystercatchers was carefully surveyed but that caused no change in their identity to SIPO’s. A few Gull-billed Terns flew along the wave line but the prize here was several Red Knots still in various degrees of breeding plumage. A few Crested Terns were noted and even fewer Caspians, diving for food. Red-capped Plovers appeared just above the wave line and an immature Pacific Gull flew past just as we were leaving. The rain and wind were becoming uncomfortable by then so we climbed over the fallen trees and returned to the car park at the start of the track for bird call. The results were 37 species for Adams Creek and 30 species for Jam Jerrup/Stockyard Point, giving an overall total of 58 species for the day. We thanked John appreciatively for showing us these two so different birding locations.

Diane Tweeddale Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Education activities September 2018

On Friday 7 September, Bill Ramsay and Ron Hand assisted Janet Hand set up the display for the Yarra Yarra Plant Expo in the Eltham Community Centre.

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During the following weekend on Saturday and Sunday 8 and 9 September, hundreds of people visited the Yarra Yarra Australian Plant Expo at Eltham. Five hundred and fifty people came through the doors on Saturday and a few less on Sunday. Over the weekend Janet Hand was assisted by Daphne Hards, Scot Sharman, Pat Bingham, Sally Heeps, Susan Bailey and Peter Bennet. Many interesting discussions were held and their bird questions answered. Thanks to everyone who helped.

On Monday 10 September, Janet Hand gave a PowerPoint presentation to the East Doncaster Women’s Group in Donvale. The topic was “Backyard birds of Manningham”. With this being a smaller group it was a very interactive presentation with questions being answered as it progressed.

The U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk was held on Friday 21 September at the Banyule Flats Reserve in Viewbank. Fourteen people attended and 37 species were seen and/or heard. Two Pink-eared Ducks were on the swamp, taking particular interest in one of the nest boxes so maybe they’ll breed there. Two Tawny Frogmouths on nests were also found. Other enjoyable sightings were of Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Grey Shrike-thrush and pairs of Red-rumped Parrots. Pat Bingham led this outing. Thanks Pat.

On Wednesday 26September, Janet Hand made her annual visit to Mercy Place in Boronia. Mercy Place is a member group of BirdLife Australia. Janet gave her PowerPoint presentation on her trip across Arnhem Land last year and her follow on journey to Alice Springs and Ayres Rock. The ladies were fascinated by the Field of Lights photographs and how they worked.

The Nunawading Library is holding a display for the month of October with four display cases being used to showcase BirdLife Australia and various aspects of its work.

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The largest case is promoting the upcoming Bird Week and the Aussie Bird Count which runs from 22 to 28 October. Please get involved this year and submit a minimum of one 20 minute count. BirdLife Melbourne’s October activities are also listed to show what a wide range of activities we run. Janet Hand set up this display on 29 September and it will be there until late October, so pop in for a look.

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

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.

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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.

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Hardhead. Photo by Bevan Hood

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

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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