Category Archives: BirdLife Melbourne

Education activities October 2019

A very successful Birds in Schools Program has continued this month. Both Sally Heeps and Bill Ramsay have been to both Cornish College on 10 October and Wooranna Park Primary School on 17 October.  I thank them for their contributions to these programs.

On Sunday 13 October, Graeme Hosken led another successful bird walk around Wilson Botanic Park in Berwick organised by The Friends of Wilson Botanic Park.  The day was fine, cool and with no wind. Fourteen people attended the two hour walk with 21 species recorded.  Species numbers now average 25 over the 18 visits since 2004. The records now show 87 species found there over that period – not bad for a park now in a suburban environment. Thank you Graeme.

The U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk, led by Pat Bingham, was around Banyule Wetlands on Friday, 18 October. Thirteen participants recorded 35 species. Lots of breeding – including three frogmouth nests (one with one young), Eastern Swamphen with one young, Buff-banded Rail with three young, and countless Noisy Miner families.  On the swamp they also had a pair of Pink-eared Ducks (sadly driven out of the nest boxes this year by aggressive Silver Gulls) and a couple of Cattle Egret in partial breeding plumage.

The Blackburn Creeklands Spring Bird Survey was held early on Saturday morning, 19 October.  31 people (a mixture of adults and a good number of eagle-eyed children) split into two groups led by Ian Moodie and Pat Bingham. They headed off in opposite directions, returned for morning tea and combined their bird lists into one, with a total of 29 species.  Highlights were four Frogmouth nests (but no young seen), Mudlarks incubating, Grey Butcherbirds and Kookaburras feeding young, and both Chestnut Teal and Pacific Black Duck with broods of small ducklings on the creek.  We  also recorded Gang-Gang Cockatoos, Little and Long-billed Corellas, Galahs, King Parrots and both Eastern and Crimson Rosellas – a good number of which may compete for breeding in the many excellent tree hollows along the creek.

On Sunday 27 October 2019 we held our 21st Breakfast with the Birds at Banyule in partnership with the Banyule City Council.  This year we made a small charge to attend after more than half of the people booked in 2018 failed to turn up.  We had 80 people present out of the 96 who booked. These were split up into ten walking groups who walked the Banyule Flats and Warringal areas for two hours.  Upon their return the Council supplied a beautiful sit-down breakfast.  A bird call totalled 67 species with two new ones being added this year.  Gang-gang Cockatoos and a Leaden Flycatcher.  This makes a total of 126 species in Banyule on this day since records began in 2001 and 68 in the Warringal area since we started recording there in 2011.  I must thank the Banyule City Council for the wonderful spread of food, Jim Mead, their Environmental Sustainability Education Officer and his helpers (Alice, Micky and Rob in the kitchen) and John and Meg who helped with telescopes at the wetlands.  I must also thank my helpers Susan and Kevin Bailey, Peter Bennet, Pat Bingham, Alan Crawford, Pete Dynes, Lyn and Geoff Easton, Meg Houghton, Margaret Lo, Bill Ramsay and Sonja Ross.  Also thank you Daphne Hards who assisted with a telescope at the wetlands and Anthea Fleming for her information on the Warringal Conservation Group.  Another very successful day.  Thank you everyone.

Photos below:

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

Beginners Outing to Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

26 October 2019
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 53
All photographs by Eleanor Dilley
Little Pied Cormorant - Eleanor Dilley
Little Pied Cormorant

There was a challenging start to this excursion as members had to negotiate thousands (literally) of motorbikes assembling in Cranbourne for their annual cavalcade to the Grand Prix on Phillip Island. Furthermore, the weather conditions were far from ideal with very strong winds and heavy squally downpours throughout the day.

Common Bronzewing - Eleanor Dilley
Common Bronzewing

Setting out from the Stringybark Car Park a Golden Whistler could be heard calling but he was hard to see as he was very wisely tucked down in dense vegetation. Grey Fantails and Brown Thornbills were also sheltering in the thickets. A Pied Currawong on a nest and a Common Bronzewing in fine breeding plumage were seen early on. A highlight was seeing a Horsefield’s Bronze-Cuckoo and a male White-winged Triller on branches of the same dead tree.

Superb Fairy-wren - Eleanor Dilley
Superb Fairy-wren

There were several duck species on the wetlands including Chestnut Teal with ducklings, Grey Teal and Hardhead. A few Little Black Cormorants were swimming as were Hoary Headed Grebes, while both White-necked and White-faced Herons flew overhead.

White-necked Heron - Eleanor Dilley
White-necked Heron

On leaving the wetlands a Pallid Cuckoo was heard calling and was located in the distance on a dead branch low on a tree.

Pallid Cuckoo - Eleanor Dilley
Pallid Cuckoo

Several Swamp Wallabies were spotted keeping low profiles in the wet bracken. On returning to the cars another heavy downpour forced the members to use the information shelter for their picnic lunch.  An Eastern Yellow Robin was singing lustily as we ate and was eventually located in the nearby undergrowth.

Swamp Wallaby - Eleanor Dilley
Swamp Wallaby

Most of the group then drove to the Australian Garden which was looking very colourful with spring blossoms.  Nine additional species were found here including Dusky Woodswallow, Australasian Grebe, Little Pied Cormorant, Little Wattlebird and Silvereye.

Australasian Grebe - Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Grebe
Dusky Woodswallow - Eleanor Dilley
Dusky Woodswallow

A grand total of 53 species was recorded for the day, which was a very good result considering the weather conditions.  ur thanks go to Eleanor Dilley, our faithful photographer, who still managed to produce the excellent images in this Report despite the gale force winds and patchy rain!

 

 

Weekdays outing to Phillip Island

1-2 October 2019
Black Swan cygnets - Bevan Hood
Black Swan cygnets. Photo by Bevan Hood

The group numbered 16 when we assembled by the information centre on Tuesday at 13.00 in calm sunny weather, perfect for birdwatching.

Group with Phillip Island bridge in background - Katmun Loh.JPG
Group with Phillip Island Bridge in the background. Photo by Katmun Loh

Our leaders were Sally and Derek Whitehead, keen birders who live on the island. They were very familiar with the Cape Barren Goose population but those visiting from the Melbourne branch were very interested to see the recovery of this once-threatened species. Almost to plague proportions according to some disgruntled land owners.

Cape Barren Goose Bevan Hood
Cape Barren Goose. Photo by Bevan Hood
Cape Barren Goose goslings- Bevan Hood
Cape Barren Goose goslings. Photo by Bevan Hood

The geese were quiet but that cannot be said of the numerous Masked Lapwings. These noisy neighbours appreciate the mowed grasses and clearly you were not an islander if your block didn’t boast a pair, preferably breeding. Meanwhile the sky was filled with skeins and small groups of Ibis, mainly Straw-necked though there were a few Australian White.

Straw-necked Ibis - Bevan Hood.jpg
Straw-necked Ibis. Photo by Bevan Hood

Our first location was the Newhaven jetty where both Silver Gulls and Pacific Gulls were observed, the latter mostly immatures in their mottled brown plumage and looking somewhat scruffy.

Silver Gull - Bevan Hood
Silver Gull. Photo by Bevan Hood
Pacific Gull immature - Bevan Hood
Pacific Gull, immature. Photo by Bevan Hood

The area also hosted Black Swans and Australian Pelicans while cormorants included Little Pied, Pied and Little Black.

Black Swan - AustnPelican - Royal Spoonbill - Bevan Hood
Black Swan, Australian Pelican and Royal Spoonbill. Photo by Bevan Hood

 

Out to sea an Australian Gannet was briefly viewed and then confirmed as it plunged after fish. Around the houses ringing the jetty area we also noted Welcome Swallows, Galahs, Australian Magpies and Wattlebirds, Red and Little.

Australian Pelican - Katmun Loh
Australian Pelican. Photo by Katmun Loh
Australian Pelican - Bevan Hood - 2
Australian Pelican. Photo by Bevan Hood
Australian Pelican - Bevan Hood
Australian Pelican. Photo by Bevan Hood

Then it was across to Fisher’s Wetlands, Newhaven, where there were ducks, Chestnut Teal, Australian Wood Ducks, Australasian Shovelers and Australian Shelducks.

Australasian Shoveler - Katmun Loh
Australasian Shoveler. Photo by Katmun Loh
Australian Shelduck f and m - Katmun Loh
Australian Shelduck, male and female. Photo by Katmun Loh

 

Both Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes were present while Black-winged Stilts foraged on the far side of the water.

Musk Duck female - Katmun Loh
Musk Duck, female. Photo by Katmun Loh

A Royal Spoonbill shared a roosting islet with swans and pelicans and a Whiskered Tern fluttered and dipped near them. From the bush we could hear a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo calling while a Swamp Harrier and then a Brown Falcon started our raptor count for the visit.

Brown Falcon - Katmun Loh
Brown Falcon. Photo by Katmun Loh
Black-shouldered Kite - Bevan Hood
Black-shouldered Kite. Photo by Bevan Hood

The birding is usually excellent at Fisher’s Wetland and today was no exception. The bush was home to Yellow-rumped and Brown Thornbills plus White-eared Honeyeaters and Grey Fantails.

White-eared Honeyeater - Katmun Loh
White-eared Honeyeater. Photo by Katmun Loh
White-eared Honeyeater - Bevan Hood
White-eared Honeyeater. Photo by Bevan Hood

On checking Rhyll inlet from the cliff top (scopes are recommended for this location) we were able to include several new species. The sand spit hosted Bar-tailed Godwits and Australian Pied Oystercatchers and a Caspian Tern flew past while the highlight here was Whimbrels on the rocks at the cliff base.

Australian Pied Oystercatcher - Katmun Loh
Australian Pied Oystercatcher. Photo by Katmun Loh

We were kept so busy observing and recording that we decided to drive over to the Shearwater estate and complete the day with a bird call there rather than visit the Rhyll yacht club as originally planned.

Galah - Bevan Hood
Galah. Photo by Bevan Hood

The yacht club might have similar results to the Newhaven jetty area while the estate contains central wetlands for water management and is well worth a visit. Yes, there were Little Grassbirds calling and many watchers managed to see an Australian Reed-Warbler as it foraged along the reed base. Highlights here were Fairy Martins collecting mud for nests under a culvert and a pair of Superb Fairy-wrens glowing brilliantly in the late afternoon light as they perched on the reeds.

Superb Fairy-wren male - Katmun Loh
Superb Fairy-wren, male. Photo by Katmun Loh

We called the list and were gratified to number 68 species for the afternoon. Thanks to Sally and Derek.

Next morning we assembled at 08.30 without two of our number who were only available for the Tuesday. The first stop was the Oswin Roberts Reserve on Harbison Rd, Rhyll, another excellent birding location.

Common Starling - Bevan Hood
Common Starling. Photo by Bevan Hood

We didn’t need to leave the car park to record Musk and Rainbow Lorikeets, Laughing Kookaburra, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Eastern Rosella and Fairy Martin.

Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike - Katmun Loh
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Katmun Loh
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike - Bevan Hood
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Bevan Hood
Eastern Rosella - Bevan Hood
Eastern Rosella. Photo by Bevan Hood

Walking around the short circuit by the car park we had the good fortune to locate and then actually see a calling Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, to watch brilliantly coloured Striated Pardalotes and to encounter a couple of feeding Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos.

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo - Katmun Loh
Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. Photo by Katmun Loh
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo - Katmun Loh
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. Photo by Katmun Loh
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo - Bevan Hood
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. Photo by Bevan Hood

Fan-tailed Cuckoo proved challenging to locate but most of us were finally able to view the birds. A fortunate group actually observed not one but three Fantail Cuckoos in the same binocular view.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo - Bevan Hood
Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Photo by Bevan Hood
Fan-tailed Cuckoo 2 - Katmun Loh
Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Photo by Katmun Loh
Fan-tailed Cuckoo 1 - Katmun Loh
Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Photo by Katmun Loh

Along the track we encountered a couple of Swamp Wallabies while checking the understorey. Then it was time to drive to the Nobbies for seabirds. Here the raptor count increased as we recorded Peregrine Falcon, Nankeen Kestrel and Whistling Kite.

Peregrine Falcon - Katmun Loh
Peregrine Falcon. Photo by Katmun Loh

Many smiles resulted from the glimpses of Little Penguins in their nesting boxes on the side of the hillside as we traversed the board walk. Crowds of tourists and families were taking advantage of the school holidays and beautiful weather. The calm settled conditions for the previous couple of days were not likely to have driven any albatrosses inshore so we were not surprised when none were seen.

It was not a far drive to Swan Lake from the Nobbies and most of us were soon smiling as pairs of Black Swans led their fluffy grey cygnets and a pair of Chestnut Teal boasted seven ducklings.

Black Swan - Bevan Hood
Black Swan. Photo by Bevan Hood
Chestnut Teal - Bevan Hood
Chestnut Teal. Photo by Bevan Hood

There were raptors, Swamp Harriers and Whistling Kites, as we walked the board walk and some of us wondered how many cygnets, ducklings and goslings would make it to adulthood. We decided to have the bird call here and made ourselves comfortable but the usual “bird call calls” rang out with White-browed Scrubwren and Silvereye joining the list at the last minute. The morning’s list totalled 66 species and the cumulative total for the two days was 90 species. It goes almost without saying that we thanked both Sally and Derek whole-heartedly for all their preparation which had gone into such a successful session.

Diane Tweeddale Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

 

Beginners Outing to Hawkstowe Park

28 September 2019

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 54

All photographs by Eleanor Dilley

Striated Pardalotes - E Dilley
Striated Pardalotes

There was a chaotic start to the excursion as members struggled to find a way to drive through the very poorly signed diversion off Plenty Road into the park. However, once in the carpark they were immediately rewarded with some good sightings. Vociferous Striated Pardalotes were checking out nest hollows in the old deciduous trees and lots of other species, including King Parrots, were easily seen.

King Parrot - E Dilley
King Parrot

There was a chaotic start to the excursion as members struggled to find a way to drive through the very poorly signed diversion off Plenty Road into the park. However, once in the carpark they were immediately rewarded with some good sightings. Vociferous Striated Pardalotes were checking out nest hollows in the old deciduous trees and lots of other species, including King Parrots, were easily seen.

Wood Duck - E Dilley
Wood Duck

Following the Wonga Walk track beside the Plenty River many small birds were seen, including Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Grey Fantails and an Eastern Yellow Robin.  A Fan-tailed Cuckoo could be heard calling and a Brown Goshawk flew overhead.  Many Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were flying around and a single Long-billed Corella was spotted perched in a tall tree. Returning via the homestead ponds, a turtle was seen swimming and bobbing its head out of the water. In the reeds, Australian Reed-warblers were singing lustily but were hard to locate.

Wood Duck and chicks - E Dilley
Wood Duck and chicks

After lunch most of the members drove to the northern end of the park to visit the wetland areas. Water was plentiful in the ponds but there were not as many ducks to be seen as in previous years.

Pacific Black Duck - E Dilley
Pacific Black Duck

A pair of Black-fronted Dotterels was spotted as well as Grey and Chestnut Teal.  A beautiful Olive-backed Oriole was sighted perched in a tree by the lake and everyone got good views of it.

Australasian Grebe - E Dilley
Australasian Grebe

The highlight of the day occurred when a pair of White-winged Trillers was located perched on a dead tree amongst small wattles. The pair stayed around feeding in the bushes allowing everyone a good look. For many of the Beginners this was a new species while for everyone else it was a thrill to see this uncommon bird in shining breeding plumage.

White-winged Triller - E Dilley
White-winged Triller

This was followed by seeing a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles majestically soaring overhead.

Wedge-tailed Eagle - E Dilley
Wedge-tailed Eagle

A magical end to a great day’s birding at Hawkstowe, with 54 species recorded for the day. Our thanks go to John McKenzie for sharing his local knowledge and locating both the Oriole and the Trillers for us. Also, many thanks go to Eleanor Dilley who once again provided her splendid photographs for the report.

View complete bird list: BM Sep 2019 Bird List Hawkstowe Park

 

Education report September 2019

The Eltham Plant Expo was held on 14 and 15 September at the Eltham Community Centre. Nearly 700 paying adults attended on the Saturday as well as helpers and children. The Committee was delighted. Sunday was quieter with approximately 200 – 300 attending. My thanks to Anthea Fleming, Daphne Hards and Scot Sharman who helped me on Saturday and Bernie Stock and Helen who helped Ron and I set up on Friday and returned on Sunday to help me pack up.

Picture1

Picture2

On Friday 20 September, 13 U3A Hawthorn members, led by Pat Bingham, enjoyed the sunshine, but not the wind, on a walk around Norton’s Park, Wantirna, and part of Gardiner’s Creek in Shepherd’s Bush. There were many Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets and even Eastern Rosellas noisily disputing nesting hollows in the big old Manna Gums along the Creek. A group of eight Cattle Egret flew over and a small flock of Striated Thornbills were busily feeding in the wattles. In all, 27 species were listed, some by sight, others by sound. Thank you Pat for leading the walk and Jim Sharpe for your photograph of an Eastern Rosella.

Picture3

The Birds in Schools Program is progressing very well and has had some well-deserved publicity.  Thanks Sally Heeps and Bill Ramsay for their assistance.

Breakfast with the Birds at Banyule is on Sunday 27 October.  I have a list of people available on that day but I may need more.  This year people are being charged $5 a head or $10 for a family of 4 to attend.

Janet Hand, BirdLife Melbourne Education Coordinator

Beginners Outing to Jells Park

24 August 2019
Leader: Robert Grosvenor
Attendees: 35; Species count: 52
Little Raven, Jells Park
Little Raven. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

While waiting for all attendees to arrive Eastern Rosella, Noisy Miner and White Ibis were all seen overhead but what was most surprising was the sight of a large hare which took off down the path near the car park.

Laughing Kookaburra - B Hood
Laughing Kookaburra. Photo by Bevan Hood

Eventually it was time to commence the walk by then we had 35 eager birders ready to go. It was a lovely sunny winter’s morning, only hampered by the strong, cold northerly wind.  A Laughing Kookaburra waited for us at the start of our walk.

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

A Striated Pardalote was calling in a large gum tree but proved impossible to see due to the windy conditions. Shortly into the walk we deviated from our planned route to try and find a Tawny Frogmouth which had been seen in the area. Although unsuccessful, we did find a Grey Fantail and a female Golden Whistler.  Some also had close views of a Grey Butcherbird.

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike - B Hood
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Bevan Hood

Back on track, many were fortunate to see a Spotted Pardalote flying into and out of its nest in the side of the creek. This was quickly followed by a Grey Shrike Thrush, a Black Faced Cuckoo Shrike, Brown Thornbill and a male Golden Whistler looking resplendent in the bright sunshine.

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

Eventually we arrived at the bird hide by the lake where Pink Eared Duck, Grey Teal and a few Freckled Ducks were seen together with hundreds of White Ibis, a Darter, Little Pied Cormorant, Eurasian Coot and both Hoary Headed and Australasian Grebes.

Little Pied Cormorant, Australian White Ibis, Dusky Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Jells Park
Little Pied Cormorant, Australian White Ibis, Dusky Moorhen, Eurasian Coot. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Darter - B Hood
Australasian Darter. Photo by Bevan Hood

Further down the track, a solitary Chestnut Teal was found as well as a pair of Pacific Black ducks, Purple Swamp hens and Dusky Moorhens.

Chestnut Teal male - B Hood
Chestnut Teal, male. Photo by Bevan Hood

A single Australian Pelican was seen flying above the lake, and was later seen on the water.

Australian Pelican - B Hood
Australian Pelican. Photo by Bevan Hood

When we reached the lake again some eagle-eyed birders managed to find a single Royal Spoonbill amongst the many hundreds of White Ibis. A pair of Little Ravens watched us pass by on our way out of the sanctuary.

Australian Pelican, Jells Park
Australian Pelican. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Following our walk around the lake, we picked up Wood Duck, Willy Wagtail and a White-faced Heron before we returned for lunch.

Australasian Swamphen, Jells Park
Australasian Swamphen. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Over lunch Galahs, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Eastern Rosellas were seen.

White-faced Heron - B Hood
White-faced Heron. Photo by Bevan Hood

After lunch with a slightly reduced number we crossed the bridge and headed north towards Nortons Park. Although the strong wind made birding difficult in this exposed area we managed an extra seven species for the day with Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Straw-necked Ibis, Silver Gull, Blackbird, Indian Myna and Starling all seen, giving a grand total for the day of 52 species.

A good total for the conditions and a good walk for the birders.

View complete bird list: Bird List Jells Park 2019

 

Weekdays Outing to Yarra Bend Park, Fairfield

12 August 2019
Photographs by Kat Mun Loh

The group numbered 20, of whom two were international visitors, from the UK and Canada, and another couple were visitors from the support group Regenerate. Elsmaree Baxter led and all were grateful that the weather, though very cold, was dry. The ground was still wet and muddy with plenty of large puddles after several days of rain so care was needed when walking. Early arrivals were treated to a flock of 20 Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos flying overhead and some later arrivals counted the last bird while it perched in a bare tree. Other car park species included the inevitable Noisy Miners plus a few Australian Wood Ducks, Eastern Rosellas, Red-rumped Parrots and Rainbow Lorikeets plus a pair of Magpie-larks. Overhead flew a Great Cormorant and then, to the alarm calls from many species, a slender-winged Australian Hobby.

Superb Fairy-wren - male - Kat Mun Loh
Superb Fairy-wren, male

We walked past the golf course, noting a White-faced Heron patrolling near a green, apparently unfazed by the driving practice going on at the far end of the range. The grass was covered with yellow golf balls which must presumably be collected mechanically. Turning back into the bush section we noted the calls of Pied Currawong and Little Raven and watched Corellas flying near exercising dogs, presumably Long-billed Corellas as only this species had been seen from the start.

the group - Kat Mun Loh
The group walking

We headed back towards the Yarra which was flowing strong and high. A highlight here was a female Australasian Darter perched on a snag near a couple of Pacific Black Ducks. Some in the front of the group saw a robin which was another highlight – it was a female Scarlet Robin. The visitors were smiling and listing more and more.

Australasian Darter -female - Kat Mun Loh
Australasian Darter

A Dusky Moorhen swam near but did not try to fight the very strong river current. An Eastern Spinebill called but was only seen by one or two while Red Wattlebirds were heard at intervals. Superb Fairy-wrens’ calls were identified to the visitors but sightings were few and a “little brown job” was initially misidentified as a thornbill but on closer inspection was a White-browed Scrubwren being unexpectedly obvious on a low bare branch. Another good sighting, though often brief, was a calling Spotted Pardalote, much admired. One observer’s wish was granted when a clear close view of a Laughing Kookaburra was obtained as up till then she had only heard or briefly glimpsed this iconic Australian.

Laughing Kookaburra - Kat Mun Loh
Laughing Kookaburra

We were heading toward the boathouse when a sharp pair of eyes penetrated the great camouflage of a pair of Tawny Frogmouths huddled closely together against the cold. A great sighting for everyone.

Tawny Frogmouths - Kat Mun Loh
First glimpse of a pair of Tawny Frogmouths
Tawny Frogmouth - Kat Mun Loh
Tawny Frogmouth

Back to the shelter near the car park for lunch where we were checked out by Noisy Miners which made the most of every slight food spill. Wood ducks were still foraging on the near grass and were joined peaceably by a lone Crested Pigeon. At intervals some heard a distant call of an Olive-backed Oriole which was then picked up by all during a quiet pause in our chatter. However no sighting was obtained despite careful peering upwards. Unfortunately Elsmaree had to terminate her walk at lunchtime so she joined those finishing then because of fatigue or prior engagement. We thanked her wholeheartedly for all her preparation and wished her well.

Pat Bingham led the smaller remaining group around the Macfarlane Burnet circuit where the only addition to the species list was an overhead V of Straw-necked Ibis which brought the total of species to 48. We thanked Pat for the additional walk with its terrain and information boards.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Beginners Outing to Woodlands Historic Park

27 July 2019
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 39
Photographs by Eleanor Dilley
Little Eagle - E Dilley
Little Eagle

Perfect weather conditions awaited the members gathered at the Somerton Road Carpark for the Woodlands excursion.  Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Galahs and Rainbow Lorikeets were all busy checking out the numerous tree hollows in the fine old River Red Gums in this area.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo - E Dilley
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Crossing the bridge and walking alongside the creek numerous Superb Fairy Wrens were seen foraging on the ground while Striated Pardalotes were constantly calling and one of these individuals obligingly perched in clear view for several minutes giving everyone a good look.

Striated Pardalate - E Dilley
Striated Pardalote

Further along the track a small flock of Red-browed Finches were seen feeding alongside the Fairy Wrens and Weebills were seen in the trees. Near the end of the path was a ‘hotspot’ containing Eastern and Crimson Rosellas, New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters, Yellow-rumped Thornbills and a Grey Shrike-thrush.

New Holland Honeyeater - E Dilley
New Holland Honeyeater

On turning the corner by the horse paddocks a row of Red-rumped Parrots were perched on the wire fence and Willie Wagtails and Australian Wood Ducks were feeding in the field. Dozens of Eastern Grey Kangaroos were seen throughout the grassy areas.

Red-rumped Parrots - E Dilley
Red-rumped Parrots

Tree Martins were circling overhead which caused some discussion as to whether they had not migrated north or whether they had returned early.

Australian Wood Ducks - E Dilley
Australian Wood Ducks

A raptor perched high in a tree was identified as a Brown Falcon and a soaring Little Eagle flew high in the sky. A circuit was taken around the old homestead and then back towards the carpark, highlights being a low flying Little Eagle and a pair of Laughing Kookaburras.  It was disappointing that no robins of any kind were located, as in previous years red robins could always be seen at Woodlands during the winter months.

Laughing Kookaburra - E Dilley
Laughing Kookaburra

After lunch most of the members drove to the Old Cemetery Carpark and a short walk was taken to the old hospital lake. Sadly the water looked very murky and there were no birds on it, though Grey Fantails and a Yellow-faced Honeyeater were in nearby trees. Despite everyone’s best efforts still no red robins were seen. However everyone felt they had enjoyed the day with the unexpectedly good weather and superb old trees being major contributing factors. 39 species were recorded for the day.

Many thanks to Eleanor Dilley, who took all the photographs.

View complete bird list: BM July 2019 Bird List Woodlands Historic Park

 

 

 

Weekdays outing to Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands Environmental Area

17 July 2019
Photographs by Diane Tweeddale
Black Swan - Tweeddale
Black Swan

Cold wind but no rain was the day’s weather. Fifteen assembled at the walk’s start and Rob Grosvenor, our leader, had contacted Margaret Hunter of the Friends of Edithvale Wetlands who very kindly opened the bird hide on a week day. The drought had almost emptied the lake and the recent rain had partially refilled it, producing a water depth of 0.4 m near the hide. Black Swans had arrived and were breeding. In the distance there were at least 6 occupied mounds where nesting was in progress or soon to be so. Feathers were ruffled and necks arched and it was fascinating to realise the time the pens needed to hold their breath while underwater during copulation. On or around the water there were also many Chestnut Teal and Purple Swamphens with fewer numbers of Pacific Black Ducks and a couple of Willie Wagtails.

Black Swan and Chestnut Teal - Tweeddale
Black Swans and Chestnut Teal

Strong reed growth (now dry) limited vision and we were very glad of the elevation provided by the bird hide. The reeds also provided habitat for Superb Fairy-wrens and at least two brilliantly coloured males were using the area beside the hide. Heading across Edithvale Road (by the safe convenience of the pedestrian crossing lights) we quickly added Crested Pigeons, Galahs and Red-rumped Parrots.

Walking off the path but keeping to the north side there were the (almost inevitable) Noisy Miners as well as Australian Magpies and Magpie-larks. Eastern Rosellas moved quickly through the open forest and a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets seemed to be checking out a hollow stump. The golf course hosted Eurasian Coot, Australian Wood Ducks, a Masked Lapwing and a lone Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. There was also the much-viewed Magpie Goose which seems to have spent some lonely time there. Nearer the pond it was easier to use the height of the observation deck to check out the bird population on or by the water – a White-faced Heron, a Little Pied Cormorant, a male Australasian Shoveler, two Musk Ducks (male and female) and at least one Hoary-headed Grebe. A Swamp Harrier slowly quartered the pond edges, causing alarm calls and some change of direction in a small flock of teal.

Heading back to the cars and lunch we recorded a rather unusual sighting for the area. The sharp eyes of Geoff Deason picked up a well-hidden Tawny Frogmouth in a eucalypt beside the path. Few had previously seen one in this area.

Tawny Frogmouth - Tweeddale - 2
Tawny Frogmouth

While doing a preliminary bird call after eating lunch we paused when a somewhat unfamiliar call came from the reeds. Confirmation of a White-browed Scrubwren came from call recordings. After lunch several had to depart but the rump of nine continued walking along the track beside the golf course. We didn’t expect to add much to the morning’s respectable species total of 43 or 44 but it wasn’t long before someone saw four Australian Pelicans. Later our second raptor, a Black-shouldered Kite, hovered and soared close to the track not far from a perched Grey Butcherbird (which had only been heard before). Little Wattlebirds were heard along the track and Red Wattlebirds had been recorded in the morning. Spotted Pardalotes called from the trees but none were seen.

Back to the cars we thanked Rob enthusiastically for his preparation and felt rather satisfied to realise the species list now totalled 50. It was an excellent result for a grey, cold and breezy day, so typical of Melbourne in July.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Education activities June 2019

On Saturday 15 June 2019, the City of Boroondara Backyard Biodiversity Program held their final gathering with refreshments and an evaluation of the program. Janet Hand attended and considered this was a very positive program for plants, gardens and birds.  The residents involved in the program landscaped parts of their gardens with input from a landscape gardener and plants from an indigenous nursery after a nature walk by a plant expert.  A bird talk and bird walk by our members preceded this. A win for all.

On Friday, 21 Junet, 18 members of U3A Hawthorn and one American visitor visited East Kew and braved the cold air, the heavy showers and then enjoyed the fabulous rainbows in the sunny breaks in between. Walking down to Kew Billabong was soggy but there was, finally, not only water but even a Dusky Moorhen visiting the area that has been so dry for so long. They also walked along the newish Darebin Creek Trail finding Gang-Gang Cockatoos, hearing a King Parrot, and watching a pair of Wood Ducks exploring a big tree hollow while fighting off noisy Rainbow Lorikeets. Highlights for two members of the group were spotting two different Tawny Frogmouths high in two different gums in an area where Pat hasn’t seen frogmouths before, so hopefully, they will stay around and breed later in the year.  24 species were recorded in total in an area few members of the group had ever visited before and were keen to visit again. Thank you Pat Bingham for leading the walk.

On Friday 28 June, Sally Heeps and Bill Ramsay attended the Birds in Schools program with the Grade 5 at Wooranna Park Primary School in Dandenong North.  They are part of a program run by Alexandra Johnson from BirdLife Australia. She has provided the following information about the program and how you can become part of it too.  Thank you Sally and Bill for being part of this program.

Birds in Schools in Melbourne is well and truly underway! The program is designed to teach students to identify and survey birds, investigate their habitat requirements, and ultimately, take action to make their school more bird-friendly. It’s an enjoyable and rewarding program to be part of for the students, teachers and BirdLife staff and volunteers involved.

During Term 2 BirdLife staff and volunteers (including Bill Ramsay and Sally Heeps) supported teachers with the program, through delivering lessons to students from Grade 1-6 in three schools. At one participating school, eighty Grade 1/2 students have completed the program. They celebrated their learning with an action day planting of native species. The students were so engaged and excited, and are now very keen bird-watchers!

Term 3 is almost booked out with BirdLife and volunteers set to visit seven schools to assist teachers in delivering the program. Thank you to the volunteers that have signed up to help! We still have the following upcoming Birds in Schools lessons, which we require volunteers for:

  • July 17, Coburg Primary School
  • July 31, Coburg Primary School
  • Aug 30, Action Day Coburg Primary School
  • Aug 26, Oak Park Primary School
  • Aug 28, Oak Park Primary School
  • Aug 29, Oak Park Primary School
  • Sept 2, Oak Park Primary School

We will also have new dates to be confirmed for Term 4.

If you are interested in volunteering for Birds in Schools (on the above dates or Term 4 dates TBC), or if you are a teacher who is interested in participating in the program, please get in touch with Alex at:  alexandra.johnson@birdlife.org.au

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