Category Archives: Birds

Weekdays outing to 3 Chain Road

9 April 2019

Australian Owlet-nightjar 2 - Katmun Loh
Australian Owlet-nightjar. Photo by Katmun Loh

The participants numbered 18 with Graeme Hosken leading the group. The weather was clear and cool after the overnight showers and the first bird calls were the raucous ones of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. The dam at the start of the walk had only Dusky Moorhen and Pacific Black Duck and at the start of the walk only these and Little Raven, Australian Magpie and Red Wattlebird were recorded.

The country is dry in the continuing drought and the roadside forest was very open with little understorey. Further walking added numerous Grey Fantails, one Crimson Rosella and the calls of Spotted Pardalote.

Brown Thornbill? - Bevan Hood
Challenge no. 1: Brown Thornbill or … ? Photo by Bevan Hood

Flowering eucalypts hosted Varied Sitellas, thornbills and Weebills while Grey Shrike-thrush and New Holland Honeyeaters called.

Grey Shrike Thrush? - Katmun Loh
Challenge no. 2: Grey Shrike-thrush or … ? Photo by Katmun Loh

Here the highlight was an Australian Owlet-nightjar perched on a branch in the open.

Australian Owlet-nightjar 1 - Bevan Hood
Australian Owlet-nightjar. Photo by Bevan Hood

This was the first view for many of this cute nocturnal bird outside a tree hole. The walk proceeded by returning to the cars at intervals and then driving north to further locations. Three Chain Road owes its name to the government’s provision of sufficient space for turning traffic, for example bullock drays, in the nineteenth century. Only the central section was surfaced and the roadsides are here left unaltered giving habitat for the wildlife.

Australian Owlet-nightjar 2 - Bevan Hood
Australian Owlet-nightjar. Photo by Bevan Hood

Birds were the winners but the current subdivision of the larger farms into “hobby farms” may impact on birds in the future with less grass, more people and more traffic. The next walk added both Rufous and Golden Whistler males, glimpses of Laughing Kookaburra and the single note winter calls of Grey Shrike-thrush.

Golden Whistler male 2 - Katmun Loh
Golden Whistler, male. Photo by Katmun Loh

The highlight here was a pair of Scarlet Robins, male and female in brilliant plumage, foraging along the fence-line.

Scarlet Robin female - Katmun Loh
Scarlet Robin, female. Photo by Katmun Loh

Scopes were needed at the next stop as the dam was distant and the birds in silhouette. Persistence was rewarded with the addition of Black Swan, Hardhead, Australasian Shoveler, Chestnut Teal and Hoary-headed Grebe. Eurasian Coot and Little Pied, Little Black and Great Cormorant also joined the list while Welcome Swallows swooped through the scopes’ viewing fields.

Scarlet Robin male - Bevan Hood
Scarlet Robin, male. Photo by Bevan Hood

Only one wader, a Black-fronted Dotterel, was detected. The next stage was the turn of the raptors, first a Brown Goshawk caused a chorus of alarm calls then a Whistling Kite elicited some birdwatchers’ debate before its identification. Two Wedge-tailed Eagles soaring high above completed our day’s raptors. A large colony of White-winged Choughs, about 20 in number, occasionally called mournfully while foraging high and low through the forest.

White-winged Chough - Katmun Loh
White-winged Chough. Photo by Katmun Loh

Parrots were few today with only the cockatoos and both Crimson and Eastern Rosellas seen. However both White-throated and Brown Treecreepers were watched closely as they foraged.

Brown Treecreeper 1 Bevan Hoood
Brown Treecreeper. Photo by Bevan Hood

The latter is not seen in Melbourne so sightings were especially appreciated.

Brown Treecreeper 1 - Katmun Loh
Brown Treecreeper. Photo by Katmun Loh

By walk’s end all the “usual” thornbills had been listed – Yellow-rumped, Yellow, Striated, Brown and Buff-rumped. Jacky Winter joined Scarlet Robin in the robin list. The list of small birds’ predators detected also included Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Pied and Grey Currawongs and Australian Raven.

Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike - Katmun Loh
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Katmun Loh

By walk’s end we had a list of 55 species and we thanked Graeme most enthusiastically for his leadership.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekdays outing to the Grantville area

19 March 2019
Foreshore with Black Swans, Silver Gulls, mangrove - D Tweeddale
Black Swans, Silver Gulls and mangrove. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

Pacific Gulls at various stages of development outnumbered the birdwatchers and were in turn outnumbered by the Silver Gulls at the Grantville foreshore while we assembled in the car park under a grey sky. We numbered 14 and Alan and Hazel Veevers, much appreciated organisers of the monthly beginners group, were our leaders. While everyone arrived we noted Red and Little Wattlebirds in the adjacent bush before carpooling to drive to the Candowie Reservoir.

the group at Candowie Reservoir - Katmun Loh
The group at Candowie Reservoir. Photo by Katmun Loh

The water level was very low because the dam was the water source for firefighting aircraft taking tanker loads to fight the recent fires in the area. The continuing drought has prevented any replenishment. A lone White-faced Heron patrolled the bank and a couple of Little Ravens foraged. The most numerous species was Eurasian Coots at water’s edge but other species were also over the mud – Australasian Shoveler and Chestnut Teal were closer than the Black Swans.

Australasian Shoveler - Katmun Loh
Australasian Shoveler. Photo by Katmun Loh

Two sightings of grebes sequentially added Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes while distant views using scopes added Blue-billed Duck and Hardhead after some discussion. Australian Wood Ducks were seen around the point after a short drive to move the cars. Sadly one of them appeared to be dead on an old tree stump. Turning our backs to the dam we were fascinated to observe a Black-shouldered Kite on a dead branch with its tailed prey, possibly a large mouse or a small rat, in its talons. Probably the viewing highlight of the outing.

Black-shouldered Kite with prey - Katmun Loh
Black-shouldered Kite with prey. Photo by Katmun Loh

Another hunter in this area was a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike using the fence as a perch. A pair of soaring Wedge-tailed Eagles was the third raptor of the day (the first had been a Whistling Kite sending up the Silver Gulls near the foreshore). The bush by the dam also held Grey Butcherbird, Grey Shrike-thrush and Magpie-lark while both Australian White and Straw-necked Ibis passed overhead.

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike - D Tweeddale v2
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

We drove on to the Grantville cemetery and walked the adjacent Gurdies track listening and watching. An Australian Magpie and a Masked Lapwing seemed to be alone among the gravestones but along the track we recorded a Golden Whistler, heard several honeyeaters including White-eared and White-naped and glimpsed a White-browed Scrubwren in the understorey.

Wedge-tailed Eagle - Katmun Loh
Wedge-tailed Eagle. Photo by Katmun Loh

Both Crimson Rosella and Laughing Kookaburra were listed as we walked back. Back to the car park for lunch where the local Superb Fairy-wrens came out confidently once we were all seated quietly. A beach walk after lunch yielded no waders as the water level was against us and there was little mud. Mangroves seem to be growing well along the shore. By walk’s end there had been 30 species listed for the reservoir and 38 for the foreshore and the adjacent Gurdies Nature Conservation Reserve. The total for the day was 56 species which was a very pleasing result in the continuing drought and we thanked Hazel and Alan for all their preparation which yielded such a satisfactory result.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

 

Beginners outing to Lillydale Lake

23 March 2019
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 48
Australasian Darter - Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Darter. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Umbrellas and raincoats were the order of the day for the 33 members attending the Lillydale Lake outing. On the grass beside the carpark were Galahs, Long-billed Corellas and Australian White Ibis foraging on the ground which had been softened by the previous night’s storms.

Long-billed Corella - Eleanor Dilley
Long-billed Corella. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Galah - Alan Veevers
Galah. Photo by Alan Veevers

On the lake several Australasian Darters could be seen swimming and fishing, while on a nearby railing a lone Tree Martin was perched alongside a row of Welcome Swallows.

Welcome Swallows and Tree Martin - Eleanor Dilley
Welcome Swallows and Tree Martin. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A Brown Goshawk was seen flying above the lake and this proved to be the only raptor for the day.

Australian White Ibis - Alan Veevers
Australian White Ibis. Photo by Alan Veevers

The members then set off towards the wetlands boardwalk where they encountered a large Eastern Water Dragon on the path. Unfortunately it took fright, dashing off on its rear legs and plunging into the water before the photographers had a chance to record this most unusual sighting. Few waterbirds could be seen from the boardwalk, though there were good views of an Australian Reed Warbler and Superb Fairy-wrens. Walking towards Hull Road Wetlands a Crimson Rosella and a Laughing Kookaburra provided good photo opportunities.

Lauhing Kookaburra - Eleanor Dilley
Laughing Kookaburra. Photo Eleanor Dilley

Beside the wetlands was a hot spot where there was a mixed feeding flock of White-eared and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Grey Fantails and Brown and Striated Thornbills.  There were not many birds on these wetlands until a large flock of Australian Wood Ducks flew in.  Walking back towards the lake Eastern Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets and a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike were seen.

Crimson Rosella, - Eleanor Dilley
Crimson Rosella. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Lunch was taken near the car park, by which time the rain had stopped and the sun had appeared. After this a short afternoon walk was taken across the wetland boardwalk again, then down to the lake track. There was a good view of a Little Pied Cormorant and back at the lake a number of the Darters were perched in an island tree.

Little Pied Cormorant, Eurasian Coot - Eleanor Dilley
Little Pied Cormorant and Eurasian Coot. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Nearly all were females with their light coloured breasts, but then back in a small gully a beautiful dark male was seen drying his wings. An adult Purple Swamphen was also seen ushering her offspring away from the walking track.

Australasian Swamphen and chick 2 Eleanor Dilley

Australasian Swamphen and chick 1 - Eleanor Dilley
Australasian (Purple) Swamphen and chick. Photos by Eleanor Dilley

Despite the less than optimal viewing conditions a total of 48 species was recorded for the day and members went home relieved to think that the long dry spell might finally be coming to an end.

View complete bird list: BM Mar 2019 Bird List Lillydale Lake

Weekdays outing to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

12 February 2019
D Tweeddale.JPG
Ornamental Lake. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

Skies were grey as we assembled but the weather started mild with a slight breeze. There were 14 of us with Diane Tweeddale leading in place of David Plant who was unable to attend on the day. Fine rain started to fall and the shelter of trees was welcome, especially when we could observe birds as we stood there.

A Willie Wagtail foraged and then was upstaged by an enthusiastic Little Wattlebird which gave close, excellent views as it probed flowers. The north corner of the Ornamental Lake added Pacific Black Duck and Eurasian Coot to our started list while Bell Miners called loudly and White-browed Scrubwrens chattered from the understory. Walking over to Long Island we noted the floating islands designed to remove pollutants which wash in from the storm water drains of the adjacent streets. Then we were up close and (almost) personal with an adult Bell Miner feeding a fluffy youngster. What a pity the intervening foliage prevented photography, particularly in the low light conditions. However there were fleeting very close views of Bell Miners giving several people their first actual sightings of these well-camouflaged honeyeaters. So close indeed that their calls were so loud as to be almost painful.

Waterbirds recorded were Pacific Black and Australian Wood Ducks, Chestnut and Grey Teal, Black Swan, the usual trio of Purple Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen and Eurasian Coot with Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants and a flock of young Silver Gulls finishing the list. Eastern Spinebills were heard mostly but seen by some and a small flock of Silvereyes was viewed foraging among the fruit of a Kangaroo Apple near the corpse of the vandalised Separation Tree.

By now the rain, wind and cold were telling even with our cold weather gear in use and we retreated to the café in search of hot drinks. The gardens were not crowded with visitors today and drinks were quickly acquired, to be drunk while assessing the weather beyond the windows. It was not hopeful so the decision was made to do bird call and then people could head home or on to some other sheltered and rewarding occupation. The bird list totalled 25 species, not great by historical standards but very acceptable by today’s RBG birding. Next time the weather may allow longer walks, especially to Guilfoyle’s Volcano and through the Australian forest plantings.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekdays outing to Birrarung Park, Lower Templestowe

4 December 2018

The morning was cool and grey as 22 birdwatchers assembled in the car park. Our number included a couple of members from Western Australia on their way around a comprehensive tour of the eastern states. Lyn Easton led the walk and “initial suspects” in the car park included Noisy Miners, Australian Magpies, Rainbow Lorikeets and Spotted Doves.

Red Wattlebird - katmun loh
Red Wattlebird. Photo by Katmun Loh

We slowly walked the circuit track, passing the now-dry billabong which did not refill after the recent heavy rains so is now probably a dry dip in the ground for the foreseeable future.

Bell Miner - Danika Sanderson
Bell Miner. Photo by Danika Sanderson

‘Tis the season to – breed – and we recorded a Magpie Lark’s mud nest with 2 well-grown young begging, gape-mouthed, from an adult. An unoccupied Tawny Frogmouth nest looked rather Spartan while a male Rufous Whistler was on incubation or brooding duty on its nest.

Rufous Whistler, male on nest - katmun loh
Rufous Whistler (m), on nest. Photo by Katmun Loh

Late in the walk a pair of Noisy Miners was determinedly defending their territory from another bird which took some identification as it was unfamiliar to most of the small group of watchers. The ID was sorted out and several people were able to claim a “lifer” – a silent immature Olive-backed Oriole. These have been rarely reported as eating small birds’ nestlings so the miners may have been acting on the principle that no larger bird is to be tolerated.

the group listening to leader - katmun loh
The group, listening to the leader. Photo by Katmun Loh

Both Spotted and Striated Pardalotes were heard but not seen and the parrot list included a quickly flying Australian King-Parrot and a pair of Red-rumped Parrots obligingly perched visibly on a dead tree. The cockatoo list included Galahs and Little Corella.

Laughing Kookaburra - Danika Sanderson.jpg
Laughing Kookaburra. Photo by Danika Sanderson

A trip down to the river bank yielded a Sacred Kingfisher near what appeared to be a small tree hollow on the opposite bank. Platypus sightings were hoped for but didn’t eventuate and Laughing Kookaburra calls sounded derisively.

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike - katmun loh
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Katmun Loh

The only waterbirds recorded were an overflying Little Pied Cormorant, a calling Dusky Moorhen, a foraging Straw-necked Ibis and a Masked Lapwing, while no raptors were noted. The dense understory was alive with Superb Fairy-wrens and several White-browed Scrubwrens were also listed while higher in the trees both Brown and Yellow Thornbills were recorded. Mistletoe grew in several places and a darting Mistletoebird was seen by only a few. Another species seen by some was Red-browed Finch while Eastern Yellow Robin was heard as it gave alarm calls as well as the more familiar call.

Grey Shrike-Thrush - katmun loh
Grey Shrike-thrush. Photo by Katmun Loh

The introduced dove was joined by Common Blackbird calls and sighting s of Common Mynas. At lunch we were joined by a young Australian Magpie which didn’t achieve the quantity of food it may have been used to – birdwatchers feel that natural food is healthiest.

Common Bronzewing - Danika Sanderson
Common Bronzewing. Photo by Danika Sanderson

With the festive season just around the corner we decided to truncate the day and count our species.

Rainbow Lorikeet - katmun loh
Rainbow Lorikeet. Photo by Katmun Loh

 

Forty-one species were recorded by the group, a very satisfactory total considering the relatively small area we covered and we thanked Lyn for her preparation which allowed such a successful result.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

 

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.

Picture1

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.

Picture2

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)

Weekdays outing to Hawkestowe, Plenty Gorge Park and Mill Park Lakes

14 November 2018

Australian Pelican. Photo by Bevan Hood

Heavy overnight rain had been a concern but the weather system travelled east and we birded under grey skies with only occasional light drizzle to cause us to cover binoculars. Twelve commenced the walk, led by Diane, and initial car park birds included Striated and Spotted Pardalotes, numerous Australian Wood Ducks and a few Little Ravens. 

Australian Reed-Warbler in reeds. Photo by Bevan Hood
Australian Reed-Warbler in bush. Photo by Bevan Hood

The calls of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters followed us to the nearest pond where Australian Reed Warblers called loudly and perched on the reeds while Australasian Grebes in breeding plumage delighted with their well-grown fluffy young. 

Australasian Grebe. Photo by Bevan Hood

Superb Fairy-wrens also displayed, perched on the reeds. Leaving the ponds we walked along the gorge track beside the river. Here was “Rainbow Lorikeet Central” with pairs of birds investigating any crevice in tree trunks or branches for its potential as a nest hollow. 

Galahs. Photo by Bevan Hood

Other parrots included Australian King-parrot, Long-billed Corella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Crimson Rosella. Before we had exited the gorge sharp eyes had added White-browed Scrubwren, White-throated Treecreeper and Brown Thornbill to the sightings while Pied and Grey Currawongs, Laughing Kookaburra and Common Bronzewing were heard. 

Long-billed Corella. Photo by Bevan Hood

Back to the car park and lunch to check on the morning species count. A gratifying 44 was the total.

Crested Pigeon. Photo by Bevan Hood

Some people had to depart after lunch but ten remained to make their way to Mill Park Lakes, a drive that has become a little less familiar and more challenging since the extensive road and rail works in the area. Initial birds on the nearest lake were uninspiring as they were dominated by ‘Dinner Ducks’ and Eurasian Coots, clearly used to being fed by humans despite (or beside) the signs requesting “Do Not Feed the Birds” and giving reasons. 

Pacific Black Duck. Photo by Bevan Hood

We walked initially along the west bank which had little shelter or close vegetation so returned to the northern section where the native plantings were beside the water. Here we added New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters as well as Little Wattlebird. 

Dusky Moorhen. Photo by Bevan Hood

Waterbirds included the “usual suspects” of Purple Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen and Eurasian Coot but there were also Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants, the latter distinctly stained on its white front.

Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

A lone Australian Pelican paddled about and a White-faced Heron roosted near the bridge. A tern caused considerable confusion as its plumage could be interpreted as Common or Whiskered so the rule of ‘if in doubt, consider the most common to be the most likely’ was applied and Whiskered Tern declared. The existence of a subspecies of Common Tern which is reminiscent of the Whiskered Tern is a complication. 

Whiskered Tern. Photo by Bevan Hood

As we finished our walk we smiled at a pair of Red-rumped Parrots in the grass near the exit.

Red-rumped Parrot. Photo by Bevan Hood

There is frequently a ‘mystery bird’ on walks and a distant bird could have been a finch obscured by vegetation.

Common Greenfinch. Photo by Loh Kat Mun

The identification of Common Greenfinch was finally achieved by examining a photograph with more detail than eyes and binoculars could achieve.

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

A quick species count showed 32 species had been recorded at the lakes and a total of 58 species was recorded for the entire day.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

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

 

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)