Category Archives: Birds

Weekdays Outing to Sherbrooke Forest

10 May 2023
Leader: Rhonda Miller

What a blessing that the weather had cleared up somewhat in the still, cool and damp clearing of O’Donohue’s picnic ground.  Two wallabies grazed quietly in one corner while, car by car, a bevy of birdwatchers gathered on the other.  Sixteen keen and hardy souls, most of whom would have been forgiven for staying under the covers on such a miserable Melbourne morning, were now rugging up for a walk in the forest.  

Melbourne BirdLife group at Ferny Creek. Photo by Maarten Grabandt

We started on O’Donohue’s track.  After a brief glimpse of a Grey Shrike-thrush near the gate, our leader Rhonda proceeded slowly and alertly.  The forest, we know, can be slow to reveal and quick to hide.  The majesty of the mountain ash, the beauty of the tree ferns, the moss and lichen covered trunks and logs and the damp leaf litter all helped to paint a wonderful picture, even on a cool grey morning.

We stayed on O’Donohue’s track down to Sherbrooke Falls and were soon rewarded with some brief sightings of White-browed Scrubwrens, Brown Thornbills, Yellow Robin, and a female Golden Whistler.  

Eastern Yellow Robin. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Sightings were harder to come by than sounds…Sulphur-crested Cockatoos continually announced their presence, screaming and squawking high up in the canopy.  Crimson Rosellas also seemed numerous with their bell-like calls and squeaky chattering, and just occasionally they perched in the mid-story nearby. 

Crimson Rosella. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Our patient progress paid off as Rhonda got us a Superb Lyrebird at the side of the path…probably a female or a young male judging by the tail…the bird was very obliging as it stayed in the same small area at the base of a large eucalypt scratching and digging at litter, affording everybody a look.

Arriving at the area near the falls the openness of the canopy was quite striking…very light and open compared with much of the forest…. a result of a very bad storm in June 2021 and massive fallen trees. The following link gives some interesting detail about the forest here.

Sherbrooke Forest – National icon, urban forest and sanctuary – A case study in bush regeneration – Parks and Recreation Collection – Narratives (parcaustralia.com.au)

Laughing Kookaburra (top left and top right by Maarten Grabandt; bottom right and bottom by Steve Hoptroff)

No new species were added at the falls. We continued our loop with a walk back up the Sherbrooke track to the Sherbrooke picnic ground.  We added a Grey Fantail, a couple of Kookaburras and a single Lewin’s Honeyeater before some of the group were lucky enough to see a second Superb Lyrebird at the Link Track.  

Superb Lyrebird. Photos by Steve Hoptroff

From the Sherbrooke picnic ground, we took the Sherbrooke Lodge Road back to O’Donohue’s Picnic ground.  This short stretch proved productive with a good sighting of a White-throated Treecreeper and some further small birds which turned out to be Striated Thornbills.  An Australian Magpie and two Little Ravens were also noted here.

A quick check of the list at lunch resulted in the addition of a Pied Currawong and 2 Galahs.

After lunch at the car park, we set off in convoy to the nearby Ferny Creek Reserve to explore a landscape that was a little more open.  We did another loop walk from the oval around the back of the ornamental gardens to the Tan track and then a return via the track alongside Sherbrook Road.  This walk added a few species not seen in the forest.  Little Wattlebird, Red Wattlebird, Grey Butcherbird, Pacific Black Duck, Welcome Swallow and Australian King Parrot.

Four species I think rate a special mention…

Eastern Yellow Robin for being quite numerous but photo shy.

Kookaburra for being playful and photogenic.

Australian King Parrot for hiding away too long.

Superb Lyrebird for showing up…twice!

The bird records for the day are spread over two surveys, one for the morning and one for the afternoon and can be found via the links below.

http://birdata.birdlife.org.au/survey?id=9178009&h=3075179e

http://birdata.birdlife.org.au/survey?id=9178011&h=82ac99fc

Many thanks to Rhonda Miller for leading on the day and guiding us to a very good total of 23 species.

Photos kindly provided by Steve Hoptroff and Maarten Grabandt.

Phillip.

Bonus photographs of Superb Lyrebird by Steve Hoptroff. These were taken at the nearby Rhododendron Gardens in Olinda and show the tail:

Beginners Outing to Yan Yean Reservoir

22 April 2023
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 46

Photographs by Eleanor Dilley

Twenty-nine beginners assembled at Yan Yean Reservoir Park on a beautiful sunny autumn day. They were greeted by several noisy Australian King Parrots flying around the nearby trees. The walk started on the path along the top of the reservoir dam, where good sightings, aided by a spotting scope, were had. 

Australasian Darter
Great Cormorants

First, a female Australasian Darter gave everyone a good view as it remained perched on the roof of the nearby control building. Great and Little Pied Cormorants were resting on the breakwater, and a few Blue-billed Ducks could be seen swimming in the distance. Eurasian Coots were plentiful, though the numbers of other water birds were noticeably smaller than in previous years.  A Whistling Kite flew overhead whilst a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles were circling serenely in the distance.

Whistling Kite
Wedge-tailed Eagle

The wetlands walk began after moving the cars to the parking area at the far end of the dam wall. Two pairs of Chestnut Teal were the only duck species seen, though there were many Dusky Moorhens and yet more Eurasian Coots. Crossing the vehicle track to the large ponds proved much more productive. There were lots of Australasian Grebes, Hardheads, Pacific Black Ducks, Australian Wood Ducks, Chestnut Teal, Purple Swamphens and a lone Masked Lapwing.

Pacific Black Ducks and a pair of Hard Heads
Chestnut Teal

A pair of Red-rumped Parrots bathing at the edge of the second pond provided good photographic opportunities as did a pair of Musk Lorikeets feeding in a waterside tree. Both Eastern and Crimson Rosellas were also seen in this area. 

Red-rumped Parrots
Musk Lorikeet

Lunch was eaten at the top of the hill, with a magnificent view over the reservoir to the hills beyond. Not far away, a pair of Fan-tailed Cuckoos, which had been calling earlier in the day, were finally located sunning themselves in tall eucalypts. 

Crimson Rosella
Fan-tailed Cuckoo

It was pleasing to see that six Nankeen Night-Herons were roosting in their usual tree beside the old Caretaker’s Cottage. Nearby there was a good sighting of a Striated Pardalote perched on a bare branch. Whilst walking down the hill to the reservoir fence a male Musk Duck could be seen close to shore. 

Nankeen Night-Heron
Musk Duck (male)

The final location for the day was at the lookout at the entry end of the park. No new species were added there, but the pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles seen earlier flew low overhead providing a fitting finale to a most enjoyable outing. A total of 46 species was obtained for the day.

Our thanks to Eleanor Dilley who provided all the photographs for this report.

Weekday outing to Edithvale Wetlands

18 April 2023

Leader: John Bosworth

What a marvellous day, a massive turnout, and a monumental bird list! Thirty-four members squeezed their cars into the car park outside the Bird Hide and gathered around for a short introduction from the Friends of Edithvale Wetlands who were kindly on hand to open the hide for us: https://www.edithvale-seaford-wetlands.org/ . 

The first hour or so was spent rotating observers through the hide and the nearby viewing platform giving everyone reasonable views of the lake and reed beds.  Recent rain had put the water level back up to about 400mm.  The waterbirds were spread out and somewhat less numerous than hoped for. But there were small numbers of the more common ducks and waterfowl… Chestnut Teal, Grey Teal, Pacific Black Duck, Black Swan, Eurasian Coot, Dusky Moorhen and Purple Swamphen.  Scopes proved useful in identifying some Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes.  The larger species – Australian White Ibis, Royal Spoonbill, Australasian Darter, and the noisy species – Masked Lapwing – were easy additions to the list.  The first highlight was the appearance of a very acrobatic Swamp Harrier performing twists and turns over the reeds before disappearing into them. The next raptor to turn up – a Black-shouldered Kite – delighted the group on the viewing platform by circling over them.  Some keen ears on the viewing platform also heard a single Australian Reed-Warbler.  The air above the water and reeds was mostly populated by Welcome Swallows.  Other fly overs included Little Raven and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.

Welcome Swallow. Photo by Graham Gill

The vegetation around the hide was watched carefully for some of the elusive smaller species and yielded views of Brown Thornbill, White-browed Scrubwren, Golden Whistler, Silvereye, Willie Wagtail and White-plumed Honeyeater. A common Blackbird and a Superb Fairy-wren were also heard in the area.  The most elusive was a probable female Robin that avoided the scrutiny of 5 or 6 observers.

A pre-lunch walk along the Western side near the golf course yielded Spotted Pardalote, Rufous Whistler, Noisy Miner, Crested Pigeon, and a Spotted Dove.

After lunch at the car park, we set off to explore the wetland on the Northern side of Edithvale Road and were rewarded immediately with some nice views of Red-rumped Parrots feeding in the grassland.  Several Australian Magpies were also fossicking there.  Eastern Rosellas played hide and seek in the trees along the gravel path.  A few Rainbow lorikeets were spotted in a flowering Banksia but the Noisy Miners seemed to be the dominant nectar feeder.  The lakes and lagoons in this area yielded some new waterbird species – Hardhead, Buff-banded Rail, Little Pied Cormorant, Australian Pelican and a single female Musk Duck as well as more small numbers of Teal, Coot, Pacific Black Duck, and another Australasian Darter.  A Magpie Goose was seen gliding into the top lake behind a pair of Black-shouldered Kites who were proving very photogenic.  Some careful observation of the Hirundines that were hawking for insects over the reeds revealed the presence of at least 3 Fairy Martins.

Photos of Black-shouldered Kite above, provided by Clancy Benson

Photos of Black-shouldered Kite above, provided by Graham Gill

The return trip past the golf course turned up a few Australian Wood Duck, Musk Lorikeet, a single Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater and an Australian Kestrel.

There were arguably several candidates for “Bird of the Day” but as no vote was taken and only a few people saw the Buff-banded Rail and the Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, I think the photogenic presence of the Black-shouldered Kite puts it in top spot.

The complete Bird Data for the day can be found via the link below.

http://birdata.birdlife.org.au/survey?id=9168176&h=13fceb9f

Many thanks to John Bosworth for leading on the day and helping us achieve a massive 57 species.

Phillip.

Yellingbo bird walk

Sunday, 2 April 2023

Twenty-four hopeful bird watchers arrived at the Shield Road Depot for a warm, sunny morning’s walk. There was enough bird song from the surrounding trees to keep us occupied until 9:30 when the walk began. The incomparable David Ap-Thomas bravely led the group.

Eastern Whipbird was calling, as were White-naped Honeyeater.

White-naped Honeyeater. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Along the track there was the odd bird call as well as plenty of conversation between the birdos when the birds weren’t so evident. 

Laughing Kookaburra (top left), Eastern Yellow Robin (top right) and White-eared Honeyeater (bottom) (photos supplied by Steve Hoptroff) are three endemic species at Yellingbo.

Raptor species can be few and far between at times. This day did not disappoint. Great views were had of this Brown Goshawk. Wedge-tailed Eagle made a couple of appearances as well.

Brown Goshawk. Photo supplied by Steve Hoptroff

During the Autumn months we are often blessed by the appearance of fungi as they do their remarkable work in the forest.

Fungi on fallen dead tree. Photo supplied by Clancy Benson

There were good views of the surrounding hills/mountains as we headed further north along the track. Some of the more observant of the group encountered European Goldfinch and Satin Flycatcher.

This gorgeous bird had been calling during the morning, giving us the occasional glimpse of its beauty. 

Golden Whistler, another of our endemic species. Photo supplied by Clancy Benson

We slowly headed back to the Depot where we sat to have a well-earned lunch. A few members of the group went off on a second shorter walk led by David after lunch. Thanks for your company everyone! 

NEXT BIRD WALK AT YELLINGBO is on Sunday 7 May. Entry via Shield Road at 9:00 for 9:30 walk.

Maryanne Anderson,
Yellingbo Coordinator
easternspinebill@yahoo.com.au

Yellingbo bird walk

5 March 2023

A happy group of 25 bird watchers gathered at the Depot car park for a very warm day’s walk. The contrast in bird calls from last month was noticeable – it was very quiet. Not much going on at all. A couple of Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo flew over to give us hope.

Once again, Wedge-tailed Eagle graced the skies, flying just above us at times. Their banking wings were astounding to watch as they moved through the thermals.

Wedge-tailed Eagle. Photo courtesy of Clancy Benson

Golden Whistler was calling as were Grey Butcherbird and Grey Fantail. Little Wattlebird was recorded this month and last month – a rare visitor to Yellingbo. As the morning heated up, some of our number slowly returned to the shade of the trees at the car park and lunch area.

Stick Insect. Photo courtesy of Clancy Benson

A very sharp-eyed walker spied this gorgeous Stick Insect walking across the track. Perhaps the grass was greener on the other side?

Amongst our total of 42 species recorded on the day, Eastern Whipbird called much further along the track than usual. Eastern Yellow Robin and Red-browed Finch also made casual appearances.

And if it’s quiet on the bird front, then what more could we ask for in this peaceful part of Yellingbo?

Wombat species. Photo courtesy of Clancy Benson

Well, Wombats are supposed to be nocturnal but this one braved a walk down the same track as our bird watchers, stopped for a look and quickly scampered off into the bush. Quite a healthy looking animal!

The next bird walk at Yellingbo will be on Sunday 2 April (always the first Sunday of the month), strong winds and total fire ban days excepted.

See you at Yellingbo!

Regards
Maryanne Anderson
Yellingbo Coordinator

Yellingbo bird walk

5 February 2023

It was pleasantly cool at the Depot car park as we all prepared for our morning walk, greeting others, trying to find car parks for the larger number of people who had arrived and enjoying the wonderful bird calls from the nearby trees and creek. Eastern Whipbird often call here and today was no exception. Smaller bird species graced the upper canopies of the gums. Olive-backed Oriole called from here later on in the day.

Eastern Spinebill. Photo courtesy of Clancy Benson

As we walked beside the creek, a few different frog species called from the adjacent swamp.

Australasian Grebe enjoying the peace of the swamp. Photo courtesy of Clancy Benson
Azure Kingfisher. Photo courtesy of Bill Ramsay

There was excitement from further up the track as one of our 34 bird watchers spied this gorgeous Azure Kingfisher which had flown off from somewhere along the creek line. Luckily it had perched in a nearby tree. The excitement didn’t end there when Rufuous Fantail and nest were discovered.

Rufous Fantail. Photo courtesy of Clancy Benson

There were the usual suspects at the dam we visit which backs onto Yellingbo Reserve from one of the small farms. As we headed north there were beautiful but loud calls from a couple of male Satin Flycatcher both vying for the attention of a female spotted close by.

Surely the day couldn’t get any better.

After enjoying a welcome break and lunch close to the depot, a few intrepid bird watchers decided to take a walk back along the same path we took earlier on in the day.

Wedge-tailed Eagle. Photo courtesy of Bill Ramsay

Those returning from the afternoon walk excitedly talked of amazing sights of Wedge-tailed Eagle, two, in a nearby tree. Azure Kingfisher was sighted again as well as Sacred Kingfisher which had not been seen or heard of earlier in the day.

Sacred Kingfisher. Photo courtesy of Lyn Abreu and Bill Ramsay

In the fifteen or so years I have been coordinating this bird walk, I don’t remember experiencing a better day as far as bird quality and number of enthusiastic bird watchers were concerned. We recorded 55 species on the day. Thanks so much for coming along everyone!

Maryanne Anderson, Yellingbo Coordinator

Weekdays outing to Hallam Valley Road, Dandenong South

6 March 2023

Leader: Rob Grosvenor

With the weather largely cleared after Sunday night’s rain a group of 18 midweek birders assembled at the end of Hallam Valley Road.  The wetland here is currently undergoing improvement works.  The link below provides extra detail on the need for these works for those interested.

F10290 Hallam Valley Wetland Renewal – Aqua Metro Pty Ltd

Such works clearly involve some disturbance to the nature of the site.  The water levels were lower than normal with plenty of exposed mud.  Despite this, and the presence of ongoing works and machinery, the morning provided some excellent bird watching.  

Australian Pelican and Black-fronted Dotterel. Photo by Maarten Grabandt

Early highlights included quite a large flock of Rainbow Lorikeets, Brown Goshawk, Black-fronted Dotterel, Peregrine Falcon, and quite a bit of activity in the grassland to the North of the path. 

Peregrine Falcon. Photo by Clancy Benson
Peregrine Falcon. Photo by Clancy Benson

Identification here was a matter of patience and many pairs of eyes.  Golden-headed Cisticola, Silvereyes, and a single Australian Reed-Warbler were noted. As we progressed through the wetland the air began to fill with White-faced Herons and a couple of White-necked Herons also got in on the act.  

White-faced Heron. Photo by Maarten Grabandt
White-faced Heron. Photo by Clancy Benson
White-faced Heron. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

The lower water levels and exposed mudflats seemed to be offering feeding opportunities not normally present here.  Ducks and waterhens were few and far between with Masked Lapwings seeming more numerous. 

Heading up to the edge of the Main Hallam Drain we noticed the lifeless bodies of some Eels that had succumbed to the pump out of water.  

Eel. Photo by Maarten Grabandt

Taking a short detour toward the Freeway in the South-East corner, the Blackberry and grassy verges along this area provided habitat for New Holland Honeyeaters, European Goldfinch, White-browed Scrubwrens, and Superb Fairy-wrens.  

New Holland Honeyeater. Photo by Maarten Grabandt

Up near the pond at the end, a group of 20 Red-browed Finch were seen.  Retracing our steps and continuing to the South-West the small lake just over the main drain yielded Little Black Cormorant, Australasian Darter, Pelican, Australian White Ibis, Straw-necked Ibis and more White-faced Herons.  

Australian White Ibis. Photo by Maarten Grabandt
Australian White Ibis. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

Royal Spoonbills were also recorded in this area and some Yellow-billed were seen flying over. The ponds on the North side of this section had somewhat more water in them and held small flocks of Teal, Pacific Black Duck, Dusky Moorhen and Purple Swamphen.

Australian Wood Duck. Photo by Maarten Grabandt
Grey Teal. Photo by Maarten Grabandt
Pacific Black Duck. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

Through to the South-West corner and during the return walk to the main gate we picked up Welcome Swallows, White-plumed Honeyeaters, Noisy Miners, Grey Butcherbird and Wood Duck.  

Grey Butcherbird with prey. Photo by Clancy Benson

A dead rat being attended by several species of fly and some European Wasps brought home the gruesome face of nature at work (photos by Maarten Grabandt below).

Two late stay Fairy Martins were spotted hawking near the entrance as we went through the Bird list. Bird Data for the day can be found via the link below: https://birdata.birdlife.org.au/survey?id=9154624&h=8df0b5c5

Many thanks to Robert Grosvenor for leading on the day and helping us achieve a very good total of 49 species.

Photos kindly provided by Maarten Grabandt, Clancy Benson and Marilyn Ellis.

Weekdays Outing Coordinator: Phillip West

Beginners Outing to Coolart and Balbirooroo Wetlands

25 February 2023

Leaders: Roger and Inta Needham

Species count: 54

 Nineteen members assembled in the car park at Coolart on a warm, overcast and windless day.

 Our first walk was to the Minsmire Bird Hide on Coolart’s Lake. Our group occupied most of the upper storey of the bird hide as bushes have grown up and interfere with the view from the lower storey. There were 16 species of waterbirds on the lake and we had especially good views of a male Blue-billed Duck and Hoary-headed Grebes. In the bush beside the bird hide the rattle of Superb Fairy-wrens could be heard. A few people caught sight of an Eastern Yellow Robin, which uncharacteristically, quickly hid itself away in the dense undergrowth.

Blue-billed Duck. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Hoary-headed Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

 After 30 minutes at Coolart Lake, the next destination was the Antechinus Bird Hide reached via the track on the western side of the Observatory Wetlands. Most birds seen here had been seen earlier and only the Dusky Moorhen could be added to our list.

 Next along the Woodlands Track, Red and Little Wattlebirds were seen while Spotted Pardalote and Grey Shrike-thrush were heard calling. At the junction of two tracks a Grey Shrike-thrush was seen in a thicket, then another emerged and yet a third. Two were adult birds and the third a juvenile with a rufous eyebrow.

Red Wattlebird. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Grey Shrike-thrush, juvenile. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Past the garden dam, close to the Homestead was a hotspot of bush birds. Along with Grey Butcherbird and Red and Little Wattlebirds were Spotted Pardalotes, Grey Fantails, Brown Thornbills, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and  Eastern Spinebills.

An early lunch was taken in the shade on the lawns surrounding the Homestead and the birdcall for the morning totalled 45 species.

 After lunch we drove to Balbirooroo Wetland located close to Balnarring Primary School. The track and boardwalk to the wetland passed through Eucalypt bushland and Melaleuca swamp and came to a bird hide a situated on the edge of a lake. New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters, European Goldfinch, Australian Reed-Warbler and Tree Martins were seen along with a Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo which made a very brief appearance. Continuing around the lake a wooden platform on the right allowed views across a large wetland on the adjoining property.

Australian Reed Warbler. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

To our dismay this wetland had very recently been carved up by heavy machinery which was still in the area. A number of channels had been dug across the area and piles of mud lined the banks. Amazingly there were 40 White-faced Herons standing amongst the rubble – a large number that even the experienced among us had rarely seen before. Hopefully some wetland may remain on the site though the future does not look promising.

White-faced Herons. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

On the walk back to our cars a large bird flashed across the path at treetop height. It disappeared into the bush before emerging at a distance and was identified as a Brown Goshawk. At the end of the walk a count of birds seen at Balbirooroo totalled thirty-nine, nine of which were additional to those seen at Coolart making a total of fifty-four species for the day.

The weather was kind, the company amicable and a good day’s birding was enjoyed by all.

Roger Needham

A morning at Reef Island

Contributor: Bill Ramsay

Alan Stringer and I had a visit to Reef Island in Western Port (about 8km north east of San Remo) on the morning of 24 February 2023.  The forecast was for a hot day, but fortunately with a predicted low tide at 10:38am (San Remo), an early start was possible.  We set off from the car park at about 8:45am.

Over the years, I have led several MELBOCA and BirdLife Melbourne outings to Reef Island.  It is always a great relief to look out from the car park, and no matter what the tide predictions are, to see the gravel bank that is the access to the island fully exposed, and a dry walk to the island is ensured.  My preferred time to visit Reef Island is late February/early March, because I believe this is the best chance to see what I call the 4 Reef Island specialities – Pacific Golden Plover, Double-banded Plover, Ruddy Turnstone and Grey-tailed Tattler, all on the same day.

It was a beautiful morning, a gentle breeze, a flat sea, and we were well ahead of the coming heat of the day.  We walked along the gravelly beach stopping to look at large groups of Black Swans, numerous White-faced Herons, 40+ Masked Lapwings, 3 Great Egrets, a flock of Crested Terns and several other species  From the gravel bank leading to the island we had great views of numerous Pacific Golden Plovers and Double-banded Plovers working the tidal range.  2 out of 4 target species and we hadn’t even made it to the island!

Double-banded Plover (juvenile). Photo by Alan Stringer

Not far onto the island, looking out to the south, there were about 5 Ruddy Turnstones, 3 adults hunkered down in the rocks, and 2 juveniles in full view standing on top of the rocks.  While viewing the birds, we met up with 3 birders from Cape Paterson.  We exchanged notes.  No, they hadn’t seen any Grey-tailed Tattlers but they did have a sighting of a Broad-billed Sandpiper that took off and could have been anywhere.  We shared our Ruddy Turnstones and moved on to the western end of the island to make our way back along the northern side of the island.  3 out of 4 with just the most difficult to get.

My past sightings of Grey-tailed Tattler have always been on the north side, the birds either hunkered down in the rocks close to the water, or sometimes in view perched on top of a rock.  The walk over the rocks requires a fair amount of concentration that has to be shared with purposeful looking for a Grey-tailed Tattler, not an easy task.  We had probably walked more than 80% of the rocky section with only views of Pied and Little Pied Cormorants and the occasional Pacific Golden Plover.  Things were not looking good when 4 birds took off before we could get a decent look and flew off into the distance.  However, Alan was confident that the call was that of a Grey-tailed Tattler.  Almost immediately another 4 birds took off, making the same call, and not travelling far.  This time they sat on rocks close to where we were and gave us some great views and photo opportunities. 4 out of 4, and back to the car park in time for lunch.  A highly successful morning’s birding.

Grey-tailed Tattler. Photo by Alan Stringer

Reef Island in late February/early March is a great place for a half day’s birding but needs to be undertaken with some caution.  Check the tides and make sure the water level will be low enough to get to the island and return without having to wade through water.  Wear solid footwear with a strong sole, suitable for rock hopping on jagged rocks.  Take all the necessary gear for a day when you might be exposed to the sun.  If you follow this advice you should have a great visit.

Bill Ramsay

Weekday outing to Badger Weir, Yarra Ranges National Park

14 February 2023

Leader: Phillip West

Our first Midweek outing for 2023 saw 16 birders gather at Badger Weir Picnic Ground in glorious sunshine.  With the temperature in the high teens and heading for the low twenties it promised to be a very comfortable interlude amongst the majestic Mountain Ash and the local Avian community.  The Picnic area provided a very pleasing background of birdsong, and we were able to identify many of these before actually seeing them.  Plenty of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, some Crimson Rosella, an Eastern Spinebill, a small flock of Silvereyes, a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, and a Pied Currawong.  

Yellow-faced Honeyeater. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

After welcoming some new faces, we commenced our walk by making for the Lyrebird Track. On the way out of the picnic area, we spotted our first Australian Magpie foraging in the grass.  Suddenly 3 Crimson Rosellas flew down onto the path quite near us presenting good opportunities for close-up views.

We crossed the creek and stopped for a while as we noticed the sound of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos overhead. One was seen and then we were able to establish that there were 3 birds flying over. More Yellow-faced Honeyeaters were spotted in the understory ahead of us, so we paused here to listen and watch.  One bird call in particular eluded identification and although it was only heard by some of us, it proved rather frustrating and unfortunately never got resolved.  This was something of a harbinger for the 800-metre trek along the Lyrebird Track …lots of sounds and not much vision!!  We were able to add Brown Thornbill, White-browed Scrubwren and Red Wattlebird to the list, but sadly no Lyrebird.  However, it was difficult to ignore the beauty of this walk.  The contrast of light and shadow, the various shades of green and brown, the sight of basking Skinks, and the gentle sound of the creek all combined to please the eye.  

Right at the end of this part of the walk, just where the track joins up with the gravel road to the weir, there was a lot of bird activity. Although they were mostly Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Silvereyes and Brown Thornbills, we also found a Grey Fantail.  We went on down to the weir without much new apart from the call of a Striated Pardalote. However, on the way back along the gravel road, Robert Grosvenor cleverly relocated some Rufous Fantails that we had seen in the vicinity on the previous week’s recce.  Excellent views were obtained by the whole group and as luck would have it an Eastern Whipbird was spotted lurking in the shadows just where the Fantails were busily flitting. Thankfully a few members managed to get sight of this often elusive species.  At this point I should say that we were hearing White-throated Treecreepers on a regular basis, and it wasn’t long before somebody spotted one.  Just a little further back toward the picnic ground we located a family of Superb Fairy-wrens and in the wooded area nearby we got some nice views of a White-throated Treecreeper.

Silveryeye. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

The walk back to the picnic ground was punctuated by the now common sound of Silvereyes and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. However, keen ears in the group were able to pick up the call of the Spotted Pardalote that was working the upper canopy somewhere nearby and the clinking call of the Grey Currawong.  With a more open canopy along the road, we got sight of a single Sulphur-crested Cockatoo on several occasions.  Perhaps the same bird initially heard at the picnic ground.

A post-lunch amble around the picnic ground yielded more of the common species of the day plus one Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, giving a somewhat satisfactory total of 20 species for the outing.  

Photos kindly provided by Marilyn Ellis.

Bird Data for the day can be found via the links below: