Category Archives: Diane Tweeddale

Weekdays outing to O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail

5 September 2018

Male Superb Fairy-wren in eclipse plumage - Danika Sanderson
Superb Fairy-wren, male. Photo by Danika Sanderson

The weather was perfect for bird watching, clear blue sky, no morning wind and a mild temperature. Twenty-one enthusiasts met at the Launching Place (Don Valley) car park, those from Melbourne were joined by some visitors and some from the Yarra Valley branch. It was interesting that the very small car park did not have many birds. Presumably there was little to attract them out of the bush. Graeme Hosken led and our first walk was uphill beside the aqueduct.

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The aqueduct has been decommissioned for at least five years and only pools of rain water are now present. The concrete walls are almost completely covered with plants where fallen plant debris has formed humus.

sluice gate on aqueduct - D Tweeddale
Sluice gate on aqueduct. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

Tractor tracks beside the ditch and chain-sawn fallen timber marked where the maintenance crew had passed after wind storms. White-browed Scrub-wrens and Fan-tailed Cuckoos called but only the former were visible.

Superb Fairy-wren female - D Sanderson
Superb Fairy-wren, female. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Grey Fantails fluttered high and fanned and Lewin’s Honeyeaters were almost common, calling and occasionally showing themselves which allowed observers to view their markings. Eastern Spinebills were mostly audible as were Crimson Rosellas, the latter occasionally seen in patches of sunshine. Laughing Kookaburras called and White-throated Treecreepers called and then challenged watchers as they foraged high on tree trunks in the canopy. Striated Pardalote was reported by several and Eastern Whipbird was heard by many.

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Returning downhill we had added Eastern Yellow Robin sightings and heard Brown Thornbill, Little and Australian Ravens and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.

Eastern Yellow Robin - D Sanderson
Eastern Yellow Robin. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Most of the group headed across the road and walked near the pipeline while a flat tyre was exchanged. Then the majority drove in convoy to Millgrove for lunch though a few had to finish at morning’s end. The afternoon drive was to Dee Road, parking at the picnic spot with its panoramic view.

Panorama from picnic spot - D Tweeddale
Panorama from picnic spot. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

The birding was good though few species were added to those we had encountered in the morning’s walk. No raptors were recorded despite the wide sky of the panorama. A Rufous Whistler was heard, a Willie Wagtail was being harassed by an Australian Magpie and the best bird of the day was voted a Bassian Thrush seen by most as it foraged in a clearing below the track.

Grey Fantail - D Sanderson
Grey Fantail. Photo by Danika Sanderson

The bird list at day’s end was 32 species for the morning Launching Place section of the trail and 20 species for the Millgrove section in the afternoon. For the whole day there were 35 species recorded and we thanked Graeme enthusiastically for his preparation which led to such a good result for forest birding.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

 

Weekdays outing to Trin-Warren-Tam-Boore (Royal Park, Parkville)

8 August 2018
All photographs by Bevan Hood, member
White-plumed Honeyeater - Bevan Hood
White-plumed Honeyeater

The skies were grey and the wind cold as 17 assembled in the car park. But the rain wasn’t more than the lightest sprinkle and everyone was dressed for the weather. Jane Moseley, our leader, was recovering from a broken arm and was assisted by Pat Bingham. Never let a physical challenge stop a bird watcher. As often, the car park birding was very productive and Silver Gull (probably courtesy of the stormy weather), Crested Pigeon, Superb Fairy-wren and New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters were common.

Crested Pigeon - Bevan Hood
Crested Pigeon

The sports grounds yielded large flocks of Rock Doves and House Sparrows with a few Australian Magpies and Magpie-larks. Australian White Ibis flew overhead and then keen eyes noticed another species – a Black-shouldered Kite –flying near and hovering above. Across the road and into the western side where Little Wattlebirds foraged in flowering gardens and drank and bathed in a rain gutter.

Black-shouldered Kite - Bevan Hood
Black-shouldered Kite

A couple of Galahs called as they flew over and a female Golden Whistler challenged many to locate her in the thickness of a tree canopy. The lake showed Australian Grebe (diving as is their wont) plus Eurasian Coot with a few Pacific Black Ducks and rather more Hardheads. Little Grassbird called forlornly from the bank but only a couple witnessed a bird flying from shelter to shelter.

Hardhead male - Bevan Hood
Hardhead, male

Purple Swamphen contrasted with Dusky Moorhen in size and colouring while Grey and Chestnut Teal were compared for their detail. Musk Lorikeet flew past swiftly and we were left contrasting their calls, flight and appearance with those of the more numerous Rainbow Lorikeets. A noisy panic among the smaller birds accompanied the appearance on an Australian Hobby, which, however, did not stay for long. We moved toward the oval again, noting the swooping flight of Welcome Swallows in the calmer conditions and then trying to identify an unfamiliar bird.

Hardhead female - Bevan Hood
Hardhead, female

After several guesses field guides were consulted and an identification which was quite unexpected was noted – the unexpected was undoubtedly The Bird of the Day – a Black-eared Cuckoo. We surmised that the recent gales from the north had brought it down to Melbourne’s latitude. The tall masses of lignin growth would have provided shelter. The cuckoo was a most obliging vagrant, it returned twice further during lunch, coming closer each time and giving everyone excellent close-up views.

Black-eared Cuckoo - Bevan Hood
Black-eared Cuckoo

After that the presence of a Tree Martin over the oval in August was not quite the surprise it would otherwise have been. A few people needed to leave at lunchtime but the majority stayed to walk, adding a Black Swan and a Grey Butcherbird and improved views of Noisy Miner and Spotted Pardalote.

Red-rumped Parrots male and female - Bevan Hood
Red-rumped Parrots, male (upper), female (lower)

The mud nest of a Magpie-lark was spotted high in a tree near the ovals. Avoiding silent, speeding cyclists, we returned to the cars and did the final bird call, listing 47 species for the day. Our enthusiastic thanks went to Jane and her support team for the work which showed several of our number the potential for an area that many had not known about. We decided to finish the day under darkening clouds at 2 pm. This proved a very good decision as 15 minutes later the heaviest, most violent rain for the day arrived.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekdays outing to The Briars Park, Mount Martha

17 July 2018

Weather forecasts gave high winds and possible storms so the park was closed for safety reasons. Early arrivals birded in the car park and Susan Clark and Pam Hearn, our leaders from BirdLife Mornington Peninsula, checked with the ranger who confirmed the gates were locked. A fall-back walk had been planned for just such a situation and so we continued car park birding till all the group had assembled. We were 11 people (5 from Mornington and 6 from Melbourne) and the car park bird list included Australian Wood Duck, Noisy Miner, Crested Pigeon, Eastern Rosella, Rainbow Lorikeet, Masked Lapwing and Little Raven.

In clear weather we set off on the Balcombe Creek trail, partly boardwalk and partly track, heading towards Nepean Highway. Along the way we added Straw-necked and Australian White Ibis overhead and Australian Magpie in the open country. The path passes under the highway, reassuringly, and runs beside the creek where different water plants were growing in its bed and waving in a good flow of water. Off-leash areas for dogs were popular and the dogs and their owners were quite interested in us, too. Brown Thornbills and White- browed Scrubwrens were initially heard then quickly seen by some. Other watchers had to persevere for their sightings.

Human use of the area included water extraction and we passed numerous pipes. An old quarry seemed well overgrown. It had provided stone for Nepean Highway and then been taken over as an army rifle range in WWII. After the war army apprentices had used it till they were moved to Albury in 1982. It languished until the Balcombe Estuary Reserves Group (BERG) took over weeding it in 2011. This was enhanced by spraying for blackberries which allowed successful planting of indigenous vegetation. Wildlife habitat returned, especially for small birds which had previously been using the blackberries. The planting now appears quite natural and we wouldn’t have guessed the amount of work BERG (formerly the Balcombe Estuary Rehabilitation Group) had poured into the area.

We headed slowly toward the beach, turning off the main track to visit the Ferrero Reserve where the open area of the sports grounds yielded Galah, Straw-necked Ibis, Crested Pigeon, Australian Magpie and Noisy Miner. A pair of Grey Butcherbirds called melodiously from the top of the cricket nets. Now elapsed time indicated that lunchtime was quite a walk away so we started our return. The creek estuary broadens in the lower reaches and information boards indicated the fish which might be seen. Not today, unfortunately. Superb Fairy-wrens ran around in the low vegetation quite near the houses across the track. Further back toward the park there were areas of open small trees which “fair cried out” for some Eastern Yellow Robins and there the birds were seen. The boardwalk sections of the track are marked as “slippery when wet” but today they were dry and no challenge. Once everyone reunited at the information centre there was lunch and bird call. Twenty-five species had been seen: a very creditable result for a day of approaching storm. The wind was starting gust though the sky was still blue so we decided to stop there to give people a chance to drive home before any storm. We thanked Susan and Pam for their careful planning which had resulted in a good morning’s birding in the teeth of Victorian weather.

Susan Clark, BirdLife Mornington Peninsula, leader
Pam Hearn, BirdLife Mornington Peninsula, leader
Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings.

Weekdays Outing to Tirhatuan Park, Dandenong North

6 June 2018
Australian Wood Duck - Chestnut Teal - Bevan Hood
Australian Wood Duck and Chestnut Teal. Photo by Bevan Hood

For early arrivals birding started promptly as there was a large flock of ducks, Australian Woods plus a few Pacific Blacks, beside the entrance road. Not fazed by vehicles they waddled suicidally in front of cars and drivers were required to stop and wait for “the bird problem” to resolve itself.

Group assembling-Danika Sanderson.JPG
Group assembling in the car park. Photo by Danika Sanderson

The birding continued in the car park where the early arrivals listed cockatoos and parrots as dominant.

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

A large mob of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos plus some Little Corellas arrived then a lone Long-billed Corella foraged near a Straw-necked Ibis across from the playground while flying around were Galahs, Rainbow Lorikeets, Eastern and Crimson Rosellas and Australian King-Parrots.

Eastern Rosella - Danika Sanderson
Eastern Rosella. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Spotted Pardalotes called and our first Common Bronzewings were sighted here. Australian Magpies seemed to be aggressively “sorting out” their young and Noisy Miners, as always, attempted to drive off other species.

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike - Danika Sanderson
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Danika Sanderson

John Bosworth led the walk and the attendance of 25 people included members from other branches and visitors. We set off to the first pond south-east of the car park where our waterbird list grew with the addition of Chestnut and Grey Teal as well as Eurasian Coot, that cosmopolitan species.

Grey Butcherbird - Bevan Hood
Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Bevan Hood

Continuing on our circular course past the larger pond, where most saw Golden-headed Cisticola, we walked under Stud Road via the pedestrian underpass. The hope here was to proceed to the area where adjacent paddocks come close to the reserve and scan the fence line for robins. No robins were observed but a low-flying Australian Pelican was noted.

Australian Pelican - Danika Sanderson
Australian Pelican. Photo by Danika Sanderson

We returned along the western edge of the park, again checking out the potential of the larger lake’s edges. Lunch was starting to look very good as we headed back to the cars and the morning’s bird call numbered 48 species at first count, a very pleasing result.

Common Bronzewing - Bevan Hood
Common Bronzewing. Photo by Bevan Hood

Only two raptors had been recorded – a Little Eagle and a Brown Goshawk – both soaring above the tree tops. Some had to depart after lunch but 16 drove to the bush at the Police Paddocks Reserve, which was only a very short distance as the raven flies from our morning walk but took some time to reach by road.

Brown Thornbill - Danika Sanderson
Brown Thornbill. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Here the habitat differed from the morning and among the denser trees we added a female Golden Whistler, White-eared Honeyeater and good sightings of Brown Thornbill, Grey Shrike-thrush and Eastern Spinebill.

White-plumed Honeyeater - bevan hood
White-plumed Honeyeater. Photo by Bevan Hood

At walk’s end the species list totalled 53, and all voted it a great day’s birding as we thanked John for his care and preparation.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekdays outing in the Wonthaggi area

16 May 2018

The meeting point car park filled with cars as 24 assembled under cloudy skies in Wonthaggi. Rain storms had fallen the previous day so we were grateful for a cold but dry day. Nola Thorpe led the walk and warned us that her recent recce had yielded very few birds in the heathland. However we were a hopeful mix of Melbourne and Wonthaggi birders as we drove off in convoy – you never know with birding.

Eastern Spinebill - Bevan Hood
Eastern Spinebill in the heathlands. Photo by Bevan Hood

The heathlands car park was already occupied by a pair of horse riders, regulars, who wished us good birding as they set off. Initially Nola’s dire prediction looked accurate for we saw and heard little. Then there were Grey Shrike-thrush calls and glimpses of New Holland Honeyeaters. In more timbered country there were Spotted Pardalote, Grey Fantail and Grey Butcherbird. Near a small dam, five Australasian Shelducks flew overhead.

Walking the heathland track - Tweeddale
Walking the track. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

The dam, which birds frequent in summer, was uninhabited as recent rains had provided plenty of surface water elsewhere. A small flock of Red-browed Finches foraged on the ground and White-eared Honeyeaters called and perched on emergent boughs, seeming to take on the roles of Singing Honeyeaters elsewhere. A cool burn had been done about a month previously and it was interesting to see the growth of grass blades and of the Xanthorrhoea bases below the burn line.

The heathlands are a mosaic of different burnt zones which will hopefully provide habitat for many species. We searched unsuccessfully for the elusive Southern Emu-wren and the Striated Fieldwren before returning to the cars to drive to the desalination plant. The car park was under surveillance as we assembled – several Eastern Grey Kangaroos watched quietly from a bracken patch.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo - Bevan Hood
Eastern Grey Kangaroos watching the car park. Photo by Bevan Hood

We lunched at the picnic area of the desal plant before walking on the trails and checking the ponds. Here waterbirds predominated with large flocks of Pacific Black Ducks and Grey Teal. A few Eurasian Coots and fewer Chestnut Teal and Australasian Grebes were also present.

Pacific Black Duck - Grey Teal - Chestnut Teal - Bevan Hood
Pacific Black Ducks and Grey and Chestnut Teal on the desalination plant pond. Photo by Bevan Hood

Both White-faced and White-necked Herons used the ponds and Straw-necked Ibis flew over. Raptors here were Black-shouldered Kite, Nankeen Kestrel, Swamp Harrier and Peregrine Falcon while Welcome Swallows swooped across the ponds. As always, Superb Fairy-wrens were among the reed beds. Back to bird call and the group’s lists were 36 species in the heathlands, 39 species at the desalination plant and a gratifying total of 59 species for the day.

Heathland flowers - Tweeddale
Heathland flowers. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

We thanked Nola for all her preparation which had produced such a great result for this cold season of the year.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings.

Weekday outing to Cape Schanck, Mornington Peninsula National Park

16 April 2018
All photographs by Katmun Loh, member

There had been hope that strong winds would result in albatrosses close to shore but the winds of the day far exceeded anything requested. We were a group of 11 and our leader, Pat Bingham, had prepared well for the walk. Gales bent the trees and drove rain squalls horizontally to our backs so the occasional dip in the path or thicker stand of scrub that broke the force was welcome.

Group huddling by thte cars - Katmun Loh
The group huddling by the cars

Initially not a bird was seen and only a couple of squeaks were heard from the scrub. Despite a rainbow it did not look promising but, never say die, we kept alert, even though the car park “total” was two unidentified glimpses. Up to the lookout where we watched the spray on white-topped waves blow backwards. Few birds and then “gannet”! Determination was needed but most detected an Australasian Gannet, some saw a Silver Gull and shearwaters were present. A couple of Welcome Swallows appeared and hope was restored. Towards Bushrangers Bay Superb Fairy-wrens were mostly heard and other calls perplexed until they were identified as crickets.

Superb Fairy-wren, male in eclipse plumage - Katmun Loh
Superb Fairy-wren, male in eclipse plumage

An autumnal Red Wattlebird flock of about 20 included at least one Little Wattlebird. The track runs by the park boundary and Australian Magpies were in the adjacent paddocks with a Nankeen Kestrel and Silver Gulls overhead. Those in front saw a Grey Shrike-thrush as we neared our return point and the few who descended to the watercourse added Grey Fantails. Back at lunch we were soon checked out by the locals as the weather eased. A young Grey Shrike-thrush (recognisable by its markings) came first, and an adult approached afterwards.

Grey Shrike-thrush - Katmun Loh
Grey Shrike-thrush

Superb Fairy-wren and Brown Thornbill gave brief views. Little Ravens first flew and then called, confirming the species. Post lunch we set off in the opposite direction, west toward the lighthouse. Both Kelp and Pacific Gulls were observed from the cliff and optimism grew as the weather calmed, briefly. Better views of Shy Albatross, Short-tailed Shearwaters and Australasian Gannet were obtained. A demonstration of the intensification of the wind speed at the top of a cliff compared to a few steps behind the crest was instructive. Calls from Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater were followed but few sightings were obtained. The group recorded only three honeyeater species, two wattlebirds and the Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, but two members who left later were able to photograph a Singing Honeyeater which had presumably ventured out in the sunnier conditions.

Singingh Honeyeater - Katmun Loh
Singing Honeyeater

The bird list for the group added to 20 species and we thanked Pat for all her preparation which had resulted in successful birding under such challenging conditions.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator Melbourne BirdLife weekdays outings

 

Weekday outing to Warrandyte State Park

26 March 2018

Overcast skies and a cool wind greeted 16 birdwatchers at the Jumping Creek car park. Our leader was Geoff Russell and he advised us of his plans for the walk and reassured everyone that the steep, narrow trails with roots and stones would be avoided, to considerable relief all round as the previous two days had been very wet. The river was running fast and deep and few birds were using it. Single Pacific Black and Australian Wood Ducks swam and a Little Pied Cormorant and a female Australasian Darter flew over the water while two immature Dusky Moorhens swam the river and at least two adults foraged by the banks. Superb Fairy-wrens were the most common bush bird but Grey Fantails were also numerous and amused with their foraging antics.

After a short walk we reached Blue Tongue Bend and birded quietly for some time. A highlight here was brief sightings of a female Golden Whistler which had only been heard previously. A Grey Shrike-thrush was also in the vicinity. Brown Thornbills were heard and Striated Thornbills fluttered in the high canopy. Silvereyes had been added to the list just before the bend. Cockatoos were more heard than seen and the list included Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and Galah. Corellas were often heard but were not included officially as both Little and Long-billed were possible but neither were confirmed. Honeyeaters included flights of Red Wattlebirds high above, calls of Eastern Spinebills and Noisy Miners and sightings of White-eared and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. The agitated calls of Crimson Rosellas signalled the presence of a Pied Currawong. Two walkers advised us that they had seen a robin in the valley below the road to Stane Brae. Those at the rear of our group investigated and were pleased to observe a male Scarlet Robin among many wrens. Catching up with the rest of the group later enabled all to share the pleasure as the bird had obligingly moved in the same direction. A female robin was also present but did not present good views. We checked the Stane Brae outbuildings but nothing appeared to be roosting there.

The siren call of lunch took us back to the car park and under the roof of the picnic shelter. Optimistic Laughing Kookaburras patrolled the area but were disappointed, as were the local Common Mynas. Some people had to leave at this stage so we recorded a bird list. As we finished rain arrived, heavily. It was decided to forgo an afternoon walk as conditions were deteriorating and the species total stood at 40. Attempting a higher count seemed greedy so we thanked Geoff for all his careful preparation which had resulted in such a pleasant morning.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne

Weekday outing to Point Cook Coastal Park

14 March 2018
Cormorants and Gull - Bevan Hood
Little Pied Cormorant, Pied Cormorant, Silver Gull. Photo by Bevan Hood

Overcast and mild weather greeted 21 birdwatchers from many areas of Victoria as we assembled in the Beach Picnic area car park. Alan and Hazel Veevers were our leaders and the car park soon added Superb Fairy-wren, New Holland Honeyeater and Red Wattlebird to the Common Starlings, Australian Magpies and Willie Wagtails most had noted on their drive in.

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Time and tide wait for no bird watcher so we immediately drove to the homestead car park and walked through the pine trees to the beach. Highlights here were Zebra Finches near the fence line and an obligingly perched Brown Falcon which gave photographers very good views.

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Galahs, Little Ravens and Crested Pigeons were also noted here and the squeals from a windmill were initially confusing till the machinery was noted among some trees. No birds really make that noise.

Low tide at the beach saw a flock of Chestnut Teal, many Silver Gulls and Crested Terns and the occasional Pacific Black Duck and Pacific Gull perched on the exposed rocks.

Farther along we encountered Pied and Little Pied Cormorants which enabled people to compare the sizes and markings for future identification.

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Heading back to the cars prior to lunch Black-shouldered Kite and Nankeen Kestrel were added to our growing raptor list which also had couples of Whistling Kites and Black Kites seen earlier.

Black Kite - Bevan Hood
Black Kite. Photo by Bevan Hood

A brief stop at the water control area of a housing estate added Dusky Moorhen and Purple Swamphen. One of the swamphens caused some excitement when it appeared to be eating a yabby but closer inspection showed ‘lunch’ to be the rhizome of one of the water plants, complete with apparent ‘legs’.

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Our lunch was accompanied by several optimistic magpies and enlivened by fairy-wrens in great numbers foraging low around us. The magpies moved out and an enormous racket drew our attention to their mobbing of a raptor. It was only slightly larger than the magpies but they had the numbers and the raptor departed. Much discussion about its identity followed but no one had managed a clear view. The ID came later after photos had been closely examined – the wings and tail were those of a Brown Goshawk. Cameras now freeze action much better than human vision.

Brown Goshawk - Danika Sanderson
Brown Goshawk

After lunch we walked beside the beach. Initially there were only a few fairy-wrens foraging among the seaweed but carefully continuing south we encountered more gulls, teal and terns roosting on the exposed rocks close to shore. Scanning yielded two Musk Ducks swimming beyond the crowd and then a rather unexpected sighting – an immature Australasian Gannet resting on one of the rocks.

Gannet - Gull - Tern - Bevan Hood
Australasian Gannet, Silver Gull, Crested Tern. Photo by Bevan Hood

White-faced Heron and Australian White Ibis were also present in small numbers and a few Grey Teal were swimming together in one area. Back through the scrub where Grey Fantails dominated sightings and then on to a new wetland near the RAAF Lake car park. Expectations may have been low as we approached it but soon “grebes” were called.

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Both Australasian and Hoary-Headed were present and diving out of sight as grebes are wont to do. The omnipresent Chestnut Teal were noted, plus a couple of Pacific Black Ducks and then there were the dotterels on the further, smaller lake.

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Both Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel were there and a pair of the latter were engaging in a bobbing display to each other. The edges of the reed beds housed Australian Reed-Warblers (silent at this time of the year) and Golden-headed Cisticolas perching on seed heads and making their buzzing call.

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Leaving this area with regret we gathered for bird call. Total species count was 56, very creditable for an area which is being surrounded more and more closely by housing. We thanked Hazel and Alan enthusiastically for all their preparation and care which had given us such a good day’s birding.

 

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outing

Weekdays outing to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

12 February 2018
Photographs by Bevan Hood, member (unless otherwise indicated)
australian wood ducks male and female - bevan hood
Australian Wood Duck

The weather was kind to birdwatchers with a cloudy morning, mild temperature and little breeze. We were a group of eleven – members and visitors – with David Plant leading. Bell Miners dominated the area near the H gate entrance and a team of tree surgeons was noisily working there as well. We walked from the disturbance and surveyed the azolla-covered water. It looked stable enough to walk on, very misleading, and areas of bank were taped off to deter youngsters from falling in. Waterfowl paddled and upended among the floating fern, Pacific Black Duck and Chestnut Teal, Eurasian Coot, Dusky Moorhen and Purple (now Australian) Swamphen. Silver Gulls and Australian Wood Duck walked on the lawns, not far from Australian Magpies and Magpie-larks.

magpie-lark male - bevan hood
Magpie-lark

Occasionally Red Wattlebirds flew past and a couple of Eastern Spinebills were sighted along with one Little Wattlebird. With the Bell Miners these were the only honeyeaters detected. The only parrot species observed was a few Rainbow Lorikeets high in eucalypts. Flyovers of Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants and a solitary White-faced Heron added to the waterfowl list.

white-faced heron - bevan hood
White-faced Heron

No raptors were seen today and they seem to be no longer in the gardens after a presence of many years. The ͞big black birds͟ category contained Little Ravens and Pied Currawongs, flying and foraging. Down in the fern gully we were pleased to present David with sightings of White-browed Scrubwrens, a species which is becoming increasingly uncommon in the gardens, possibly from competition from miners plus modifications of the vegetation.

pied currawong - bevan hood
Pied Currawong

As all gardeners know, a garden is never a static place and change is continuous, especially now with climate change. David explained how the gardens were managing their water and power. Little tap water is used, for drinking and toilet flushing (a legal requirement) mostly. Street runoff is collected, litter trapped and the water then purified by plants, many in ͞garden beds that move͟.

floating islands in azolla - tweeddale
Floating island in azolla. Photograph by Diane Tweeddale

It was fascinating to watch the slow dance of the floating gardens, among the lake azolla or high in Guilfoyle’s volcano. Power is another aspect where savings are being made with 35% being generated by solar panels. The aim is to attain self-sufficiency in water and power.

purple (australian) swamphen foraging in azolla - bevan hood
Purple (Australian) Swamphen foraging in azolla

Lunch was taken near the tea room and was only slightly marred by the numerous Common Mynas (they are the most common bird in the gardens) pecking at uncleared lunch remains on the tables. The day was warming so we had a bird call at the tables and then headed back to our starting point, pausing to mourn the corpse of the much-vandalised Separation Tree. Mindless destruction seems much easier than caring for nature or manmade beauty. Before the old tree finally died seeds were collected and it was reassuring to admire the growth of the resulting offspring.

Soon we thanked David enthusiastically for sharing his garden with us and then went our ways, pleased that our list of 34 species did not continue an observed slide but was slightly above the previous year.
Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekdays outing to Bolin Bolin, Bulleen

4 December 2017
Leader: Elsmaree Baxter

The previous weekend’s deluge did not deter 23 people from assembling. An erroneous cancellation notice in the website may have worried others but we do NOT cancel except when a fire ban is declared in the area of the walk. It takes more than rain to stop birders.

Tawny Frogmouth - Marilyn Ellis
Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

The weather was reasonably fine with only some light drizzle and our stand-in leader, Elsmaree Baxter, had already checked that walking was feasible for a good distance along the main river trail, (and was prepared to access detours if any of the weekend flooding remained near the billabong). Birds were soon recorded and it was reassuring that the preceding weather had not diminished their activity. The car park area had flyovers of Silver Gull and both Australian White and Straw-necked Ibis. Bird numbers rose as the party reached the bush beside the water. Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Shining Bronze-Cuckoo were both heard as were Common Bronzewing and Spotted Pardalote. Water’s edge yielded White-faced Heron, Australasian Darter and both Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants. Two families of Tawny Frogmouths were spotted by sharp eyed members of the group.

Scarlet Honeyeater male - Tina Wong
Scarlet Honeyeater, male. Photo by Tina Wong (Toorourrong Reservoir on 8 November 2017)

Delight was universal when a group of Scarlet Honeyeaters was seen high in a tree beside the path. “Lifers” for some and still greatly appreciated by the rest. Fortunately the flooding near the billabong had cleared, but damp ground and flattened grass showed where the river had flowed across the path to fill the billabong. Pacific Black and Australian Wood Ducks were there, as were Grey and Chestnut Teal, undoubtedly avoiding the (still) turbulently flowing waters of the river.

 

By walk’s end there was a list of 50 species. See the bird list here: BirdLife Melbourne Outing Bolin Bolin 17

Unfortunately a low point was the observation of an Indian Ringneck in the company of some Galahs. It was possibly an aviary escape but they are a declared noxious pest, becoming very successful invasive hollow nesters wherever they have become established. They have displaced native birds in the UK and Turkey, among other places.

All agreed that the area had provided excellent birding and thanked Elsmaree for proceeding with the outing.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings