Category Archives: Education Activity

Education activities for February and March 2019

On Wednesday 13 February, Pat Bingham gave a talk entitled “Early Birds” to the Deepdene U3A. Twenty-two people attended. The talk was all about early European explorers’ records (c. 1600-1800) of their encounters with Australian birds. Some of these were apparently similar to those they were familiar with and so they were called robins, wrens, magpies and the like (but, in reality, were from biologically quite different families). Others were confusingly ‘mixtures’ like the Anomalous Hornbill, the New Holland Bird of Paradise and the Slender-billed Merops.

On Friday 15 February, U3A Hawthorn began their 2019 monthly bird walks with Pat Bingham. There were 19 attendees including 8 newcomers this year. The bird walk was around the Sinclair Street Wetlands in Glen Iris. Twenty one species were seen including Crested Pigeon, Little Black Cormorant, Masked Lapwing and a feather from an adult Nankeen Night-heron, though sadly, this year we didn’t actually see the bird itself.

On Friday 15 March, bird walk for U3A Hawthorn members was with Pat Bingham to Karkarook Park. It was a dull, cool morning and because of our poor summer rain, the water level in the wetlands was very low.

Fourteen members attended, with 33 species seen, of which the best were an Eastern Great Egret with lovely breeding plumes, a single Black-winged Stilt, a Hoary-headed Grebe carrying a stripy youngster on its back, and several noisy White-plumed Honeyeaters. Sue Wilson has kindly supplied the photographs in this article.

The Doncaster Valley Probus Club, which meets in Doncaster East Invited Janet Hand to talk about the local birds found around Manningham. This is a new club and about 45 members were present on Thursday 21 March. Questions were raised about the large numbers of corellas (Long-billed) in the area at the moment. 80 were seen in one flock earlier in the month.

Thank you Pat and Sue for your contributions.

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

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)

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.

Picture1

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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)

Education activities – August 2018

Many thanks to Pat Bingham for running our two walks this month.

She firstly ran a short birdwalk for 15 members of U3A Deepdene in Wattle Park on Wednesday, 15 August.  Not many birds were seen although they had good views of Eastern Rosella, Pied Currawong and a pair of Tawny Frogmouths (at their camouflaged best!). They made up for the shortage of birds with seven species of wattle in flower and agreed the park was well-named.

The U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk on Friday, 17 August was at Dandenong Creek Wetlands on a cool, breezy morning with lots of sunshine. Eighteen participants enjoyed 35 species. The southern-most pondage was almost dry with mud exposed and adjacent shallow water.  Lovely close views of both Red-necked Avocet and Black-winged Stilt feeding, each with its own method: Avocets side-swiping and Stilts poking vertically.  Nearby were Red-kneed Dotterel standing in shallow water and Black-fronted Dotterel running around, like clockwork mice, on the mud. Other highlights included Red-browed Finches, pairs of Australasian Shoveler, and listening to the mournful calls of Little Grassbirds, but never actually seeing one!

Sue Wilson was back from her travels and has provided the photographs below to illustrate the morning’s walk.  Thanks Sue.

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

Education activities – July 2018

This month there have been three education activities.

On Tuesday 10 July, Gay Gallagher addressed approximately 20 ladies at the Mooroolbark YWCA. Gay’s presentation was ‘Attracting birds to your garden naturally’. The ladies found the topic interesting and asked plenty of questions.

Friday, 20 July found 19 U3A Hawthorn Bird walkers at the Glen Iris Wetlands. Again, a cold, very windy morning after heavy rain. Birds were few and far between but several Spinebills put on a good show feeding in Correa bushes. Dusky Moorhen and Coot emerged from reedbeds in one of the pondages, probably hoping to be fed, joining Pacific Black Ducks, Chestnut Teal and Wood Duck that milled around on the shore. A couple of the ‘Black Ducks’ were definitely Mallard hybrids with heavy orange-yellow legs and big, yellowish bills. 21 species in total were seen/heard over the course of the morning. Thank you to Pat Bingham for leading the walk and reporting on it.

Bill Ramsay gave a presentation to about 30 people at a Glencare meeting at the Glen Waverley Community Centre on the morning of 31 July. The presentation was titled ‘Attracting birds to your garden and what you can hope to see’. Several questions, on a range of issues, were asked by the attendees.  Some time was spent in explaining that those large black birds that are frequently seen in Melbourne gardens are Little Ravens and not Crows, and this seemed to be a surprise to most. The BirdLife Australia ‘Backyard Birds of Victoria’ flyer was distributed and hopefully some of the attendees will use it to try and identify birds in their garden.

Thanks to Gay, Pat and Bill for their activities.

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

Education report June 2018

U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk on 15 June was at Rickett’s Point with Pat Bingham – a very windy day that had all small bushbirds and walkers heading for cover. Thank heavens most shorebirds tend to be big, so it was easier to put binoculars away than try to keep them steady in the buffeting blast. Pelicans, all four common cormorants, and over a hundred Crested Terns were on the exposed rocks when the group arrived.
Hoary-headed Grebes swam offshore, almost lost in the waves.  20 species in total were seen by the 20 participants in the walk. The two big highlights of the day were an Australian Hobby cruising the cliff side and a party of over 20 Australasian Gannets diving within a hundred feet of the shore, presumably for fish brought in with the tide.

On Monday 18 JuneJanet Hand addressed a small group at the new Arcare Retirement Centre in Surrey Hills. She was their first Guest Speaker. Her topic was Birds of Surrey Hills. This was the first part of the resident’s education program on the Surrey Hills district.

On 26 June, Pat Bingham contributed to a series of talks under the umbrella title ‘Pick a Sound – its magic and mystery’, for 30 members of U3A Stonnington. Previous talks had covered the basic physics of sound and the working of the human ear, importance of sound to a blind person, history of the development of the orchestra, and man-made musical instruments like the MOOG synthesiser and the theremin. Pat’s talk was on ‘Birdcalls and Birdsongs’, liberally illustrated with tracks from the old BOCA 10 CD set of ‘ A Field Guide to Australian Birdsong. The talk was based on a quote from Ken Simpson and Zoe Wilson’s book ‘Birdwatching in Australia and New Zealand’ that stated “Birdwatching is something of a misnomer since identification and appreciation of birds is based as much on sound as it is on sight.”  The talk was much enjoyed and triggered lots of questions as had the other presentations.

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

Education report – May 2018

Wednesday 2 May

23 members of U3A Deepdene came to hear Pat Bingham speak about “Australia – Land of Parrots”.  The lecture covered historical records, old World Maps, modern genetics and recent taxonomy, and stimulated lots of discussion and personal experiences (with both positive and negative comments) of interactions with the Australasian representatives of the family.

Ten ladies from Mercy Place Boronia made their way to the Yarran Dheran Nature Reserve in Mitcham for our annual activities morning. This involved watching a PowerPoint presentation by Janet Hand on ‘Same bird, different feathers’ – the different appearance of birds due to their age and sex. This was followed by a craft activity of making greetings cards using bird photographs and then morning tea. Later, the ladies went for a short walk in the Reserve. Thank you Gay Gallagher and Sonja Ross for your assistance, and Gay for arranging the use of the Yarran Dheran Education Centre.

Sunday 6 May

As part of this year’s Mullum Mullum Festival, Geoff Russell gave a presentation and a short talk in the Information Centre about the history of Yarran Dheran Nature Reserve and the birds that have been recorded in the Reserve. He had a group of 28 people which included a couple children. Weather wise it was a perfect day for birding –  18C, fine, sunny and most importantly no wind. After the talk, he took them on a 3 km walk through the Reserve and along the Mullum Mullum Creek. This lasted just over two hours and they recorded 29 species. They had several good views of Common Bronzewings and King Parrots. Spotted Pardalotes were heard many times but were very difficult to see because of their small size and the tall, dense forest.

Tuesday 15 May

On a cold day, 25 ladies of the Ladies Guild braved the elements at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Doncaster. Janet Hand gave a PowerPoint presentation on how to attract birds to their gardens naturally.  This presentation was well received and was followed by a lovely afternoon tea.

Friday 18 May

Hawthorn U3A’s monthly Birdwalk this month was at Norton’s Park & Shepherd’s Bush. As usual this group was led by Pat Bingham. They had 14 attendees and saw 22 species.  The parks were rather quiet except for a very noisy mob of about thirty Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.  Several Eastern Rosellas were feeding in the short grass, a quiet Kookaburra looked for prey in the longer grass and a Grey Currawong having called, moved off quickly.  Once again, the group had good looks at young male Superb Fairy-wrens in non-breeding plumage, but, sadly, the Scarlet Robins, seen well last year, were missing in 2018.

Thank you everyone for your contribution to our program.

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

April Education Report

The Autumn Survey at Blackburn Creeklands was held on Saturday 14 April, which was very windy and dull, but the 27 participants, including visitors from South Australia, Holland and China, enjoyed the 27 species they found. Everyone had superb views of Gang-gang Cockatoos, feeding on gumn uts, squabbling over perches and trying to get away from a very persistent youngster who wanted to be fed. Other Autumn visitors like King Parrots and Grey Fantails were good to see but the resident Tawny Frogmouths, Brown Thornbills and White-browed Scrubwrens were rather hard to find. 27 species is a low number for the survey (now in its 7thyear) but the dry conditions and the wind on the day may have contributed to this rather poor result.

This survey was led by Pat Bingham and Ian Moodie. Pat also led the Karkarook walk (below).

The U3A Hawthorn outing was on Friday 20 April. There were 14 attendees including six newcomers to this programme. There was bright sunshine in Melbourne but they hit a bank of fog just as they got to Karkarook Park in Heatherton, so that the birds seemed quiet and the wetlands ‘disappeared’. Luckily, a few Noisy Miners continued to chase a Brush-tailed Possum through the gums (did the possum think it was still night-time?) and Pied Currawongs called eerily from the gloom – so they at least had something to peer for! Eventually the mistiness cleared and they found six species of duck, a busy flock of Red-browed Finches acrobatically collecting grass-seed, a party of Superb Fairy-wrens including young males in their sombre winter colours and blue tails, and a Little Wattlebird (uncommon at Karkarook). The wren’s winter plumage change and the differentiation of Little and Red Wattlebirds made good talking-points for beginning birders, and the total of 33 species for the morning sent them home with lots of ‘homework’ to do. The following photographs were taken by Sue Wilson – a member of this group. I thank Pat and Sue for their contributions.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Education report – January to March 2018

The BirdLife Melbourne Education Group has started off the year with early activities.

On Wednesday, 10 January Janet Hand addressed approximately 40 members of the Hawthorn U3A Summer School in Glen Iris. There were two parts to her presentation. First there was a PowerPoint on the work of BirdLife titled “BirdLife – preserving the future of birds.” That presentation was followed by another PowerPoint with tips on identifying birds and showing those birds found around the Hawthorn/Glen Iris area.

On Tuesday 20 February, Gay Gallagher visited the Walmsley Village Garden Club, Kilsyth. Approximately 35 people attended to see her PowerPoint on “Attracting birds to our gardens.” She said the audience was very interested and she fielded many interesting questions.

On Monday 26 February, Susan Bailey was the lunchtime speaker at a meeting of the Ferntree Gully VIEW Club who met at the Knox Club in Wantirna. Approximately 75 members were present on the day. Susan also spoke on how to attract birds into their gardens.

On Saturday 10 March Graeme Hosken led an early morning walk at Jells Park, Waverley for the Friends of Diamond Valley Parklands. Twelve members of the FODVP attended an early morning bird walk from the Information Centre and clockwise round the lake and returning to the Information Centre. A perfect morning weather-wise but groups of runners and bike riders kept them on the lookout to prevent an accident. Late nesting by a Darter was a highlight with four young in a nest.  One member asked what is a small bird with red breast? A further sighting produced a male Mistletoebird with its mate close at hand.  A rewarding sight for all the members. At the end of the three hour bird walk, 37 species were recorded.

Tuesday 13 March saw Graeme Hosken speak to members of the Australian Plant Society, Wilson Botanic Park, Berwick on the subject “Catching up with the Illegal’s”  Shorebird Migration – Australian/Asian Flyway. Thirty-two APS members attended.

On Thursday 15 March Janet Hand was a last minute replacement Guest Speaker at the Community of Ringwood Indigenous Species Plant (CRISP) Nursery AGM in Ringwood. She spoke about “Attracting birds to your garden naturally” 30 members were present and appreciative of the effort that Janet had made to attend with only 24 hours notice.

The first U3A Hawthorn monthly Birdwatching Group walk for the year was at the Sinclair Wetlands, Glen Iris on Friday 16 March. 19 attenders including several newcomers; 20 species recorded. Best birds were a young-ish Nankeen Night-heron patiently waiting for prey adjacent to the opening of a stormwater drain while a very healthy-looking Brown Rat played about on the rocks above.  Bird and rat ignored each other.  Also much amusement was caused by a Kookaburra, in a very noisy dispute with two attacking Little Ravens, just over their heads.  The observers thought they might, too, get dive bombed!  The group also had good looks at Musk Lorikeets and a pair of Red-rumped Parrots. Thank you Pat Bingham for leading this group.

Breakfast with the Birds was held on Sunday 18 March, at Wilson Botanic Park, Berwick from 7 – 9.30am. Breakfast with the Bird walks at Wilson Botanic Park commenced in 2004 with two walks, one in Spring and the other in Autumn. Unfortunately weather conditions for the day’s walk were not pleasant with a strong north wind and the possibility for rain. Luckily the rain and a cool change came after the walk concluded. The recent dry conditions have had an effect on many plant species in the park and the ‘bush’ birds are not in their usual haunts.  Missing were Superb Fairy-wren and White-browed Scrubwren.  A Hoary-headed Grebe with young was the highlight for the morning.  No new species were added on Sunday for the WBP Bird list which stands at 87. This list contains highlights being: Satin Bowerbird, Australasian Bittern and Channel-billed Cuckoo. Thanks to Graeme Hosken for leading the Wilson Botanic Park walks.

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

Education activities November 2017

Photographs by Sue Wilson, Hawthorn U3A

On Saturday 11 November, Geoff Russell lead a Bird Walk through the Yarran Dheran Reserve in Mitcham. The activity was limited to 25 participants and 30 species were seen. The most interesting sighting was Olive-backed Orioles.

Graeme Hosken addressed the Australian Plants Society – Wilson Park Berwick Group on “Catching up with the illegals” (Bird migration between Australia and the Northern hemisphere) on Tuesday 14 November. The audience was fascinated by the movement of these birds.

201711 picture 1The U3A Hawthorn 2017 Birdwalks finished the programme at Wilson Reserve, Ivanhoe, on November 17. It was a rather warm, muggy morning but they succeeded in doing the circuit before the thunder rolled and the rain started. 14 people attended and 24 species were recorded. The best birds were Nankeen Night-heron, Common Bronzewing, and a glimpse of an Azure Kingfisher by a lucky few people. A tiger snake was also close to the billabong so they needed to remember to look at their feet as well as the heavens!

201711 picture 2The final planned activity for the year was on Tuesday 28 November at the Mooroolbark Library. Janet Hand’s Powerpoint was about “Attracting birds to your Garden naturally”. This was a community event where 30 plus people booked at attend, thus a very interested group with plenty of questions. Problems/questions about Pied Currawongs killing the smaller birds and bats in Upwey and Eastern Koels calling at two different locations. ‘How do you discourage Noisy Miners?’ seems to be a common question everywhere.

I wish to thank the 25 people who have assisted me this year with our 43 activities. Without your help we could not have made so many people in the community aware of our lovely birds and their needs.

Season’s Greetings to all.

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