Category Archives: Graeme Hosken

Weekday outing to Sherbrooke Forest, Dandenong Ranges

Date & Time: 21 August 2017     10.00am to 1.30pm

Persons Attending: 13   Species Recorded: 17

A very cold and wet start for the walk through Sherbrooke Forest. Temperature range from 4°C to 8°C with misty rain for most of the morning.

Rhonda Miller was the outing leader and with her local knowledge of the forest we did a circuit from the car park in Sherbrooke Road via Sherbrooke Falls, return. Walking tracks very muddy and bird activity and their calls minimal. Eastern Yellow Robin and White-browed Scrubwren were first additions to the ‘list’. Crescent Honeyeaters were feeding and calling high in the Mountain Ash trees. A bit hard on the neck muscles trying to identify the species as the light was also poor. A group of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were disturbed as we crossed the bridge near the falls. It was hard work detecting movement in the forest due to the poor light conditions although a couple of Swamp Wallabies observed our presence.

Recent scratching along the edge of the track indicated both Lyrebirds and Wombats had been active earlier in the morning. Only a feint call of a Lyrebird enabled a tick for this species.

Lunch back at the picnic area under a flowering Wattle as we were joined by several Crimson Rosellas at our feet looking for tit-bits, but they were unlucky. After lunch we decided to visit the Ray Littlejohn’s memorial a few hundred meters along Sherbrooke Road. The memorial, a seat facing the forest, was donated by the Bird Observers Club in the early 1960’s for the work Ray had done on the study of the Lyrebirds in Sherbrooke in the 1930-40’s. In his book, Lyrebirds Calling from Australia (1943), he quoted; the Lyrebird is the largest of the world’s songbirds, certainly the most efficient one of this country. Little did he know as recent discoveries have shown that the Lyrebird is the ‘top’ of all the worlds’ songbirds.

Walking back to the picnic area, Grey Shrike-thrush, Magpie and Eastern Spinebill took the ‘list’ total to seventeen for the outing.

Our thanks to Rhonda for leading the outing on such a cold and damp day.

Graeme Hosken for Diane Tweeddale who is holidaying overseas.

Note: Re Ray Littlejohn’s book, Lyrebirds Calling (1943). The Lyrebird’s song was first recorded in the early 1930’s with a direct broadcasts from Sherbrooke in 1932,1933 and 1934 to ABC studios in Melbourne.

In 1934, about 34 minutes of singing was recorded on ‘sound-film’.

View the bird list for the day: Sherbrooke WO Blog Rep 21AUG17

Dandenong Catchment Survey July to September 2015

Of the 187 bird species recorded since the survey began, five species, Glossy Ibis, Lewin’s Rail, Australian King Parrot, Southern Boobook and Rose Robin, are yet to be recorded on a survey day.

The only site to record Latham’s Snipe this period was Waterford Wetlands, 18 in August and 30 in September.

Other highlights: The following sites recorded new species.  Waterford Wetlands – Superb Fairy-Wren; Rigby’s –  (Survey Days) Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, was an Ns record, and Little Wattlebird,  and on Non-Survey Days, Intermediate Egret, Black Kite, Wiskered Tern, White-naped Honeyeater and Rose Robin.

MW_BirdLife Melb & Bayside Jul-Sep 2015

Contributor: Graeme Hosken

Dandenong Catchment Survey: Highlights April to June 2015

Frog Hollow

April:         Eurasian Coot (105)
May:       Pink-eared Duck (3)

Kilberry Boulevard

April:         Royal Spoonbill (1)

River Gum Creek

April:         Kookaburra (1 new to site), Swamp Harrier (2)
May:       Scaly-breasted Lorikeet (7)
June:         Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo (6), Long-billed Corella (2), Golden Whistler (1)

South Golf Links Road

April:         Common Bronzewing (1 New to site. Was an Ns sighting)
May:       Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo (5), Crimson Rosella (1)

Hallam Valley Road

April:         Superb Fairy-Wren (50)
May:       Mistletoebird (1)
June: Superb Fairy-Wren (82), Red-browed Finch (50)

Waterford Wetland

April:       Buff-banded Rail (1)
May:       Blue-billed Duck (1)
June:      Brown Thornbill (1 New to site)

Troups Creek

April:         Flame Robin (1)
May:       Swamp Harrier (1), Australian Hobby (1), Flame Robin (1)
June:      Purple swamphen (102), Silver Gull (1,430)

Mordialloc Creek

May:       Pink-eared Duck (1)

Heatherton Road South

April:         Crested Shrike-tit (1 New to site)
May:       Grey-headed Flying-Fox (80)
June:         Rainbow Lorikeet Breeding

Heatherton Road North

April:         Long-billed Corella (150)
May:       Little Corella (65)
June:         Spotted Pardalote (5)

Rigby’s Wetland

April:         Spotless Crake (7), Red-kneed Dotterel (42), Scarlet Robin (1), Flame Robin (8)
May:       Australian Shelduck (1), Pink-eared Duck (4), Kangaroo droppings & Swamp Rat tunnels
June:         Pink-eared Duck (2), Australasian Shoveler (6)

Note: Kangaroos have been sighted at Rigby’s on Non-Survey days. Melbourne Water shall be setting up cameras to verify Swamp Rat presence.

Graeme Hosken, BirdLife Melbourne
7July 2015

Dandenong Catchment Survey Summary – July to September 2014

This summary covers 11 wetlands in the Dandenong Creek Catchment that are surveyed monthly by volunteers from BirdLife Melbourne and Bayside Branches under a contract issued by Melbourne Water. The surveys commenced in June 2007 with 10 wetlands being surveyed. In December 2012, an additional wetland, Rigby’s, was added.

At the end of September 2014, 184 bird, seven frog, three reptile, eight mammal and two fish species identified.

Summary

Heavy rain in the second week of each month caused minor problems surveying at three of the sites with one not completed and teams sheltering at the other two sites. Long grass, considered a safety hazard, prevented the northern wetland at South Golf Links Road from being surveyed in September, and at Rigby’s, the July survey was abandoned as padlocks on the Parks Victoria gate had been changed, preventing access to the site.

Highlights at individual sites
Frog Hollow Wetland, Endeavour Hills (Melway: 91 G9)

Eurasian Coot numbers continue to be high: July (138), August (163) and September (100). A Nankeen Night-Heron was a surprise sighting in July.

Kilberry Boulevard, Hampton Park (Melway: 96 J9)

Four Musk Lorikeet in July, and unfortunately a ‘dumped’ Mallard Cross in September.

River Gum Creek Reserve, Hampton Park (Melway: 96 H9)

Silver Gull have returned in large numbers: July (826), August (400) and September (244). Little Corella (52) and Scaly-breasted Lorikeet (4) in July. A lone Australasian Shoveler and eight Black-winged Stilt in August. Two Buff-banded Rail in September – a species not recorded at the site for many months.

South Golf Links Road, Narre Warren (Melway: 110 F11)

No survey in July. Black Swan breeding in August and Australian Wood Duck with young in September. Eurasian Coot numbers high in August (128) and September (109).

Hallam Valley Road, Dandenong South (Melway: 95 K3)

Habitat conditions perfect for Superb Fairy-Wren: July (37) and August (56). Also in August, two Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater; the only site to record this species on a survey day. It has been recorded at Kilberry, River Gum and Troups Creek on a non-survey day. One Yellow-billed Spoonbill in September.

Waterford Wetlands, Rowville (Melway: 73 E10)

Latham’s Snipe returned to ‘their’ favoured site in August (2), but in September, 37 recorded. An amazing record as this site is the smallest of the 11 being surveyed. Perhaps the Snipe know they won’t be disturbed as the site is completely fenced and is at the rear of a Retirement Village. An Olive-backed Oriole was added to the site list in September.

Troups Creek, Hampton Park (Melway: 95 K5)

Weather conditions in July were cold and foggy. Silver Gull was overhead. Heard but not seen. Species numbers were low for the day, only 28, down for the normal 40s. A pair of Black Swan with five young brightened the morning. The Black Swan family were still there in September and a lone Tree Martin was a new species for the site list. September also produced Silver Gull (206) and White-necked Heron (2).

Mordialloc Creek, Braeside (Melway: 73 E10)

Species numbers still in the mid forties for each month. Long-billed Corella new to the site in August and in the same month, a lone Pink-eared Duck, a species not recorded at any site for several months.

Heatherton Rd South, Dandenong (Melway: 90 H4)

Grey-headed Flying-Fox starting to build up again with the approach of the summer months with 650 recorded in September. Little-Corella (31) July, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (31), Collared Sparrowhawk (1) in August.

Heatherton Rd North, Dandenong Nth (Melway: 90 H2)

Yellow-billed Spoonbill (1) in July with Eurasian Coot (38) in July and 30 in August. White-plumed Honeyeater (24) and Eurasian Skylark breeding in September.

Rigby’s Wetland, Rowville (Melway: 72 C11)

No survey in July. Unable to access site. Two new species for the site in August. Long-billed Corella and New-Holland Honeyeater, the latter previously recorded on a non-survey day. Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo new to the site in September, was a non-survey species and Little Grassbird (61) numbers high in September. Red-kneed Dotterel were seen swimming in August and September. Is this a first, a swimming Dotterel?

River Gum Creek – Interpretive Signs

Funding received from the Catchment Management Authority for this site has been put into excellent use providing plants for re-vegetation both on land and in the water, brochures, and now several signs surrounding the wetland depicting the common bird species that may be located in the area. One sign is allocated to the Latham’s Snipe migratory habits with a map showing the flyway route to and from its northern breeding grounds. The signs were installed during September. On the October survey it was found that two signs had been defaced by graffiti and one removed. Very disappointing. The local ‘Friends’ Group couldn’t believe why this would occur.

New Recorder required

This is the last report I shall be producing. After seven years, a new volunteer is required.

In conjunction with the production of this report is the up-dating of the three month sighting register for the 11 sites being surveyed and entering data for three sites where the ‘Team Leaders’ do not have facilities for this purpose. Approximately 15-20 hours are required a month to complete this project.

If you know anyone that could continue this project for the Catchment Survey, I may be contacted on 9802 5250.

A full tally of the three month sightings may be found on the BirdLife Website at http://www.birdlife.org.au/locations/birdlife-melbourne/projects-initiatives-mel and download the pdf below. The results are also displayed at the Birdlife Melbourne Branch monthly Balwyn meetings.

See attached spreadsheet of July to September results: MW_BirdLife Melb & Bayside Jul-Sep 2014.xlsx

Graeme Hosken, BirdLife Melbourne DCS Recorder

Weekday outing to Long Forest Nature Conservation Reserve and Merrimu Reservoir, Coimadai

22 September 2014

First an apology: The Day and Date listed in the Newsletter caused confusion. The Date was correct but the Day should have been Monday not Wednesday. For any members that came on Wednesday, I hope you enjoyed the area and if you have species not recorded on the listing for the 22 September, please let me know.

The Long Forest Conservation Reserve consists of several ‘blocks’ of predominant Bull Mallee (Eucalyptus behriana) covering an area of 245ha. It is 50km west of Melbourne and the only Mallee south of the Great Dividing Range. First reports of a birding nature was in 1894 and to this date, 160 species are listed with 68 breeding. Several species previously occurring in the area, Australian Bustard, Bush Stone-curlew, White-browed and Grey-crowned Babbler have long gone. What it must have been like for the earlier ‘Birders’.

Monday 22 Sep was a perfect ‘birding’ day. Little or no wind, clear sky and a moderate temperature.

The morning’s venue was at the northern end of the Reserve from the Canopus Circuit entry point, along Long Point Track through Bull Mallee then descending to Coimadai Creek with a change of habitat, larger Eucalyptus and Acacia replacing the Bull Mallee. With 14 persons in ‘tow’, what rewards were in store. Keen ears picked up the calls of Brown Treecreepers, then the highlight for the day, a Red-capped Robin male feeding a young with the female on a nest. Mistletoebird in the same area and three Cuckoo species calling. A ‘must’ for the area is the Yellow-tufted Honeyeater. Hard to find at first but a pair sighted along the Coimadai Creek. The Yellow-rumped sub-species of the Spotted Pardalote, was also recorded, taking the tally for the morning to 43 species.

After lunch, we drove north towards Merrimu Reservoir stopping briefly along the Diggers Rest – Coimadai Rd then into the Picnic Area at the reservoir. The first raptors for the day. Brown Goshawk, Swamp Harrier, Wedge-tailed Eagle and Nankeen Kestrel. Scopes were out as we overlooked the exposed mud banks and open water of the reservoir. Australian Pelican, Australasian Darter, Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel, and a pair of Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.

The afternoon’s total, also 43 species with the combined total at 65 species for the day.

A most rewarding day, especially for a few, being their first visit to the area and an overseas visitor from Great Britain who couldn’t believe the ‘red’ of the male Red-capped Robin. A highly recommended birding area.

Contributor: Graeme Hosken, Leader for the day, BirdLife Melbourne (gahosken@bigpond.com)

 

Dandenong Catchment Survey Summary – April to June 2014

This summary covers 11 wetlands in the Dandenong Creek Catchment that are surveyed monthly by volunteers from BirdLife Melbourne and Bayside Branches under a contract issued by Melbourne Water. The surveys commenced in June 2007 with 10 wetlands being surveyed. In December 2012, an additional wetland, Rigby’s, was added.

At the end of June 2014, 184 bird, seven frog, three reptile, seven mammal and two fish species identified.

Summary

No dramatic weather events this period. Water levels average at all sites. Unfortunately several sites were not surveyed in May due to an OH&R incident on a Melbourne Water property. OH&R procedures were updated for all survey volunteers and access to all sites was regained at the end of May.

Another parameter has been added to the three month species report listing. Column 13 has been used to indicate the total number of sites recording an individual species for the three month period. From these figures, a ‘count’ is obtained to record the combined bird species total for the period.

Highlights at individual sites
Frog Hollow Wetland, Endeavour Hills (Melway: 91 G9)

Eurasian Coot numbers unusually high: 118 in April, 167 in May and 76 in June. Numbers of Pacific-black Duck were also high with 54 in April and 117 in June. The normal five Black Swan were down to one in June.

Kilberry Boulevard, Hampton Park (Melway: 96 J9)

A flock of 50 Little Corella and a lone Flame Robin in April, one of four sites to note these species this period. Fortunately, new species do pop up with a Grey-shrike Thrush sighted in June.

River Gum Creek Reserve, Hampton Park (Melway: 96 H9)

Four Australasian Shoveler plus a Buff-banded Rail were a highlight in April. The Shoveler being absent from the site for several months and the Rail, a few years. Another species rarely seen at the site was a Golden Whistler, and Eurasian Coot numbers were also high with 105 recorded in June.

South Golf Links Road, Narre Warren (Melway: 110 F11)

No survey conducted in April due to storm conditions. Eurasian Coot numbers high with 96 sighted in June.

Hallam Valley Road, Dandenong South (Melway: 95 K3)

The April survey produced several highlights: Little Eagle (1), Flame Robin (6), Scarlet Robin (1) and Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater (1). Not to be outdone, Little Corella (67), Rainbow Lorikeet (52) and Superb Fairy-wren (93) were added to the species count in June.

Waterford Wetlands, Rowville (Melway: 73 E10)

Eurasian Coot (35) in April and three Hardhead in June. This site, although small, is one of the 11 where Hardhead are normally recorded.

Troups Creek, Hampton Park (Melway: 95 K5)

In February and March, White Ibis numbers were just above the 200 mark. In April, 192 but in June only 66 recorded. New for the site in April, one Flame Robin. The survey day in June was cold and windy but it didn’t deter the Silver Gull overhead with 1,820 recorded. The highest number of an individual species for any site since the surveys began.

Mordialloc Creek, Braeside (Melway: 73 E10)

Unfortunately, June was the only month a survey was conducted this period which resulted in four Brown Quail being recorded. An elusive species, with only three other sites to note this species on a survey day. Two other sites have ‘ticks’ on a non-survey day.

Heatherton Rd South, Dandenong (Melway: 90 H4)

Grey-headed Flying-Fox have taken up residence at this wetland with 2,000 recorded in April, 900 in May and 60 in June. Presumably the colder months has seen this species migrate to warmer areas. Two new species for the site in May: Swift Parrot (8), also new for all sites, and a lone House Mouse to add to the mammal total.

Heatherton Rd North, Dandenong Nth (Melway: 90 H2)

Little Corella (40) and Flame Robin (2) in April. May, a Little Eagle (1), new to the site. Superb Fairywren (58) were prominent in May plus Long-billed Corella (14). Several Superb-fairy Wren must have been in hiding the previous month as 68 were recorded in June.

Rigby’s Wetland, Rowville (Melway: 72 C11)

The largest and complex of all the 11 sites is still adding new species. A Kookaburra (1) in April, Scarlet Robin (1) in May, and in June, Yellow-rumped Thornbill (10) and at long last, White-plumed Honeyeater (5). Both the Kookaburra and White-plumed Honeyeater had previously been recorded on a non-survey day. White Ibis roost up-stream at Shepherds Bush and this may account for the high numbers recorded in April (289) and June (147).

River Gum Creek – Interpretive Brochure Launch

The brochure was launched in February and depicts photos of 60 bird species that may be found within the catchment area. It has not only been used for educational purposes at River Gum but other sites in the catchment, the latest being at Heatherton Road North on 15 July. Four volunteers from BirdLife and three staff from Melbourne Water assisted 70 Grade 4 students, teachers and helpers from nearby Lyndale Green’s Primary School with a project that involved Birdlife, Macros, Turbidity and Photography. The brochure provided an easy identification guide for the students and comments were received for its use to be extended for use at other wetland education activities.

A full tally of the three month sightings may be found on the BirdLife Website at http://www.birdlife.org.au/locations/birdlife-melbourne/projects-initiatives-mel and download the pdf below. The results are also displayed at the Birdlife Melbourne Branch monthly Balwyn meetings.

Graeme Hosken, BirdLife Melbourne DCS Recorder

Dandenong Catchment Survey Summary – January to March 2014

This summary covers 11 wetlands in the Dandenong Creek Catchment that are surveyed monthly by volunteers from BirdLife Melbourne and Bayside Branches under a contract issued by Melbourne Water. The surveys commenced in June 2007 with 10 wetlands being surveyed. In December 2012, an additional wetland, Rigby’s, was added.

At the end of March 2014, 183 bird, seven frog, three reptile, seven mammal and two fish species identified.

Summary

Water levels at all wetlands varied greatly with low water levels during summer but an occasional storm, especially one in late March with an excess of 50mm in the catchment caused local flooding over a few days creating a completely different environment for five teams surveying at the end of March. Extensive earthworks were implemented at the River Gum Wetland with the spillway lowered and new mud flats created that will be planted out in the future. A dramatic habitat change.

Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel enjoyed the low water levels at several sites. Latham’s Snipe was recorded at seven sites in January, five in February and one in March. Red-necked Stint, Sharp-tailed and Curlew Sandpiper were only recorded in January at one site, Rigby’s. Cuckoos were not recorded at any site. The Australian Reed-Warbler was still at three sites in March, all sites in January and three in February.

Highlights at individual sites
Frog Hollow Wetland, Endeavour Hills (Melway: 91 G9)

Buff-banded Rail new for the site in January. A high number of Pacific Black Duck, 70 in February and in March, 88 recorded. Also in March, 53 Eurasian Coot recorded and several other sites also recorded high numbers of this species in March.

Kilberry Boulevard, Hampton Park (Melway: 96 J9)

Barbary Dove, presumably an escapee, still present in January. An Australian Shelduck added to the sites count in February and a large number of Spotted Dove, 36, in March.

River Gum Creek Reserve, Hampton Park (Melway: 96 H9)

Exposed mud flats attracted both Australian Spotted and Spotless Crake in January. The tally of Scaly-breasted Lorikeet climbed to five from the normal three of four. Breeding successful? Silver Gull took a liking to the site in January with 735 recorded. A low-light January saw the first sighting of a Red Fox and the remains of a Black Swan in the grass beside the wetland. May have been the Fox. Pacific Black Duck, 88, and Eurasian Coot, 76, numbers high in January.

South Golf Links Road, Narre Warren (Melway: 110 F11)

Eurasian Coot, 33, numbers high in January. A Red-kneed Dotterel in March was a first for the site.

Hallam Valley Road, Dandenong South (Melway: 95 K3)

Good conditions for Superb Fairy-wren in January with 77 recorded and 26 Fairy Martin were taking advantage on the conditions. Introduced species featured in February with 195 Common Starling and 114 European Goldfinch noted. European Goldfinch,76, numbers down in February but Silvereye were passing through with 25 noted.

Waterford Wetlands, Rowville (Melway: 73 E10)

Eurasian Coot, 38, featured again in January and also eleven Hardhead. One of only a few sites to record this species. Looks like a few Eurasian Coot took fright in February as only 35 were noted. The site’s highlight was a lone Royal Spoonbill in March – new for the site.

Troups Creek, Hampton Park (Melway: 95 K5)

The January survey day was the day to be at this site as a single Little Bittern was recorded. A first for all sites. In the same month, Superb Fairy-wren, 68, Golden-headed Cisticola, 68, and European Goldfinch, 94, were noted. February saw Australian White Ibis, 223, Purple Swamphen, 48 and Superb Fairy-Wren, 43. High numbers of the same species were recorded in March. Australian White Ibis, 213, Purple Swamphen, 23, and Superb Fairy-wren, 55.

Mordialloc Creek, Braeside (Melway: 73 E10)

Surveys were only conducted in January and February as weather conditions in March prevented the survey on the nominated day. In January, Crimson Rosella and Striated Pardalote were new to the site and a highlight in February was recording a Spotless Crake.

Heatherton Rd South, Dandenong (Melway: 90 H4)

No major highlights recorded during the period although in January, 191 Australian White Ibis were noted and Rainbow Lorikeet, 56, were active. This site is one of the few of the 11 sites being surveyed to record the Mistletoebird on most survey days.

Heatherton Rd North, Dandenong Nth (Melway: 90 H2)

Seven Latham’s Snipe were flushed in January and a high number of Eurasian Coot, 46, noted. Latham’s Snipe were down to one in February. A new species for the site in March – a lone Spotted Harrier, a not too frequent visitor at most sites.

Rigby’s Wetland, Rowville (Melway: 72 C11)

Why does a relative ‘new’ site produce so many bird species? I guess Melbourne Water’s engineers and designers have got it right in the design of the four wetland cells and surrounding habitat. In January, four new species were added, Curlew Sandpiper, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Caspian Tern and Brown Thornbill. In February, Collared Sparrowhawk and Green Finch were added. March produced a Brown Falcon. Also in March, the highest number of Chestnut Teal, 1008, noted on a survey day; also Australasian Shover, 18, and Spotless Crake, 10.

River Gum Creek – Interpretive Brochure Launch

On the 22 February, an Interpretive Brochure was launched in conjunction with a Bird Walk at the wetland. Two other Bird Walks were conducted at the same site on the 8th and 15th March. Volunteers from BirdLife Australia assisted as leaders for each Bird Walk.

The brochure indicates the location of River Gum Creek wetland plus two adjoining wetlands, Troups Creek and South Golf Links Road in Hampton Park/Narre Warren suburbs. Sixty bird species that may be found in the area are depicted by photos. The production of the brochure was made possible through funding successfully secured by Living Links from the Environment Protection Authority’s Inspiring Environmental Solutions Program.

In the ‘follow up’ of the Bird Walks, a ‘Tree Planting Day’ was held at River Gum Creek on 5th April 2014.

A full tally of the three month sightings may be found on the BirdLife Website at http://www.birdlife.org.au/locations/birdlife-melbourne/projects-initiatives-mel and download the pdf below. The results are also displayed at the Birdlife Melbourne Branch monthly Balwyn meetings.

Graeme Hosken, BirdLife Melbourne DCS Recorder

Dandenong Catchment Survey – October to December 2013 report

Previously, the three month Dandenong Catchment Survey report appeared on the BirdLife Melbourne website. With the introduction of the BirdLife Melbourne blog, all future reports will use this medium.

About the DCS

In 2007, a three year contract was issued by Melbourne Water for Bird Observation and Conservation Australia (BOCA) to survey 10 wetlands in the Dandenong Valley Catchment. Each site was to be surveyed once a month with the starting time before 8:00am. As the sites varied in size, the time to complete a survey could vary from one to three hours. For many ‘Birders’ an additional challenge became evident as not only bird species were required, but frogs, mammals, reptiles and fish were also to be noted. Smartphone apps became a ‘tool of the trade’, especially with frog calls.

The ten sites are: Frog Hollow, Endeavour Hills; Kilberry Boulevard, Hampton Park; River Gum Creek Reserve, Hampton Park; South Golf Links Rd, Narre Warren; Hallam Valley Rd, Hampton Park; Waterford Wetland, Rowville; Troups Creek, Hampton Park; Mordialloc Creek, Braeside; Heatherton Rd South, Dandenong and Heatherton Rd North, Dandenong North.

The first three year results were so successful that Melbourne Water extended the contract which was passed on to BirdLife  Australia after the merging of BOCA and Birds Australia two years ago, and is a continuing project with volunteers from BirdLife Australia completing the surveys, the results of which are forwarded to the BirdLife National Office who report back to Melbourne Water.

In December 2012, a new site was added, Rigby’s Wetland in Rowville, the largest wetland constructed by Melbourne Water.

October – December 2013 Report

Various weather conditions were experienced at all the 11 sites the past three months. Each site has a specific day in the month to complete the survey, and with 11 sites being monitored, the day may be any day of the month. Rainfall plays a huge part in water bird activity, sometimes causing flooding  creating additional feeding habitat, or with low rainfall, mud flats are exposed allowing the ‘wader’ species to enter an area. Unfortunately at some sites, dog owners allow their dogs to roam off-lead and even allow their dogs to enter the water, causing water bird disruption. This activity is noted for action by Melbourne Water.

This period, the 180 bird species barrier for the 11 sites was broken with three new bird species added. Wood Sandpiper and Curlew Sandpiper at Rigby’s and a Regent Parrot, presumably an escapee, at Heatherton’s Rd South.

Highlights at individual sites

A Song Thrush, a new species at Frog Hollow on 30 November. Only five other sites have recorded this species with Heatherton Rd Sth recording it on most survey days.

The team at Kilberry Boulevard added Fan-tailed Cuckoo to their list on 19 December. A species absent at all other sites except five and only at Rigby’s in October for this period. A Barbary Dove is with a group of Spotted Doves and was recorded again in November and December.

Water levels were low at River Gum on 19 December creating an excellent habitat for Black-winged Stilt, Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel, all taking the advantage of the exposed mud flats. This is the only site to record the Scaly-breasted Lorikeet and it is seen on most survey days, and this period in November.

South Golf Links Rd had an invasion of Eurasian Coot with 96 recorded on 10 October, 68 on 28 November and 45 on 12 December. The Long-billed Corella was recorded on 12 December – the only site for this period.

The Spotted Harrier is still spreading its wings, showing up at Hallam Valley Rd on 20 November – new for the site. This is the sixth site to record this species, but the only site this period. A lone Caspian Tern on 18 December and the next day it was at River Gum. The same bird?

The Australian Raven has been recorded at five sites with one being on a non-survey day. Waterford Wetland recorded an Australian Raven there on 28 October – new for the site. Of all the sites, Waterford, which is only a small wetland, attracts Latham’s Snipe in numbers much higher than all the other sites and this period was no exception. Twenty two on 28 October, 12 on 29 November and seven on 27 December. All sites recorded Latham’s Snipe this period with the exception of Frog Hollow. A special bird at Waterford on 27 December was an Australian Spotted Crake – new for the site. All  other sites, with the exception of Heatherton Rd Nth, have recorded this species.

Cattle Egret, a species often seen in the Dandenong Valley but only recorded at Troups Creek in November this period. A more exciting find on 24 October was a Rufous Songlark, making four sites to record this species. A Little Eagle in December added to the tally of four raptors this period.

Only two surveys were completed (October and November) at Mordialloc Creek this period. One of the results was lost in the mail but luckily, individual species were known so all was not lost. A Whiskered Tern was recorded in October. Previously recorded at this site but not at any of the other 10 sites on a survey day, but at Troups Creek on a non-survey day.

In this a ‘parrot breeder’ must reside near the Heatherton Rd South site as a Regent Parrot was recorded there on 13 October survey day. The tally for parrot escapees at this site is now three, with Superb and Princess Parrots added previously. A Sacred Kingfisher during the November survey was the only record for all the sites. On the 13 October survey, an addition to the list, a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. It was also recorded during the November survey.

Heatherton Rd North is one of the few sites to record the Grey Shrike-thrush, and during this period was recorded each month. It was one of four sites this period to record the White-necked Heron. A species not often seen in the valley.

Where does one start with Rigby’s? It is the largest wetland developed by Melbourne Water and so far, only a year in operation and being surveyed, is offering many surprises. New species keep showing up on survey and non-survey days. At the end of September, 119 species were listed for the site with 97 recorded on survey days. During this period the following species were added:

  • 23 October: Rock and Spotted Dove, Blue-winged Parrot, Crested Shrike-tit and Eastern Yellow Robin, the latter previously recorded on a-non survey day.
  • 27 November: Rufous Whistler, Wood Sandpiper, the latter previously recorded on a non-survey day. Also in November on a non-survey day, a Curlew Sandpiper was added to the list.
  • 19 December: Crested Pigeon – new for the site.

Twenty bird species have been recorded at Rigby’s on non-survey days which creates a challenge for the team on survey day.

The 11 site total at the end of December 2013 is 182 bird species with the following four yet to be recorded on a survey day: Lewin’s Rail, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Lorikeet and Olive-backed Oriole.

More information?

A full tally of the three month sightings may be found on the BirdLife website: http://www.birdlife.org.au/locations/birdlife-melbourne/projects-initiatives-mel and download the pdf below. The results are also displayed at the BirdLife Melbourne Branch monthly Balwyn meetings.

Graeme Hosken, BirdLife Melbourne DCS Recorder