Category Archives: Hazel Veevers

Beginners Outing to Braeside Park

22 April 2017
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 57
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Noisy Miner. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Twenty-six members gathered on a sunny morning at the Ibis carpark where Noisy Miners certainly lived up to their name. They were the dominant species in that area, chasing away any other bush bird that dared to enter their territory. A Little Eagle circling overhead provided an exciting diversion as the group were just about to set off down the main drive towards the wetlands. It was not easy to identify for certain until a long-range photograph (attached) was examined on the camera.

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Little Eagle. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The old dead trees, scattered amongst the lush live ones, enabled good views to be had of Red-rumped Parrots and Rainbow Lorikeets as they investigated the many available nesting hollows.

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Rainbow Lorikeets. Photo by Alan Veevers

A few Crested Pigeons appeared, feeding in the grasslands alongside the track. Another raptor was seen but, after much discussion, it was decided that it was, again, a dark morph Little Eagle.

Crested Pigeon, Braeside
Crested Pigeon. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Walking round the wetlands in an anticlockwise direction, a hotspot was found by a shallow muddy pool.

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Golden-headed Cisticola. Photo by Alan Veevers

Here were Golden-headed Cisticolas, female Flame Robins, Red-browed Finches and numerous Superb Fairy-wrens. It took a further hour-and-a-half before a male Flame Robin was spotted by a sharp-eyed observer!

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Female Flame Robin. Photo by Alan Veevers

There was a plentiful supply of Ducks to be seen on the main ponds, where the water levels were encouragingly high. Highlights were Blue-billed Ducks, Australasian Shovelers, Hardheads and a relatively large number of Pink-eared Ducks.

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Pink-eared Ducks and Hardheads. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Little Pied, Little Black and Great Cormorants, together with White-faced Herons, Australian White Ibis and Australasian Darters were also present.

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Australian White Ibis and Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

At the edge of the wetlands a flock of Silvereyes perched on low bushes created a beautiful sight as the sun shone on their feathers. Members then returned to the Ibis carpark for lunch.

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Little Black Cormorant. Photo by Alan Veevers

A short afternoon walk began at the Visitor Centre and explored the mixed bushland in the vicinity. The first sighting, much to everyone’s delight, was a pair of Tawny Frogmouths resting in typical fashion on a low branch of a nearby tree.

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Tawny Frogmouths. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Continuing along the Heathland Trail, both Grey and Chestnut Teal accompanied by Dusky Moorhens were seen in a small pond. A final productive area, amongst River Red Gums, was encountered before we made our way back to the cars. This yielded Golden Whistler, White-browed Scrubwren, White-plumed Honeyeater and a very colourful flock of Spotted Pardalotes.

White-plumed Honeyeeater, Braeside
White-plumed Honeyeater. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After the bird count, it was agreed that it had been a very rewarding day with 57 species recorded.

See complete bird list for the day: BM Apr 2017 Bird List Braeside Park

Beginners Outing to Lillydale Lake

25 March 2017
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species Count: 50
All photographs by Alan Veevers
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Eurasian Coot

Many regulars were unable to come to the outing, thus reducing the attendance to 22 including five first-timers. These, however, were to enjoy an exceptionally good day! After viewing the resident Australasian Darters from the lakeside track, the group began the walk alongside the stream that delivers water to the lake from the upstream wetlands.

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Azure Kingfishers

To everyone’s delight a pair of Azure Kingfishers was seen perched on a horizontal log, their brilliant iridescent colours shining in the low sun. The pair was observed for several minutes, slowly making their way along the channel, pausing now and then to preen or forage. This was a very hard act to follow! There were few waterbirds on the wetlands, mainly Dusky Moorhens and Eurasian Coots. Two Little Pied Cormorants perched high on a dead tree.

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Little Pied Cormorants

Heading further upstream towards the Hull Road Wetlands, Eastern and Crimson Rosellas together with Rainbow Lorikeets were high in the trees whilst Superb Fairy-wrens and Grey Fantails were lower down in the bushes.

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Rainbow Lorikeet

Again there were few birds on the wetlands, but a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles flew overhead in a clear blue sky and an Eastern Yellow Robin and New Holland Honeyeaters were seen in the bush. On the return track to the carpark, a pair of Tawny Frogmouths was spotted, very well camouflaged in the high branches of a tree.

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Tawny Frogmouth

Eventually all the beginners managed to see them and some were awestruck by the apparent impossibility of ever finding any for themselves.

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Australasian Darter

Lunch was taken back near the main lake and members were again entertained by the reappearance of the pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles. A short afternoon walk was taken in the region of the wetlands and unbelievably the two Azure Kingfishers were still in the same section of the little creek! Everyone was able to enjoy further views of them at very close quarters. From beside the wetlands there were better views of the Australian Darters that seemed unperturbed by the young Scouts who were paddling canoes near to their roosts. Others floated gracefully above, clearly showing their gliding profile.

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Welcome Swallow

Welcome Swallows perched on the lookout rails, Silvereyes flitted through the shrubs and a White-faced Heron stalked prey at the edge of the water.

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White-faced Heron

A grand total of 50 species was recorded for the day, but the abiding memory for most members will be of a pair of beautiful shining blue birds fearlessly displaying at close quarters.

See the full bird list for the day: BM Mar 2017 Bird List Lillydale Lake

 

Beginners Outing to Yan Yean Reservoir Park

25 February 2017
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 50

Musk Lorikeets and Noisy Miners were plentiful near the car park as 38 members arrived in perfect weather conditions at Yan Yean Reservoir. From the top of the dam wall a scope was useful in identifying a pair of Australasian Darters perched on a log, in typical wing-drying pose, on a distant shore. Hardheads and Eurasian Coots were numerous, but were also on the opposite side of the reservoir!

Eastern Rosella (F), Yan Yean
Eastern Rosella. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The group then drove in convoy to the car park adjacent to the main wetland area. Bird life was plentiful, with Little Grassbirds watched for several minutes whilst an adult fed its chick in the shadows at the water’s edge. Superb Fairy-wrens and White-browed Scrubwrens were also foraging in the dense undergrowth. On entering the fenced area across the road, Eastern Rosellas and Red-rumped Parrots were perched in trees, and on the first pond there were several immature Australasian Grebes, still showing some baby streaks in their heads.

 

 

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Immature Australasian Grebes. Photo by Alan Veevers

On the second pond were several Black-winged Stilts, both adult and juvenile. On the third pond the highlight was a Common Sandpiper seen feeding at the water’s edge and bobbing its tail in its typical manner.

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Juvenile Black-winged Stilt. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
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Common Sandpiper. Photo by Alan Veevers

Leaving the fenced area and crossing back over the road, a pair of Australasian Shovelers and several other species were observed. Suddenly, a flock of Nankeen Night-Herons, mainly juveniles, flew up from a hidden roost and circled, for some time, high above us.

Australasian Shovelers, Yan Yean
Australasian Shovelers. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Nankeen Night Heron (juvenile), Yan Yean
Juvenile Nankeen Night-Heron. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Lunch was eaten up near the old keeper’s cottage where members enjoyed the beautiful view across the reservoir to the distant hills. A very old Canary Island Pine was the roost for another flock of Nankeen Night-Herons, mostly adults, and these were closely observed by members.

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Juvenile Nankeen Night-Heron. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
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Roosting Nankeen Night-Heron. Photo by Alan Veevers

Walking down the hill to the boundary fence revealed two Great Crested Grebes and a male Musk Duck, repeatedly diving and staying submerged for several minutes, which provided a challenge for beginners to try to find them again.

Great Crested Grebe, Yan Yean
Great Crested Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Great Crested Grebe, Yan Yean
Great Crested Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A final short walk was taken at the opposite end of the park, but no additional species were seen. The day’s total remained at 50, recorded at the previous locations. It was a very successful day, with some unusual sightings in a most attractive setting, in ideal weather conditions.

See bird list for the day: bm-feb-2017-bird-list-yan-yean-reservoir-park

Beginners Outing to Newport Lakes and Jawbone Reserve

26 November 2016
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers. Photographs by Eleanor Dilley

 

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White-plumed Honeyeater

A fine but overcast day provided good conditions for the 34 members attending the excursion beginning at Newport Lakes. A local birdwatcher, Mary Burbridge, joined in and advised us to take the ridge track to where she had earlier seen a Horsefield’s Bronze-Cuckoo.

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Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo

We heard it first, calling repeatedly, then located it and enjoyed the excellent views it gave to all the beginners. Nearby Whistlers were heard and a female Golden and a female Rufous were seen, but unfortunately their colourful mates did not put in an appearance. A Common Bronzewing was then sighted, which delighted Mary as, according to her records, the last report at Newport Lakes was in 2009.

Dusky Moorhen and chick, Newport Lakes
Dusky Moorhen

Superb Fairy-wrens, New Holland Honeyeaters and White-plumed Honeyeaters were plentiful throughout the walk, though there were very few Ducks and Cormorants on the lakes. A pair of Black Swans with cygnets, a Dusky Moorhen with chicks and Australasian Grebes were amongst the birds on the water.

Superb Fairy-wren (F), Jawbone Reserve
Superb Fairy-wren

A Willie Wagtail on a nest close to the track provided good opportunities for the photographers amongst us.

Willie Wagtail on nest, Newport Lakes
Willie Wagtail

Before returning to the car park a short walk was taken to the arboretum where Common Greenfinch and Masked Plover were added to the tally.

Common Greenfinch, Newport Lakes
Common Greenfinch

After lunch most of the members drove down Maddox Road to the Bay where it was high tide. Australian Pelicans, Pied Oystercatchers, Great, Pied and Little Black Cormorants, a Crested Tern and numerous Silver Gulls were perched on the breakwater.

Common Greenshanks, Jawbone Reserve
Common Greenshanks

A walk was then taken through Jawbone Reserve. Ten Common Greenshanks in a pond on the saltmarsh and a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels near the new housing development were highlights of this walk.

Black-fronted Dotterels, Jawbone Reserve
Black-fronted Dotterels

Again very few Ducks were seen and Spoonbills and Stilts were completely absent. A hovering Nankeen Kestrel was the only raptor seen for the day.

Despite the low numbers of water birds there were still some good sightings and a creditable 53 species was recorded for the day.

Thanks to Eleanor Dilley who provided all the photographs for this posting.

See the complete bird list for the day: bm-nov-2016-bird-list-newport-lakes-jawbone-reserve

Beginners Outing to Banyule Flats

22 October 2016
Leaders: Alan and Hazel Veevers; species count 47

Despite a very poor weather forecast, 36 members came to Banyule Flats and were delighted to see a resident Tawny Frogmouth on a nest beside the car park.

Tawny Frogmouth, Banyule
Tawny Frogmouth on nest. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Setting off towards the swamp, a male Mistletoebird, a Grey Currawong and a pair of Common Bronzewings provided good sightings.

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Common Bronzewing. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After the heavy winter rains the swamp was full to overflowing and so there was no visible mud available for waders. A lone Pacific Black Duck was the only duck to be seen and a Dusky Moorhen made a brief appearance ‘running’ across the water.

Dusky Moorhen, Banyule
Dusky Moorhen. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants perched on the dead trees in the water, whilst male and female Red-rumped Parrots investigated nest hollows on the same trees.

Taking the track around the billabong there was little bird activity, though a female Golden Whistler, a pair of Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes and a pair of Laughing Kookaburras were seen. Upon reaching the river a second male Mistletoebird and several Red-browed Finches provided clear views and a few lucky members saw a pair of Sacred Kingfishers in bright breeding plumage.

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Mistletoebird. Photo by Yun Shao

Several birds were heard but not seen, including Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo and Rufous Whistler.

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Young Noisy Miners waiting for food. Photo by Yun Shao

Noisy Miners were the most evident species, being present on almost all sections of the walk. The forecast rain then began to fall as the group quickened pace on the walk back to the carpark.

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Noisy Miners receiving food. Photo by Yun Shao

Due to the inclement weather it was decided to take a second short walk to the ‘Grotty Ponds’, before lunch. This yielded two further Tawny Frogmouth nests, each occupied by one of their respective pairs, with the other partner also located nearby in each case.

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Tawny Frogmouth and chick. Photo by Yun Shao

Also, Australian Wood Ducks were loitering near the track but neither crakes nor rails were found. The rain then became torrential and the wind blew very strongly and so it was decided not to have an afternoon walk. Lunch was eaten in the shelter of the sports pavilion and it was amusing to watch six Pacific Black Ducks enjoying the soggy conditions of the oval.

Laughing Kookaburra, Banyule
Laughing Kookaburra. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

Although most people went home rather damp there had been some very good sightings and several new members were very enthusiastic and vowed to return on a sunnier day. Grateful thanks go to Eleanor Dilley and to our overseas visitor Yun Shao for providing excellent photographs taken in difficult conditions. A total of 47 species was recorded.

See the full bird list: bm-oct-2016-bird-list-banyule-flats

Beginners Outing to Jells Park

27 August 2016

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 50
All photographs by Eleanor Dilley

Forty-six members set off from the Eastern Carpark in fine weather conditions to begin the walk around the lake. After entering the wildlife enclosure a few small birds were seen including Striated Pardalotes and Superb Fairy-wrens.

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Immature Grey Butcherbird

Grey Butcherbirds and Laughing Kookaburras were plentiful but Noisy Miners were very much the most numerous species.

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Laughing Kookaburra

At the lake there were only a few ducks but these included a Freckled Duck, an Australasian Shoveler and Chestnut and Grey Teals.

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Male (left) and female (right) Chestnut Teal

Of great interest were the birds nesting on a small treed island where there was much activity. Many Australian White Ibis were nesting at ground level, while higher up in the bare trees several pairs of Little Pied Cormorants, Great Cormorants and Australian Darters tended their nests. Sticks were still being brought in to build some nests, but many birds were clearly incubating eggs.

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Australian White Ibis

An Eastern Great Egret looked dazzling in its beautiful white breeding plumage contrasting with a few dirty-looking Ibis perched on the same log. On completing the lake circuit a short return walk was taken along the track towards Norton Park and a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and White-faced Heron were added to the morning tally.

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Great Egret

Lunch was taken near the carpark, after which about half the group drove to the top of the hill where a second shorter walk was taken.

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Purple Swamphen

Highlights of this included a well camouflaged Tawny Frogmouth and great views of Musk Lorikeets in the flowering Ironbark trees.

Jells Park 2016 Tawny Frogmouth
Tawny Frogmouth
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Musk Lorikeet

Those at the rear of the group were fortunate to witness a Peregrine Falcon flying rapidly overhead – the only raptor spotted during the day. Eight Parrot species added a wonderful range of colours to the sightings, making up for the near zero contribution from the few Honeyeaters that were around.

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Galah
Jells Park 2016 Eastern Rosella
Eastern Rosella

A total of 50 species were recorded on a most interesting and enjoyable excursion.

See the bird list for the outing: BM Aug 2016 Bird List Jells Park

Beginners Outing to Braeside Park

23 July 2016
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species Count: 51

Twenty-four members braved a chilly morning and a dismal weather forecast to meet at Braeside Park, where they were greeted by very loud Noisy Miners which were by far the most dominant of the bushland species. Setting off from the Visitor Centre towards the Heathland Track, three Little Eagles circled overhead. It was clear that one of them was in the light morph and another in the dark morph.

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Noisy Miner. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Several Eastern Rosellas and Grey Butcherbirds were near the path and at the small wetlands both Chestnut and Grey Teals were seen. In the nearby bush was a ‘hotspot’ where both male and female Scarlet Robins were observed feeding, along with an Eastern Yellow Robin, a male Golden Whistler and a Spotted Pardalote.

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Male Chestnut Teal. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

The members then walked down the main drive towards the Ranger Station unsuccessfully seeking a Tawny Frogmouth known to have previously been in that region. However, they did see a male Red-rumped Parrot, Cattle Egrets, Striated Pardalotes and Crested Pigeons. Returning via the Howard Road Track a flock of Red-browed Finches were observed for some time foraging in the mown grass alongside the path.

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Crested Pigeon. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Lunch by the Visitor Centre was nearly finished when the forecast rain began to fall. Despite this, half the group stayed on for the afternoon walk at the Woodland Road Environmental Wetlands, a short drive away. Several species were added there, including Black Swan, Australasian Grebe and Dusky Moorhen. A male Australian Darter was seen catching and eating a fish as the rain increased in intensity. Several members left at this point, but the six who continued were rewarded with great views of Hardheads, more Grebes, a Nankeen Kestrel, and even the sun.

A total of 51 species were recorded for the day – very good for a suburban park on a cold winter’s day.

See the full bird list: BM July 2016 Bird List Braeside Park

Beginners outing to Woodlands Historic Park

25 June 2016

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 46

After a week of wild winter weather a fine sunny day greeted the 30 attendees gathered at Somerton Road Picnic Area where Red-rumped Parrots, Rainbow Lorikeets and Crimson Rosellas were perched in the magnificent River Red Gums.

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Australian Wood Duck. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Taking the creek-side track, two Australian Wood Ducks were seen perched near the top of a large dead tree with lots of hollows. This was of particular interest to those unaware of their nesting habits.

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Crested Shrike-tit. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Weebills and Crested Shrike-tits were among the less common species seen foraging in nearby eucalypts, whereas Superb Fairy-wrens were evident in large numbers throughout the day.

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Female (top) and male Superb Fairy-wrens. Photos by Eleanor Dilley

Walking up the hill towards Woodlands Homestead a Brown Falcon flew overhead and a large flock of Red-browed Finches was seen on the grass inside the gated area.

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Brown Falcon. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

An ancient Peppercorn Tree beside the house was eagerly searched as, earlier in the day, one of the members had seen and photographed a male Mistletoebird feeding on its berries. Sadly, the bird had moved on and we had to make do with seeing the excellent photographs. A female Scarlet Robin and lots of Eastern Grey Kangaroos were seen by everyone as we walked back towards the car park.

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Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

After lunch most of the group stayed for a second walk beginning a short drive away, at the Aboriginal Cemetery car park. Near to the dam beside the old hospital more Scarlet Robins were seen, along with another Crested Shrike-tit and a pair of Golden Whistlers. A Wedge-tailed Eagle and a Whistling Kite circled high overhead. A short walk was then taken inside the Wildlife Enclosure and, thanks to the local knowledge of David and Dorothy Jenkins, resident Red-capped Robins were tracked down and eagerly photographed by those suitably equipped. Nearby a Flame Robin and a Varied Sittella were also spotted. Returning down the main track towards the car park there were further sightings of Scarlet and Flame Robins.

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Red-capped Robin. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

46 species were recorded in total and it was very gratifying to have located three species of red robins, though sadly they were far less abundant than in previous years.

View the bird list for the outing: BM June 2016 Bird List Woodlands Historic Park

Beginners Outing to The Briars

28 May 2016
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 50

Thirty-three members gathered at the Visitor Centre in overcast conditions and entered the wildlife enclosure where a female Golden Whistler, a Grey Fantail and Brown Thornbills were seen just inside the gate. From the bird hides several species were recorded, including Hoary-headed Grebe, Black Swan and White-faced Heron. An Eastern Grey Kangaroo and a Swamp Wallaby added to the interest as the members began the walk up towards the Wetlands Lookout.

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Swamp Wallaby. Photo by Alan Veevers.

Swamp Gums were flowering alongside the track which attracted several species of Honeyeater, including Yellow-faced, White-eared and New Holland, as well as Red and Little Wattlebirds. Unfortunately rain started to fall heavily as the group followed the Woodland Walk. Few birds were seen until a lone (captive) Emu was spotted as we approached the gate leading back to the car park.

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Emu. Photo by Alan Veevers.

 

An early lunch was taken under the veranda outside the Visitor Centre, during which the rain-clouds cleared, giving way to some welcome sunshine. Noisy Miners were evidently very interested in our food but a pair of Masked Lapwings took no notice whatsoever and continued their foraging in the adjacent paddock.

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Noisy Miner. Photo by Merrilyn Serong.
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Masked Lapwing. Photo by Merrilyn Serong.

Afterwards, the group walked up towards the old homestead where several Parrot species were observed at close quarters. Eastern Rosellas and Rainbow Lorikeets were the most colourful, enhanced by the bright sunlight. Walking along the Farmland Track members were entertained by two litters of young free-range piglets which came rushing up to the fence. Shortly afterwards a Black-shouldered Kite was seen perched on a nearby dead tree, enabling everyone to get a good look.

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Rainbow Lorikeet. Photo by Merrilyn Serong.

After returning to the car park another track was taken alongside Balcombe Creek, where a pair of Eastern Yellow Robins provided members with a great view as they repeatedly darted from the shrubs to the path for food. A Grey Shrike-thrush, a Common Bronzewing and Numerous Superb Fairy-wrens were amongst other birds seen on this final walk.

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Free range piglet. Photo by Merrilyn Serong.

The day’s tally was a creditable 50 species (not counting the Emu), which was felt to be very good for an excursion at this time of year in less than perfect weather conditions.

View the bird list for the outing: BM May 2016 Bird List The Briars

 

Beginners Outing to Lillydale Lake

23 April 2016
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species Count: 50

The 24 members who gathered at Lillydale Lake in overcast conditions were greeted by almost as many Australasian Darters. Some swimming in the lake, others perched on the banks and in trees, as well as several circling overhead.

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Australasian Darters (male at left; female at right). Photos by Eleanor Dilley

On crossing the boardwalk over the wetlands a most unusual sighting was that of a Rakali (Water Rat) swimming through the reeds. Here we found ‘Bird of the Day’, an Azure Kingfisher, which perched for several minutes at the far side of the pond, enabling everyone to get a good view.

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Water Rat (left); Azure Kingfisher (right). Photos by Eleanor Dilley

Walking upstream along Olinda Creek, three Tawny Frogmouths were seen very well camouflaged in a dead wattle tree. At Hull Road Wetlands a very close Black Swan was unconcerned as the group walked slowly by. Soon afterwards we came upon a ‘hot spot’ of small bush birds, including Spotted Pardalote, Eastern Yellow Robin and Red-browed Finch. Highlights of the return walk included Australian King-Parrots, a huge flock of Little Corellas and a single Cattle Egret. A total of 47 species were recorded for the morning.

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Darter in almost ‘snake bird’ pose (left); Tawny Frogmouths (right). Photos by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch, back at Lillydale Lake, a short walk was taken around the nearby wetlands where Pink-eared Ducks and a Little Pied Cormorant were added to the tally. To everyone’s delight further great views of the Azure Kingfisher were enjoyed, as well as many more sightings of the Darters. A creditable 50 species were recorded on a very enjoyable outing.

See full outing bird list: BM Apr 2016 Bird List Lillydale Lake