On Friday 21 April, Pat Bingham led the U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk at Blackburn Lake Sanctuary. On this cold, wet morning, umbrellas were put to good use by the 15 people who attended. Twenty five species were seen with nice views of Spinebills feeding in Correa bushes as well as both Pied and Grey Currawongs. They walked right under the roosting Tawny Frogmouths but it was too wet to look up much. Pat found them the next day when she was again at the same location.
On Saturday 22 April Pat Bingham led the Friends of Blackburn Creeklands Bird Survey. Eighteen people attended and they found 29 species. There were plenty of ‘big’ birds like Gang-gangs, Galahs, King Parrots, Pied Currawongs and Little Ravens. The many Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets were all very noisy. Only Brown Thornbills and a couple of Grey Fantails of the smaller fry were sighted.
Graeme Hosken again led the Breakfast with the Birds at Wilson Park in Berwick walk on Sunday 23 April. It was a perfect morning for birding with no wind and mild conditions. Several new faces joined the group for the two hour walk around the park. Twenty four species were sighted during the morning with Striated Thornbill being added to the list. The list for this bi-annual activity now totals 86 species. All enjoyed their breakfast at the walk’s end.
This month, four activities have been delivered, by four different people.
On Thursday 9 March, Janet Hand gave a Powerpoint presentation to the senior members of St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Box Hill. She spoke about how the bird species have changed in Box Hill since Tess Kloot’s book on the “Birds of Box Hill” was researched from 1988 to 1991. Crested Pigeons were not recorded in those surveys. This presentation followed a luncheon for the 25 people present.
Graeme Hosken spoke to 14 members of St Mark’s Uniting Church in Mount Waverley on Wednesday 15March. His presentation was titled “Catching up with the illegals” – the story of our migrating birds.
On Friday 17 March, Pat Bingham began her monthly bird walks with members of the Hawthorn U3A. That day they met at the Sinclair Avenue Wetlands adjacent to the U3As HQ in Glen Iris. They had 18 participants and recorded 17 species – best of these were a Nankeen Night-heron and about 30 Little Corellas.
Gay Gallagher addressed the Ivanhoe Garden Club in Ivanhoe on Tuesday 28 March. Her topic was “Birds of Metropolitan Melbourne”. Approximately 50 people were in attendance and they were very interested and asked lots of questions.
The final 2016 Education Activity was on 21 December when Janet Hand addressed the ladies and gentlemen of The Probus Club of Donview Heights in Doncaster East. She spoke about the birds that are seen locally and particularly in the nearby Ruffey Lake Park. Forty-five people attended this meeting and many were surprised by how many species can be found locally.
2017 has started with us receiving many bookings, spread right through until the end of October.
On Wednesday 22 February, Janet visited the residents of Rylands of Hawthorn. 21 people attended this morning presentation on ‘Discovering birdlife in the backyards of Melbourne.’ After viewing the PowerPoint they were interested in seeing eight skins from our BirdLife Skins Collection. These included the tiny Spotted Pardalote and the large Tawny Frogmouth.
‘The associations between birds and plants’ was presented to the Field Naturalists of Victoria Day Group at Blackburn on Tuesday 28 February. Twenty-eight people attended this morning, some of whom were visitors to the meeting. Janet also did this presentation and noted how many people were surprised by the different types of foods that are needed to cater for our wide range of birds.
Note from Janet Hand
The Education Speakers Group has eight people who are happy to address Community groups within our area. Unfortunately all these people live in the Eastern or South-eastern suburbs. Is there anyone interesting in joining our group from other areas of Melbourne? As most of this group are retired or semi-retired we know there will be periods when several people are unavailable because of their holidays and travels. This is why I need a larger group than may be needed at any one time.
Although I am doing the first three bookings this year you will notice new names appearing in our Education Activities Calendar (on our website soon) and my monthly Blogs as the load is shared around.
We are always looking for bookings so we can share the joy of bird watching. We do ask the organisations for a donation to speak to their groups and use this as a fundraiser (or as a speaker’s expense venue if they request it).
Janet Hand BirdLife Melbourne Education Coordinator 9842 4177
The October weather pattern continued with a damp day for the walk through the Yarran Dheran Nature Reserve in the City of Whitehorse on Saturday 12 November. Geoff Russell led a group of 19 people where they viewed 27 species and heard two others. A feature of the morning was a nesting Eastern Yellow Robin. A good mixture of small bush birds were also present in the reserve.
I had organised two members to lead bird walks at The Pipemakers Park in Maribrynong on Sunday 13 November for an Environmental Day. Unfortunately the communication from the council failed to continue with the leaders and we did not attend on the day. Thank you Joab Wilson and Pat Bingham for offering to help.
On Thursday 17 November, Pat Bingham spoke at the Friends of Salt Creek and Associated Parklands AGM in Macleod. Her topic of “Australia – Land of Parrots” was well received and generated lots of questions. This group has a small membership so it was good that about 20 attended the AGM. They do regular bird surveys of the Macleod Parklands and enter their data in the BirdLife database. They missed out on Swift Parrots this winter but had their first record of Little Lorikeet instead.
On Friday 18 November, the Hawthorn U3A had their last monthly bird walk for this year in Wilson Park in Ivanhoe. As usual Pat Bingham led this walk. The best birds were several Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrikes, a nesting Magpie-lark, Red-browed Finches feeding in the grass with a nest not far away, a pair of Red-rumped Parrots about a metre away from them and Crested Shrike-tits calling but not seen. It is marvelous that this group is continuing in March 2017 due to popular request.
After being postponed last month, Sunday 20 November, saw us take part in the sixth bird survey on a Kinglake West property as part of the Discover Whittlesea’s Native Birds sponsored by the City of Whittlesea. This warm day saw Pat Bingham, Jane Moseley and Geoff Russell lead the walks. Unfortunately the warm weather must have frightened off some who booked as the leaders, council staff and the property owners outnumbered the locals. 32 species were recorded on the morning with five new species being added to the list. These were Gang-gang Cockatoo, Sacred Kingfisher, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Eastern Spinebill and a Nankeen Kestrel. This takes the property list to 61 species. A light luncheon and a cold drink were appreciated at the end of the walk.
Thank you to everyone who has assisted with our education activities this year. 23 different people have made my organisation so much easier. We covered 38 walks, talks and displays this year. As the bookings roll in for next year I hope I can count on everyone’s support again.
Season’s Greetings to everyone and a Happy New Year.
The unpredictable weather has had a negative effect on our October activities.
On Sunday, 9 October 2016 Graeme Hosken led a group of 11 people on a walk through Wilson Park in Berwick. The area was sheltered from the worst of the wind and an 8am start assisted too. Twenty eight species were found on their walk and this was followed by a lovely breakfast supplied by the Friends of Wilson Park.
On the same day Sonja Ross and Sally Heeps were to lead a walk through the Granite Hills in South Morang. This walk was cancelled due to the dangerous high winds forecast. It was organised by a staff member from the City of Whittlesea. Hopefully we can assist them at a later date.
On Saturday, 15 October 2016 Janet Hand set up an information table at the Mitchell Annual Spring Plant Expo and sales in Kilmore. It was the first lovely weekend for a while and many people decided to attend other outdoor activities in the district but many interesting conversations were had.
The sixth bird survey was scheduled on Sunday, 16 October on a Kinglake West property as part of the Discover Whittlesea’s Native Birds sponsored by the City of Whittlesea. Again the weather was responsible for this being postponed until Sunday, 20 November. Thank you Tazmin Duggan and Sally Heeps for volunteering for the 16th.
On Friday, 21 October 2016 Pat Bingham led 11 walkers from the Hawthorn U3A along the Blackburn Lake Creeklands. Pat reported the ‘weather was grey, no rain at the time but very wet underfoot.’ They found 20 species including three of those nesting (Noisy Miner, Pied Currawong and Tawny Frogmouth). They also saw a large melon-sized, very cold and bedraggled bee swarm hanging from an Acacia twig – probably took off on Thursday (very warm day) and got caught out by the change of weather.
On Saturday, 22 October 2016 Pat returned to the same venue to assist the Friends of Blackburn Lake Creeklands conduct their survey. On this occasion 20 people came and they found 24 species. It was another cold start (mufflers and gloves all round) so it was great that anyone turned up at all to join Ian Moodie (Pat’s co-leader) and Pat, and with all the local knowledge and extra pairs of eyes and ears they helped to make it a good morning in spite of the weather. The bee swarm was still on its twig, colder and wetter and less movement of bees around it than the day before. The group found five more Tawny Frogmouths but still only one nest; nesting Kookaburras and Grey Butcherbirds both feeding young; nesting Wood Ducks as well as Pacific Black Ducks with families of fluffy ducklings. The rain started after about an hour so the hot drinks and lovely breakfast after the walk, courtesy of the Friends’ Committee, was very much appreciated.
The same weather pattern continued onto Sunday, 23 October 2016 when we had our 18th Breakfast with the Birds at Banyule. With an occasional shower predicted, half of those who had booked chose to stay in bed. The ground was wet under foot from the 22ml of rain on the Saturday but the participants who did arrive and my leaders had dressed appropriately. It’s a pity that the 50 people who booked, and didn’t turn up, obviously don’t care about the effort and expense that goes into organising such a function. The Banyule City Council organised another wonderful sit-down breakfast spread with plenty of food left over. Thank you to Jim Mead and his six staff members from the Banyule City Council for all their help and preparation.
I appreciate the distances that many of my leaders travelled on the day with most not being locals. Special thanks to my leaders Pat Bingham, Peter Dynes, Lyn Easton, Anthea Fleming, Carol Griffiths, Robert Grosvenor, Daphne Hards, Richard Loyn, Elva and Ian Muir, Shirley and Bill Ramsay, Sonja Ross and Scot Sharman.
Again the bird list didn’t disappoint. Daphne and Shirley’s group added the 123rd species to our BwtB list with two Rufous Fantails found down near the river. 61 species were found within Banyule Flats and 39 in the Warringal wetlands area. With five species being found in the Warringal area that weren’t found in Banyule, the total species for the day was 66 species. Ten species were noted breeding in Banyule Flat and only one in Warringal. With the wetlands full, all the waders have left and there was no raptors seen on the day. Shining Bronze-Cuckoos and Fan-tailed Cuckoos were observed as well as five species of Honeyeaters.
My thanks to all those who have been kind enough to help with our BirdLife Melbourne Education activities.
With terrible weather predicted on Friday 19 August, 2016 eight members of the Hawthorn U3A met for their Monthly Bird Walk at Ricketts Point, Black Rock with Pat Bingham. They stayed for only one hour. In that time they found 26 species of birds. Both Gulls (both adult and juveniles), three species of Cormorants, Hoary-headed Grebes, Common Bronzewings, Australian Pelicans and both species of Wattlebirds were sighted.
On Wednesday 31 August, 2016 Janet Hand made her annual visit to Mercy Place at Boronia. This year her topic was ’61 birds that you won’t see in Boronia.’ This brought back memories for those who had travelled to other parts of Australia. Twenty five ladies enjoyed the afternoon.
On Friday 2September, 2016 Graeme Hosken gave a Powerpoint presentation at the Mt Waverley Youth Centre to approximately 100 members of the Combined Probus of Monash. His presentation was on bird migration entitled ‘Catching up with the illegals’. Many of the audience had little knowledge of the birds that travel here each year and how they make the long journey and were fascinated by the presentation.
Because of renovations to the Eltham Community Centre, the Annual Yarra Yarra Plant Expo in September was cancelled this year.
Janet Hand visited Rylands of Kew on Monday 12September and spoke about ‘Birds of the Kew area’. 27 people crowded into the theatre to see the presentation which was followed by a lovely afternoon tea made by two of the residents.
On Tuesday 13 September, 2016 Bill Ramsay spoke to the Whitehorse Day Group at the Box Hill RSL about ‘Attracting birds to your backyard and what you can hope to see’. This created a lot of interest and many questions. Approximately 50 people attended.
On the night of our monthly meeting at Balwyn (Tuesday 27 September, 2016) Sally Heeps addressed a smaller group of the Whitehorse Greens in the Box Hill Community Arts Centre. Sally spoke about the birds of Box Hill and the problem with the Common Mynas.
I thank all my presenters and the various organisations for making donations that assist in bird conservation.
During the past three months Pat Bingham has taken the members of the Hawthorn U3A for three bird walks. This group are enthusiasts for being out and about, walking in all weathers, with birds as a lovely extra.
On 20 May they visited Norton’s Park & Shepherd’s Bush. Eleven people attended and they saw 27 species including the pair of Scarlet Robins that had been reported on Birdline and a lovely male Golden Whistler who entertained them with his calls. It was a very windy day with plenty of sun.
On June 17th the same members visited Wattle Park. This day only 10 people attended and found 13 species including two pairs of Tawny Frogmouths and 17 Gang-Gangs (noisily squabbling over fruits of a Southern Mahogany). It was a very cold, wet, bleak day. Lots of Saffron Milk-caps (edible fungi) and Nodding Greenhoods (orchids) were interesting when the birding was so slow.
Rigby’s Wetlands (along Dandenong Creek in Mulgrave) was visited on 15 July. Forty-one species were viewed by the 10 people attending. These included a Pelican and Great Egret, 15 Flame Robins and 50+ Red-browed Finches. The wetlands were very full and empty of most ducks and gallinules. The day was summed up as no waders, no sunshine but lots of wind blowing.
Pat then gave two lectures to groups at the Deepdene U3A and a second one at the Stonnington U3A. Thirty people attended on 23 May and another 45 people, a week later on 31 May. Her talk was entitled ‘Australia – Land of Parrots. Is this really so?’ Pat reports that the talk went well with lots of comments and questions and was much enjoyed by both groups. It covered the history of the reporting and mapping of parrots from Roman times to the early settlement of Australia: the types and relationships of Australasian parrots and a discussion of the latest evidence suggesting that parrots like their closest bird relatives (songbirds) may both have evolved and spread from Gondwana. Thus ‘Terra Australis – Land of Parrots’ is perhaps more accurate than singling out Australia alone.
On Saturday 16 July, 2016 Gay Gallagher gave a Powerpoint presentation to the Knox Home Garden Club. The venue was the U3A Knox in Ferntree Gully. Forty-five people attended to see and hear her presentation on ‘Attracting birds to your garden’. They were an interested group who asked lots of questions.
On Wednesday 20 July, 2016 Janet Hand visited the ladies of Kew Legacy. It was a cool day and 12 ladies attended to hear how to identify birds and saw photographs of the ones they may find in their area.
Janet Hand visited the Korana Community Centre in Kew on Thursday 28 July for a post lunch presentation. Twelve gentlemen enjoyed her presentation on local birds and how to identify them.
I thank Pat and Gay for running their education activities. Also a special thanks to Gay for keeping an eye on Education while I was on holidays. We look forward to a busy Spring after the current weather passes by.
On Wednesday 6 April, Janet Hand spoke to 25 members of the Doncaster & Templestowe Historical Society about the different species of birds that can be found in Manningham. The open fire was welcome on this wet evening.
On Saturday 9th April Geoff Deason and Jenny Frohlich assisted with the bird survey of the Blackburn Lake Sanctuary. Twenty-nine species were seen within the sanctuary.
On Wednesday 13th April twelve ladies from the Mercy Boronia Hostel met our members at the recently refurnished Blackburn Lake Education Centre.
They were given a brief history of the area by Peter Dempsey (Blackburn Lake Committee) and then a PowerPoint presentation on the different style of nests that birds build. It was then their turn to construct a birds nest with coconut fibre and line it with cotton wool. The ladies were then given morning tea and a short walk in the Sanctuary before leaving by bus at midday. Thank you to the helpers on the day – Peter Dempsey, Gay Gallagher, Jenny Frohlich and Janet Hand.
The following day Janet Hand visited the Heidelberg Pre-school and spoke to the 4year old group about backyard birds. They were given a short PowerPoint and shown some birds from our skins collection. As they have a treed area, they already had a good knowledge of the local species that rest and nest nearby.
Pat Bingham led a group from the Hawthorn U3A on a walk on Friday 15 April. They visited the Karkarook Park in Heatherton. Seventeen people attended, including an American birdo, and they saw 27 species. These included a female Blue-billed Duck, Red-browed Finches, 60 Long-billed Corellas and a Black-fronted Dotterel. A Pacific Gull was seen here – an unusual visitor to inland waters, as well as a very active Copperhead snake. Perhaps the warm weather brought out this late sighting.
On Saturday 23 April, the Friends of Blackburn Lake Creeklands conducted their biannual survey. This survey was led by Pat Bingham and Ian Moodie and produced 29 species. The most interesting being ‘lots of’ (more than six) Australian King-Parrots, Musk Lorikeets and Tawny Frogmouths. Four Cattle Egret and three Gang-gang Cockatoos flew overhead. The usual female Golden Whistler was found in the same tree as on other Autumn surveys. For the first time in four years an Australian Wood Duck was added to the list. Twenty five people attended this survey and were divided into two groups. Thanks Pat and Ian.
On Monday 1 February, Bill Ramsay spoke to 50 members of the public at the Nunawading Library about ‘Attracting birds to their backyards’. This presentation was well received with many on a waiting list to attend. This night was organised by Millie Wells from the Whitehorse Council.
On the following Monday 8 February, Bill was invited to address the St John Vianney’s Green & Brown Thumbs Garden Club in Mulgrave. Again a large crowd attended as Bill spoke about attracting birds to your garden.
Wednesday 10 February saw Janet Hand travelling to Croydon to address the Croydon Probus Club. About 65 men and women heard her speak about ‘Attracting birds to your garden naturally’.
For the third Monday in a row (15 February), Bill Ramsay’s services were requested when he spoke to the Knox U3A Garden Group in Ferntree Gully about ‘Attracting birds to your garden and what you can hope to see’.
Sonja Ross addressed a small group of the Royal Photographic Society, Melbourne Chapter in Rosanna on Wednesday 17 February. Her topic was ‘Bird photography, more than just competitions’.
On Wednesday 2 March Janet Hand spoke to a small group from the Boroondara Aged Services Care (BASS Care) Learn, Laugh & Lunch group in Canterbury about the birds found in their area. The BirdLife bird skins added an extra dimension to this talk.
On Friday 18 March Pat Bingham lead the first on her monthly walks for The Hawthorn U3A along Gardiners Creek. Eight people braved our first very wet day of the year and were rewarded with White-faced Heron and both Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants.
On Wednesday 11 November, 2015 Janet Hand spoke to about 25 members of the St James Glen Iris Garden Club about attracting birds and butterflies to their gardens.
Geoff Russell led a walk through Yarran Dheran Reserve in Mitcham on Saturday 14 November, 2015. Twelve people joined Geoff on this walk and they found 33 species of birds with the most interesting observation being an Olive-backed Oriole nesting.
On Sunday 22 November, 2015 Pat Bingham addressed the Friends of Wattle Park. Twenty five people enjoyed her presentation of the ‘Birds of the Surrey Hills area: yesterday, today and tomorrow’.
On Thursday 10 December, 2015 Janet Hand visited the Gowrie Victoria Kindergarten in North Carlton to talk to the three year old group. They saw a short Powerpoint on Backyard Birds and were interested in the skins that were shown. Janet was impressed with the knowledge of birds displayed by such a young group.
Thank you to everyone
This year, my 31 education helpers have assisted in the running of 55 activities. Several people have helped with multiple activities. We are always looking for more assistants to lighten the load. Melbourne Branch covers a large area and many of my assistants live in a small area so it would be good to have someone living closer to where a presentation is needed who would be happy to do a couple talks a year closer to their home. All training will be given.
We already have several bookings for 2016.
Season’s Greetings to all and may you enjoy good health and find new birds in 2016.