3 December 2016
Words and photos by Merrilyn Serong
What a beautiful day for birding and boneseeding; mostly calm with a warming sun and good company. Thanks to the participants for making it a very enjoyable day for my last time as organiser of the activity.
As usual, we began at the carpark near the Park Office, where there were both Grey and Pied Currawongs. Two chicks, which I believe were Grey Currawongs, had almost outgrown their nest, high in a nearby Eucalypt. Near the dam, we found two Willy Wagtail nests with a parent sitting on each one.
Despite the good spring rains, the water level of the dam was still low, though a little higher than it was on our September visit. Turtles used to live in the dam; I wonder if they are still there. The trees in the area looked healthy with lots of new bright green leaves, but flowers, and therefore Lorikeets, were few. No Tawny frogmouths were to be found, either.
Next stop Gravel Pit Tor, with more healthy new growth on the eucalypts. We found the reliable Mistletoebird, but no red robins. This is a good place to look for small bush birds, and we did find Silvereye, Brown Thornbill, Spotted Pardalote, White-throated Treecreeper, Yellow-faced Honeyeater and Rufous Whistler. The last two mentioned are prolific in the park at present. We also saw a goat, which is not unusual here.
Hungry after spending so much time at our first two stops, we eventually arrived at Fawcett’s Gully for lunch. The upper dam had much water, the odd frog, numbers of dragonflies, and a very long Brown Snake.
Disappointingly, our official boneseeding site, which over the past several years has been virtually boneseed-free, was studded with small boneseed plants. It’s the rain, I suspect, and the fact that boneseed seed stay viable for ever in the soil.
When I first became involved in the project, there were numerous large boneseed plants in our site and over the years we have cleared them out. Boneseed really can’t be eradicated, but it can be controlled, at least for a while. Our site does have a lot of native groundcover and small native shrubs that would not have grown if the boneseed had been left there. The new young boneseed plants have not flowered or fruited yet, and we managed to pull out large numbers of them. However, more work is needed.
While we boneseeded at our site, we were visited by numerous Weebills. The ever-present Rufous Whistlers sang. White-winged Choughs and other regulars were there and a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike appeared. Later we found an Eastern Yellow Robin.
Our last walk for the day was in the Seed Garden / Eastern Flat area, as usual at this time of year when the sun sets so late. The water level in the dam had dropped to almost nothing from the reasonable amount that I saw there on Tuesday, only four days ago. Evidence of spring rains can be seen in the longish and now dry grass in open places.
Total bird species count for the day was 37. A quiet day.
Sincere thanks to all those wonderful people who have been part of the project while I have been co-ordinator and also to those who might not have made it to one of the days, but remain interested.
Best wishes to all for happy seasonal celebrations, a wonderful summer and excellent birding. Wherever you are, may your environment be healthy, rich and diverse.
A bird list for the day will soon be available at http://www.birdlifemelbourne.org.au/outings/site-lists/YouYangs%202016.html
I will include another report and photos on my website, http://www.timeinthebush.com/