Category Archives: Merrilyn Serong

BirdLife You Yangs Birding and Boneseeding

1 March 2014, species count 50

The cloudy, calm, mild day of 1 March 2014 made for pleasant You Yangs birding and boneseeding. On arrival at the park, the 10 participants in our group were met by constant bird calls. This was promise of a good day’s birding. Flocks of lorikeets screeched and buzzed as they darted from one patch of eucalypt flowers to another. We had been surprised at the lack of lorikeets on our last visit in December 2013, but now there were three or four species. We had good views of Musk, Rainbow and Purple-crowned. Some of the small flying rockets were probably Little Lorikeets, but the grey sky eliminated their colour and we saw none perched. The Tawny Frogmouths were back in their usual place; good to see.

Tawny Frogmouth. Photograph: Merrilyn Serong
Tawny Frogmouth. Photograph: Merrilyn Serong

We recorded 36 bird species in this area in only an hour and a half, which was rather exceptional. Also, a large, bold, co-operative Koala appeared on the ground providing an excellent opportunity for Ken, who took some lovely photos.

You Yangs Koala. Photograph: Ken Haines
You Yangs Koala. Photograph: Ken Haines
You Yangs Koala. Photograph: Ken Haines
You Yangs Koala. Photograph: Ken Haines

As usual, our second stop was Gravel Pit Tor. It was much quieter here and extremely dry. Many of the boneseed plants were brown, as were most of the native mint bushes Prostanthera nivea. We recorded our first White-throated Treecreeper, Rufous Whistler and Scarlet Robin for the day, but only managed a total of 12 bird species compared with 17 last December.

Our lunch area was also quite brown and dry. It now has an official sign: Fawcett’s Gully, complete with the possessive apostrophe. There was a time when these were dropped for place names.

In March 2013, due to closure of the Great Circle Drive, we were unable to visit some of the usual places, including our boneseeding site.                        Instead we chose a more accessible spot further north beside Branding Yard Road near the end of Toynes Road and pulled out many large boneseed plants. On revisiting the area now after a year had elapsed, the strewn grey skeletons of last year’s plants were still evident. Fortunately no new seedlings had grown. With such success, we decided to tackle another stand of large old boneseed plants a little further west along Branding Yard Road. An hour of hard work here earned us more birding time so, leaving our cars by the Great Circle Drive, we enjoyed a long walk through the Eastern Flat area. We found 21 bird species, including Diamond Firetail and Rainbow Bee-eater, both of which we had missed last December. When we were ready to leave, we discovered a newly-made track at the edge of the Eastern Flat and followed it, hoping it might lead us back to the Great Circle Drive and our cars. Sadly, after meandering through a boneseed woodland, it veered off in the wrong direction. We doubled back and followed a dry creek bed that we knew led to our boneseeding site, where we left the creek and took a path to the Great Circle Drive. Our site is still looking good. No regrets that we pulled out boneseed elsewhere.

Some areas of the park are thick with boneseed, yet with a good group of volunteers, it is possible to keep a fairly large area virtually weed free by visiting only a few times each year.

As we drove out of the park in the late afternoon, we occasionally caught sight of the new winding path that we had abandoned. It tended to hug the perimeter, had some nicely constructed low bridges and is probably intended for bicycles. It would have taken us well out of our way.

Our next scheduled You Yangs visit is Saturday 7th June when daylight will be minimal. We will need to keep an eye on the time. Everyone is welcome to join us.

Further information and photos from the day are on my website http://www.timeinthebush.com/you-yangs-2014.html

Contributor: Merrilyn Serong

BirdLife You Yangs Birding and Boneseeding

7 December 2013, species count 48

The 19 participants at the December You Yangs outing were treated with a perfect blue-sky sunny day. This day was wedged between others with storm, wind and rain. We were very lucky.

Bird species were fewer than expected: 48 compared with 53 at the same time last year, and 60 a few months ago in September. We did not record any lorikeets, even though a number of eucalypts were in full, beautiful blossom and covered with butterflies, bees, beetles and other insects. The Tawny Frogmouths that are usually seen near the Park Office were presumably still nesting somewhere else. Sadly we have not seen a Diamond Firetail for some time. Despite this, some other bird species were quite abundant. Those that we saw in at least three different locations included Eastern Rosella, Superb
Fairy-wren, Brown Thornbill, White-plumed and New Holland Honeyeater, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Rufous Whistler, Australian Magpie, Grey Fantail, Willie Wagtail,
Little Raven, White-winged Chough, and Eastern Yellow Robin. These species are generally widespread and typical of the You Yangs, at least at this time of year.

Of the less common species, many of us had good views of Weebill, Black-chinned and Brown-headed Honeyeater, Varied Sittella and Jacky Winter near the dam not far from the entrance to the park. This has been a very good area for finding small birds on recent visits. Other species that we were pleased to see on the day were Olive-backed Oriole, Scarlet Robin, and Mistletoebird. One fortunate person saw a Silvereye feeding a young Horsefield’s Bronze-Cuckoo. Another observer saw our first recorded Satin Flycatcher.

Some of the participants were so keen to pull out boneseed that they drove around to our designated area ahead of the rest of us. Those left behind enjoyed a leisurely lunch before tackling the boneseed and stayed on later for more birding in the east of the park.

At this time of year we are free to stay as long as we like without having to watch the time the way we do in winter. When the last of us left at about 6pm, the sun was still high in the sky. Summer light is very welcome.

Contributor: Merrilyn Serong