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.
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.
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