Category Archives: Pardalotus

Tawny Frogmouth: from rescue to release

On the morning of 28 October 2021, I was driving down our court when I noticed a small fluff-ball on the footpath below a neighbour’s large Eucalyptus nicholii nature strip tree.  I stopped to check it out and found a very young Tawny Frogmouth which I assumed had fallen out of a nest.  A parent bird was in the tree, on the lowest branch about 4m up, looking down and keeping watch as there was a Pied Currawong showing a lot of interest.

Tawny Frogmouth chick fallen from a nest
Parent keeping watch

I rang my wife Shirley who was quickly on the scene.  We decided that Shirley would ring the Wildlife Emergency Response to seek instructions on what to do while I kept guard.  Shirley was advised that we should make a nest in a container, make some drainage holes, nail the container in a tree, and place the chick in the new nest.  The advice was that hopefully the parent would watch us transfer the chick and attend the nest to look after it.  If this didn’t happen after a few hours, we were to ring them back.  

I made the nest according to instructions, using an ice-cream container and drilled the drainage holes.  I placed broken twigs in the bottom, with a layer of native grasses cut to length as an upper layer.  I can modestly say that it was a more comfortable nest than the parents would have made.  The height of the lowest branch on the E nicholii was far too high for me, so as advised, I fixed it to a lower tree branch in our front garden.  I picked up the chick and transported it to its new home.  Unfortunately during the whole process, the parent bird was very aware of the Pied Currawong and tried to see it off.  Because of this it may not have seen the relocation.

By this stage Shirley had decided that the chick needed a name, and it was named Thursday, because that was the day we found it.

Thursday in new nest

By mid-afternoon, after several checks, there was no sign of the parent bird, so Shirley rang the Wildlife Emergency Response again.  We were asked to email a photo of the chick so that they had a good idea of the age of the rescued bird.  We were then advised to place the chick in its nest in a dark place, and they would arrange for a Wildlife Rescue Service Volunteer (WRSV) to collect the bird.

The WRSV arrived late afternoon to take Thursday into care. She told us that Thursday looked healthy and was probably a female. She expected to release her near the rescue site, in about 2 months, and she would keep us informed.  We felt quite confident that Thursday was in good hands.

Over the next 2 months we received texts from the WRSV, with attached photos showing Thursday’s development.

8 November 2021: Thursday in centre
23 November 2021: Thursday at end right
8 December 2021: Thursday on right
24 December 2021: Thursday

Thursday with friends in the enclosure
Photos by the Wildlife Rescue Service Volunteer

During care the rescued Tawny Frogmouths lived in meshed enclosure, of sufficient size for the birds to take short flights.  The enclosure had many guests, a normal season being a temporary home to a total of about 20 rescued Tawny Frogmouth chicks. They were fed chicken hearts, meal worms and mice.  The enclosure had lighting to attract moths to supplement their diet and introduce them to becoming self sufficient.  

In early Jan we received a text from the WRSV advising that Thursday, with a friend, would be released as soon as the weather was suitable.  The release site was to be the treed corridor along the creek that runs between Waverley Road & Crosby Drive, Glen Waverley, about 200m from the rescue site.  At dusk, on 10 Jan 2022, Thursday and friend were released, both with full stomachs.  Thursday took off and quickly flew to some low vegetation about 30m distant.  The friend flew higher and perched on a horizontal branch about 4m above the ground, 15m distant.  We watched and waited for a while but the birds seemed settled for the night.  The WRSV assured us that they would be OK, and she would check on them the next day.  Sexing the birds is difficult, but because of the greyer plumage, the WRSV thought Thursday was probably female, and because the friend was browner, she thought it was probably male.

On our walk home, Shirley and I wondered if they would be OK and if we would ever see them again.  We decided that the friend deserved a name, so he was named Novak, as the bird’s release date was on the same day as Novak Djokovic’s release from detention.

Next morning at 8:30 we checked out the release site but at first could not find either bird.  After a closer look in the immediate area where Thursday was last seen, Thursday and Novak were there, back from the track, in classic stick posture, with eyes narrowed to slits, on a near vertical fallen branch only about 1m above the ground.  I had concerns about their safety as they were so close to the ground.  Checking HANZAB, one study reported that of roosting birds flushed, 50% were flushed from the ground, so perhaps there was no need for my concern.

Morning of 11 January 2022: Thursday rear, Novak front
Afternoon of 11 January 2022: Thursday rear, Novak front

On a return visit to the site mid-afternoon, I found both birds at the same roosting site, but Novak was much more animated than for the morning visit.

On a visit to the site on the morning of 12 Jan, neither bird could be found, but encouragingly there was no heap of feathers on the ground at the previous day’s roosting site.  Another visit on the same afternoon, and again no bird could be found.  Further visits on the morning and afternoon of 13 Jan also produced no sightings.  The corridor is a well timbered stretch with many suitable roosting sites, both at low level and higher level.  The WRSV advised that released birds are rarely seen at the release site, so no sightings could be a good sign.

I chose to believe that they are hunkered down somewhere in the corridor.  I was resigned to the fact that maybe I would never see either of the birds again, but just maybe one day, on a walk along the creek I will discover one or both Tawny Frogmouths.

Afternoon of 18 January 2022: A third juvenile Tawny Frogmouth 50m from the release site

But there is a sequel to this story.  Late afternoon on 18 Jan I spotted a juvenile Tawny Frogmouth only about 50m from the release site.  I was very excited with my find and hoped it was Thursday or Novak, so I took several photos to try and confirm which one it was.  The bird appeared to be smaller than either of the two, and on close examination of the photos, the tail was shorter and markings on the back, wings and tail didn’t agree with those of either Thursday or Novak.  I can only conclude that it was a third juvenile bird in this small patch of bush.  Of course, I will keep looking.

Bill Ramsay, Jan 2022
All photos by Bill Ramsay unless noted otherwise

A new bird call in Reservoir

Dear readers

Over the last week I have been hearing a novel sound; a new bird call for this neck of the woods. I am a novice birder and upon hearing it I grabbed my binoculars and went out to look for the source. My neighbours knew exactly what I was trying to do, because they too had been hearing this peculiar sound – definitely a bird call, but out of place where the standard bird fare is Magpies, Red Wattlebirds and Pigeons.

No luck on the first day, but on the second day I recorded it and sent it out to some people who would know the answer. Long time BirdLife member, Bill Ramsay, got back straight away with the answer – an Eastern Koel. Since then I have been learning all about this bird with the big sound, including how some people regard it as one of the most annoying bird calls, as this amusing article by Justin Huntsdale, Wollongong portrays.

However, this little bird call brings a smile to my face every time. Judge for yourself:

Adriana
BirdLife Melbourne Blog Editor

Birds in Schools

Birds in Schools continues to build momentum in Melbourne. Nine schools, and approximately 460 students, are now participating in the program, which is a joint effort by teachers and students from participating schools, BirdLife staff and volunteers, and local councils. The Birds in Schools program is designed to teach students to identify and survey birds, investigate their habitat requirements, and ultimately, take action to make their school more bird-friendly. The students and teachers involved have been engaged and excited, and are becoming very keen bird-watchers! Our BirdLife volunteers, Bill, Sally, Jacinta, Cody and Melissa have been invaluable on school visits with their birding expertise and enthusiasm.

Action days have now been held at two schools to make the school grounds more bird-friendly. Teachers and students at Spotswood Primary School and Coburg Primary School have put in an enormous effort to learn about birds and their habitats, and decided to have planting days to increase native vegetation to support bird populations. A huge thank you must go to Andrew from Hobsons Bay City Council and Vince from Moreland City Council, who have supported these school plantings through providing local native plants, tree guards and stakes, tools and their expert knowledge and assistance on the days. Thank you also to wonderful BirdLife volunteer, Jacinta, who assisted with the Coburg PS action day

Picture1.png
Students at Spotswood Primary School water their new plants

Many schools are integrating Birds in Schools into other areas of the curriculum and the results are impressive! After learning about the lack of suitable habitat in urban areas, students from grades 5 and 6 from Coburg Primary School and Cornish College have been getting creative with their new knowledge.

Joshua from Coburg Primary School has written a beautiful and educational poem about the importance of native shrubs for our birdlife.

The Spikey Bush – By Joshua

Prickly and harsh but plentiful with flowers,

A sea of pink and green.

Sharp but uncontested for our soaring friends of wings.

Looks can be deceiving,

From nature to raw stone.

Stop and take a look,

For this is our home.

Dion from Cornish College has recorded the class’s observations of a big old eucalyptus tree at their school in a detailed illustration showing Red-rumped Parrots using tree hollows.

Picture2

Lily from Cornish College has this to say about their participation in Birds in Schools so far:

Picture3
This is me and my friends comparing our survey results.
Birds in Schools is a great program that we all enjoy, so this was really fun.
Lily.

Students from Coburg Primary School have been able to investigate birds that interest them. Evie researched and illustrated this Orange Bellied Parrot.

Picture4

Schools all around Australia can participate independently in the Pardalote Package, the first two modules of the program any time by registering at www.birdsinbackyards.net/Birds-Schoolsor contacting birdsinschools@birdlife.org.au

We welcome new schools and volunteers for the program. If you are interested in volunteering for Birds in Schools, or if you are a teacher who is interested in participating in the program, please get in touch with Alex by email at: alexandra.johnson@birdlife.org.au

 

 

 

 

BirdLife Melbourne Balwyn meeting – 23 October 2018

As advised previously, future meetings for approximately one year from September 2018, will be held at the Greythorn Community Hub, 2 Centre Way, North Balwyn, Melway 46 H2. Centre Way runs north off Doncaster Road, approximately 0.6km west of the Eastern Freeway.

NOTE REVISED ACCESS AND CAR PARKING ARRANGEMENTS FOR THIS MEETING

Contrary to previous advice at meetings, websites and blog, there are some changes to access and car parking to be noted. Tuesday, 23 October is the second meeting at our new temporary venue, the Foard Room, Greythorn Community Hub, 2 Centre Way, North Balwyn, Melway 46 H2. Centre Way runs north off Doncaster Rd, approx 0.6km west of the Eastern Fwy. 

Underground parking will be available for this meeting with entry only available from 7:15 pmto 8:00pm.When entering the car park proceed slowly from the road to just past the the top of the ramp as there is a significant grade change that could cause underside scraping for low clearance vehicles travelling at high speed.
Access from the underground car park to the ground floor is via a lift.
No key pad code or swipe card will be required to enter the underground car park or access the lift.

If arriving after 8:00pm, you will be required to use the ground level parking close to the Hub and the adjoining shopping centre. 

Access into the venue from ground level will be via a door on the south side of our meeting room.  Just follow the path from Centre Way or from Trentwood Avenue.  The building will be well illuminated after 7:15pm.  No key pad code or swipe card will be required for access.

Greythorn Map

Tuesday 8pm – Balwyn BirdLife Melbourne meeting

Guest Speaker: Peter Fowler. Subject: Amazing Hummingbirds. Member’s Topic: Janet Hand – Crossing Arnhem Land after the Big Wet.

Stay for supper and a chat after the meeting. Contact Alan, 0432 494 425 or melbourne@birdlife.org.au

Greythorn Satellite.JPG

 The map and satellite images were taken before the Greythorn Community Hub was constructed.

Access into the venue will now be via a door on the south side of our meeting room.  Just follow the path from Centre Way or from Trentwood Avenue.  The building will be well illuminated after 7:15pm. No key pad code will be required.

We look forward to seeing you at the meeting.Bird

BirdLife Melbourne Balwyn Meetings – 23 October 2018

As advised previously, future meetings for approximately one year from September 2018, will be held at the Greythorn Community Hub, 2 Centre Way, North Balwyn, Melway 46 H2. Centre Way runs north off Doncaster Road, approximately 0.6km west of the Eastern Freeway.

NOTE REVISED ACCESS AND CAR PARKING ARRANGEMENTS FOR THIS MEETING

Contrary to previous advice at meetings, websites and blog, there are some changes to access and car parking to be noted. Tuesday, 23 October is the second meeting at our new temporary venue, the Foard Room, Greythorn Community Hub, 2 Centre Way, North Balwyn, Melway 46 H2. Centre Way runs north off Doncaster Rd, approx 0.6km west of the Eastern Fwy. 

Underground parking will be available for this meeting with entry only available from 7:15 pmto 8:00pm.When entering the car park proceed slowly from the road to just past the the top of the ramp as there is a significant grade change that could cause underside scraping for low clearance vehicles travelling at high speed.
Access from the underground car park to the ground floor is via a lift.
No key pad code or swipe card will be required to enter the underground car park or access the lift.

If arriving after 8:00pm, you will be required to use the ground level parking close to the Hub and the adjoining shopping centre. 

Access into the venue from ground level will be via a door on the south side of our meeting room.  Just follow the path from Centre Way or from Trentwood Avenue.  The building will be well illuminated after 7:15pm.  No key pad code or swipe card will be required for access.

Greythorn Map

Tuesday 8pm – Balwyn BirdLife Melbourne meeting

Guest Speaker: Peter Fowler. Subject: Amazing Hummingbirds. Member’s Topic: Janet Hand – Crossing Arnhem Land after the Big Wet.

Stay for supper and a chat after the meeting. Contact Alan, 0432 494 425 or melbourne@birdlife.org.au

 Greythorn Satellite.JPG

 The map and satellite images were taken before the Greythorn Community Hub was constructed.

Access into the venue will now be via a door on the south side of our meeting room.  Just follow the path from Centre Way or from Trentwood Avenue.  The building will be well illuminated after 7:15pm. No key pad code will be required.

We look forward to seeing you at the meeting.

Important notice – September Beginners Outing

BirdLife Melbourne members who are looking forward to the 22 September Beginners Outing should take note that there has been a change in the meeting point.

Due to the closure of Red Gums Picnic Area car park at Hawkstowe Park, members will now meet at 10.00am in the lower car park at Hawkstowe Picnic Area off Gordons Road. Mel 183 J7.  Contact, Hazel 03 9876 3712 if you have any queries.

 

Flockwiz event with quizmaster, the Flaming Galah

Think you know your birds? Then why not put it to the test in this fun, irreverent and in depth knowledge of all things birdy. Grab a bunch of like-minded friends to book a table and resolve once and for all who is the Bird Brain of 2017!
Drinks and snacks will be served, and free parking out front.
There are only 10 tables of 8 people available, so get in quick and register a table now, this will help us out with running the night and providing prizes.
We look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday 14 December, 7.30-10.30pm

Go here to register!

Tess Kloot – A Tribute

Tess Kloot died on the 10th November 2016, just one day short of her 93rd birthday. In earlier days she was an active member of all three bird organisations centred in Melbourne – the RAOU/BA, BOC/BOCA and VORG. She was archivist for the RAOU in the 1970’s and then a library volunteer for BOCA and a member of its Publication Committee. In 2005 she received the BOCA Distinguished Service Award.

Tess threw herself into all things ornithological, including the usual birdwatching activities. She contributed to bird surveys, e.g. The Atlas of Australian Birds conducted by the RAOU from 1977 – 1981, and she herself organised the VORG 1988 – 1991 survey on the birds of Box Hill.

As part of her varied ornithological activities, Tess delved deeply into birds, books, biographies, bibliographies and history, reading and writing prolifically. Many of her articles appeared in The Bird Observer and VORG Notes. She was author or co-author of books and reports such as Birds of Australian Gardens (publ. Rigby 1980), Birds of Cranbourne Botanic Gardens (publ. BOCA 1993), Birds of Box Hill (publ. VORG 2000) and was both the compiler and author of a large bio-bibliographical supplement (publ. BOCA 1995) to Whittell’s The Literature of Australian Birds, 1618 – 1950.

Perhaps the greatest single task that Tess undertook was to collect first-hand information on the lives of all ornithologists connected with Australian birds. For these she used questionnaires, conducted personal interviews and corresponded widely. She gathered together 567 biographical files, 164 newspaper cuttings, c. 145 people photographs, and additional material on Tom Iredale and his wife Lillian Medland. In 2003 all this was accepted by the State Library of Victoria where it is stored as The Tess Kloot Collection (ref. no. PA 03/107) and may be consulted by those seeking relevant information.

Helen I. Aston

Twelve journeys across the Nullarbor 2008-2015

Balwyn meeting report, 22 November 2016
Photographs by John Barkla

John Barkla has many years of birding behind him having started as a boy. He has been a member of Birdlife Australia and it’s antecedents for 40 years. He has held several operational positions and remains Vice-President and Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee. He has been on Melbourne Water’s Biodiversity Conservation Advisory Committee at the Melbourne Treatment Plant, Werribee since 1986, and lately it’s Chair. In recent years he has traversed the continent with his partner, Alison Street, a dozen times and came to relate to us a composite of those journeys, Twelve Journeys across the Nullarbor 2008-2015. The audience had gathered to hear his favourite birding spots and to see John’s magnificent bird photography.

Mallee Emu-wren at Murray Sunset National Park, Vic.jpg
Mallee Emu-wren at Murray Sunset National Park

Leaving Melbourne on day one their destination is often Hattah-Kulkyne NP. Birding is always good here and a visit to Lake Mournpall may score Apostlebirds, which rarely can be seen in South Australia. Mallee Emu-wrens have declined 90% in Victoria due to habitat reduction and fires. John recommends a drive along the Nowinji Track which runs on the east and west of the highway, listening carefully for their faint call –“virtually impossible to locate by sight”.

The next stop is Birdlife Australia’s Gluepot Reserve, reached by crossing the Murray River at Waikerie SA. This marvellous area of Mallee and Triodia (spinifex) is not only great for birds but is home to 52 species of reptiles and over 150 species of ants! The habitat is perfect for Striated Grasswren, and again John winds down the windows to pick up their soft contact call. He also finds that Red-lored Whistler is best located by their distinctive call – and not to be confused with Gilbert’s Whistler. The critically endangered Black-eared Miner are tricky as they hybridise with the Yellow-throated. The hybrids retain the yellow throat feathers but lack black head marking over the ear. Other great birds to see at Gluepot are Shy Heathwren, Scarlet-chested Parrot (recently breeding at Gluepot), Regent and Mulga Parrot, the barnardi race of the Australian Ringneck, Chestnut Quail Thrush, Black Honeyeater and Spotted Nightjar.

At Port Augusta John and Alison always call at the Arid Gardens, did you say for lunch? White-winged Fairy-wren can often be seen beside the road in, and Chirruping Wedgebill are common in the garden.

120 km to the west is Lake Gilles Conservation Park where it is possible to see the newly separated Copper-backed Quail Thrush.

black-eared-cuckoo-belvedere-station-near-scotia-wildlife-sanctuary-nsw
Black-eared Cuckoo, Belvedere Station near Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary, NSW

Gawler Ranges NP is a short detour from the highway. Spectacular scenery can be highlighted further with Crested Bellbird, Black-eared Cuckoo, Southern Scrub-robin, Spiney-cheeked and White-fronted Honeyeaters; and at good times they see Dusky, Black-faced, Masked and White-browed Woodswallows.°°

On one scorching day in January the temperature had risen to 47°C on three consecutive days. John and Alison pulled up at Yantanabie on the Eyre Highway and witnessed several bird species suffering heat stress in the shade of the local hall. They put out water in a bowl and watched; birds drank including 30-40 pipits, while three Ground Cuckoo-shrikes clustered around the sub-floor ducts emitting cool air.

ground-cuckoo-shrike-yantanabie-school-south-austalia
Ground Cuckoo-shrike, Yantanabie School, South Australia

Reaching the Nullarbor Roadhouse, John and Alison invariably head north. The Nullarbor Plain is bordered by the Trans Australian Railway 100km to the north and the Australian Bight to the south, “so you can’t get lost”! The plain is crisscrossed by numerous tracks, but heading north and a tad west you eventually reach Cook. On the way, amongst the low scrub, one should see the Nullarbor Quail- thrush; from this area John also showed Australian Pipit, Inland Dotterel, Australian Bustard, Australian Pratincole, Orange Chat, Rufous Fieldwren and Southern Whiteface.

Having safely reached Cook you might be able to chalk up Little Crow and Black-faced Woodswallow. Next stop, via the Old Eyre Highway, is the beautiful Eyre Bird Observatory south of Cocklebiddy. John was there in 2012 during a mouse plague when the overnight mice catch was offered to grateful Australian Ravens. One could see the gouldii race of Silvereye, also Blue-breasted Fairy-wren, Brush Bronzewing, Brown-headed and Purple-gaped Honeyeaters; but a highlight of a visit to Eyre are the Major Mitchell Cockatoos which daily visit the birdbaths.

From Cocklebiddy John and Alison have taken the track north across Arubiddy Station to Haig and then Rawlinna. One has to phone the station owners to get permission to cross their property. From here the Connie Sue Hwy takes you 400km to Neale Junction where you might be extremely lucky to see Princess Parrot. Alas, not John and Alison. Scarlet-chested Parrots are much more likely plus Grey-fronted Honeyeater, the newly split Sandhill Grasswren; and Redthroat are common.

banded-whiteface-bollards-lagoon-station-sa
Banded Whiteface, Bollard’s Lagoon Station

They head west to the coast, Carnarvon being the southern limit of many northern birds. The Wildflowers en route can be spectacular, such as Wreath Leschenaultia. Near Cue is the monolithic Walga Rock, where you might see Banded Whiteface and Western Quail-thrush. At Monkey Mia the carpark can offer the newly split Western Grasswren; and on the hill behind the carpark one may find the assimilis race of Variegated Fairy-wren. Francois Peron NP is a good site for Pied Honeyeaters.

Having reached Perth the birding does not stop. 200km southwest is the town of Narrogin and nearby, the Dryandra Woodland nature conservation area. John had photographs of Bush Stone-curlew, Western Rosella, Gilbert’s Honeyeater (western species of White-naped Honeyeater), Brown and Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters. All these were taken near Magpie Cottage (accommodation) or at the wardens’ birdbath. The dryandra habitat also supports Rufous Treecreeper and Elegant Parrot.

Whilst in Perth John recommends to always check the rarities sightings. At Cervantes north of Perth they have seen Franklin’s Gull. Then they head to King’s Park and other suburban hotspots to pick up the common western birds, which nonetheless may include western races such as the maculatus race of the White-browed Scrubwren, and the semitorquatus race of Australian Ringneck. Around Perth one can also see Baudin’s Black-Cockatoo and the very similar Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo. At Wungong Dam one can pick up White-breasted Robin and Red-eared Firetail. John recommends visiting all the suburban lakes in Perth (e.g. Bibra, Munger, Herdsman, North and Thomsons). You might see the West Australian bellus form of the Australian Swamphen (no longer Purple Swamphen); or Western Corella, not to be confused with the similar Long-billed Corella.

One of their favourite spots is Lake McLarty, 100km south near Mandurah. Here, when the conditions are right, there are huge numbers of shorebirds. But being ephemeral, the lake’s birds fluctuate. John had great shots of Long-toed Stint, Pectoral, Wood and Broad-billed Sandpiper, Ruff and Osprey, all taken there.

We finished the journey at Rottnest Island, always worth a visit. Here they have seen Common Pheasant, Banded Lapwing, Banded Stilt, Fairy Tern, Ruddy Turnstone, Red-capped and Hooded Plover and Sanderling. Rock Parrots are known to occur on Rottnest but John and Alison have never been successful. A Roseate Tern perched on the rocks might be an alternate reward.

John explained at the beginning that this talk was a composite of 12 trips. He highly recommends a trip across the Nullarbor and he is happy to give anyone advice. We thanked him warmly for a fascinating evening.

Daphne Hards