Category Archives: Philip Peel

Shorebird study and identification field trip

9 and 11 February 2017
By Philip Peel
Pettigrew Photography 3.jpg
Photo by Pettigrew Photography
A huge success this month with the Birdlife Melbourne Shorebird study and field trip taken by John Barkla.  We headed to the Western Treatment Plant (WTP) on Saturday 11 February after an extensive and comprehensive beginner talk given by John on Thursday night in front of 50 odd participants.
Photo by Pettigrew Photography
At the WTP we had 49 attendees. Luckily we had the help of Dez Hughes, the ‘Wader Whisperer’. Together John and Dez ran a very successful field trip with most of the common/uncommon waders present on the day and with a few rare waders too.
Photo by Philip Peel
We started at 9 am where we headed to the T-section ponds and we found two Black-tailed Godwits, two Double-banded Plovers, 10+ Common Greenshanks and a few Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and Red-necked Stints. From here we went and checked out the Western lagoons where we found Marsh Sandpipers, Curlew Sandpiper and some Red-kneed Dotterel.
Terek Sandpiper (back); Red-necked Stints (front). Photo by Philip Peel

Our next stop was the Beach Road Rocks, here we stayed for the remainder of the day, with great views of the Red-necked Phalarope, Red Knot, one Terek Sandpiper that showed really well where we could get some nice shots, one Broad-billed Sandpiper that was tough to get on to, but most people were able too see it. Also, we had Common, Whiskered, White-winged, Crested, Little and Fairy Terns on the rocks.
Photo by Pettigrew Photography

A 17 car convoy cruised around the plant  which was the largest I have seen, but was excellently controlled by John, and a huge thanks must go to John, Allison and Dez for putting in a huge effort today and finding all these birds for nearly everyone that attended. It’s tough and hard enough to point out to the person standing next you where to look for a specific bird but with almost 50 people all vying for prime position, this becomes increasingly hard and they did an extremely great job!
Photo by Philip Peel

Since I have been involved with Birdlife Mlebourne this has been the most rewarding, productive and exciting outing I have attended; watching everyone learn new things, watching people’s excitement at seeing a rare wader and the sheer delight of gratitude that was showed to John at the end was very welcoming!

Here is my list from the day; thanks to Graeme for the lift there and to Karen for the drive home! 85 species seen was very cool!

Weekend outing to the Newstead area

23 July 2016
Species count: 66
eastern yellow robin
Eastern Yellow Robin

On a very brisk winter’s day, 30 participants braved the cold weather and converged on the Newstead area for our monthly birdlife outing. The start time of 9am wasn’t too shabby and after posting the location on the website with GPS cooordinates for Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve in Clydesdale, it was surprising that at 8.55am we had only two participants arrive. A phone call came through and everyone had stopped off at a different location along the road, so after a few minutes everyone turned up.

striated Thornbill
Striated Thornbill

By this time the small group of us that were at the right location had already seen Buff-rumped, Yellow and Striated Thornbill and Weebill; Flame Robin and Scarlet Robin, Yellow-tufted, White-naped, Fuscous, Brown-headed Honeyeater, Musk Lorikeet and a fly by from a Little Eagle.

scarlet robin
Scarlet Robin

Once everyone arrived and signed in, we took off. The same birds were still around but we were lucky to also flush an Australian Owlet-nightjar from its hollow which then proceeded to sit perched for all to see on an open branch, before taking flight and finding another hollow to sleep in.

Australian Owlet-nightjar
Australian Owlet-nightjar


We continued the walk around the little area, where we picked up Varied Sittella in a small feeding party.

varied sittella
Varied Sittella

Also here we saw Jacky Winter and heard a Mistletoebird.

Back to the car we headed around to the Zumpes Road section of Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve.

Brown Treecreeper
Brown Treecreeper

The activity here wasn’t as good, but we saw Common Bronzewing, Golden Whistler, Brown Treecreeper, Diamond Firetail and another Australian Owlet-nightjar which was flushed by one person.

Australian Owlet-nightjar tree
Australian Owlet-nightjar


From here we headed into Newstead for a toilet break, some lunch and hopefully a Powerful Owl. It took some searching but we finally located it in a Black Wattle along the Loddon River. We had great views of one bird which was a highlight for most.

powerful owl
Powerful Owl

At the same location we had at least two White-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes flittering around in a wattle which gave great views to everyone.

White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike
White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike

Back to the cars and then we headed into Muckleford State Forest where we focussed our energy and fading afternoon light on Mia Mia Track. The area itself was rather quiet, very little bird calling around but most were lucky enough to see the Spotted Quail-thrush that was darting around the forest floor. One participant was luckiest of all as while he followed the Spotted Quail-thrush he stumbled upon a pair of Painted Button-Quail. As soon as he saw them they disappeared out of sight but not before he could get some awesome shots (let’s just say I had thoughts of letting his tyres down)!

painted button-quail
Painted Button-Quail

Overall it was a very productive winter’s day with 66 species seen and some awesome photos taken, a great day out over the Great Dividing Range and hopefully a place that many people on the outing will visit again. I will certainly be heading back up there in Spring for the birds and the wildflowers as there was so many orchids around.

Weekend outing Coordinator: Philip Peel

Weekend outing to Anglesea

Taking in Point Addis and Anglesea Heath

25 June 2016
Species count: 62
Eastern Yellow Robin
Eastern Yellow Robin

46 people attended the BirdLife Melbourne outing to Anglesea, commencing at 9am and a brisk but lovely winters day. The outing focussed on Anglesea Heath and Point Addis.

group - 2

Us early risers had started birding before the start time and a few species had already been seen on arriving at the meeting place, mainly the Rufous Bristlebirds that frequent the car park at Point Addis.

Rufous Bristlebird - 2
Rufous Bristlebird

Once everyone had turned up, which was a little difficult due to a marathon along Point Addis Road, we started with some sea watching which proved beneficial with both Shy and Black-browed Albatross cruising close to shore and a few distant Greater Crested Terns and Australasian Gannets. After at least 30 minutes we had a flyby by two Brown Skuas, only 200m off shore and gave great views for two or so minutes.

Rufous Bristlebird
Rufous Bristlebird

We left the carpark on a quick walk, but with nearly 2000 people around the area, the birds were scarce and the ambient noise was not conducive to good birding, so we decided too make a quick exit.

Southern Emu-wren
Southern Emu-wren

We headed to Ironbark Basin carpark, where we were greeted with New Holland and Crescent Honeyeaters, Musk and Rainbow Lorikeets and Red Wattlebirds. As we started on the loop track we picked up Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Golden Whistler, White-naped Honeyeater and both Striated and Brown Thornbills. The loop track provided us with some nice Fungi and ground covers and at the bottom of the loop we had two Bassian Thrushes and a beautiful Eastern Yellow Robin.

Southern Emu-wren 2
Southern Emu-wren

It was a good start, and as we continued to the next location in Purnell St in Anglesea we picked up Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Striated Fieldwren, Grey Butcherbird and a beautiful party of Southern Emu-wren.

Tawny-crowned Honeyeater
Tawny-crowned Honeyeater

We continued along the paths alongside the water treatment plant, where we found a small group of Red-browed Finch, Welcome Swallows and a lone Masked Lapwing.

Striated Fieldwren
Striated Fieldwren

As it was nearing lunch we headed to Anglesea where we had lunch at the Lions Park on the Anglesea Foreshore Reserve. We picked up a few birds while at lunch with two Pacific Gulls, a Little Pied Cormorant and a raft of Eurasian Coots plus a lone Australasian Grebe. After lunch we headed back to Inverlochy Road where we went in search of the Chestnut-rumped Heathwren. As we walked the slippery paths up into the heath we got Buff-rumped Thornbills and heard at least two Chestnut-rumped Heathwrens but as these were in the valley, and the goat track that run down into the valley was slippery, I decided that it would be too risky for 46 people to traverse so decided to check out the local orchids instead which were covering the edges of the paths. We had a female Pink and Scarlet Robin along this road as well as a Rufous Bristlebird which was elusive to see but called beautifully.

We headed back to the low heath where we found another small party of Southern Emu-wrens and a pair of Australian King Parrots.


Our next locale was the Anglesea tip. It is a great spot to pick up Forest Raven, and on arriving there was a Forest Raven which flew over into the tip. After another 10 minutes or so another bird arrived, giving better views. Also of note was the local orchids that were in flower on Powerline Track, some stunning orchids will be flowering in this area shortly and would recommend a visit if you like birds and wildflowers!

Next stop was on Coalmine Road where we went in search of the Grey Goshawk but alas, no luck on this. We did see some nice birds but nothing we had not seen before, the highlight being a Bassian Thrush out in the open on a grassy field.

A great number of attendees to this outing and hopefully in the near future I will have another weekend outing.

Philip Peel, Outing Leader

Weekend Outing to Jawbone Reserve/ Truganina Park

25 July 2015

Species count: 82

This outing covered Jawbone Reserve, Truganina Park, Laverton Creek and Truganina Swamp

Led an outing for BirdLife Melbourne to Jawbone Reserve/Truganina Park/Laverton Creek and Truganina Swamp. 25 people attended the 9am start to a beautiful but windy, winter day.
Us early risers had already started birding before the start time and a few species had already been seen on arriving at the meeting place. Once everyone had turned up, we started, walking east towards the Boat Club and on the way, seeing a flock of Pied Cormorants and a small party of four Sooty Oystercatchers. Four species of Cormorant were present as we made our way down the thin path leading to the boardwalk. Along the path we were lucky to flush 12 Brown Quail, which had already been sighted earlier by a few members.

It was a good start, and as we continued on to the bird hide we picked up three Blue-billed Ducks as well as the usual common species. We continued along the wetlands, collecting species. As we went, we saw our first Raptor of the morning which was a beautiful Black-shouldered Kite. Of note were two Black-tailed Native-hens feeding on the Island, and one male Blue-billed Duck in full colour. A huge flock of Australasian Gannets were seen feeding out in the ocean, and as we continued towards Kororoit Creek Road, we spotted a large flock of White-headed Stilt and a couple of pairs of Australasian Shoveler. As we walked along the path we heard a small feeding party of Yellow Thornbill which is such a lovely little bird and great views were had by all.
As we arrived at the Western end of Jawbone Reserve we noticed that the tide was high which meant the smaller waterbirds weren’t present, but we walked to the mouth of Kororoit Creek to check anyway. A few Crested Terns, a large congregation of Royal Spoonbills, Great Egrets and a lone Red-necked Stint (67 species seen).

After everyone’s excitement we walked back to our vehicles and made our way to Truganina Park. After some discussion I decided that Laverton Creek may be worth a visit. The main objective was to see if we could find any roosting birds on the spit, and as it was high’ish tide we had easy access. The wind however had picked up, and the birds weren’t overly excited about it. As we started to eat lunch we had already seen Flame Robin, White-fronted Chat and two birds of prey: a Whistling Kite and an Australian Hobby. As we walked along the creek we flushed another small party of five Brown Quail and a very obliging Striated Fieldwren calling beautifully for everyone. As we neared the spit there was lots of action: Pink-eared Duck, Australian Shelduck and Australasian Shoveler, the highlights on duck species; Little Egret, Yellow-Billed and Royal Spoonbills, and a huge flock of Red-necked Avocets (58 species seen).

From here we decided to have a quick one hour look at Truganina Swamp and it didn’t disappoint. Many duck species and the more common waterbirds were around. We did get a nice view of a Swamp Harrier as it circled above and as we walked to St Joseph Pond we heard both Spotless and Australian Spotted Crake (35 species seen).

Overall, another great day had, with a great group of like minded people to spend a wintery Saturday with and see some beautiful birds. Can’t wait until next month’s outing and getting some nice rainforest birds at Toolangi.

Overall tally for the day: 81 species

Outing Leader and contributor: Philip Peel

See bird list for the day: Bird list

Weekend Outings – A message from our Activities Coordinator

After being appointed Activities Coordinator for BirdLife Melbourne a few months back I have been thinking about what was missing from our activities, and I believe we, as a group, have fallen short of providing enough weekend outings which allows people with work commitments during the week to participate.
Over many years Alan and Hazel have doing an amazing job with their monthly weekend beginners outings which are by no means just for the beginners but also for anyone interested in attending and it has been an awesome way for birders to get involved and meet like minded people in the field.
I do believe though that the word beginner does deter a few people from attending just because they believe it would be a basic introduction to birding, so I have come to the decision that I will, in the short term ( next 6 months),  be organising a weekend outing for anyone to join and participate. I have no concerns if you’re a beginner or a professional if you are interested in the outings I have arranged, please feel free to send me an email or give me a call and will be able to give more details.
At the start of next year I have a plan to attract 12 unbelievable good Victorian birdwatchers to take an outing each over the year; the outing will be organised by that individual and they will take us to their favorite birding spot around greater Melbourne.
At this point I have had a great response from the birders i have asked and all have showed willingness to participate in this exercise.
The Birdlife Melbourne activities calendar has the most up to date details of outings for the next 3 months which I have added here:
As I said above I have organised the next 3 monthly weekend outings starting from June:
Sunday 14 June 2015  Weekend Outing
Woodlands Historic Park . Melways 178 F10. Take Providence Road and Park at carpark at Weerona Cemetery, 9am start. We will then head to
Somerton Road Picnic Area at 178 B6 for lunch. Toilets available at lunch only. Bring lunch, chair and water. After lunch will head back to Sugar Gum Plantation 178 D7 to finish up at around 4pm Contact Philip Peel 0499169500 or

Saturday25th July 2015 Weekend Outing
Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve & Newport Lakes .
Melways 55 J10. Take Rifle Range Drive and park at Mullins Court, 9am start. We will then head to Newport Lakes at 55 G3 for lunch. Toilets available at lunch only. Bring lunch, chair and water. After lunch will walk the paths around the lake and finish up at around 3pm Contact Philip Peel 0499169500 or

Sunday23 August 2015  Weekend Outing
Toolangi Black Range State Forest .
Melways 10 Q2. Take Myers Creek Road and Park at intersection where it intersects with Sylvia Creek Road (mindful that Sylvia Creek Road is a loop so parking at the northern access) 9am start. We will then head into
Toolangi from there. Toilets available at lunch only. Bring lunch, chair and water. Finish up at around 3pm. Contact Philip Peel 0499169500 or
Please feel free to share this between friends, the more people attending these outings the more our group will grow.
Hope to see everyone at least attend one of the outings and contribute to help our beautiful birds of Victoria.
Happy Birding
Philip Peel