Category Archives: Weekdays outing

Weekdays outing to 3 Chain Road

9 April 2019

Australian Owlet-nightjar 2 - Katmun Loh
Australian Owlet-nightjar. Photo by Katmun Loh

The participants numbered 18 with Graeme Hosken leading the group. The weather was clear and cool after the overnight showers and the first bird calls were the raucous ones of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. The dam at the start of the walk had only Dusky Moorhen and Pacific Black Duck and at the start of the walk only these and Little Raven, Australian Magpie and Red Wattlebird were recorded.

The country is dry in the continuing drought and the roadside forest was very open with little understorey. Further walking added numerous Grey Fantails, one Crimson Rosella and the calls of Spotted Pardalote.

Brown Thornbill? - Bevan Hood
Challenge no. 1: Brown Thornbill or … ? Photo by Bevan Hood

Flowering eucalypts hosted Varied Sitellas, thornbills and Weebills while Grey Shrike-thrush and New Holland Honeyeaters called.

Grey Shrike Thrush? - Katmun Loh
Challenge no. 2: Grey Shrike-thrush or … ? Photo by Katmun Loh

Here the highlight was an Australian Owlet-nightjar perched on a branch in the open.

Australian Owlet-nightjar 1 - Bevan Hood
Australian Owlet-nightjar. Photo by Bevan Hood

This was the first view for many of this cute nocturnal bird outside a tree hole. The walk proceeded by returning to the cars at intervals and then driving north to further locations. Three Chain Road owes its name to the government’s provision of sufficient space for turning traffic, for example bullock drays, in the nineteenth century. Only the central section was surfaced and the roadsides are here left unaltered giving habitat for the wildlife.

Australian Owlet-nightjar 2 - Bevan Hood
Australian Owlet-nightjar. Photo by Bevan Hood

Birds were the winners but the current subdivision of the larger farms into “hobby farms” may impact on birds in the future with less grass, more people and more traffic. The next walk added both Rufous and Golden Whistler males, glimpses of Laughing Kookaburra and the single note winter calls of Grey Shrike-thrush.

Golden Whistler male 2 - Katmun Loh
Golden Whistler, male. Photo by Katmun Loh

The highlight here was a pair of Scarlet Robins, male and female in brilliant plumage, foraging along the fence-line.

Scarlet Robin female - Katmun Loh
Scarlet Robin, female. Photo by Katmun Loh

Scopes were needed at the next stop as the dam was distant and the birds in silhouette. Persistence was rewarded with the addition of Black Swan, Hardhead, Australasian Shoveler, Chestnut Teal and Hoary-headed Grebe. Eurasian Coot and Little Pied, Little Black and Great Cormorant also joined the list while Welcome Swallows swooped through the scopes’ viewing fields.

Scarlet Robin male - Bevan Hood
Scarlet Robin, male. Photo by Bevan Hood

Only one wader, a Black-fronted Dotterel, was detected. The next stage was the turn of the raptors, first a Brown Goshawk caused a chorus of alarm calls then a Whistling Kite elicited some birdwatchers’ debate before its identification. Two Wedge-tailed Eagles soaring high above completed our day’s raptors. A large colony of White-winged Choughs, about 20 in number, occasionally called mournfully while foraging high and low through the forest.

White-winged Chough - Katmun Loh
White-winged Chough. Photo by Katmun Loh

Parrots were few today with only the cockatoos and both Crimson and Eastern Rosellas seen. However both White-throated and Brown Treecreepers were watched closely as they foraged.

Brown Treecreeper 1 Bevan Hoood
Brown Treecreeper. Photo by Bevan Hood

The latter is not seen in Melbourne so sightings were especially appreciated.

Brown Treecreeper 1 - Katmun Loh
Brown Treecreeper. Photo by Katmun Loh

By walk’s end all the “usual” thornbills had been listed – Yellow-rumped, Yellow, Striated, Brown and Buff-rumped. Jacky Winter joined Scarlet Robin in the robin list. The list of small birds’ predators detected also included Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Pied and Grey Currawongs and Australian Raven.

Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike - Katmun Loh
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Katmun Loh

By walk’s end we had a list of 55 species and we thanked Graeme most enthusiastically for his leadership.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekday outing to Braeside Park, Braeside

6 March 2019

Forecast:  Strong wind from the SW.  Possible shower.  Temperature: 14 -16°C

Royal Spoonbills in breeding plumage - Katmun Loh.JPG
Royal Spoonbills in breeding plumage. Photo by Katmun Loh

The forecast was spot-on. Unfortunately, the wind through the trees for most of the morning prevented hearing birds calling. Two showers for the day.  One lasted a few minutes in the morning and a second, in the afternoon, caused a run for tree cover as hail joined the rain for five minutes with sunshine following.

Australian Pelicans - Katmun Loh
Australian Pelicans. Photo by Katmun Loh

Eighteen persons attended, a few, their first visit to Braeside.  Graeme Hosken led the outing as Geoff Russell was unavailable as his wife was not well.

Geoff completed a recce in February and suggested a route for today leaving the Cockatoo Car Park and heading west to the Howard Road Trail and then following the trail south along the western boundary of the park passing the Community Nursery and Indigenous Garden then the Wetland Circuit which skirts the southern boundary of the wetland and on to the Red Gum Picnic Area for lunch, then back to the Car Park via the Red Gum Trail.

Group setting out - Katmun Loh
Group setting out. Photo by Katmun Loh

Understory was very dry due to low rainfall during the past months.  Bird activity minimal in the bush along the boundary walk and the wind didn’t help as it buffeted the trees and bushes.  Once out of the wind, sightings improved, Superb Fairy-wrens joined by Yellow Thornbills and then Grey Fantails with a couple of their Rufous cousins, the latter the highlight for the day.  For several in the group, the Rufous Fantail was their first sighting.

Lake edge Black-fronted Dotterrel Grey Teal - Danika Sanderson
Lake edge – Black-fronted Dotterel and Grey Teal. Photo by Danika Sanderson

On reaching the wetland, the wind wasn’t as strong and the Sun was shining assisting with the identification of the many water birds.

Australasian Grebes - Danika Sanderson
Australasian Grebes. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Nine duck species, including Australasian Shoveler, Blue-billed Duck and at least 20 Freckled Duck.

Freckled Ducks - Katmun Loh
Freckled Ducks. Photo by Katmun Loh

Several Royal Spoonbill, Little and Great Egret, and on the mud flats, Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel plus several Masked Lapwing.

Little Black Cormorants - Danika Sanderson
Little Black Cormorants. Photo by Danika Sanderson
Black-winged Stilt - Katmun Loh
Black-winged Stilt. Photo by Katmun Loh

Only one raptor for the day, a lone Black-shouldered Kite having a few problems hovering in the windy conditions.

Australian White Ibis - Danika Sanderson
Australian White Ibis. Photo by Danika Sanderson

At lunch, the count was 52 species which included two Straw-necked Ibis testing the hard ground in the Red Gum picnic area.  On returning to the cars, along the Red Gum Track via the Phar Lap Track, hundreds of Martins, Fairy outnumbering Tree, were feeding over the grassed area to the east.

Welcome Swallows - Danika Sanderson
Welcome Swallows. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Eastern Rosella, White-plumed Honeyeater and a lone Pied Currawong were a few of the several species added to the days observations which totalled 62 bird Species.  Mammals.  Several rabbits only, and no frogs calling.  The lack of honeyeater species could be due to eucalyptus not in flower.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo with prey - Katmun Loh
Fan-tailed Cuckoo with prey. Photo by Katmun Loh

An enjoyable day.

Graeme Hosken, BirdLife Melbourne

Weekdays outing to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

12 February 2019
D Tweeddale.JPG
Ornamental Lake. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

Skies were grey as we assembled but the weather started mild with a slight breeze. There were 14 of us with Diane Tweeddale leading in place of David Plant who was unable to attend on the day. Fine rain started to fall and the shelter of trees was welcome, especially when we could observe birds as we stood there.

A Willie Wagtail foraged and then was upstaged by an enthusiastic Little Wattlebird which gave close, excellent views as it probed flowers. The north corner of the Ornamental Lake added Pacific Black Duck and Eurasian Coot to our started list while Bell Miners called loudly and White-browed Scrubwrens chattered from the understory. Walking over to Long Island we noted the floating islands designed to remove pollutants which wash in from the storm water drains of the adjacent streets. Then we were up close and (almost) personal with an adult Bell Miner feeding a fluffy youngster. What a pity the intervening foliage prevented photography, particularly in the low light conditions. However there were fleeting very close views of Bell Miners giving several people their first actual sightings of these well-camouflaged honeyeaters. So close indeed that their calls were so loud as to be almost painful.

Waterbirds recorded were Pacific Black and Australian Wood Ducks, Chestnut and Grey Teal, Black Swan, the usual trio of Purple Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen and Eurasian Coot with Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants and a flock of young Silver Gulls finishing the list. Eastern Spinebills were heard mostly but seen by some and a small flock of Silvereyes was viewed foraging among the fruit of a Kangaroo Apple near the corpse of the vandalised Separation Tree.

By now the rain, wind and cold were telling even with our cold weather gear in use and we retreated to the café in search of hot drinks. The gardens were not crowded with visitors today and drinks were quickly acquired, to be drunk while assessing the weather beyond the windows. It was not hopeful so the decision was made to do bird call and then people could head home or on to some other sheltered and rewarding occupation. The bird list totalled 25 species, not great by historical standards but very acceptable by today’s RBG birding. Next time the weather may allow longer walks, especially to Guilfoyle’s Volcano and through the Australian forest plantings.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekdays outing to Birrarung Park, Lower Templestowe

4 December 2018

The morning was cool and grey as 22 birdwatchers assembled in the car park. Our number included a couple of members from Western Australia on their way around a comprehensive tour of the eastern states. Lyn Easton led the walk and “initial suspects” in the car park included Noisy Miners, Australian Magpies, Rainbow Lorikeets and Spotted Doves.

Red Wattlebird - katmun loh
Red Wattlebird. Photo by Katmun Loh

We slowly walked the circuit track, passing the now-dry billabong which did not refill after the recent heavy rains so is now probably a dry dip in the ground for the foreseeable future.

Bell Miner - Danika Sanderson
Bell Miner. Photo by Danika Sanderson

‘Tis the season to – breed – and we recorded a Magpie Lark’s mud nest with 2 well-grown young begging, gape-mouthed, from an adult. An unoccupied Tawny Frogmouth nest looked rather Spartan while a male Rufous Whistler was on incubation or brooding duty on its nest.

Rufous Whistler, male on nest - katmun loh
Rufous Whistler (m), on nest. Photo by Katmun Loh

Late in the walk a pair of Noisy Miners was determinedly defending their territory from another bird which took some identification as it was unfamiliar to most of the small group of watchers. The ID was sorted out and several people were able to claim a “lifer” – a silent immature Olive-backed Oriole. These have been rarely reported as eating small birds’ nestlings so the miners may have been acting on the principle that no larger bird is to be tolerated.

the group listening to leader - katmun loh
The group, listening to the leader. Photo by Katmun Loh

Both Spotted and Striated Pardalotes were heard but not seen and the parrot list included a quickly flying Australian King-Parrot and a pair of Red-rumped Parrots obligingly perched visibly on a dead tree. The cockatoo list included Galahs and Little Corella.

Laughing Kookaburra - Danika Sanderson.jpg
Laughing Kookaburra. Photo by Danika Sanderson

A trip down to the river bank yielded a Sacred Kingfisher near what appeared to be a small tree hollow on the opposite bank. Platypus sightings were hoped for but didn’t eventuate and Laughing Kookaburra calls sounded derisively.

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike - katmun loh
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Katmun Loh

The only waterbirds recorded were an overflying Little Pied Cormorant, a calling Dusky Moorhen, a foraging Straw-necked Ibis and a Masked Lapwing, while no raptors were noted. The dense understory was alive with Superb Fairy-wrens and several White-browed Scrubwrens were also listed while higher in the trees both Brown and Yellow Thornbills were recorded. Mistletoe grew in several places and a darting Mistletoebird was seen by only a few. Another species seen by some was Red-browed Finch while Eastern Yellow Robin was heard as it gave alarm calls as well as the more familiar call.

Grey Shrike-Thrush - katmun loh
Grey Shrike-thrush. Photo by Katmun Loh

The introduced dove was joined by Common Blackbird calls and sighting s of Common Mynas. At lunch we were joined by a young Australian Magpie which didn’t achieve the quantity of food it may have been used to – birdwatchers feel that natural food is healthiest.

Common Bronzewing - Danika Sanderson
Common Bronzewing. Photo by Danika Sanderson

With the festive season just around the corner we decided to truncate the day and count our species.

Rainbow Lorikeet - katmun loh
Rainbow Lorikeet. Photo by Katmun Loh

 

Forty-one species were recorded by the group, a very satisfactory total considering the relatively small area we covered and we thanked Lyn for her preparation which allowed such a successful result.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

 

Weekdays outing to the Brisbane Ranges

0 November 2018
Watchers - Danika Sanderson
Watchers. Photo by Danika Sanderson

The day was grey with ten-tenths cloud to challenge photographers trying to record bird colouring above our heads – in the sky or in tree canopies. Eighteen watchers assembled in the Anakie Gorge picnic area car park, eight from Melbourne and ten from Werribee including our leader, Dave Torr.

Yellow-tufted Honeyeater - Danika Sanderson
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater. Photo by Danika Sanderson

After some car park birding, always productive and this time including Australian King-Parrot as well as Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Yellow-tufted, White-naped and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, we car pooled to drive to Stoney Creek and then walk back to through the gorge and thus save time instead of a less productive return walk.

Yellow-faced Honeyeater - Danika Sanderson
Yellow-faced Honeyeater. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Species included Sacred Kingfisher, Grey Currawong and Superb Fairy-wren. Grey Shrike-thrush warbled frequently and both female Rufous and male Golden Whistlers were seen.

Rufous Whistler - Katmun Loh
Rufous Whistler. Photo by Katmun Loh

A couple of White-throated Treecreepers were watched as they foraged up trunks and branches and then movement down on the rocks of the stream bed was noted.

 

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This turned out to be another treecreeper, drinking and bathing in an extremely tiny rock-pool of water (probably remaining from rain a couple of days previously.

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Few, if any, of us had seen that before. Olive-backed Orioles called their name repeatedly. Loud snarling grunts heard as lunch finished were the calls of a territorial male Koala. It joined the couple of Black Wallabies (and road-killed Eastern Grey Kangaroos) on our marsupial list for the day.

Bassian Thrush - Katmun Loh
Bassian Thrush. Photo by Katmun Loh

The long morning had been gratifyingly productive and we recorded 42 species for the gorge. Then we drove in convoy to the Stieglitz South Road. This required care as the busy route was shared with large-hauling semi-trailers.

Long-billed Corella - Danika Sanderson
Long-billed Corella. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Not much birdlife was observed as we walked. A thornbill call was heard and the identity as a Buff-rumped Thornbill was demonstrated on an app. That recorded call brought in an unexpected flock of at least 10 thornbills, not travelling near the ground as usual but flying about 5m high through and above the bush canopies.

Walkers - Danika Sanderson
Walkers. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Apart from a White-eared Honeyeater and an overflying Straw-necked Ibis these were the only additional species for this short walk.

 

Pelargonium rodneyanum - Danika Sanderson
Pelargonium rodneyanum. Photo by Danika Sanderson

The species count here was only 7, and a total of 45 species for the day’s Brisbane ranges walk.

We thanked Dave for introducing many and reminding the rest of us of the potentials of this interesting area. Afternoon storm was predicted (and may have quietened the bird activity) and so we departed on this note.

Diane Tweeddale coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekday outings

Weekdays outing to Hawkestowe, Plenty Gorge Park and Mill Park Lakes

14 November 2018

Australian Pelican. Photo by Bevan Hood

Heavy overnight rain had been a concern but the weather system travelled east and we birded under grey skies with only occasional light drizzle to cause us to cover binoculars. Twelve commenced the walk, led by Diane, and initial car park birds included Striated and Spotted Pardalotes, numerous Australian Wood Ducks and a few Little Ravens. 

Australian Reed-Warbler in reeds. Photo by Bevan Hood
Australian Reed-Warbler in bush. Photo by Bevan Hood

The calls of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters followed us to the nearest pond where Australian Reed Warblers called loudly and perched on the reeds while Australasian Grebes in breeding plumage delighted with their well-grown fluffy young. 

Australasian Grebe. Photo by Bevan Hood

Superb Fairy-wrens also displayed, perched on the reeds. Leaving the ponds we walked along the gorge track beside the river. Here was “Rainbow Lorikeet Central” with pairs of birds investigating any crevice in tree trunks or branches for its potential as a nest hollow. 

Galahs. Photo by Bevan Hood

Other parrots included Australian King-parrot, Long-billed Corella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Crimson Rosella. Before we had exited the gorge sharp eyes had added White-browed Scrubwren, White-throated Treecreeper and Brown Thornbill to the sightings while Pied and Grey Currawongs, Laughing Kookaburra and Common Bronzewing were heard. 

Long-billed Corella. Photo by Bevan Hood

Back to the car park and lunch to check on the morning species count. A gratifying 44 was the total.

Crested Pigeon. Photo by Bevan Hood

Some people had to depart after lunch but ten remained to make their way to Mill Park Lakes, a drive that has become a little less familiar and more challenging since the extensive road and rail works in the area. Initial birds on the nearest lake were uninspiring as they were dominated by ‘Dinner Ducks’ and Eurasian Coots, clearly used to being fed by humans despite (or beside) the signs requesting “Do Not Feed the Birds” and giving reasons. 

Pacific Black Duck. Photo by Bevan Hood

We walked initially along the west bank which had little shelter or close vegetation so returned to the northern section where the native plantings were beside the water. Here we added New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters as well as Little Wattlebird. 

Dusky Moorhen. Photo by Bevan Hood

Waterbirds included the “usual suspects” of Purple Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen and Eurasian Coot but there were also Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants, the latter distinctly stained on its white front.

Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

A lone Australian Pelican paddled about and a White-faced Heron roosted near the bridge. A tern caused considerable confusion as its plumage could be interpreted as Common or Whiskered so the rule of ‘if in doubt, consider the most common to be the most likely’ was applied and Whiskered Tern declared. The existence of a subspecies of Common Tern which is reminiscent of the Whiskered Tern is a complication. 

Whiskered Tern. Photo by Bevan Hood

As we finished our walk we smiled at a pair of Red-rumped Parrots in the grass near the exit.

Red-rumped Parrot. Photo by Bevan Hood

There is frequently a ‘mystery bird’ on walks and a distant bird could have been a finch obscured by vegetation.

Common Greenfinch. Photo by Loh Kat Mun

The identification of Common Greenfinch was finally achieved by examining a photograph with more detail than eyes and binoculars could achieve.

White-faced Heron. Photo by Bevan Hood
White-faced heron. Photo by Bevan Hood

A quick species count showed 32 species had been recorded at the lakes and a total of 58 species was recorded for the entire day.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekdays outing to Lysterfield Lake Park

22 October 2018

Twenty-one people assembled under light clouds in a mild breezy day. Our advertised leader, Elsmaree Baxter, was slightly incapacitated so she delegated active leadership to Pat Bingham and merely walked gently at the rear of the group. We had new members and visitors including Suzanne from Austin, Texas.

The day started well with Eastern Grey Kangaroos as well as Eurasian Coots and Silver Gulls present beside the launch area, to the delight of visitors who hadn’t been close to roos previously. Other birds on the water or the bank included Little Pied Cormorants, Pacific Black Ducks, Masked Lapwings and Little Ravens.  A female Musk Duck swam beside the short mooring post and beside her splashed a small duckling, charming the watchers. An unusual and unexpected sighting was a Purple Swamphen perched in a tree, 3-4 meters above the ground. In the bush the Noisy Miners dominated the more open areas, even diving at a Common Bronzewing as it foraged on the ground. We headed to the dam wall where the wind blew strongly across the lake and hats were clutched tightly. Among the coots near the wall we had good close views of Grebes, Hoary-headed, Australasian and, much-appreciated, Great Crested (not often seen in this area). The dam wall also provided close views of a young Echidna walking beside the fence until it found a comfortable space in the wire mesh and slid through.

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Echidna. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

Several Pacific Black Ducks were examined as closely as possible and all seemed to be pure bred, without a sign of the orange legs of hybridisation with the Northern Mallard. A white domestic “dinner duck” was not counted. Up into the bush where frog calls from damp areas included the Common Froglet. A female Rufous Whistler called and was then briefly observed while a couple of Red-browed Finches flitted near the track. Further along a male Tawny Frogmouth was on incubation duty on a simple nest in a tree fork high above the track. The only parrots and cockatoos seen were several Long-billed Corellas on the grass and an Eastern and two Crimson Rosellas plus a couple of Rainbow Lorikeets. Superb Fairy-wrens, both brown females and blue males, delighted all, especially visitors. The honeyeater list was not long, in addition to the many Noisy Miners there were calling Red Wattlebirds and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. Both an immature and an adult Grey Butcherbird were present and Australian Magpies and Pied Currawongs were present and calling.

After lunch the group reduced to 13 people and we walked briefly on the northern side of the car parks, adding only two extra species to the list, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and Grey Fantail, and gaining improved sightings of several species. The species list now stood at 42 where it had been 40 at lunchtime. We thanked Pat and Elsmaree for all the careful preparation and teamwork which had resulted in a successful outing.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekday outings

Weekdays outing to Adams Creek and Jam Jerrup

9 October 2018

Birds at edge - D Tweeddale
Birds at water’s edge. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

Lowering grey skies and light drizzle greeted nine birders as they assembled. Our leader was John van Doorn. The car park birding was most rewarding, as is often the case, and highlights were a calling Pallid Cuckoo and close sightings of a well-coloured Spotted Pardalote. Other sightings were blue, red and yellow, otherwise listed as Superb Fairy-wren, Red-browed Finch and Yellow-rumped Thornbill.

Silvereye - Danika Sanderson
Silvereye. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Several horse floats were parked in the adjacent area and it was interesting that the birds seemed unfazed by the horses or riders. The busy truck traffic to and from the adjacent sand mines was impressive and brought home the necessity of observing the stop signs at the intersection with Hookers Road. The sand in this area is used for high quality glass, think optics (or even expensive wine glasses). Other car park bird observations included a Dusky Woodswallow, numerous New Holland Honeyeaters, a couple of sightings of Grey Fantail and a Little Raven. An Australian Raven was also heard and a White-faced Heron overflew.

Orchid - Danika Sanderson
Orchid. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Walking the track we passed brilliant green moss beds – much appreciated by those with drought-stricken Melbourne gardens – and further on there were beautiful displays of flowers, including peas, fan flowers, Banksia, Hibbertia, Tetratheca and Epacris with the occasional sun orchid.

Flowers - a pink tetratheca and a pea - Danika Sanderson
Flowers (Pink Tetratheca and a Pea). Photo by Danika Sanderson

A birding “hot spot” near the flowers would be better described as “incandescent” as there were so many birds active in a small area, among them Varied Sitellas foraging down branches and tree trunks, Grey Butcherbird and Grey Shrike-thrush calling and Brown Thornbills and White-browed Scrubwrens briefly sighted.

Brown Thornbill - Danika Sanderson

Brown Thornbill 2 - Danika Sanderson
Brown Thornbill. Photos by Danika Sanderson

Walking back to the cars (we had to be on time to catch the tide at Stockyard Point near Jam Jerrup) we came across “the bird of the morning” – a male Brush Bronzewing in beautiful plumage who stayed quietly and closely perched for long enough to allow each person at least a quick sighting. Lunch was eaten at Lang Lang where a picnic shelter in a small park provided seating out of the increasing rain. Most of us elected to continue to Stockyard Point near Jam Jerrup after lunch so we drove to the start of the track and then walked determinedly to catch the rising tide and any waders or shorebirds roosting at the point.

Mangrove 2 D Tweeddale
Mangroves. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

Mangroves grow close to the coast and twitters were heard from there but there was no time for identifications. After traversing an area of fallen dead trees beside the water we eventually reached the point and were greeted with waders flying in beautiful waves. When they settled there were some Silver Gulls and many Whiskered Terns but as our vision adjusted there were Red-necked Stints and Curlew Sandpipers also.

Mangrove 1 - D Tweeddale
Mangroves. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

A pair of Australian Pied Oystercatchers was carefully surveyed but that caused no change in their identity to SIPO’s. A few Gull-billed Terns flew along the wave line but the prize here was several Red Knots still in various degrees of breeding plumage. A few Crested Terns were noted and even fewer Caspians, diving for food. Red-capped Plovers appeared just above the wave line and an immature Pacific Gull flew past just as we were leaving. The rain and wind were becoming uncomfortable by then so we climbed over the fallen trees and returned to the car park at the start of the track for bird call. The results were 37 species for Adams Creek and 30 species for Jam Jerrup/Stockyard Point, giving an overall total of 58 species for the day. We thanked John appreciatively for showing us these two so different birding locations.

Diane Tweeddale Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekdays outing to Hallam Valley floodplain wetlands

24 September 2018
Photographer: Bevan Hood, member

Black Swan - B Hood
Black Swan

Eleven of us met and considered that the car park birding was so very good we really didn’t need to leave that area. Rob Grosvenor led the group and had good expectations. He is part of the team of volunteers who do the monthly surveys for Melbourne Water so is very familiar with the site.

Highlights as we waited to start included a flock of Fairy Martins. They were repeatedly landing on muddy banks to collect mud for their bottle nests, presumably located in a culvert nearby, although the nest locations were not visible when we peered briefly while walking past. Another good sighting by the car park was a Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo perched on the nearby power line and calling loudly.

Australian White Ibis - B Hood
Australian White Ibis

 

Frogs called from the ponds and creek-sides but we were here to bird. Numerous flocks of Silver Gulls and skeins of Australian White Ibis flew past. The fenceline produced Superb Fairy-wrens and a bird finally identified as an Australasian Pipit (after some discussion of the respective appearances and habits of it and the European Skylark). Not easy species to differentiate from a distance.

Eastern Great Egret - B Hood
Eastern Great Egret

The south wind was cold and we were all glad of our “appropriate clothing” when the clouds blew across. Initially few birds appeared on the lakes– only a Hoary-headed Grebe and a pair of Pacific Black Ducks were recorded. Later, when we had walked to the far side (near the go-kart circuit) the list grew to include Australian Wood Duck, Chestnut Teal and a pair of Black Swans.

Australasian Swamphen - B Hood
Australasian Swamphen

Australasian Swamphen, Eurasian Coot and Dusky Moorhen added to a list of waterbirds which finally included Little Pied, Little Black and Great Cormorants and White-faced Heron plus an overflying Australasian Darter.

Little Pied Cormorant - B Hood
Little Pied Cormorant

Clearly the wetlands appeal to the waterbirds. Introduced species were also recorded – Common Myna, Starling and Blackbird plus Spotted Dove and (slightly unexpectedly as their numbers have fallen) a House Sparrow. Other observed introductions were Common Greenfinch and European Goldfinch.

European Goldfinch - B Hood
European Goldfinch feeding on anthropoids in the cobweb, or collecting cobweb for nesting

The most common honeyeater sighted was the New Holland but there were also a few White-plumed Honeyeaters, Noisy Miners and Red and Little Wattlebirds. Parrots were limited today to a few Little Corellas and Rainbow Lorikeets plus one Eastern Rosella. No one saw the calling Spotted Pardalote and few sighted the Little Grassbird and Australian Reed-Warbler but the calls were unmistakable.

Crested Pigeon - B Hood
Crested Pigeon

While we lunched White-browed Scrubwrens appeared between the adjacent warehouse wall and the cyclone fence marking the edge of the reserve. Some seemed to be fluttering, perhaps trapped, but we soon realised they included young birds with very short tails which were probably exercising. Earlier some ‘scrubbies’ had been glimpsed around and in gorse bushes in front of that building but this later sighting was in excellent light and allowed everyone unusually good long views of their markings. Bird call gave a most satisfactory species count of 50 and we thanked Rob for sharing his knowledge of this man-made area.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekdays outing to O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail

5 September 2018

Male Superb Fairy-wren in eclipse plumage - Danika Sanderson
Superb Fairy-wren, male. Photo by Danika Sanderson

The weather was perfect for bird watching, clear blue sky, no morning wind and a mild temperature. Twenty-one enthusiasts met at the Launching Place (Don Valley) car park, those from Melbourne were joined by some visitors and some from the Yarra Valley branch. It was interesting that the very small car park did not have many birds. Presumably there was little to attract them out of the bush. Graeme Hosken led and our first walk was uphill beside the aqueduct.

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The aqueduct has been decommissioned for at least five years and only pools of rain water are now present. The concrete walls are almost completely covered with plants where fallen plant debris has formed humus.

sluice gate on aqueduct - D Tweeddale
Sluice gate on aqueduct. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

Tractor tracks beside the ditch and chain-sawn fallen timber marked where the maintenance crew had passed after wind storms. White-browed Scrub-wrens and Fan-tailed Cuckoos called but only the former were visible.

Superb Fairy-wren female - D Sanderson
Superb Fairy-wren, female. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Grey Fantails fluttered high and fanned and Lewin’s Honeyeaters were almost common, calling and occasionally showing themselves which allowed observers to view their markings. Eastern Spinebills were mostly audible as were Crimson Rosellas, the latter occasionally seen in patches of sunshine. Laughing Kookaburras called and White-throated Treecreepers called and then challenged watchers as they foraged high on tree trunks in the canopy. Striated Pardalote was reported by several and Eastern Whipbird was heard by many.

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Returning downhill we had added Eastern Yellow Robin sightings and heard Brown Thornbill, Little and Australian Ravens and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.

Eastern Yellow Robin - D Sanderson
Eastern Yellow Robin. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Most of the group headed across the road and walked near the pipeline while a flat tyre was exchanged. Then the majority drove in convoy to Millgrove for lunch though a few had to finish at morning’s end. The afternoon drive was to Dee Road, parking at the picnic spot with its panoramic view.

Panorama from picnic spot - D Tweeddale
Panorama from picnic spot. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

The birding was good though few species were added to those we had encountered in the morning’s walk. No raptors were recorded despite the wide sky of the panorama. A Rufous Whistler was heard, a Willie Wagtail was being harassed by an Australian Magpie and the best bird of the day was voted a Bassian Thrush seen by most as it foraged in a clearing below the track.

Grey Fantail - D Sanderson
Grey Fantail. Photo by Danika Sanderson

The bird list at day’s end was 32 species for the morning Launching Place section of the trail and 20 species for the Millgrove section in the afternoon. For the whole day there were 35 species recorded and we thanked Graeme enthusiastically for his preparation which led to such a good result for forest birding.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings