Beginners outing to Pound Bend and 100 Acres

24 November 2018

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 47

Family Tawny Frogmouth - Bevan Hood
Family of four Tawny Frogmouths. Photo by Bevan Hood

Eighteen members gathered in damp overcast conditions at Pound bend carpark where a noisy gathering of Rainbow Lorikeets and Sulphur Crested Cockatoos were proclaiming their presence.

Sacred Kingfisher - Eleanor Dilley
Sacred Kingfisher. Photo by Bevan Hood

Walking upstream along the river track a pair of Sacred Kingfishers perched in dead trees on the opposite bank, while several small bushbirds, including Eastern Yellow Robins and White-browed Scrubwrens, were foraging beside the track.

Sacred Kingfisher Pound Bend
Sacred Kingfisher. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The poor light, due to the drizzly weather, made it challenging to identify small birds high up in the canopy.

Pacific Black Duck Pound Bend
Pacific Black Duck. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A few waterbirds were seen on the river including Pacific Black Duck and Dusky Moorhen while a juvenile White-faced Heron was seen perched in the usual nesting tree.

White-faced Heron Pound Bend
White-faced Heron in nest tree. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A large mob of Eastern Grey Kangaroos were relaxing on the paddock at the far end of the track and as the members started to walk up the hill a family group of four Tawny Frogmouths was spotted in a nearby tree (see photo above).

A sad sight was that of a young, only partially fledged, Eastern Rosella on the muddy track. A person from the Wildlife Rescue who was telephoned assured us this was normal behaviour as rosellas leave the nest before they can fly and have to teach themselves. Sadly this one looked very frail and his chance of survival did not look good.

Eastern Rosella (juvenile) Pound Bend
Young Eastern Rosella hoping for food. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

At the top of the hill an Olive-backed Oriole called lustily from a nearby tree while a Common Bronzewing and a group of White-winged Choughs were feeding on a grassy paddock.

Common Bronzewing - Bevan Hood
Common Bronzewing. Photo by Bevan Hood

Making our way back to the river track, a pair of Spotted Pardalotes was soon seen repeatedly flying in and out of a hole in the bank beneath a foot bridge.  They were so immersed in their activity that they ignored the observers and close up (rear) views of these beautiful little birds were obtained.

Spotted Pardalote (M) Pound Bend
Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The weather improved around lunchtime and members had to closely guard their sandwiches from some very enterprising Australian Magpies!  A short walk was then taken to look at the famous tunnel which was in full spate after the recent rains.  A total of 42 species were recorded for Pound Bend.

Tawny Frogmouth - Alan Veevers

Tawny Frogmouth - Alan Veevers - 2
Front (above) and rear views of a Tawny Frogmouth with two youngsters. Photos by Alan Veevers

Eight members then opted to drive to the 100 Acres Reserve in Park Orchards for a second short walk and were well rewarded.  Near the Green Dam an adult Tawny Frogmouth was on a nest with two very small fluffy chicks and nearby a young Grey Butcherbird was seen near its nesting tree.

Down near the Tadpole Dam there was much bird activity.  No doubt the sunshine had brought out some insects for them to eat.  A Satin Flycatcher was heard and this was located near the Low Track and soon afterwards a group of Varied Sitellas were seen feeding on the bark of a tree.  Both of these species were ‘lifers’ for most of the beginners.  A family group of Eastern Spinebills and a close up view of an Eastern Yellow Robin concluded an excellent session with 27 species recorded in less than an hour, 5 of these being different to those at Pound Bend, giving a combined total of 47 for the day.

View the complete bird list: BM Nov 2018 Bird List Pound Bend and 100 Acres

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

Beginners outing to Banyule Flats

27 October 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 56

Pacific Black Duck and chicks - Eleanor Dilley
Pacific Black Ducks and chicks. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

In fine weather conditions 51 participants gathered at the Somerset Drive carpark and were well entertained by a nearby family of Tawny Frogmouths.

Tawny Frogmouth - Alan Veevers
Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Alan Veevers

One stood guard in an adjacent tree as its mate endeavoured to conceal two fluffy chicks which kept popping out from under its protective feathers. This was to be the first of six pairs found during the day.

Tawny Frogmouth and chick - Eleanor Dilley
Tawny Frogmouth and chick. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The group walked first to the main lagoon in which the water level was rather high with no surrounding mud, hence the lack of any of the often present waders. However, there was plenty to be seen on the water including a pair of Pink-eared ducks with young and a pair of Pacific Black Ducks with nine very small ducklings.

Pink-eared Duck - Eleanor Dilley
Pink-eared Duck. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A few Hoary-headed Grebes as well as several other duck species were identified. An Australian Spotted Crake was briefly seen by a few lucky observers.

Hoary-headed Grebes - Eleanor Dilley
Hoary-headed Grebes. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The dead stags in the middle of the lagoon provided perches for many birds, including Red-rumped Parrots as well as both Little and Long-billed Corellas.

Red-rumped Parrot - Alan Veevers
Red-rumped Parrot. Photo by Alan Veevers

The beginners then set off towards the river and saw Eastern Rosellas, Galahs and more Red-rumped Parrots feeding in the grass beside the track. Noisy Miners and Red-wattlebirds were dominant in the trees and very few other honeyeaters were seen.

Noisy Miner - Graeme Dean
Noisy Miner. Photo by Graeme Dean

Along the riverside track Grey Fantails were plentiful and a Grey Shrike Thrush was gathering nesting material.

Grey Fantail - Graeme Dean
Grey Fantail. Photo by Graeme Dean

A Fan-tailed Cuckoo could be heard making its trilling call on the opposite side of the river but was not seen.

Mistletoebird - Graeme Dean
Mistletoebird (m). Photo by Graeme Dean

On the track leading away from the river another pair of Tawny Frogmouths was seen, but this was eclipsed by wonderful sightings of a pair of Mistletoebirds.

Mistletoebird - f - Bevan Hood
Mistletoebird (f). Photo by Bevan Hood

These birds remained in the dead trees and nearby mistletoe for several minutes enabling everyone to have a good look. For many of the beginners this was a ‘lifer’. Walking back towards the cars the only raptor of the day, a Brown Goshawk, was seen flying overhead being harassed by a little Raven. Lunch was eaten at the edge of the oval during which a pair of Australian King Parrots flew past and landed in the grass.

King Parrot - Bevan Hood
King Parrot. Photo by Bevan Hood

After this a second shorter walk was taken up to the “Grotty Ponds”. A pair of Purple Swamphen was seen there, though sadly no crakes.

Purple Swamphen - Eleanor Dilley
Purple Swamphen. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Four further pairs of Tawny Frogmouths were located, giving a total of six pairs for the day.  Banyule Flats certainly lived up to its reputation of being the Tawny Frogmouth capital of Melbourne!

On returning to the cars a final birdcall recorded 56 species for the day – an excellent result for a suburban park.

See complete bird list for the day: BM Oct 2018 Bird List Banyule Flats

 

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

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

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 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

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

Education activities September 2018

On Friday 7 September, Bill Ramsay and Ron Hand assisted Janet Hand set up the display for the Yarra Yarra Plant Expo in the Eltham Community Centre.

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During the following weekend on Saturday and Sunday 8 and 9 September, hundreds of people visited the Yarra Yarra Australian Plant Expo at Eltham. Five hundred and fifty people came through the doors on Saturday and a few less on Sunday. Over the weekend Janet Hand was assisted by Daphne Hards, Scot Sharman, Pat Bingham, Sally Heeps, Susan Bailey and Peter Bennet. Many interesting discussions were held and their bird questions answered. Thanks to everyone who helped.

On Monday 10 September, Janet Hand gave a PowerPoint presentation to the East Doncaster Women’s Group in Donvale. The topic was “Backyard birds of Manningham”. With this being a smaller group it was a very interactive presentation with questions being answered as it progressed.

The U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk was held on Friday 21 September at the Banyule Flats Reserve in Viewbank. Fourteen people attended and 37 species were seen and/or heard. Two Pink-eared Ducks were on the swamp, taking particular interest in one of the nest boxes so maybe they’ll breed there. Two Tawny Frogmouths on nests were also found. Other enjoyable sightings were of Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Grey Shrike-thrush and pairs of Red-rumped Parrots. Pat Bingham led this outing. Thanks Pat.

On Wednesday 26September, Janet Hand made her annual visit to Mercy Place in Boronia. Mercy Place is a member group of BirdLife Australia. Janet gave her PowerPoint presentation on her trip across Arnhem Land last year and her follow on journey to Alice Springs and Ayres Rock. The ladies were fascinated by the Field of Lights photographs and how they worked.

The Nunawading Library is holding a display for the month of October with four display cases being used to showcase BirdLife Australia and various aspects of its work.

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The largest case is promoting the upcoming Bird Week and the Aussie Bird Count which runs from 22 to 28 October. Please get involved this year and submit a minimum of one 20 minute count. BirdLife Melbourne’s October activities are also listed to show what a wide range of activities we run. Janet Hand set up this display on 29 September and it will be there until late October, so pop in for a look.

Janet Hand, BirdLife Melbourne Education Coordinator (Phone: 9842 4177)

Beginners outing to Hawkstowe Park

22 September 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 64

 

White-eared Honeyeater, Hawkstowe Park
White-eared Honeyeater. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Leafless deciduous trees around the carpark by Le Page homestead enabled the assembled 28 members to have very good views of Striated Pardalotes and Yellow Thornbills, which are normally much harder to see when hiding in thick foliage.

Striated Pardalote, Hawkstowe Park
Striated Pardalote. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Setting off along the Wonga Walk in bright sunshine with little wind it was good to see that the ponds near the homestead had been filled with water after several years of being almost empty.

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Striated Pardalotes. Photo by Bevan Hood

Consequently, several wetland species were present including Australasian Grebe and Hardhead.

Australasian Grebe, Hawkstowe Park
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Both Pallid and Fan-tailed Cuckoos could be heard calling in the distance but were not visible. Following the track by the Plenty River it was great to see a variety of small birds, including Eastern Yellow Robins, Brown-headed and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters along with numerous Grey Fantails.

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Hardhead. Photo by Bevan Hood

Two of the birds spotted flying over were White-necked Heron and Australian Pelican.

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Grey Fantail. Photo by Bevan Hood

 

In the distance a Wedge-tailed Eagle could be seen being mobbed by Little Ravens, while in the other direction a pair of Brown Goshawks were being harassed by a Peregrine Falcon.

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Australian Pelican. Photo by Bevan Hood

 

Also, announcing their presence vocally were Pied Currawongs, one of which perched nearby allowing it to be easily viewed.

Little Raven, Hawkstowe Park
Little Raven. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

At the far end of the track by the Plenty river a White-eared Honeyeater obligingly posed on the top of a dead stump while nearby a small flock of Dusky Woodswallows perched in high dead branches.  After that it was up the track skirting below the scout camp, then pausing at a parrot hot spot where Musk and Rainbow Lorikeets, Eastern and Crimson Rosellas, Galahs and Long-billed Corellas were all found.

Pied Currawong, Hawkstowe Park
Pied Currawong. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Lunch was eaten back near the homestead after which most of the members drove round to the Morang Wetlands where a reception committee of Eastern Grey Kangaroos awaited. At the pond below the Ridge Track a mixed flock of Fairy Martins and Welcome Swallows circled overhead.

Galah, Hawkstowe Park
Galah. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A number of species including (pointy-headed) Freckled Ducks, Dusky Moorhens and Chestnut Teal were seen on the water. On gaining the higher track another Pallid Cuckoo was heard, and this time it was eventually traced to its perch in a tall tree.

Freckled Ducks, Hardheads, Eurasian Coots, Chestnut Teal, Hawkst
Freckled (and other) Duck(s). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

 

Soon afterwards a Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo was seen and heard and there was a brief sighting of a female White-winged Triller.  The previously known Wedge-tailed Eagle’s nest could still be seen down in the river gorge but it did not appear to be active so far this season.

Pallid Cuckoo, Hawkstowe Park
Pallid Cuckoo. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

On returning to the cars everyone agreed it had been an excellent day’s birding in perfect weather conditions with some unusual sightings amongst the 64 species recorded.

View complete bird list: BM Sep 2018 Bird List Hawkstowe Park

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