Weekdays Outing to Lillydale Lake, Lilydale

12 July 2017
Photographs by Dianne Tweeddale
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Reflections on a still morning

It was cold as we set off from our homes. Not as chilling as a week previously but still very low temperatures. Sixteen braved the still, cold but sunny morning and Jane Moseley led us. We checked out the Australian Wood Ducks, Magpie Larks, Purple Swamphens, Eurasian Coots and Dusky Moorhens on the grass beside the car park and also noted Australian Magpies, Red Wattlebirds, Rainbow Lorikeets and the inevitable Noisy Miners in the surrounding trees.

Purple Swamphen and Australian Wood Ducks
Purple Swamphen and Australian Wood Ducks

On the adjacent wetland there were a couple of Pacific Black Ducks and teal. It was some of the latter which occasioned close examination and discussion. The Chestnut Teal were readily counted but the two or three paler birds catching the sunlight, which teal were they? Careful attention to the plumage decided Grey Teal. It was that frequent “Which teal is that?” discussion. Our visitors and newcomers had been promised darters and Lillydale Lake did not disappoint. As we were moving out the first darter was pointed out and from then on we admired and compared male and female Australasian Darters both near and far. We kept our eyes out for Azure Kingfishers which had been seen a few days previously but the first location drew a blank. On the boardwalk we watched an Australasian Grebe warm its fluffy backside in the morning sun before we passed the structure which has been voted “world’s worst bird hide”. It consists of a fence with rectangular holes cut at different heights which look out onto an impenetrable stand of tall vegetation. Still, after we had dismissed it we rounded the corner and started to check the lake and the reed beds. The cry went up “Pink-eared Duck!” and there they were. Two pinkies which had not followed the rains inland. Voted bird of the day on the spot.

Black Swans feeding
Black Swans feeding

Then we wondered if we’d been a bit premature with the award when an Azure Kingfisher was sighted, not on its previously-favoured nest box but on a farther one and from which it flew to a low perch and afforded everyone good or brief views. Spotted Pardalotes called but it seemed that only a couple of watchers at a time were able to chalk up good views. Still, most people had seen them well by day’s end. Grey Shrike-thrushes gave their beautiful single winter calls and Grey Butcherbirds were finally seen as well as heard. The south-western wetlands are undergoing “rectification works” and new plantings are covered with nets so that no birds are currently using that area. Five years should see an improvement. The lake supports lots of fishers, the darters, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants and humans on the banks and occasionally in boats. It wasn’t all waterbirds. As well as the lorikeets mentioned above there were Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Little Corellas, Crimson (adult and immature) Rosellas, Eastern Rosellas and Australian King Parrots (male and female).

resting Australian Wood Ducks
Resting Australian Wood Ducks

After lunch we walked out to Bellbird Park where a pair of Black Swans paddled unconcerned by our presence while they cropped the pond plants. Walking back added Eastern Spinebill, then White-faced Herons and finally a Laughing Kookaburra to our list which numbered 45 species at the end of the walk. Very creditable birding for a cold mid-July day. We thanked Jane most enthusiastically for all her preparations and leading.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

June 2017 Education activities

On Wednesday 7 June, Bill Ramsay did a presentation at the Hawthorn Library for their Everyday English Class which is run as part of the Library’s Multicultural Program. The audience consisted of seven women plus the Coordinator. Usually she expected 12 but a few had pulled out. Bill spoke about “Attracting birds to your garden and what you may hope to see”. There was a fair bit of audience interaction and questions during the presentation which was a good sign. This was the purpose of such presentations and everyone seemed appreciative of Bill’s efforts.

Approximately 50 people were present when Sally Heeps addressed the Mill Park Garden Club on Friday 16 June. Sally’s topic was ‘Attracting birds to your garden naturally”. They seemed to enjoy hearing how to attract birds by plantings and liked identifying the birds which did visit their gardens. Sally also talked a little about nest boxes, and digressed into how the changes in natural vegetation can impact bird species – how the Kinglake fires opened the canopy to birds of prey. The Club donated $50 to BirdLife Melbourne in appreciation of our work.

On the same day – Friday 16 June, Pat Bingham led the Hawthorn U3A monthly Birdwalk to Norton’s Park & Shepherd’s Bush. They had a lovely sunny morning with 17 participants. 27 species were sighted including three Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos chewing up pinecones, a female Scarlet Robin and several Sulphur-crested Cockatoos exploring tree hollows and raucously defending their choices. Then for the lucky late leavers, they had a Peregrine Falcon circling over the car park.

Sue Wilson from the Hawthorn U3A group supplied the following photos.

 

Thank you to all the above people.

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

Beginners Outing to Westerfolds Park

24 June 2017
Leader: Robert Grosvenor; Species Count: 46
Words by Robert Grosvenor; photographs by Eleanor Dilley
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Laughing Kookaburra

Despite the cold weather and the forecast rain, which fortunately did not eventuate, 39 enthusiastic birders met at Westerfolds Park for this outing.

There were at least five new members and a couple of visitors on their first outing.

Prior to starting Eastern Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, White Faced Herons and a lone Pied Currawong were all seen overhead.

Starting the walk a couple of Kookaburras were the first to sighted, followed by Rock doves under the bridge. Grey Butcherbirds were calling regularly and excellent views were had by all.

Grey Butcherbird, Westerfolds Park
Grey Butcherbird

Together with Common Bronzewing and Noisy Miners they were probably the most common birds seen.

Common Bronzewing, Westerfolds Park
Common Bronzewing

Near the bridge, a pair of Galahs was sitting in a tree.

Galahs, Westerfolds Park
Galahs 

On the way to the observation platform overlooking the river a Little Pied Cormorant and Australasian Grebe were spied on the river, together with Dusky Moorhen and a solitary Purple Swamphen on the bank.

Australasian Grebe, Westerfolds Park
Australasian Grebe

A magnificent Wedge-tailed eagle overflew and although missed by some returned later in the walk to allow everybody to see it.

We were fortunate to find a single Musk Lorikeet which made a welcome change from all the raucous Rainbows. Both male and female Golden Whistlers were observed on the way back for lunch and a lucky few also saw a female Scarlet Robin. While enjoying our lunch break a King Parrot called and eventually showed itself to the joy of all present.

Dusky Moorhen, Westerfolds Park
Dusky Moorhen

The morning walk produced a total of 41 species.

In the afternoon we went in the opposite direction to the rapids observation lookout.

Although the birding was initially quiet it was a very pleasant walk through some lovely bush. Fortunately we then hit on a small hot hot patch with Yellow faced Honeyeaters, Silver Eyes, Grey Shrike Thrush, Grey Fantail, Spotted Pardalote and a Black Faced Cuckoo-shrike, all seen well.

Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Westerfolds Park
Yellow-faced Honeyeater

At the rapids a pair of Coots were seen, surprisingly the first for the day. Returning to the carpark provided a fleeting glimpse of a Brown Goshawk but a good look at a resting White Ibis.

Grey Shrike-thrush, Wessterfolds Park
Grey Shrike-thrush

Overall we spotted 46 species, far better than we expected considering the weather and the start of winter.

View the birdlist for the outing: BM JUNE 2017 Bird List WESTERFOLDS PARK

 

 

 

Weekdays outing to Wonga Park/Heritage wetlands

6 June 2017
All photographs by Danika Sanderson
Rainbow at start of the walk - Sanderson
Rainbow at the start of the walk

Despite the overnight rain and the showers on the drive to Wonga Park, 12 of us assembled in the car park as conditions started to ease. Some interest was expressed in a car and trailer in the car park which seemed to have been there overnight. Perhaps an illegal camper? Geoff Russell led our group and our first walk followed the short trail downstream where calls were heard from Superb Fairy-wrens, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Brown Thornbills.

Superb Fairy-wren male in breeding plumage - Sanderson
Superb Fairy-wren, male in breeding plumage

Both Little and Australian Ravens were heard as well as the single winter call of Grey Shrike-thrushes. An unexpected sighting was a single Silver Gull overhead while a brief glimpse of an Eastern Spinebill was much appreciated by the few who were looking in the right direction at the moment.

Superb Fairy-wren male - Sanderson
Superb Fairy-wren, male in eclipse plumage

Eastern Grey Kangaroos were numerous on both sides of the river and apparently used to humans on the path. We returned to the car park where a school kayaking session was about to start. We didn’t envy them as the river was flowing high and fast, even at this part of its course.

We went on upstream, bypassing the unused stile. The river edge gave us female Australasian Darters perched on snags, Dusky Moorhen swimming near the bank and an Australasian Grebe diving near one of the darters.

Australasian Darter - female - Sanderson
Australasian Darter, female

Further along the walk there were very good views of a trio of Common Bronzewings in a dead tree. Heading across the golf course by the public path we sighted Grey Butcherbird, a female Australian King-Parrot, Noisy Miners and Australian Wood Ducks while Magpie-larks and Masked Lapwing called.

Australian Wood Ducks - Sanderson
Australian Wood Ducks on golf course dam

A solitary Crested Pigeon preferred clear ground beyond the manicured gardens. Back on the river path we added New Holland Honeyeater, Silvereye, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and Red-browed Firetail. Turning around with thoughts of lunch becoming more prominent, most were disappointed to miss the sole sighting of a platypus which dived before even the adjacent birder could see it. Never mind, lunch was next.

Silvereye - Sanderson
Silvereye

However, lunchtime proved considerably more entertaining than usual. Things started with a request for jumper leads by the guy from the “overnight” car. Then a police car arrived and there was much interviewing. When the car was restarted the police donned blue gloves for a car search and we speculated on the reason. Eventually both vehicles left with drivers smiling. As said above, it was different from our regular lunch breaks.

Walkers - Sanderson
Walkers participating in the outing

The eight people remaining after lunch then tackled the uphill walk which starts about 400 m before the car park. We hoped for views and we were not disappointed. The view up the valley is great, even when misty in the distance, with the mountains in silhouette. A bonus was the sighting of our only raptors for the day, a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles and another of Whistling Kites. Carrying on to the highest point we were able to add brief views of a wary female Flame Robin, thus doubling our robin count as there had been a sighting of a female Scarlet Robin earlier.

Red-browed Firetail - Sanderson
Red-browed Firetail

Now it was time to descend and make our way through a great mob of roos. The males tended to rear up and scratch their flanks, which we interpreted as a threat action, but they allowed us to carry on walking. Down at the cars again we were able to count up 49 species for the day and we thanked Geoff very much for extending our experiences of this varied area.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings.

Beginners Outing to Woodlands Historic Park

27 May 2017
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 46

 

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Superb Fairy-wren. Photograph by Alan Veevers

The 42 members who attended the Woodlands excursion were lucky to see more water in the creek than had been seen for some time. Also, the vegetation looked healthier than in past years, presumably due to the recent rains.

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Red-browed Finch. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

This no doubt contributed to the large number of small bush birds seen, especially Superb Fairy-wrens and Red-browed Finches.

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Red-rumped Parrot, male. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

An early highlight of the morning walk was the sighting of both male and female Flame and Scarlet Robins in the same area close to the track.

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Red-rumped Parrots, male and female. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Throughout the walk parrots were plentiful, especially Red-rumped Parrots apparently investigating the numerous nesting hollows available in the wonderful old River Red Gums.

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Galah. Photograph by Merilyn Serong

A few Long-billed Corellas were spotted resting high in a tree, amongst many Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, with Galahs feeding in the grass below.

Long-billed Corella, Woodlands
Long-billed Corella. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

Whistling Kites and a Brown Goshawk were the only two raptor species seen. Up near the homestead several more Flame Robins were seen along the fence lines with Yellow-rumped Thornbills close by.

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Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

On the return track to the car park another hotspot was found with a Fan-tailed Cuckoo, more Flame Robins and a male Mistletoebird, which was seen by the lucky few.

Brown Goshawk, Woodlands
Brown Goshawk. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch most of the group drove to the section of the Park near the old Aboriginal Cemetery for a second walk. Heading towards the Sanatorium Lake a few extra species were recorded, including Grey Currawong and Crimson Rosella.

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Flame Robin. Photograph by Alan Veevers

The only waterbirds seen on the lake were a pair of Australasian Grebes.

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Australasian Grebe. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Inside the feral-proofed Back Paddock, Dave and Dorothy Jenkins kindly helped to track down a pair of Red-capped Robins, providing members with the highlight of the day.

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Flame Robin, female and Red-capped Robin, male. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

A few Scarlet and Flame Robins were also seen in this area.

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Red-capped Robin, female. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

We had achieved our objective of finding three of the red Robin species, with the Red-capped Robin once again being a feature of the Woodlands visit. A total of 46 species was recorded on a most enjoyable and rewarding day.

See bird list for the day: BM May 2017 Bird List Woodlands Historic Park

May 2017 Education activities

On the morning of Wednesday 17 May, BirdLife Melbourne hosted ten ladies and three carers from Mercy Place Boronia at the Education Centre at Blackburn Lake. This hostel is a long time member of BOCA and now BirdLife. The morning started with a PowerPoint entitled ‘Birds in Flight’ about how birds change their shapes as they fly. This was followed by morning tea and a craft activity of making bird mobiles. This annual outing ends with the ladies going for a short walk to the Lake. The weather cleared and it was possible to do this again this year. Janet Hand was assisted by Jenny Frohlich and Gay Gallagher. Thank you ladies.

May 2017.png

On the evening of the same day Gay Gallagher addressed approximately 45 people from the Springvale Garden Club. She spoke about how to attract birds to your garden naturally. Everyone was very happy and rewarded BirdLife Melbourne with a $50 donation.

On Friday 19 May, Pat Bingham led her monthly walk with the members of the Hawthorn U3A. The venue on this occasion was Ricketts Point in Black Rock. She had 14 participants and they saw 27 species. It was a dull but mild morning with calm seas.  Tide was about half-way in so plenty of exposed rock shelves. Best birds were White-necked Heron and Pied Cormorant. Local wildlife rescue personnel were keeping an eye on a Little Pied Cormorant and a Pelican, both with fishing line entanglement, and were hoping to get close enough to capture and free them of the line. One male swan with a black collar and white script (K40) was seen offshore.

On Wednesday 25 May, Graeme Hosken gave a PowerPoint to the ladies of the Vermont South Ladies Probus Club in Forest Hills. His Powerpoint was “Catching up with the illegals” (bird migration) and was very well received by the 50 ladies present. Many commented to Graeme that they had no idea about the movements of our bird migrants and had enjoyed his presentation.

Thank you to everyone who has assisted with our Education Program this month.

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

 

 

 

Weekdays Outing to Troups Creek Wetlands

15 May 2017

“A misty, moisty morning in the merry month of May” did not really apply to a cold foggy start to the day but still 15 people met at the Troups Creek car park. John Bosworth led our group and the incessant traffic noise from the adjacent Hallam Road faded slightly as we walked out. Recently the grass had been mowed – so considerate – and we greatly appreciated the shorter grass which meant minimum water on trouser legs.

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Early morning mist. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

Both areas, Troups Creek and River Gums, are part of the flood mitigation planning by Melbourne Water and BirdLife Melbourne has succeeded BOCA in performing the monthly surveys of the birds living in and around the plantings and ponds. The nearer ponds were not crowded with birds but a few Purple Swamphens and Eurasian Coots foraged around the edges and Welcome Swallows and Rainbow Lorikeets flew over. A Spotted Pardalote was heard from the garden trees to the south. Heading north initially we heard, then saw, Superb Fairy-wrens in the reed beds while Masked Lapwings were unexpectedly common – at least eight adults were sharing one grassy area. Further on a “conference” of about 20 Australian Magpies took place on the short grass where grubs were accessible but the birds dispersed as we approached.

There have been extensive plantings to generate patches of bush in the zone and a recent one of these hosted numerous European Goldfinches. Some of the ponds carried Hoary-headed Grebes but it was not till after lunch that we encountered Australasian Grebes at the River Gum wetlands. The morning, in contrast, had Red-browed Finches flitting between the bushes beside the ditch by the surfaced path. Both the ditch and its sides showed the flood levels of the rain about three weeks previously when the flood mitigation design of the basin had been tested and passed with flying colours. Ducks were Pacific Black, Chestnut and Grey Teal and Australian Wood Duck plus a few Black Swans, including a nesting pair. Other waterbirds included Australian White and Straw-necked Ibis, a Great Egret and both White-faced and White-necked Herons. Both male and female Australasian Darters were present at Troups and a pair of Black-winged Stilts at River Gum was interesting as we could compare the adult plumage with that of the immature.

Australasian Bittern - Kathy Zonneville
Australasian Bittern. Photo by Kathy Zonneville

The highlight for many started with the call of “Bittern!” It really was an Australasian Bittern which flushed and then flew around us in circles giving everyone excellent opportunities to study its markings under differing light conditions. It was a “lifer” for at least four people (including one who’d given up and consigned the species to the mythical category). Happily walking back to the cars, we then moved to River Gum Creek and lunch. Our numbers were reduced in the afternoon as several had other afternoon activities scheduled.

Black-shouldered Kite - Kathy Zonneville
Black-shouldered Kite. Photo by Kathy Zonneville

Raptors had not been common as the early fog would not have produced useful thermals but several species flew in the sunnier afternoon – Black-shouldered Kite and Nankeen Kestrel were seen by most and Peregrine Falcon and Brown Goshawk by a couple then the “Bird Call bird” appeared – indubitably an Australian Hobby pair – as we totalled up the day. Quite a finish for a day as we counted 54 species for the group. We thanked John enthusiastically for sharing his knowledge of the zone.

Diane Tweeddale coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Education report April 2017

On Friday 21 April, Pat Bingham led the U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk at Blackburn Lake Sanctuary. On this cold, wet morning, umbrellas were put to good use by the 15 people who attended. Twenty five species were seen with nice views of Spinebills feeding in Correa bushes as well as both Pied and Grey Currawongs.  They walked right under the roosting Tawny Frogmouths but it was too wet to look up much. Pat found them the next day when she was again at the same location.

On Saturday 22 April Pat Bingham led the Friends of Blackburn Creeklands Bird Survey. Eighteen people attended and they found 29 species. There were plenty of ‘big’ birds like Gang-gangs, Galahs, King Parrots, Pied Currawongs and Little Ravens.  The many Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets were all very noisy.  Only Brown Thornbills and a couple of Grey Fantails of the smaller fry were sighted.

Graeme Hosken again led the Breakfast with the Birds at Wilson Park in Berwick walk on Sunday 23 April. It was a perfect morning for birding with no wind and mild conditions. Several new faces joined the group for the two hour walk around the park. Twenty four species were sighted during the morning with Striated Thornbill being added to the list. The list for this bi-annual activity now totals 86 species. All enjoyed their breakfast at the walk’s end.

Thank you Pat and Graeme.

Janet Hand, BirdLife Melbourne Education Coordinator (9842 4177)

Beginners Outing to Braeside Park

22 April 2017
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 57
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Noisy Miner. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Twenty-six members gathered on a sunny morning at the Ibis carpark where Noisy Miners certainly lived up to their name. They were the dominant species in that area, chasing away any other bush bird that dared to enter their territory. A Little Eagle circling overhead provided an exciting diversion as the group were just about to set off down the main drive towards the wetlands. It was not easy to identify for certain until a long-range photograph (attached) was examined on the camera.

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Little Eagle. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The old dead trees, scattered amongst the lush live ones, enabled good views to be had of Red-rumped Parrots and Rainbow Lorikeets as they investigated the many available nesting hollows.

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Rainbow Lorikeets. Photo by Alan Veevers

A few Crested Pigeons appeared, feeding in the grasslands alongside the track. Another raptor was seen but, after much discussion, it was decided that it was, again, a dark morph Little Eagle.

Crested Pigeon, Braeside
Crested Pigeon. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Walking round the wetlands in an anticlockwise direction, a hotspot was found by a shallow muddy pool.

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Golden-headed Cisticola. Photo by Alan Veevers

Here were Golden-headed Cisticolas, female Flame Robins, Red-browed Finches and numerous Superb Fairy-wrens. It took a further hour-and-a-half before a male Flame Robin was spotted by a sharp-eyed observer!

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Female Flame Robin. Photo by Alan Veevers

There was a plentiful supply of Ducks to be seen on the main ponds, where the water levels were encouragingly high. Highlights were Blue-billed Ducks, Australasian Shovelers, Hardheads and a relatively large number of Pink-eared Ducks.

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Pink-eared Ducks and Hardheads. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Little Pied, Little Black and Great Cormorants, together with White-faced Herons, Australian White Ibis and Australasian Darters were also present.

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Australian White Ibis and Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

At the edge of the wetlands a flock of Silvereyes perched on low bushes created a beautiful sight as the sun shone on their feathers. Members then returned to the Ibis carpark for lunch.

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Little Black Cormorant. Photo by Alan Veevers

A short afternoon walk began at the Visitor Centre and explored the mixed bushland in the vicinity. The first sighting, much to everyone’s delight, was a pair of Tawny Frogmouths resting in typical fashion on a low branch of a nearby tree.

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Tawny Frogmouths. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Continuing along the Heathland Trail, both Grey and Chestnut Teal accompanied by Dusky Moorhens were seen in a small pond. A final productive area, amongst River Red Gums, was encountered before we made our way back to the cars. This yielded Golden Whistler, White-browed Scrubwren, White-plumed Honeyeater and a very colourful flock of Spotted Pardalotes.

White-plumed Honeyeeater, Braeside
White-plumed Honeyeater. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After the bird count, it was agreed that it had been a very rewarding day with 57 species recorded.

See complete bird list for the day: BM Apr 2017 Bird List Braeside Park

March 2017 Education Report

This month, four activities have been delivered, by four different people.

On Thursday 9 March, Janet Hand gave a Powerpoint presentation to the senior members of St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Box Hill. She spoke about how the bird species have changed in Box Hill since Tess Kloot’s book on the “Birds of Box Hill” was researched from 1988 to 1991. Crested Pigeons were not recorded in those surveys. This presentation followed a luncheon for the 25 people present.

Graeme Hosken spoke to 14 members of St Mark’s Uniting Church in Mount Waverley on Wednesday 15 March. His presentation was titled “Catching up with the illegals” – the story of our migrating birds.

On Friday 17 March, Pat Bingham began her monthly bird walks with members of the Hawthorn U3A. That day they met at the Sinclair Avenue Wetlands adjacent to the U3As HQ in Glen Iris. They had 18 participants and recorded 17 species – best of these were a Nankeen Night-heron and about 30 Little Corellas.

Gay Gallagher addressed the Ivanhoe Garden Club in Ivanhoe on Tuesday 28 March. Her topic was “Birds of Metropolitan Melbourne”.  Approximately 50 people were in attendance and they were very interested and asked lots of questions.

Many thanks to the above presenters.

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