Beginners Outing to Newport Lakes and Jawbone Reserve

27 January 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 60
Chestnut Teal - Roger Needham
Chestnut Teal. Photo by Roger Needham

Despite the forecast for a hot and humid day, 37 members attended the January Beginners excursion. Many small birds were seen in the car park area, including surprisingly high numbers of Superb Fairy-wrens and Willie Wagtails. Soon after the walk started, a Royal Spoonbill was spotted circling high overhead. Whilst watching it, a Brown Goshawk appeared on the scene apparently inspecting the larger bird.

Dollarbird - Roger Needham
Dollarbird. Photo by Roger Needham

There was great excitement when a Dollarbird (seen two weeks earlier on the recce.) was spotted perched on the top of a tall dead tree-trunk rising from the water. It stayed in place for many minutes, enabling everyone to have a really good look.

Dollarbird - Eleanor Dilley
Dollarbird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A Little Black Cormorant and several Little Pied Cormorants were resting lower down in the same group of dead trees. One Little Pied Cormorant went fishing and caught and ate a decent sized one!

Little Pied Cormorant eating fish Newport Lakes 2018 01 27 800x500 M Serong

Little Pied Cormorant eating fish Newport Lakes - M Serong
Little Pied Cormorant feeding. Photos by Merrilyn Serong
0065 little pied cormorant eating fish newport lakes 2018 01 27 800x500 m serong
Little Pied Cormorant eating fish. Photo by Merrilyn Serong.

Continuing down-hill to the water level track enabled good views to be had of Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes, as well as young Eurasian Coots begging for food from their parents.

Hoary-headed Grebes Newport Lakes - M Serong
Hoary-headed Grebes. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

There were very few ducks on the lake which may be attributed to the presence of some large carp which are known to nibble on the feet of ducks.

Young Eurasian Coot - Eleanor Dilley
Young Eurasian Coot. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A welcome lunch was enjoyed in a convenient shaded picnic shelter near the car park. A bird call tallied 34 species for the morning at the lakes.

About 20 members stayed on to drive down Maddox Road to the shore for the afternoon session. The tide was rather high and no small waders were initially seen. However, several Common Greenshanks were observed as they foraged at the edge of the shore. A large group of Black Swans and Australian Pelicans were disturbed into flight by a very low-flying microlight aircraft.

Blue-billed Duck male Jawbone Res - M Serong
Blue-billed Duck. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Nothing much was seen from the track across the salt marsh but walking around the first lake in Jawbone Reserve revealed a remarkable number of species. Included were Great-crested Grebe, Blue-billed Duck, Hardhead, Australasian Shoveler and Musk Duck.

Great Crested Grebe Jawbone Res - M Serong
Great-crested Grebe. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Several Royal Spoonbills on a small island still had their breeding head plumes on display.

Royal Spoonbill - Eleanor Dilley
Royal Spoonbill. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

They were accompanied by both Chestnut and Grey Teal, mostly resting with their heads tucked under a wing.

Further into the reserve, many different birds were seen resting at the edge of an island in one of the lakes.

Black-winged Stilt - Roger Needham
Black-winged Stilt. Photo by Roger Needham

These included Black-winged Stilts, Pink-eared Ducks and several Pied Cormorants along with their smaller relatives.

Pied Cormorant - Eleanor Dilley
Pied Cormorant. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Whilst watching the roosting birds, a White-faced Heron flew gracefully overhead as if to remind us it was time to turn for home.

Returning towards Maddox Road a flock of Yellow-rumped Thornbills were seen in low bushes. Surprisingly these were the only thornbills seen on the excursion.

White-faced Heron Jawbone Res - M Serong
White-faced Heron. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Back at the shore the tide had receded, leaving more mud banks available for the waders. Pied and Sooty Oystercatchers were on the distant sand-banks, and a small flock of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers with a lone Red-kneed Dotterel were in the drainage channel.

Little Pied Cormorant - Eleanor Dilley
Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

46 species were recorded for the afternoon, with a combined total of 60 for the day. Although it had been hot and humid, everyone felt they had enjoyed some excellent sightings, with ‘Bird of the Day’ clearly awarded to the Dollarbird.

View full bird listing: BM Jan 2018 Bird List Newport Lakes and Jawbone Reserve

Weekdays outing to Bolin Bolin, Bulleen

4 December 2017
Leader: Elsmaree Baxter

The previous weekend’s deluge did not deter 23 people from assembling. An erroneous cancellation notice in the website may have worried others but we do NOT cancel except when a fire ban is declared in the area of the walk. It takes more than rain to stop birders.

Tawny Frogmouth - Marilyn Ellis
Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

The weather was reasonably fine with only some light drizzle and our stand-in leader, Elsmaree Baxter, had already checked that walking was feasible for a good distance along the main river trail, (and was prepared to access detours if any of the weekend flooding remained near the billabong). Birds were soon recorded and it was reassuring that the preceding weather had not diminished their activity. The car park area had flyovers of Silver Gull and both Australian White and Straw-necked Ibis. Bird numbers rose as the party reached the bush beside the water. Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Shining Bronze-Cuckoo were both heard as were Common Bronzewing and Spotted Pardalote. Water’s edge yielded White-faced Heron, Australasian Darter and both Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants. Two families of Tawny Frogmouths were spotted by sharp eyed members of the group.

Scarlet Honeyeater male - Tina Wong
Scarlet Honeyeater, male. Photo by Tina Wong (Toorourrong Reservoir on 8 November 2017)

Delight was universal when a group of Scarlet Honeyeaters was seen high in a tree beside the path. “Lifers” for some and still greatly appreciated by the rest. Fortunately the flooding near the billabong had cleared, but damp ground and flattened grass showed where the river had flowed across the path to fill the billabong. Pacific Black and Australian Wood Ducks were there, as were Grey and Chestnut Teal, undoubtedly avoiding the (still) turbulently flowing waters of the river.

 

By walk’s end there was a list of 50 species. See the bird list here: BirdLife Melbourne Outing Bolin Bolin 17

Unfortunately a low point was the observation of an Indian Ringneck in the company of some Galahs. It was possibly an aviary escape but they are a declared noxious pest, becoming very successful invasive hollow nesters wherever they have become established. They have displaced native birds in the UK and Turkey, among other places.

All agreed that the area had provided excellent birding and thanked Elsmaree for proceeding with the outing.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Flockwiz event with quizmaster, the Flaming Galah

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

Thursday 14 December, 7.30-10.30pm

Go here to register!

Education activities November 2017

Photographs by Sue Wilson, Hawthorn U3A

On Saturday 11 November, Geoff Russell lead a Bird Walk through the Yarran Dheran Reserve in Mitcham. The activity was limited to 25 participants and 30 species were seen. The most interesting sighting was Olive-backed Orioles.

Graeme Hosken addressed the Australian Plants Society – Wilson Park Berwick Group on “Catching up with the illegals” (Bird migration between Australia and the Northern hemisphere) on Tuesday 14 November. The audience was fascinated by the movement of these birds.

201711 picture 1The U3A Hawthorn 2017 Birdwalks finished the programme at Wilson Reserve, Ivanhoe, on November 17. It was a rather warm, muggy morning but they succeeded in doing the circuit before the thunder rolled and the rain started. 14 people attended and 24 species were recorded. The best birds were Nankeen Night-heron, Common Bronzewing, and a glimpse of an Azure Kingfisher by a lucky few people. A tiger snake was also close to the billabong so they needed to remember to look at their feet as well as the heavens!

201711 picture 2The final planned activity for the year was on Tuesday 28 November at the Mooroolbark Library. Janet Hand’s Powerpoint was about “Attracting birds to your Garden naturally”. This was a community event where 30 plus people booked at attend, thus a very interested group with plenty of questions. Problems/questions about Pied Currawongs killing the smaller birds and bats in Upwey and Eastern Koels calling at two different locations. ‘How do you discourage Noisy Miners?’ seems to be a common question everywhere.

I wish to thank the 25 people who have assisted me this year with our 43 activities. Without your help we could not have made so many people in the community aware of our lovely birds and their needs.

Season’s Greetings to all.

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

Beginners Outing to the You Yangs

25 November 2017
Leaders: Roger and Inta Needham
Photographs by Alan Veevers

Twenty-eight members met near the Rangers’ Office in hot and dry conditions hoping to see some of the less common birds which have historically visited the You Yangs for the summer months. Sadly this was not to be the case and very few birds were seen for most of the day.

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Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Near the car park Galahs and Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes were spotted and Superb Fairy-wrens were seen foraging by the path. A circuit walk was taken on which Common Bronzewing, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Laughing Kookaburra and Brown Falcon were clearly seen. Large numbers of Common Brown butterflies fluttering in the treetops increased the challenge of spotting bird movement.

Kookaburra
Laughing Kookaburra

Flying majestically overhead were four Australian Pelicans and a small flock of Woodswallows which were identified as White-browed by the reddish-brown colour of their breasts. A vociferous group of White-winged Choughs foraged near the murky Duck Pond, providing some enjoyment when there were few other species to see.

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White-winged Coughs

After lunch most of the members car-pooled to drive to the Eastern Flats which, although dry, had healthier looking vegetation. There were rather more birds to be seen here, including Red-browed Finch, Grey Shrike-thrush and a pair of Willie Wagtails. Over the fence a Nankeen Kestrel was seen in the far distance while a small flock of Tree Martins circled above the nearby eucalypts. A colourful Jewel Spider provided an interesting sight, capturing the imagination of some of the group.

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Jewel Spider

Roger and Inta Needham kindly led this walk as we had only returned from overseas the previous day. They were warmly thanked by everyone for their efforts. A total of 39 species was recorded for the day, but not many of these were seen by the majority of the participants. It was thought that the very dry conditions combined with the lack of clean fresh water contributed to the low bird count.

Alan and Hazel Veevers

See the complete bird list: BM Nov 2017 Bird List You Yangs

Weekdays outing to Bellarine Peninsula

20 November 2017
All photographs by Bevan Hood, member
Whiskered Tern - Bevan Hood.jpg
Whiskered Tern

Blues skies and a light breeze combined with heat. Leaders were Leonie Robbins and Diane Tweeddale and at Balyang initially there were 12 people which swelled to 13 at our second stop, Jerringot. The sanctuary deserves to be more widely known.

Rainbow Lorikeet - Bevan Hood.jpg
Rainbow Lorikeet

High water levels from recent rains meant no mud was visible around any ponds making seeing crakes and rails unlikely. Australasian Darters were rearing pairs of well-grown young in nests overhanging the Barwon River and Little Pied Cormorants were nesting in the trees around and in the large pond. Not bad for a constructed wetland. Australian Pelicans sat on the tops of duck nesting boxes.

Purple Swamphen - Bevan Hood
Purple Swamphen

Rainbow Lorikeets and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos investigated nesting holes while a few Red-rumped Parrots and a lone Long-billed Corella foraged on the grass. This was the only location of the outing where we recorded parrots and cockatoos.

Grey Teal - Bevan Hood
Grey Teal

The ducks showed plenty of cross-breeding but a couple seemed purebred enough to call Northern Mallard and Pacific Black Duck. Chestnut Teal swam aloof from the riffraff and a very few of Grey Teal were also observed.

Chestnut Teale male - Bevan Hood
Chestnut Teal

Welcome Swallows swooped near the bridge and House Sparrows favoured the picnic area. Far above a Brown Goshawk circled and soared. The sanctuary recorded 34 species.

White-faced Heron - Bevan Hood
White-faced Heron

Next was the Barwon Heads golf club with adjacent Jerringot. Little Grassbird and Australian Reed-Warbler were calling among the reeds. A couple of Crested Pigeons bobbed near our shady lunch spot but flushed when we began assembling.

Australasian Grebe - Bevan Hood
Australasian Grebe

A highlight was the presence of several White-necked Herons flying around with one obliging bird foraging, apparently unconcerned by us eating our lunches about 4 m away.

White-necked Heron - Bevan Hood
White-necked Heron

It foraged delicately but no prey appeared to be taken despite more than one frog species calling. There were two fluffy Purple Swamphen chicks in the company of two protective adults. Time spent here, including lunch, allowed us to record 23 species.

The Hospital Swamp drive features two left turns with minimum warning and the group straggled in to the meeting area but we all made it. Again, no visible mud for crakes, rails or waders. Whiskered Terns quartered the water while our sole sighting of a Great Egret was here, across the lake on the top of a nesting box. A Swamp Harrier gave good views.

Swamp Harrier - Bevan Hood
Swamp Harrier

Less obliging was a Double-fronted Dotterel which flew rapidly in from the lake, calling, and then as quickly flew out again. Time was passing so we left this area, recording 11 species during our brief visit.

Our last stop was Tait’s Point, high above Lake Connewarre where we’d hoped for Caspian Tern. Never go hoping, it doesn’t work. Scopes came in useful here and confirmed Australian Shelduck and Wedge-tailed Eagle far away. A distant “branch-lump” resolved into an Australian Magpie which was less exciting than we’d hoped. Cormorants perched on a jetty and Great, Little Pied, Little Black and Pied were noted.

Little Pied Cormorant - Little Black Cormorant - Great Cormorant - Bevan Hood
Little Pied Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Great Cormorant

A New Holland Honeyeater lifted our “bag” of honeyeaters which had been only White-plumed Honeyeaters and numerous Red Wattlebirds till then. The sun was hot enough at 3pm to lead to a group decision to stop the outing here and tot up the list. Tait’s Pt yielded 22 species and the overall count was 54 species. Not bad considering the weather. The only birds recorded at all locations were Australian Magpie and Masked Lapwing which reflects the adaptability of these species.

Diane Tweeddale, co-leader and Co-ordinator Weekdays Outings

Weekdays outing to Toorourrong Reservoir

8 November 2017
Recently fledged Silvereye - Bevan Hood.jpg
Silvereye, recently fledged. Photo by Bevan Hood

The weather was ideal, calm and sunny, as 20 people assembled in the car park. Car park birding kept us focused before Graeme Hosken, our leader, led us downhill towards the dam wall.

Grey Fantail- Christina Law.JPG
Grey Fantail. Photo by Mundell Thomas

The early birds included Little and Long-billed Corellas which gave many a good chance to compare size and the distribution of pink plumage. Other parrots here included Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Galah and Crimson Rosella.

Crimson Rosella - Bevan Hood
Crimson Rosella. Photo by Bevan Hood

After a short walk 6 Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos joined the list. Welcome Swallows dipped over the dam and twittered over the outlet. A Little Raven pursued a Brown Goshawk till out of sight. Down in the swamp beyond the dam wall a Sacred Kingfisher perched obligingly, allowing many to obtain reasonable views.

Sacred Kingfisher - Christina Law
Sacred Kingfisher. Photo by Mundell Thomas

As we walked flitting honeyeaters foraged in the trees offering considerable challenges to identification as they disappeared behind foliage or branches. Yellow-faced, White-eared and White-naped Honeyeaters dominated but then sharp eyes saw red. Lots of red.

Scarlet honeyeater - Christina Law
Scarlet Honeyeater. Photo by Mundell Thomas

The rest of the group peered up and eventually there it was – a male Scarlet Honeyeater. In the end we had recorded both male and female of this species and several people had a “lifer” for the day. High in the trees nesting Striated Pardalotes were noted, calling and disappearing into small holes.

Striated Pardalotes juv - Cristina law
Striated Pardalotes, juvenile. Photo by Mundell Thomas

Walking continued toward the dam and a White-necked Heron was sighted in an adjacent paddock while a grebe was initially identified as Hoary-headed. Later this ID was queried and an Australasian was claimed. Hmm. A re-check found both Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebes in the same section of lily pond. Reassurance all round and two more species for the list.

Lauging Kookaburra with prey - Tweeddale
Laughing Kookaburra with prey. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

The dam yielded the only duck sighting – a distant male Musk Duck. A single Purple Swamphen foraged at the lily pond’s edge. Here were the memorials for the local people killed in the 1990 bushfires. So many had been lost.

dam - Tweeddale
Toorourrong Reservoir and car park. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

A small flock of European Goldfinch flew over the dam wall but not many introduced species were observed – Common Myna and Common Blackbird were also reported. Birds in the canopies included Rufous Whistler and Pied Currawong while Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike appeared to favour high perches in bare dead trees.

female Rufous Whistler - Bevan Hood
Rufous Whistler, female. Photo by Bevan Hood

At walk’s end we paused for the bird call and the often-observed happened – the only Wedge-tailed Eagle of the walk flew past, harassed by Little Ravens and a Brown Goshawk.

Wedge-tailed Eagle - Christina Law
Wedge-tailed Eagle. Photo by Mundell Thomas

Another for the list (the goshawk and ravens had been recorded earlier). Non-birds included sightings of Echidna and Eastern Blue-tongue and calls of assorted frogs by the dam.

Eastern Blue-tongue - Tweeddale
Eastern Blue-tongue Lizard. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

By walk’s end we had 54 species on the list and we thanked Graeme enthusiastically for all his work which had reintroduced us to the area in its recovery from the fires.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Education activities October 2017

Pat Bingham gave a talk to the East Burwood Probus on 2 October entitled ‘Birding with BirdLife’ – so it was both a bit of history of the formation of the organization and what it does, including advertisement of Bird Week activities. 80 people attended on the day.

On Friday 6 October, Sally Heeps spoke to the Greensborough Salvation Army Triple L Club (Laughter, Lunch and Leisure). Approximately 25 people attended on this day. Her PowerPoint presentation was about the birds of the area with special reference to the Doreen wetlands.

On Saturday 7 October, the Whitlesea Council planned a walk through the Quarry Hills Park, South Morang covering both the Hunters road and Granite Hills sections. This same walk was planned last year but cancelled because of the dangerous windy conditions. This year it was cancelled because of lack of numbers. I thank Sally Heeps for volunteering both years to lead the walks.

A Kinglake West Birdwalk was held on Sunday 8 October. This was the seventh annual birdwalk since the 2009 bushfires which burnt much of this property. Strong winds made it very difficult to hear or see birds this year. I thank Graeme Hosken and Peter Dynes for leading the bird walk this year. Eastern Whipbird was added to the list this year. The total species seen on the property on survey days is now 66.

Janet Hand made a trip to Kilmore to set up an information stall on Saturday 14 October, at the APS Mitchell Plant Expo and Plant sale. The weather was kind and over 200 people attended. Country people certainly are very interested in their gardens and the birds that live in them. It made for some very interesting discussions.

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On Sunday 15 October, Graeme Hosken led a Spring Bird Walk at Wilson Botanic Park in Berwick. This was a Breakfast with the Birds event starting at 8am. Although the attendance number was low Graeme tells me the supplied breakfast was lovely. The group saw 24 species and added a Yellow-faced Honeyeater to the Park’s list.

About 40 ladies attended a PowerPoint presentation on Monday 16 October, for the Templestowe Ladies Probus Club. Janet Hand gave this presentation about the ‘Birds found in Manningham.’

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On Friday 20 October, Pat Bingham had the U3A Deepdene walk at Jells Park; 20 people, 40 species and a good time was had by all as the Freckled Ducks (two females) sailed past; a pair of Sacred Kingfishers called and were seen briefly; the breeding White Ibis, Cormorants (Great and Little Black) and Reed-Warblers were cacophonous. Attached photos, by Sue Wilson, are fun, especially the Wood Duck with attitude – ‘What a big breast I’ve got!’.

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The next day, October 21, Ian Moodie and Pat Bingham led the Spring Bird Survey at Blackburn Lake Creeklands. They had about 25 people and 21 species. Lots of breeding – including Chestnut Teal with ducklings, Magpie-larks building a mud nest, Grey Butcherbird, Kookaburras and White-browed Scrubwrens feeding young, and three Tawny Frogmouths on nests but no sign of young on these nests yet.

Our 19th Annual Breakfast with the Birds at Banyule was held on Sunday 22 October, 2017. With 116 people enrolled we were ready with our leaders at 7.30am. As light showers passed Janet Hand sent off groups of eight with each leader. Towards the end it was obvious that many of those who had booked failed to attend. I thank my leaders on the morning – Susan Bailey, Pat Bingham, Emma Bond, Alan Crawford, Peter Dynes, Lyn Easton, Anthea Fleming, Robert Grovenor, Sally Heeps, Meg Houghton, Owen Lishmund, Richard Loyn, Ian Muir, Geoff Russell, Scot Sharman. Thanks also to Daphne Hards, Bill Ramsay and Sam (Banyule Council employee) for their assistance with the telescopes at the wetlands. Special thanks to Jim Mead, his assistants and the Banyule City Council for a beautiful sit down breakfast. 73 species were seen in Banyule and 37 in the Warringal area. Three Warringal species were not seen in Banyule so we had a grand total of 76 species for the morning. A dozen species were observed breeding in Banyule and two in Warringal. Eastern Whipbird was added to the Banyule list this year. Our list now totals 123 species for this one day in October. Well done everyone.

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My thanks to the many people who have helped with these activities.

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

Beginners Outing to Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

28 October 2017
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 66

 

Spotted Pardalote (F), Cranbourne
Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Scarlet Honeyeaters calling from the trees in Stringybark Carpark set the scene for a remarkable day for the Beginners at Cranbourne Botanical Gardens. There were numerous sightings of these beautiful little birds throughout the day and everyone became familiar with their melodious call.

Scarlet Honeyeater (M), Cranbourne
Scarlet Honeyeater (m). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

 

Cuckoos were also in good voice. A close encounter with a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo provided much interest whilst more distant views of Pallid and Fan-tailed Cuckoos were enjoyed.

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, Cranbourne
Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

An Olive–backed Oriole continually repeated its distinctive call as it allowed the group to walk directly underneath its perch.

Olive-backed Oriole, Cranbourne
Olive-backed Oriole. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Wylie Wetlands were full to overflowing and there were plentiful views of different waterbirds, including six duck species. Three Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flying from a nearby tree gave a graceful flying display.

Swamp Wallaby, Cranbourne
Swamp Wallaby. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Several small Swamp Wallabies were seen throughout the walk while back near the carpark a Southern Brown Bandicoot and an Echidna were seen foraging for food.

Grey Shrike-thrush Cranbourne
Grey Shrike-thrush. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Lunch was taken in the Stringybark Picnic Area where we were joined by a very tame Grey Shrike-thrush and yet more Scarlet Honeyeaters.

The afternoon walk was in the Australian Gardens which were looking splendid with lots of colourful Spring-flowering plants.

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Scarlet Honeyeater (m). Photo by Alan Veevers

 

A Spotted Pardalote was keenly watched as it gathered nesting material and then entered its hole in a nearby embankment, only to return moments later for another load.

Spotted Pardalote (F) in nesting hole, Cranbourne
Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Excitement peaked when a male White-winged Triller flew overhead and perched in a distant tree well-within binocular range.

White-winged Triller, Cranbourne
White-winged Triller. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Several honeyeater species were seen in a wetland just outside the fence enclosing the formal garden. A Dusky Woodswallow sitting on a nest in a bush alongside the path seemed unconcerned as several members took advantage of a good photographic opportunity.

Dusky Woodswallow on nest, Cranbourne
Dusky Woodswallow. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

There were very few ducks on the garden ponds, but a Black-fronted Dotterel and Australasian Grebes were of interest. Light rain began to fall as the Eucalypt Walk was reached, bringing the excursion to a slightly damp close. It was certainly an exceptionally good outing, with Scarlet Honeyeaters and White-winged Trillers being outstanding sightings. A total of 66 species was recorded for the day.

See the full bird list for the day: BM Oct 2017 Bird List Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

Weekday outing to Woodlands Historic Park, Greenvale

17 October 2017

Skies were blue but a strengthening wind promised challenges in detecting birds. Still the weather was warm as we assembled under the leadership of Rob Grosvenor. Once all had arrived there were 22 in the group and all were delighted by the Tree Martins circling overhead and plunging down among the trees where several were observed feeding young in nests located in tree holes. Spotted Pardalotes called occasionally while Striated Pardalotes were calling and plunging inside the tree hollows around the car park. We watched as they dived into diminutive spaces and then exited very swiftly. They had reason for caution as we observed a Little Raven removing a Noisy Miner nestling despite the adult birds’ attempts to divert it. Other ravens had clearly found a food source somewhere as numbers flew past carrying something bright yellow-orange in their bills. We wondered – loquats, takeaway chips, orange? None was close enough to identify.

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A ‘survivor’ eucalypt – found in the Park. Photograph by Diane Tweeddale

An interesting brief sighting near the car park area was a Varied Sittella foraging down one of the tree trunks. Both Horsefield’s and Shining Bronze-Cuckoos were heard and the latter was seen though that took some effort. The other seen cuckoo was a rufous morph of the Pallid Cuckoo which was rather quieter. The wetland was dry and the creek was reduced to a couple of very small muddy puddles in this section so waterbirds were restricted to an overflying Pacific Black Duck and a solitary White-faced Heron. Parrots were numerous – screeching Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, quieter Little Corellas, and pairs of Rainbow Lorikeets, Crimson and Eastern Rosellas and Red-rumped Parrots flew past while Galahs were heard and over at the Homestead we found Long-billed Corellas perched in a tall pine tree. The glossy-coated retired racing legends were duly admired as we walked past their paddocks.

Cleared ground was favoured by Eastern Grey Kangaroos and we saw a couple of mobs with at least 20 individuals. House Sparrows occurred near the homestead buildings plus some in the picnic area by our cars. Raptors were restricted to a Peregrine Falcon in the afternoon and in the morning a Brown Falcon and a pair of Brown Goshawks which caused many alarm calls. The falcon appeared to successfully dominate the goshawks. No robins were observed this day; Red-browed Finches were seen a couple of times; as for whistlers, there was a vocal Rufous Whistler beside the trail in the morning and a Grey Shrike-thrush in the homestead garden. The introduced species were also there – Common Starlings seemed to be having a successful breeding season around the car park, feeding young in the nests in the hollows, removing faecal sacs and trying to evade ravens which were clearly checking out the nests. Common Mynas and Blackbirds were also recorded and by walk’s end the bird list totalled 44 species, two for each participant, and we thanked Rob for his careful preparation which had reminded some of us how good this location was and had introduced others to the area for the first time.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings