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

BirdLife Melbourne Balwyn Meetings – 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

 Greythorn Satellite.JPG

 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.

Weekdays outing to O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail

5 September 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

 

Education activities – August 2018

Many thanks to Pat Bingham for running our two walks this month.

She firstly ran a short birdwalk for 15 members of U3A Deepdene in Wattle Park on Wednesday, 15 August.  Not many birds were seen although they had good views of Eastern Rosella, Pied Currawong and a pair of Tawny Frogmouths (at their camouflaged best!). They made up for the shortage of birds with seven species of wattle in flower and agreed the park was well-named.

The U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk on Friday, 17 August was at Dandenong Creek Wetlands on a cool, breezy morning with lots of sunshine. Eighteen participants enjoyed 35 species. The southern-most pondage was almost dry with mud exposed and adjacent shallow water.  Lovely close views of both Red-necked Avocet and Black-winged Stilt feeding, each with its own method: Avocets side-swiping and Stilts poking vertically.  Nearby were Red-kneed Dotterel standing in shallow water and Black-fronted Dotterel running around, like clockwork mice, on the mud. Other highlights included Red-browed Finches, pairs of Australasian Shoveler, and listening to the mournful calls of Little Grassbirds, but never actually seeing one!

Sue Wilson was back from her travels and has provided the photographs below to illustrate the morning’s walk.  Thanks Sue.

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

Beginners Outing to Jells Park

25 August 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 52
Australasian Darter - Bevan Hood
Australasian Darter. Photo by Bevan Hood

It was a sunny morning with little wind as 46 members set off to walk around Jells Park Lake. Almost immediately Nankeen Night-Herons were seen in dense vegetation near the water’s edge.

Nankeen Night-Heron, Jells Park
Nankeen Night-Heron. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Initially two birds were located, but closer inspection revealed two more.  Nearby, a pair of Grey Butcherbirds were busily building a nest of small twigs.

Grey Butcherbird, Jells Park
Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Soon afterwards a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo caused much amusement, screeching loudly and repeatedly flashing its crest.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Jells Park
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Rainbow Lorikeets were also seen displaying their magnificent multi-coloured feathers.

Rainbow Lorikeets, Jells Park
Rainbow Lorikeets. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Throughout the park Noisy Miners were dominant, which probably explained why few other honeyeaters were seen. Close to the track two sightings of Tawny Frogmouths caused much interest; first a single one and then a pair. All three birds were well camouflaged, with one in particular adopting the classic pose that looks just like a broken branch jutting out from a fork in the tree.

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There was much activity at the far end of the lake with scores of noisy Australian White Ibis nesting in huge island rookeries. They seemed to have been successful in pushing out the Cormorants and Darters which used to nest alongside them.

Australian White Ibis, Jells Park
Australian White-Ibis. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

However, four Australasian Darters were seen drying their wings and there were brief sightings of Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants.

Blue-billed Duck (M), Jells Park
Blue-billed Duck. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Some of the less common duck species were present on the water, with excellent views of Blue-billed and Pink-eared Ducks. Freckled Ducks were also present, but harder to see.

Pink-eared Duck, Jells Park
Pink-eared Duck. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

There was a flock of Red-browed Finches feeding in Casuarina trees and several Superb Fairy-wrens and Brown Thornbills in the lakeside vegetation. On the track heading back towards the car park, a few Eastern Rosellas, Galahs and Crested Pigeons were seen.

Galah - Bevan Hood
Galah. Photo by Bevan Hood

Most of the group stayed for lunch, taken after moving the cars to the upper car park where some Ironbark trees were just coming into flower.  Having been asked to look out for Swift Parrots the group assiduously scanned all possible trees but saw none. Rainbow Lorikeets and Noisy Miners were the only species seen feeding from the early blossoms on the trees.

Crested Pigeon - Bevan Hood
Crested Pigeon. Photo by Bevan Hood

A short circuit walk around the top of the hill finished the day’s agenda, but no further species were added to the morning total of 52.  Somewhat surprisingly, no raptors were seen despite the perfect weather conditions. Nevertheless, everyone seemed to enjoy the day, relishing the late winter sunshine.

View the complete bird list: BM Aug 2018 Bird List Jells Park

 

Important notice – September Beginners Outing

BirdLife Melbourne members who are looking forward to the 22 September Beginners Outing should take note that there has been a change in the meeting point.

Due to the closure of Red Gums Picnic Area car park at Hawkstowe Park, members will now meet at 10.00am in the lower car park at Hawkstowe Picnic Area off Gordons Road. Mel 183 J7.  Contact, Hazel 03 9876 3712 if you have any queries.

 

Weekdays outing to Trin-Warren-Tam-Boore (Royal Park, Parkville)

8 August 2018
All photographs by Bevan Hood, member
White-plumed Honeyeater - Bevan Hood
White-plumed Honeyeater

The skies were grey and the wind cold as 17 assembled in the car park. But the rain wasn’t more than the lightest sprinkle and everyone was dressed for the weather. Jane Moseley, our leader, was recovering from a broken arm and was assisted by Pat Bingham. Never let a physical challenge stop a bird watcher. As often, the car park birding was very productive and Silver Gull (probably courtesy of the stormy weather), Crested Pigeon, Superb Fairy-wren and New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters were common.

Crested Pigeon - Bevan Hood
Crested Pigeon

The sports grounds yielded large flocks of Rock Doves and House Sparrows with a few Australian Magpies and Magpie-larks. Australian White Ibis flew overhead and then keen eyes noticed another species – a Black-shouldered Kite –flying near and hovering above. Across the road and into the western side where Little Wattlebirds foraged in flowering gardens and drank and bathed in a rain gutter.

Black-shouldered Kite - Bevan Hood
Black-shouldered Kite

A couple of Galahs called as they flew over and a female Golden Whistler challenged many to locate her in the thickness of a tree canopy. The lake showed Australian Grebe (diving as is their wont) plus Eurasian Coot with a few Pacific Black Ducks and rather more Hardheads. Little Grassbird called forlornly from the bank but only a couple witnessed a bird flying from shelter to shelter.

Hardhead male - Bevan Hood
Hardhead, male

Purple Swamphen contrasted with Dusky Moorhen in size and colouring while Grey and Chestnut Teal were compared for their detail. Musk Lorikeet flew past swiftly and we were left contrasting their calls, flight and appearance with those of the more numerous Rainbow Lorikeets. A noisy panic among the smaller birds accompanied the appearance on an Australian Hobby, which, however, did not stay for long. We moved toward the oval again, noting the swooping flight of Welcome Swallows in the calmer conditions and then trying to identify an unfamiliar bird.

Hardhead female - Bevan Hood
Hardhead, female

After several guesses field guides were consulted and an identification which was quite unexpected was noted – the unexpected was undoubtedly The Bird of the Day – a Black-eared Cuckoo. We surmised that the recent gales from the north had brought it down to Melbourne’s latitude. The tall masses of lignin growth would have provided shelter. The cuckoo was a most obliging vagrant, it returned twice further during lunch, coming closer each time and giving everyone excellent close-up views.

Black-eared Cuckoo - Bevan Hood
Black-eared Cuckoo

After that the presence of a Tree Martin over the oval in August was not quite the surprise it would otherwise have been. A few people needed to leave at lunchtime but the majority stayed to walk, adding a Black Swan and a Grey Butcherbird and improved views of Noisy Miner and Spotted Pardalote.

Red-rumped Parrots male and female - Bevan Hood
Red-rumped Parrots, male (upper), female (lower)

The mud nest of a Magpie-lark was spotted high in a tree near the ovals. Avoiding silent, speeding cyclists, we returned to the cars and did the final bird call, listing 47 species for the day. Our enthusiastic thanks went to Jane and her support team for the work which showed several of our number the potential for an area that many had not known about. We decided to finish the day under darkening clouds at 2 pm. This proved a very good decision as 15 minutes later the heaviest, most violent rain for the day arrived.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Education activities – July 2018

This month there have been three education activities.

On Tuesday 10 July, Gay Gallagher addressed approximately 20 ladies at the Mooroolbark YWCA. Gay’s presentation was ‘Attracting birds to your garden naturally’. The ladies found the topic interesting and asked plenty of questions.

Friday, 20 July found 19 U3A Hawthorn Bird walkers at the Glen Iris Wetlands. Again, a cold, very windy morning after heavy rain. Birds were few and far between but several Spinebills put on a good show feeding in Correa bushes. Dusky Moorhen and Coot emerged from reedbeds in one of the pondages, probably hoping to be fed, joining Pacific Black Ducks, Chestnut Teal and Wood Duck that milled around on the shore. A couple of the ‘Black Ducks’ were definitely Mallard hybrids with heavy orange-yellow legs and big, yellowish bills. 21 species in total were seen/heard over the course of the morning. Thank you to Pat Bingham for leading the walk and reporting on it.

Bill Ramsay gave a presentation to about 30 people at a Glencare meeting at the Glen Waverley Community Centre on the morning of 31 July. The presentation was titled ‘Attracting birds to your garden and what you can hope to see’. Several questions, on a range of issues, were asked by the attendees.  Some time was spent in explaining that those large black birds that are frequently seen in Melbourne gardens are Little Ravens and not Crows, and this seemed to be a surprise to most. The BirdLife Australia ‘Backyard Birds of Victoria’ flyer was distributed and hopefully some of the attendees will use it to try and identify birds in their garden.

Thanks to Gay, Pat and Bill for their activities.

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

Beginners Outing to Lillydale Lake

28 July 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species Count: 49
Little Pied Cormorant, Lillydale Lake
Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Thirty-one members gathered by the lake in perfect weather for bird-watching – sunshine and very little wind. Water birds were plentiful with many Eurasian Coots, Purple Swamphens, Dusky Moorhens, and lots of Australasian Darters.

Pink-eared Duck, Lillydale Lake
Pink-eared Ducks. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Unfortunately the wetlands boardwalk was closed for repair, but from the track around the outside of it there were good views of Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants as well as a pair of Pink-eared Ducks.

Little Pied Cormorant with fish - Bevan Hood
Little Pied Cormorant with fish. Photo by Bevan Hood
Little Black Cormorant, Lillydale Lake
Little Black Cormorant. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

On some rocks alongside the lake, a young Darter was wrestling with a huge fish, desperately trying to manipulate it into a swallowing position.

Australasian Darter with fish, Lillydale Lake
Australasian Darter with fish. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Two Whistling Kites circling overhead provided close-up views for the beginners but were the only raptors seen all day.

Whistling Kite, Lillydale Lake
Whistling Kite. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

It was pleasing to see family groups of Superb Fairy-wrens in many different locations on the route away from the lake towards Hull Road wetlands. Despite everyone’s best efforts, none of the expected Tawny Frogmouths could be found in that area.

Golden Whistler (F), Lillydale Lake
Golden Whistler (f). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

However, Golden Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, King Parrots, Rainbow Lorikeets, Eastern Spinebills, as well as White-plumed and New Holland Honeyeaters, were seen.

Rainbow Lorikeet, Lillydale Lake
Rainbow Lorikeet. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The Hull Road Wetlands contained plenty of water but very few birds, though an Eastern Yellow Robin and Crimson Rosellas were spotted in the surrounding trees.

Grey Teal - Eleanor Dilley
Grey Teal. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Both Grey and Chestnut Teal were also found but only two and four, respectively, of each species. Returning to the carpark, two White-faced Herons were feeding in a small pond.

White-faced Herons, Lillydale Lake
White-faced Herons. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch a short walk was taken beside the lake. A lone Masked Lapwing stood on the beach, seemingly minding its own business as we walked by.

Masked Lapwing - Bevan Hood
Masked Lapwing. Photo by Bevan Hood

Members stood for a while on a look-out platform enjoying the sight of an Australasian Darter swimming and diving for fish, clearly demonstrating how it got the nickname “snake bird”. A Grey Butcherbird, perched obligingly close to the group, gave the photographers an ideal opportunity for a photo.

Grey Butcherbird - Bevan Hood
Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Bevan Hood

Heading back over the hill members paused to admire the distant view towards the Dandenong Ranges before returning to the car park. A very pleasant outing ended with a tally of 49 species.

View the complete bird list for the day: BM Jul 2018 Bird List Lillydale Lake