Tag Archives: Australasian Grebe

Weekday outing to Dandenong Valley Wetland, Wheelers Hill

5 April 2022

Photographs by Steve Hoptroff

We met at Haversham Avenue near Cronia Court on a cool, fine and mainly cloudy day. Grey Butcher bird and Magpie were calling and a pair of White-faced Herons were sitting on a nearby house.

Grey Butcherbird

Dandenong Valley Wetland was opened in July 2010 by Melbourne Water, it is 48 hectares in size and divided into 4 large cells which can be individually filled and emptied. Water is diverted from nearby Dandenong Creek and stored in the cells for 3 days and then released back into the creek. Birdlife Melbourne has been doing monthly surveys here for Melbourne Water since 2010 and recorded over 130 species within the first 2 years.

Red-browed Finch
Superb Fairy-wren, breeding male
Superb Fairy-wren, male in eclipse plumage

We entered the wetland via the bridge over Dandenong Creek and saw Grey Fantail, Spotted Pardalote, Red-browed Finch, Superb Fairy-wren, Brown Thornbill, Golden Whistler, Red Wattle Bird New Holland Honeyeater Gold Finch and Noisy Miner.

New Holland Honeyeater

As we approached the outlet of Cell 3 we were entertained by a White-faced Heron which had just caught a small fish, it dropped it on the ground and picked it up again many times before finally deciding to swallow it. 

Looking into Cell 3 we saw Black Duck, Musk Duck, Dusky Moorhen and Australasian Grebe, White Ibis and Welcome Swallows flew overhead.

On our way to the outlet of Cell 2 we saw a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike while a huge flock of Little Corellas flew over, in the cell we found a Little Pied and Little Black Cormorant. 

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike

Little Black Cormorant, with Australasian Grebe in background

At the outlet of Cell 1 we saw a lone Australasian Darter and heard Pied Currawongs calling from the creek. 

Australasian Darter, female

We then headed east, towards the inlet end of the cells via a track between Cell 1 and Cell 2, didn’t see much along here until near the end where there was plenty of water around, we then came across Reed Warbler, Eurasian Coot, Purple Swamphen and Black Swan.

Black Swan

Heading south along the top of the Cells, we had the distribution channel on our left and the top of the Cells on our right. A White-browed Scrubwren was seen beside the track, we were now coming under the power lines and decided to look for raptors, soon a White-bellied Sea-Eagle was spotted, soaring high above, then a pair of Nankeen Kestrels on a pylon and a Dusky Woodswallow on the power lines. 

White-bellied Sea-Eagle

Further along the track we checked out a clear section of the distribution channel and found a Spotless Crake foraging along the muddy edge.

Spotless Crake

The inlet to Cell 4 had a small amount of water in it with a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels resting on the edge while a Royal Spoonbill was busy swishing its bill in the water. 

Black-fronted Dotterel
Royal Spoonbill

We now started the long walk west to the outlet of Cell 4, no birds were seen until we reached a small pond at the outlet. There were 11 Black-fronted Dotterels and 10 Chestnut Teal here and we heard the calls of many Bell Miners coming from the Creek. As we headed back towards the bridge we heard Grey Shrike Thrush calls several times and when crossing the bridge saw a small flock of Silvereyes foraging in the blackberries and a Yellow-faced Honeyeater resting in a dead Wattle Tree.

It took just under 3 hours to do this walk and we recorded 48 species 

Geoff Russell, Leader

Beginners outing to Yan Yean Reservoir Park

26 February 2022
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 45
All photographs by Eleanor Dilley

Thirty members met near the entrance in pleasant sunny weather conditions.  Starting up at the dam wall several good sightings gave an excellent start to the morning:  a male Musk Duck just offshore; an immature male Australasian Darter on the roof of the small hut; a little Pied Cormorant and a White-faced Heron on the crane on the jetty and a pair of Red-rumped Parrots drinking by the slipway.   

Male Musk Duck
Australasian Darter

Members then drove to the third carpark and began the wetlands walk alongside the water. Dusky Moorhens, Australian Wood Ducks and Chestnut Teals were the predominant species, with Pacific Black Ducks, Australasian Grebes and Purple Swamphens in smaller numbers. 

Pacific Black Ducks
Purple Swamphen

Grey Fantails, Spotted Pardalotes and Brown Thornbills were seen in the taller trees, with Superb Fairy-wrens foraging at the water’s edge. After crossing the road to the fenced wetlands, several Parrot species were seen including Little and Long-billed Corellas, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Eastern Rosellas. A bird-scarer was sounding shots from a neighbouring property which no doubt disturbed them, and possibly reduced the number of ducks and waders on these wetlands. A flock of Australasian Grebe with young of various ages were the main waterbirds seen here.

Australasian Grebes with chicks under wings
Wedge-tailed Eagle

A pair of Wedge -tailed Eagles flying overhead caused a lot of interest, as did a lone Red-rumped Parrot well hidden in a tree. On returning to the first wetlands a White-faced Heron was perched on the opposite bank and later a Falcon flew overhead. It was initially thought to be a Peregrine Falcon, but later examination of Eleanor’s photo revealed it to be an Australian Hobby.

Red-rumped Parrot
Nankeen Night-Heron

Lunch was eaten at the top of the hill near the old caretaker’s cottage. There were only 2 Nankeen Night-herons in the nearby Corsican Pine, which was well down on the numbers seen there in previous years. After bird call members drove back to the other end of the park to the Lookout.  Two spotting scopes were set up near the fence, but it was hard to see between the trees.  After some perseverance a Great Crested Grebe was identified as well as a pair of Blue-billed Ducks.

This concluded a satisfying day with 45 species recorded, including 9 Parrot species.

Many thanks to Eleanor Dilley, who provided all the photographs.

Beginners Outing to Point Cook Coastal Reserve

22 January 2022

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 48
Little Eagle. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Twenty six members braved the very hot weather to attend the Point Cook excursion. Whilst assembling at the Beach Picnic Area a Little Eagle circled low overhead providing great views for everyone. Superb Fairy-wrens and Willie Wagtails were the predominant birds as members walked towards the shore. At the beach the only birds which could be clearly seen were dozens of Silver Gulls, with a lone Australian Pelican in the far distance. 

Silver Gull. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Taking the track parallel to the shore, Silvereyes and a Singing Honeyeater were spotted in the bushes and a Nankeen Kestrel flew overhead. On the track back towards the cars a Crested Pigeon obligingly perched on a dead branch while smaller bushbirds were much harder to see.  

Crested Pigeon. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

At the carpark members searched for Yellow Thornbills which proved to be elusive, though seen and heard by a couple of senior spotters. A number of Yellow-rumped Thornbills were, however, clearly seen.

Yellow-rumped Thornbill. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

As we drove to the RAAF Lake carpark it was pleasing to see that the recent heavy rains must have almost filled the lake, as it was still about two-thirds full. Three Australian Shelducks were on the lake and a Masked Plover was roaming the nearside bank. In the distance a White-bellied Sea-Eagle was spotted being determinedly mobbed by Silver Gulls. In the small ponds on the opposite side of the road several species were found, including a family of Australasian Grebes with very small chicks, two of which clambered onto the back of a parent as we watched. Australian Reed Warblers were very vocal, and a few were seen darting in and out of the reeds. Some members, at the rear of the group, saw Zebra Finches and Golden-headed Cisticolas and heard a Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo calling in the distance.

Australasian Grebe, chick(s) under wing. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Australasian Grebe and chicks, one on parent. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Members then drove towards the Homestead area, pausing briefly at the ponds beside the housing estate. Dusky Moorhens and Purple Swamphens were seen on the water and European Goldfinches and House Sparrows were feeding on thistles. On arrival, lunch was eaten in the welcome shade of some old trees beside the carpark. Here, immature Collared Sparrowhawks were very noisy in their demands for food and there were numerous sightings of them as they whizzed past overhead. Members then set off towards the Point at low tide where there were a number of Crested Terns, Pied and Little Pied Cormorants along with many more Silver Gulls. It was disappointing that no migrant waders were seen in this area. Continuing along the shore a Pied Oystercatcher could be seen in the distance, along with scores more Silver Gulls. Walking back inland, towards the carpark, the White-bellied Sea-Eagle flew overhead, giving much closer views this time. On reaching the carpark the young Sparrowhawks were still calling loudly and some members decided to stay behind to have further attempts at photographing them.

Despite the heat it was felt that this had been a successful excursion. 48 species were recorded, and the excellent raptor sightings partly compensated for the absence of waders.

Beginners Outing to Newport Lakes and Jawbone Reserve

27 November 2021
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 56

Thirty-five members assembled at Newport Lakes, delighted to be able to meet again after many months being unable to do so, due to Covid restrictions. The weather conditions were fine but windy which caused some of the birds to seek shelter. The vegetation around the reserve was looking lush with many Eucalypts flowering profusely. Also, there was a lot of water in the lakes following the winter rains.

Two early sightings were of a Sacred Kingfisher and a female Rufous Whistler. Around the lakes dozens of Australian Reed-Warblers were very vocal, but extremely hard to see! There were few ducks or other waterbirds on the lakes and ponds. One Hardhead and a single Little Black Cormorant with a few Grebes, both Australasian and Hoary-headed. 

In the sheltered area of the Amphitheatre, birds were easier to find. An immature Golden Whistler and a Willie Wagtail on a nest were of special interest. Then, suddenly, “bird of the morning” was spotted by a new member – a Nankeen Night-Heron perched low under foliage just above the creek. 

A bird call at lunchtime recorded 33 species for Newport Lakes.

Members then drove down Maddox Road to the shore where there were fewer birds than expected. A single Pied Oystercatcher was on the breakwater along with a few Cormorants and Silver Gulls. Several Black Swans were on the bay. No small waders could be seen along the shoreline. A highlight was the sighting of an immature Black-shouldered Kite, perched behind a bush, sheltering from the wind. Walking beside the creek a Black-winged Stilt with an injured leg was busy feeding in the shallows. 

Members followed the track through Jawbones Reserve where there were fewer ducks than on previous visits. However, there were several Great Crested Grebes, some Blue-billed Ducks, and more Little Black, Little Pied and Pied Cormorants. Little Grassbirds were calling from the reeds along with many more Australian Reed Warblers. 

Dusky Moorhens and Purple Swamphens with tiny chicks also attracted some interest. On the return walk to the cars an Australian Hobby flew overhead, and a small group of Superb Fairy-wrens foraged beside the track. 

A few Common Greenfinches were seen feeding in their regular place and a Singing Honeyeater seemed to pose for a photo just before we finished. Three Australian Pelicans flying overhead were a fitting finale to a most enjoyable excursion.

42 species were recorded for the Jawbones Reserve, with the total for the day being 56.

View bird list for the day:

Beginners Outing to Yan Yean Reservoir Park

27 February 2021
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 49
Grey Fantail. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Forty-five members were delighted to be out of lockdown and able to enjoy birding at Yan Yean Reservoir in mild weather conditions. From the edge of the reservoir two birds could be seen on the roof of a small tower.

White-faced Heron. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

They were a White-faced Heron and a female Australasian Darter. With the aid of two scopes a female Musk Duck and a Great Crested Grebe were identified in amongst several hundred Eurasian Coots.

Australasian Darter. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Members then drove a short distance to the wetland area car park. From there, a walk around the ponds commenced. Dusky Moorhens were plentiful, both adults and immatures. An Australasian Grebe was sitting on a nest amongst the reeds until it was startled by a White-faced Heron. 

Dusky Moorhen. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Alan Veevers

There were very few small bushbirds, though one young Grey Fantail appeared happy to be photographed! In the ponds on the opposite side of the road there were many ducks, including Hardheads with Grey and Chestnut Teal.

Grey Teal. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Hardheads. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A Black-fronted Dotterel and Australian Reed-Warblers were seen in the first pond, but the main target was to locate the Common Sandpiper which has frequented this area for several years.

Common Sandpiper. Photo by Alan Veevers

It was finally found as we reached the turning point of the walk. Most members had at least a glimpse of it as it moved from one pond to another. Meanwhile there were good views of Red-rumped Parrots, a Long-billed Corella and some Crested Pigeons.

Nankeen Night-Heron. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Lunch was eaten at the top of the hill, overlooking the Reservoir. It was good to see that the resident Nankeen Night-Herons were still in their pine tree near the Caretaker’s Cottage. After lunch, a short walk was taken down the fence line to the water’s edge where a close view of a Great Crested Grebe was available. A Whistling Kite circled overhead whilst demonstrating its call to the delighted listeners. Many of the Sugar Gums were flowering and these were attracting large flocks of Musk Lorikeets. On the Reservoir both Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants were perched on dead branches and in the distance a pair of Black Swans was seen.

Great Crested Grebe. Photo by Alan Veevers

The final birdcall for the day was 49 species which was well down on the 70 species seen two years previously. The dominance of Noisy miners throughout the reserve may have accounted for the decline in small bushbirds. However, everyone seemed to have enjoyed the outing, particularly in this attractive location. 

Many thanks go to Eleanor Dilley for contributing her photographs.

Beginners Outing to Point Cook Coastal Reserve

23 January 2021

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 52
Australian Pelican. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After a break of 11 months, 33 members were delighted to be birding with the Beginners once more. Weather conditions were perfect – not too hot and little wind. At Beach Road Carpark several small bush-birds were foraging in the nearby Banksia and Casuarina trees, including Yellow Thornbills and New Holland Honeyeaters, along with numerous Superb Fairy-wrens and Willie Wagtails, and a lonesome Grey Fantail.

Yellow Thornbill. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Grey Fantail. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Down at the beach hundreds of Silver Gulls could be seen and sharp-eyed Geoff Deason found us a Great Crested Grebe far out on the water. Along the coastal track a small flock of Yellow-rumped Thornbills were much admired and then, on the heathland, Golden-headed Cisticolas were heard.

Yellow-rumped Thornbill. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After a while, one of them finally broke cover and perched on a tall plant for all to see before treating us to its vertically up and down flying display. Returning along the fence line some of us saw an Australian Hobby flying over and flushing a large flock of Common Starlings.

Australian Reed Warbler. Photo by Alan Veevers

Members then drove to the small wetlands near the RAAF Lake Carpark. These relatively new ponds provided some good sightings of Australian Reed Warblers and Australasian Grebes.

Australasian Grebe. Photo by Alan Veevers

As everyone was watching these birds a flock of about 15 Zebra Finches flew in, landed on an adjacent bush and fluttered about giving, to everyone’s delight, great views of their colourful plumage.

Zebra Finches. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Most of the Beginners then set off towards the Homestead area, pausing briefly at the wetland by the housing estate. The highlight here was a Royal Spoonbill in one of the ponds, giving a close-up view of its feeding technique.

Royal Spoonbill. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Lunch was taken in the shade of the trees by the carpark and birdcall was interrupted by a Brown Goshawk which landed on a tree branch beside the main drive. Members then walked past the Homestead to the beach where it was lowish tide. A White-faced Heron was quietly feeding whilst several Chestnut Teal were resting on the rocks. 

White-faced Heron. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

On reaching Cook Point, lots of small waders were seen feeding near the sandbanks.  Most of them were Red-necked Stints and Curlew Sandpipers along with a few Sharp-tailed Sandpipers. Several Crested Terns, both adult and immature were resting on the rocks as well as both Pied and Little Pied Cormorants. It was nice just to sit on the sand and watch as several more flocks of waders flew in with impressive aerial precision. A final highlight was the slow flypast of a lone Australian Pelican, heralding the end of the walk.

Migratory waders (mixed). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Everyone agreed that Point Cook had provided a terrific start to Beginners 2021 and the final birdcall of 52 species was most impressive.

Many thanks go to Eleanor Dilley and Alan Veevers who, between them, provided all 10 photographs in this Report.

Beginners Outing to Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

26 October 2019
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 53
All photographs by Eleanor Dilley

Little Pied Cormorant - Eleanor Dilley
Little Pied Cormorant

There was a challenging start to this excursion as members had to negotiate thousands (literally) of motorbikes assembling in Cranbourne for their annual cavalcade to the Grand Prix on Phillip Island. Furthermore, the weather conditions were far from ideal with very strong winds and heavy squally downpours throughout the day.

Common Bronzewing - Eleanor Dilley
Common Bronzewing

Setting out from the Stringybark Car Park a Golden Whistler could be heard calling but he was hard to see as he was very wisely tucked down in dense vegetation. Grey Fantails and Brown Thornbills were also sheltering in the thickets. A Pied Currawong on a nest and a Common Bronzewing in fine breeding plumage were seen early on. A highlight was seeing a Horsefield’s Bronze-Cuckoo and a male White-winged Triller on branches of the same dead tree.

Superb Fairy-wren - Eleanor Dilley
Superb Fairy-wren

There were several duck species on the wetlands including Chestnut Teal with ducklings, Grey Teal and Hardhead. A few Little Black Cormorants were swimming as were Hoary Headed Grebes, while both White-necked and White-faced Herons flew overhead.

White-necked Heron - Eleanor Dilley
White-necked Heron

On leaving the wetlands a Pallid Cuckoo was heard calling and was located in the distance on a dead branch low on a tree.

Pallid Cuckoo - Eleanor Dilley
Pallid Cuckoo

Several Swamp Wallabies were spotted keeping low profiles in the wet bracken. On returning to the cars another heavy downpour forced the members to use the information shelter for their picnic lunch.  An Eastern Yellow Robin was singing lustily as we ate and was eventually located in the nearby undergrowth.

Swamp Wallaby - Eleanor Dilley
Swamp Wallaby

Most of the group then drove to the Australian Garden which was looking very colourful with spring blossoms.  Nine additional species were found here including Dusky Woodswallow, Australasian Grebe, Little Pied Cormorant, Little Wattlebird and Silvereye.

Australasian Grebe - Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Grebe

Dusky Woodswallow - Eleanor Dilley
Dusky Woodswallow

A grand total of 53 species was recorded for the day, which was a very good result considering the weather conditions.  ur thanks go to Eleanor Dilley, our faithful photographer, who still managed to produce the excellent images in this Report despite the gale force winds and patchy rain!

 

 

Beginners Outing to Hawkstowe Park

28 September 2019

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 54

All photographs by Eleanor Dilley

Striated Pardalotes - E Dilley
Striated Pardalotes

There was a chaotic start to the excursion as members struggled to find a way to drive through the very poorly signed diversion off Plenty Road into the park. However, once in the carpark they were immediately rewarded with some good sightings. Vociferous Striated Pardalotes were checking out nest hollows in the old deciduous trees and lots of other species, including King Parrots, were easily seen.

King Parrot - E Dilley
King Parrot

There was a chaotic start to the excursion as members struggled to find a way to drive through the very poorly signed diversion off Plenty Road into the park. However, once in the carpark they were immediately rewarded with some good sightings. Vociferous Striated Pardalotes were checking out nest hollows in the old deciduous trees and lots of other species, including King Parrots, were easily seen.

Wood Duck - E Dilley
Wood Duck

Following the Wonga Walk track beside the Plenty River many small birds were seen, including Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Grey Fantails and an Eastern Yellow Robin.  A Fan-tailed Cuckoo could be heard calling and a Brown Goshawk flew overhead.  Many Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were flying around and a single Long-billed Corella was spotted perched in a tall tree. Returning via the homestead ponds, a turtle was seen swimming and bobbing its head out of the water. In the reeds, Australian Reed-warblers were singing lustily but were hard to locate.

Wood Duck and chicks - E Dilley
Wood Duck and chicks

After lunch most of the members drove to the northern end of the park to visit the wetland areas. Water was plentiful in the ponds but there were not as many ducks to be seen as in previous years.

Pacific Black Duck - E Dilley
Pacific Black Duck

A pair of Black-fronted Dotterels was spotted as well as Grey and Chestnut Teal.  A beautiful Olive-backed Oriole was sighted perched in a tree by the lake and everyone got good views of it.

Australasian Grebe - E Dilley
Australasian Grebe

The highlight of the day occurred when a pair of White-winged Trillers was located perched on a dead tree amongst small wattles. The pair stayed around feeding in the bushes allowing everyone a good look. For many of the Beginners this was a new species while for everyone else it was a thrill to see this uncommon bird in shining breeding plumage.

White-winged Triller - E Dilley
White-winged Triller

This was followed by seeing a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles majestically soaring overhead.

Wedge-tailed Eagle - E Dilley
Wedge-tailed Eagle

A magical end to a great day’s birding at Hawkstowe, with 54 species recorded for the day. Our thanks go to John McKenzie for sharing his local knowledge and locating both the Oriole and the Trillers for us. Also, many thanks go to Eleanor Dilley who once again provided her splendid photographs for the report.

View complete bird list: BM Sep 2019 Bird List Hawkstowe Park

 

Beginners outing to Braeside Park

27 April 2019
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species Count: 55

Black-shouldered Kite - Eleanor Dilley
Black-shouldered Kite. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Thirty-two members met at the Southern Carpark in chilly overcast weather conditions. Amongst the first birds seen was a pair of Red-rumped Parrots feeding on a very dry parched area of grass whilst a pair of Crested Pigeons watched us from a branch in a nearby tree. Setting off towards the wetlands a Black- shouldered Kite was perched on top of a dead tree where it remained as we passed, allowing everyone to admire its beautiful markings.

Crested Pigeons - Eleanor Dilley
Crested Pigeon. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The group then walked clockwise around the wetlands and were rewarded with many excellent sightings. We saw Freckled and Pink-eared Ducks; Australasian Shovelers; White-necked and White-faced Herons; Great and Little Egrets; Red-kneed and Black-fronted Dotterels; Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes plus many more common species.

Pink-eared Ducks - Bevan Hood
Pink-eared Ducks. Photo by Bevan Hood

Australasian Grebe - Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

On reaching the paddocks some bullocks grazing had attracted a few Cattle Egrets, while just over the fence a small flock of Flame Robins fed on the grass with the bright red breasts of the males being much admired by the Beginners.

Little Egret - Eleanor Dilley
Little Egret. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

There was plenty to see from the Bird Hide including a Royal Spoonbill, a female Australasian Darter and a Little Pied Cormorant drying its wings.

Cattle Egret - Bevan Hood
Cattle Egret. Photo by Bevan Hood

Soon afterwards we came across a mixed feeding flock of small bushbirds, including Spotted Pardalotes, Brown Thornbills, Grey Fantails, a juvenile Golden Whistler and a female Scarlet Robin.

Royal Spoonbill - Bevan Hood
Royal Spoonbill. Photo by Bevan Hood

From the last viewing platform on our circuit there were further good sightings, including a male Blue-billed Duck.  Shortly before returning to the carpark there was a flyover by five Australian Pelicans.

Great Egret - Eleanor Dilley
Great Egret. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Australian Pelican - Alan Veevers
Australian Pelican. Photo by Alan Veevers

Bird call was held after lunch with a total of 55 species being recorded. The cars were then driven to the Northern end of the park and a short walk was taken along the Heathland Trail.

Scarlet Robin - female - Bevan Hood
Scarlet Robin (f). Photo by Bevan Hood

In previous years this had been quite productive but this time no further species were found, no doubt due to the very dry conditions and lack of undergrowth. Despite this, everyone agreed that it had been a most successful day with great sightings on and around the wetlands.

View complete bird list: BM Apr 2019 Bird List Braeside Park

 

 

Weekday outing to Braeside Park, Braeside

6 March 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little Black Cormorants - Danika Sanderson
Little Black Cormorants. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Black-winged Stilt - Katmun Loh
Black-winged Stilt. Photo by Katmun Loh

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

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

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

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

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

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

An enjoyable day.

Graeme Hosken, BirdLife Melbourne