Tag Archives: Australasian Grebe

Beginners Outing to Woodlands Historic Park

26 May 2018

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 45

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Long-billed Corellas. Photo by Bevan Hood

A fine weather forecast and Woodlands’ reputation as a red robin hotspot enticed 42 members to attend this month’s excursion. Setting off along the creek from the Somerton Road car park lots of Superb Fairy-wrens were seen foraging on the ground, the first of many located in this section of the Park.

Red-rumped Parrots (M and F), Woodlands
Red-rumped Parrots (m and f). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Parrots were plentiful throughout the day with the numerous nest hollows in the magnificent ancient River Red Gums providing first class accommodation.  Red-rumped Parrots were of particular interest to the Beginners with the males’ brilliant plumage gleaming in the sunshine.

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Red-rumped Parrot (m). Photo by Bevan Hood

Several small flocks of Weebills were seen in eucalypts alongside the creek, though these were harder for the newer beginners to identify.

Weebill, Woodlands
Weebill. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Also in good numbers, but difficult to see, were Striated Pardalotes, perhaps staking their claim to small yet desirable holes in the trees. There were not as many Spotted Pardalotes evident, mostly being heard, though rarely seen, near to the creek.

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Striated Pardalote. Photo by Alan Veevers

A few Long-billed Corellas were feeding on the ground whilst others were canoodling high in the trees. No raptors were seen on the morning walk. Possibly, the regular low-flying aircraft provided a major reason for their absence.

Long-billed Corellas, Woodlands
Long-billed Corellas. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Upon reaching the Woodlands Homestead members were delighted to see a pair of Flame Robins on a fence between two horse paddocks.

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Flame Robin (m). Photo by Bevan Hood

Returning towards the carpark a large flock of Red-browed Finch was seen, and three lucky stragglers saw a pair of Scarlet Robins, albeit some distance from the track.

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Scarlet Robin (m). Photo by Alan Veevers

After lunch most of the group drove round the perimeter to the area close to the Aboriginal Cemetery for an afternoon walk. Heading towards the disused reservoir several additional species were seen, including Golden Whistler, Crimson Rosella and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike.

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Woodlands
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

As members watched a pair of Australasian Grebes on the water a Spotless Crake suddenly shot out from the nearside reeds and appeared to run on the surface of the lake in its rush to reach the denser reeds on the opposite side. Its red legs flashing in the sunlight provided a key identification feature. Sadly it was too speedy for anyone to take a photograph.

Australasian Grebe, Woodlands
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley.

Meanwhile the only raptors for the day, a pair of Whistling Kites, were circling overhead. Members then walked back along the outside of the Back Paddock fence (which was closed to the public) and saw several more small bush birds, including another pair of Scarlet Robins, White-throated Treecreepers and Yellow-rumped Thornbills.

No further red robins were seen on the track back to the cars – a sad decline in their numbers having taken place over the past few years from the days when many pairs could reliably be found. Despite this, members felt they had enjoyed some unusual sightings amidst the ancient trees of the Park.  A total of 45 species was recorded for the day.

View the full bird list: BM May 2018 Bird List Woodlands Historic Park

Beginners Outing to Yan Yean Reservoir Park

24 February 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 51
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Black-fronted Dotterel. Photograph by Alan Veevers

A large flock of Long-billed Corellas foraged in a paddock by the entrance gate, as if greeting the 22 members who arrived at Yan Yean Reservoir on a windy, hot and humid morning. Those arriving early were taken to look over the reservoir from the dam wall near the entrance.

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Long-billed Corella. Photograph by Alan Veevers

A few Great Crested Grebes and several Musk Ducks could be seen amongst the plentiful Eurasian Coots in the choppy water.

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Great Crested Grebe. Photograph by Alan Veevers

When all were assembled, the group drove to the car park at the far end of the wetlands from where the main walk of the day was to begin. Noisy Miners were dominant and only a few small bush-birds were seen. There were a lot of waterbirds in the wetland, mainly Dusky Moorhens and Chestnut Teals.

Latham's Snipe - Graeme Dean
Latham’s Snipe. Photograph by Graeme Dean

There was great excitement when a Latham’s Snipe was sighted on the opposite bank, though it soon walked off to hide in the undergrowth.

Red-rumped Parrot (m) AV
Red-rumped Parrot, male. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Very good views were had of Red-rumped Parrots on the ground and resting in small trees near the water’s edge.

Red-rumped Parrot - Graeme Dean
Red-rumped Parrot. Photograph by Graeme Dean

The walk continued across the track into the fenced area containing three large ponds. Several Australasian Grebes and more Ducks, including Hardheads, were spotted.

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Australasian Grebe. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Good views were had of a Black-fronted Dotterel feeding at the water’s edge and soon afterwards, to the delight of all, a Common Sandpiper was sighted, also feeding in the mud. Both of these birds stayed around long enough for everyone to have a good look.

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Common Sandpiper. Photograph by Alan Veevers

A Purple Swamphen with two very small chicks provided a lot of amusement as the little ones dashed along trying to keep up with mum.

Purple Swamphen and chick - Graeme Dean
Purple Swamphen and chick. Photograph by Graeme Dean

Just as the group was leaving the area two Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flew slowly by. On returning to the main wetlands several raptors could be seen soaring above the reservoir. They were identified as three Wedge-tailed Eagles (perhaps a breeding pair with a juvenile) and two Whistling Kites.

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Common Bronzewing. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Walking around the back of the wetland, where it was more sheltered, several Common Bronzewings were feeding on the ground. Nearby, a few lucky participants had a brief sighting of a Spotless Crake trudging through mud at the edge of a small island. The group then drove up to the top of the hill and walked to the Corsican Pine near the Caretaker’s Cottage and were rewarded with the sight of several Nankeen Night Herons roosting in the canopy.

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Juvenile Nankeen Night Heron. Photograph by Alan Veevers
Nankeen Night Heron AV
Nankeen Night Heron. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Lunch was eaten in the rotunda and then a brief walk was taken down to the fence alongside the reservoir. A White-bellied Sea-Eagle’s nest was pointed out by a local member but the bird was not seen in the short time available. On the water were large numbers of Blue-billed Ducks and Hardheads as well as two Little Pied Cormorants perched on an overhanging dead branch.

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Blue-billed Duck, male. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Rain had been forecast and storm clouds were threatening so it was agreed to have an early finish to this very rewarding outing. The bird call revealed a total of 51 species for the day.

View the bird list for the day: BM Feb 2018 Bird List Yan Yean Reservoir Park

 

Weekdays outing to Bellarine Peninsula

20 November 2017
All photographs by Bevan Hood, member
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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.

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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

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

 

 

 

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

Beginners Outing to Yan Yean Reservoir Park

25 February 2017
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 50

Musk Lorikeets and Noisy Miners were plentiful near the car park as 38 members arrived in perfect weather conditions at Yan Yean Reservoir. From the top of the dam wall a scope was useful in identifying a pair of Australasian Darters perched on a log, in typical wing-drying pose, on a distant shore. Hardheads and Eurasian Coots were numerous, but were also on the opposite side of the reservoir!

Eastern Rosella (F), Yan Yean
Eastern Rosella. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The group then drove in convoy to the car park adjacent to the main wetland area. Bird life was plentiful, with Little Grassbirds watched for several minutes whilst an adult fed its chick in the shadows at the water’s edge. Superb Fairy-wrens and White-browed Scrubwrens were also foraging in the dense undergrowth. On entering the fenced area across the road, Eastern Rosellas and Red-rumped Parrots were perched in trees, and on the first pond there were several immature Australasian Grebes, still showing some baby streaks in their heads.

 

 

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Immature Australasian Grebes. Photo by Alan Veevers

On the second pond were several Black-winged Stilts, both adult and juvenile. On the third pond the highlight was a Common Sandpiper seen feeding at the water’s edge and bobbing its tail in its typical manner.

Black-winged Stilt (juvenile), Yan Yean
Juvenile Black-winged Stilt. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
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Common Sandpiper. Photo by Alan Veevers

Leaving the fenced area and crossing back over the road, a pair of Australasian Shovelers and several other species were observed. Suddenly, a flock of Nankeen Night-Herons, mainly juveniles, flew up from a hidden roost and circled, for some time, high above us.

Australasian Shovelers, Yan Yean
Australasian Shovelers. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Nankeen Night Heron (juvenile), Yan Yean
Juvenile Nankeen Night-Heron. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Lunch was eaten up near the old keeper’s cottage where members enjoyed the beautiful view across the reservoir to the distant hills. A very old Canary Island Pine was the roost for another flock of Nankeen Night-Herons, mostly adults, and these were closely observed by members.

Nankeen Night Heron (juvenile), Yan Yean
Juvenile Nankeen Night-Heron. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
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Roosting Nankeen Night-Heron. Photo by Alan Veevers

Walking down the hill to the boundary fence revealed two Great Crested Grebes and a male Musk Duck, repeatedly diving and staying submerged for several minutes, which provided a challenge for beginners to try to find them again.

Great Crested Grebe, Yan Yean
Great Crested Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Great Crested Grebe, Yan Yean
Great Crested Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A final short walk was taken at the opposite end of the park, but no additional species were seen. The day’s total remained at 50, recorded at the previous locations. It was a very successful day, with some unusual sightings in a most attractive setting, in ideal weather conditions.

See bird list for the day: bm-feb-2017-bird-list-yan-yean-reservoir-park

Weekdays Outing to Pipemakers Park, Maribyrnong

11 July 2016
Leader: Pat Bingham

 

Pacific Black Duck - Marilyn Ellis
Pacific Black Duck. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

On a very cold morning, in a howling gale but bright sunshine, 15 members and three visitors from Asia met on the banks of the Maribyrnong River to go birdwatching. Quite mad in those weather conditions!

Before we left the car park, we had THE BIRD OF THE DAY – a lone Swift Parrot, heavily disguising itself in dense foliage but popping its unmistakeable red face out from time to time and, turning upside down, showing us it’s pinky vent and long tail.

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Swift Parrot. Photo by Danika Sanderson

It was a new bird for many of the group and we had some difficulty in persuading our visitors what a rare sighting it was. It was hard to turn our backs on the rarity, watch the Whistling Kite flying upriver and, then ourselves, go downstream into the wind.

We followed the Maribyrnong Trail past Frogs Hollow Wetland (well named – there were many Common Froglets calling) and found Red-browed Finches on the fence and Superb Fairy-wrens on the grass.  Jack’s Canal yielded Dusky Moorhens and Purple Swamphens, Australasian Grebe and we heard, above the gale, the plaintiff call of the Little Grassbird from the reed bed.

Australasian Grebe - Marilyn Ellis
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

The waves were pretty choppy on the lake in Burndap Park but we had good views of both Grey and Chestnut Teal, and Hoary-headed Grebe.

Chestnut Teal - Danika Sanderson
Chestnut Teal. Photo by Danika Sanderson

In the most sheltered corner of the lake we found White-faced Heron, Great Egret and Pacific Black Duck roosting.

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White-faced Heron. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

On a floating platform on the adjacent river we were able to distinguish the characteristics differentiating Little Black from Little Pied Cormorants and from a young Darter sharing the same platform.  We had Wood Ducks and Eurasian Coots grazing on the grass of the riverbank and Crested Pigeons & Red-rumped Parrots picking up seeds from the path.

Immature Australasian Darter - Danika Sanderson
Immature Australasian Darter. Photo by Danika Sanderson

We went back to the car park for lunch where a Black-shouldered Kite hunted overhead, 30 Galahs flew by and Yellow-rumped Thornbills tinkled from the adjacent grassland.  After lunch we crossed the river and explored the city side parkland.

Great Egret - Marilyn Ellis
Great Egret. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

In flowering Ironbarks on the golf course we had good views of Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets and were able to compare their markings and calls.  We found a pair of Long-billed Corellas exploring a tree hollow and saw an old Mudlark nest.  Heading further east towards the Walter Street Reserve we recorded Eastern Rosellas and both White-plumed and New Holland Honeyeaters.  A newly-planted wetland area adjacent to a housing development had already been discovered by ducks and a cormorant but the only new species for the day that we found there were House Sparrows and Common Starlings. Revisiting that area in the future, when the plantings were better established would probably prove more fruitful.  Buff-banded Rail has been recorded in the past from the creek that drains the area (sadly now only a concrete drain).

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The group. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

At Bird Call, we listed 48 species which, given the persistent cold wind, increasingly dull day and exposed site was a good total and all participants agreed they had enjoyed themselves in an area few had visited before.

Beginners Outing to Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

27 February 2016
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 51

In pleasantly mild conditions 49 members gathered at the Stringybark Carpark and were pleased to observe several species of honeyeater in the nearby trees, including Brown-headed, New Holland and White-eared. The bush tracks leading to the wetlands were similarly rewarding, with Rufous Whistlers and an immature Shining Bronze-Cuckoo being among the more unusual sightings.

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New Holland Honeyeater (L) and Immature Shining Bronze-Cuckoo (R). Photographs by Kathy Zonnevylle

The water level at the wetlands was low resulting in fewer ducks than usual, though there was a White-faced Heron and both Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebes present. Two Whistling Kites were seen circling in the distance and an immature Laughing Kookaburra was making strange noises as he practised his cackle.

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Australasian Grebe (L). Photo by Kathy Zonnevylle. Southern Brown Bandicoot (R). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Soon afterwards those lucky members at the front of the group saw a male Mistletoebird perched beside the track displaying his brilliant red breast and vent. There were good views of a pair of Eastern Yellow Robins and two Swamp Wallabies as the group returned to the carpark. In the information shelter a Southern Brown Bandicoot was feasting on a yellow jelly snake (clearly it had not read the notice saying they live on fungi and beetles!). The animal was without a tail, but in otherwise good condition and kept the members well entertained at lunchtime as it darted under chairs and between legs foraging for any interesting tit-bit.

Amongst the smaller bush-birds were several Spotted and Striated Pardalotes, and a lone Striated Thornbill graced us with its presence.

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Spotted Pardalote (L). Photo by Eleanor Dilley. Striated Thornbill (R). Photo by Kathy Zonnevylle

After lunch about half the group continued on to the Australian Gardens and, before entering, walked up to the Trig Lookout. No additional species were seen from the top, though two extras for the bird list: Eastern Spinebill and European Goldfinch, were spotted in the Gardens. Members enjoyed walking round this area and observing the progress since the last visit, though it would appear that the birds prefer the wild bushland area to the native gardens. Fifty-one bird species were recorded for this visit – exactly the same total as for our last visit in July 2014.

See the full bird list: BM February 2016 Bird List Cranbourne Botanical Gardens