Tag Archives: Australasian Grebe

Weekday outing to Braeside Park

5 October 2022

Pink-eared Ducks. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

The day promised fine weather, calm and clear for birdwatching, and it didn’t disappoint. Seventeen started the walk under the leadership of Rosemaree Mclean and Malcolm Brown of The Friends of Braeside Park. 

Eastern Rosella. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Our interest was high as the morning’s walk was to be through the heathland area which is as yet not publicly accessible. The heathland has formed on low-nutrient sands and our track passed along white sand where tiny insectivorous sundews grew. At the start, Rosemaree’s favourite Tawny Frogmouth, was beautifully cooperative as it sat patiently and photogenically on its tree fork nest. 

Tawny Frogmouth on nest. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After the aggressive Noisy Miners in the car park a Tawny was a great sighting. Trees are more spaced and fewer on the heaths so birds are restricted, though we still noted Little Raven and Rainbow Lorikeet while the calls of Grey Butcherbird, Red Wattlebird and Spotted Pardalote reached us as we walked. 

Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Rainbow Lorikeet. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A skein of Straw-necked Ibis flew over and a couple of birders were briefly able to glimpse a Brown Goshawk pass above.

The call of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo reached us and a small pond contained a Chestnut Teal – birds took advantage of any resource.

Swamp Harrier. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Swamp Harrier. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch back at the cars we farewelled Rosemaree and Malcolm with many thanks. A couple of people with afternoon appointments also departed and the remainder arranged to visit the wetlands and bush, walking in 3 groups according to walking ability. This covered a variety of habitats and so the afternoon species list added a range of species. 

Red-rumped Parrot, male and female. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Black Swan with cygnets. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Waterbirds were present in numbers – Black Swans with fluffy cygnets, male and female Musk Ducks, Pink-eared Ducks in a tree, both Chestnut and Hoary-headed Grebes and Great, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants while Cattle Egrets foraged around the small herd of cattle in the adjacent paddock. 

Musk Duck, male. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Musk Duck, female. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Pink-eared Duck. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Cattle Egret. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Blue-billed Duck, male. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

A Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike was first heard then finally seen as it exited the tree canopy. 

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike with prey. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The walk finished with the separate groups comparing lists and noting the variation with habitat. We recorded 34 species in the heathland and 27 in the bush and wetlands later in the day. 

Little PIed Cormorant, breeding adult. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The cumulative total was 50 species, a very pleasing result.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekday outings

Beginners’ outing to Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

27 August 2022

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers

Species count: 57

A fine weather forecast no doubt helped in attracting 46 members to Cranbourne Botanical Gardens for the August Beginners Outing. It was misty as the group assembled at Stringybark Carpark, seeing Superb Fairy Wrens and Grey Shrike Thrushes whilst listening to the trilling call of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo. As the walk began the Cuckoo was spotted close to the track, but the poor light made it hard to distinguish its colours. Soon afterwards several other species were sighted, including Eastern Rosellas and Brown Thornbills and, some distance away, a large Koala was found reclining in the fork of a tall tree. 

A female Flame Robin provided fleeting glimpses as she flew up to perch briefly on the new boundary fence before returning to forage in the grass. An Eastern Yellow Robin was sighted high up in a tree and this proved to be the first of many of this species seen on the day. As members left the wooded area the mist cleared, and the rest of the day was bright and sunny. A Brown Goshawk was circling overhead in the clear blue sky, and, to the delight of the watchers, it was soon joined by an impressive Little Eagle.

Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Australasian Shoveler. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Just before reaching the wetlands a small flock of Spotted Pardalotes were observed feeding low down in small trees, giving excellent views.  On the first pond there appeared to be only Pacific Black Ducks, but then a lone Australasian Shoveler was seen at the far side of the water. There was a greater variety of birds on the second pond, including Chestnut Teal, Dusky Moorhen and both Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes. On the way back towards the carpark there were lots of Swamp Wallabies showing themselves and, as if not to be outdone, a large flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos appeared flying overhead. Fortunately, a few of them landed in a nearby tree thus providing a longer and much closer view of them. A Grey Butcherbird was heard many times before it showed itself to some of the group.

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

It was pleasing to see that there were very few Noisy Miners in the park, the result being that there was a greater variety of honeyeaters than on many of our recent excursions. New Holland Honeyeaters were the most common but there were also White-eared, White-plumed, White-naped and Yellow-faced, as well as Eastern Spinebills.

New Holland Honeyeater. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

After lunch most of the members drove the short distance to the Australian Garden Carpark and, as they approached, Bell Miners could be heard beside the road. Shirley (one of our members and also a Friend of C.B.Gardens) gave some information on the gardens and pointed out some spectacular flowering plants as she led a walk to the far end of the gardens. Highlights included Little Pied Cormorants, more New Holland Honeyeaters, and a family of Pacific Black Ducks with a dozen very small ducklings. 

Pacific Black Duck with chicks. Photo by Alan Veevers

Some of the group were fortunate to see a young Southern Brown Bandicoot foraging near a picnic table, seemingly oblivious to human observers.

Southern Brown Bandicoot. Photo by Alan Veevers
Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

A grand total of 57 bird species was recorded on what was a most enjoyable and productive excursion. Thanks to our two photographers for the day, Steve Hoptroff and Alan Veevers, who, despite the early mist, managed to produce some excellent photographs to illustrate the Report. Also, thanks to Shirley Smith for leading the afternoon walk in the Australian Garden.

Beginners’ Outing to Jells Park

23 July 2022

Leader: Robert Grosvenor

Number of species: 45

Ten intrepid birders braved the cold and wet of mid-winter Melbourne to attend the beginners outing at Jells Park. When we first arrived the usual cacophony of squawking Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and squealing Rainbow Lorikeets was replaced with an eerie silence. This didn’t last long, as both of the above-mentioned birds soon made their present felt, along with numerous Noisy Miners.

Nankeen Night-Heron. Photo by Loh Katmun
Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Heading off on the walk, a Striated Pardalote was heard but could not be seen.  Then the bird of the day was found, a resting Nankeen Night Heron.  We also had excellent views of a Grey Butcherbird in this area before heading off again.  We then entered the domain of the Spotted Pardalote with numerous pairs seen along the next 500 or so metres, along with Grey Fantails and Brown Thornbills.

Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

We continued to the bird hide where we saw a good range of waterbirds, highlighted by a male Blue-billed Duck, but also including the usual suspects: Pacific Black Duck, Australian Wood Duck, Australasian Darter, Dusky Moorhen, Australasian Swamphen, Eurasian Coot and Australasian Grebe. Being a relatively small contingent, everybody was able to obtain good views of all the birds.

White-faced Heron. Photo by Judi Kercher
Australian White Ibis. Photo by Judi Kercher

Further around the lake we encountered a feeding White-faced Heron, Great and Little Pied Cormorants, Hardheads, a Hoary-headed Grebe, Musk Ducks and of course the resident colony of Australian White Ibis.  Grebes were extremely common on our walk today, particularly the Australasian.

Musk Ducks. Photo by Loh Katmun
Eastern Rosella, male. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

In a grassy paddock we were fortunate to see a small flock of about ten Eastern Rosellas looking resplendent in their multi-coloured plumage. This was the only Rosella species seen but they were at a number of sites along both the morning and afternoon walks and their beauty was always appreciated.

Almost back to the carpark for lunch we at first saw Musk Lorikeets flying over but were then fortunate to find a small number in a tree close to the carpark. Good views were had and it was a first for one of the beginners

We tallied 41 species for the morning walk, which was a respectable total for mid-winter.

Cattle and Cattle Egret. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Chestnut Teal, male. Photo by Judi Kircher

After lunch we went over the bridge and headed north hoping to find some new species to add to our list. It didn’t take long to find some Cattle Egrets in an adjacent cow paddock. This was followed by a large flock of Starlings, a Masked Lapwing and a pair of Chestnut Teal.

As the rain was threatening to increase we called it a day, and retreated to the car park.  The additional four species from the afternoon walk took our tally to 45.

Weekday outing to The Briars, Mt Martha

7 June 2022

All photographs by Steve Hoptroff

Laughing Kookaburra

The alarm clock went off to the sound of heavy rain on the roof and that meant the weather bureau was right and birdwatching might not be the best occupation for the day. Unsurprisingly the drive from Melbourne needed your whole attention and it was probably this combination which kept attendance down to four people. Sue Brabender led us and most ably as she frequently birds The Briars and had worked there for some years. 

Eastern Yellow Robin

The weather sent a large mixed flock of Australian Wood Ducks, Pacific Black Ducks and Purple Swamphens onto the grass near the car park entrance. The bird list had started early. 

Dusky Moorhen

These species were joined by Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Noisy Miners, Eastern Rosellas, Australian Magpies and Crested Pigeons in and around the car park. The highlight here was a Buff-banded Rail in the grounds of the café. Skittish but briefly visible. 

Eastern Rosella

Also appreciated was a break in approaching dark clouds and accompanying rain. We set off to the Boonoorong bird hide, pausing on the way to find and admire two Tawny Frogmouths cuddled together in a tree fork. 

Tawny Frogmouth

At the hide we added Australasian Grebe, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants. 

Australasian Grebe
Little Black Cormorant

Superb Fairy-wrens were noted in the closer reed bed but there were few small birds, probably because a Swamp Harrier was quartering the area. A Grey Teal was noted at our stop at the Chechingurk hide and then we concentrated on woodland birds as we followed the Woodland Walk track. 

Swamp Harrier (taken through tinted window at the bird hide)
Grey Teal

Cute companions throughout the walk were many Black (Swamp) Wallabies and a few Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Several Grey Shrike-thrushes were noted though there was little calling. Contrast in the greyness meant mostly flying silhouettes were seen and this made the distinction between Spotted and Striated Pardalotes difficult in the absence of calls. 

Grey Shrike-thrush with prey

This also applied to a couple of thornbills foraging silently low in a medium tree so there was neither Brown nor Striated Thornbill on our final list though subsequent photo development showed Brown Thornbill was more likely. As the weather had been favourable for the whole time we decided to finish with bird call. 

Grey Butcherbird

The final list numbered 32 species which was very pleasing in the conditions and we warmly thanked Sue for sharing with us her considerable knowledge of the area.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator Melbourne BirdLife weekday outings

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.