U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk on Friday 15th November was at Wilson Reserve in Ivanhoe. Twenty one people attended, and 35 species were seen, on a lovely sunny morning with lots of water in the billabongs and yellow irises making a great display. Species showing themselves well for photography (by Jim Sharpe) were an Australian White Ibis with lots of neck plumes showing his/her breeding status and several Red-browed Finches feeding in the grass. Noisy Miner, Mudlark and Chestnut Teal all had nests and/or young, and the Bell Miner calls were deafening at close range. This group was again led by Pat Bingham and I thank Jim for his photographs.
On Tuesday 19 November 2019Sally Heeps gave a presentation to the Salvation Army Companion club at Waverley. There were about 30 people and she spoke about encouraging birds to their gardens and the species of the area. I am told they were a friendly group and happy to share their bird stories.
While waiting for all attendees to arrive Eastern Rosella, Noisy Miner and White Ibis were all seen overhead but what was most surprising was the sight of a large hare which took off down the path near the car park.
Eventually it was time to commence the walk by then we had 35 eager birders ready to go. It was a lovely sunny winter’s morning, only hampered by the strong, cold northerly wind. A Laughing Kookaburra waited for us at the start of our walk.
A Striated Pardalote was calling in a large gum tree but proved impossible to see due to the windy conditions. Shortly into the walk we deviated from our planned route to try and find a Tawny Frogmouth which had been seen in the area. Although unsuccessful, we did find a Grey Fantail and a female Golden Whistler. Some also had close views of a Grey Butcherbird.
Back on track, many were fortunate to see a Spotted Pardalote flying into and out of its nest in the side of the creek. This was quickly followed by a Grey Shrike Thrush, a Black Faced Cuckoo Shrike, Brown Thornbill and a male Golden Whistler looking resplendent in the bright sunshine.
Eventually we arrived at the bird hide by the lake where Pink Eared Duck, Grey Teal and a few Freckled Ducks were seen together with hundreds of White Ibis, a Darter, Little Pied Cormorant, Eurasian Coot and both Hoary Headed and Australasian Grebes.
Further down the track, a solitary Chestnut Teal was found as well as a pair of Pacific Black ducks, Purple Swamp hens and Dusky Moorhens.
A single Australian Pelican was seen flying above the lake, and was later seen on the water.
When we reached the lake again some eagle-eyed birders managed to find a single Royal Spoonbill amongst the many hundreds of White Ibis. A pair of Little Ravens watched us pass by on our way out of the sanctuary.
Following our walk around the lake, we picked up Wood Duck, Willy Wagtail and a White-faced Heron before we returned for lunch.
Over lunch Galahs, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Eastern Rosellas were seen.
After lunch with a slightly reduced number we crossed the bridge and headed north towards Nortons Park. Although the strong wind made birding difficult in this exposed area we managed an extra seven species for the day with Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Straw-necked Ibis, Silver Gull, Blackbird, Indian Myna and Starling all seen, giving a grand total for the day of 52 species.
A good total for the conditions and a good walk for the birders.
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 48
Umbrellas and raincoats were the order of the day for the 33 members attending the Lillydale Lake outing. On the grass beside the carpark were Galahs, Long-billed Corellas and Australian White Ibis foraging on the ground which had been softened by the previous night’s storms.
On the lake several Australasian Darters could be seen swimming and fishing, while on a nearby railing a lone Tree Martin was perched alongside a row of Welcome Swallows.
A Brown Goshawk was seen flying above the lake and this proved to be the only raptor for the day.
The members then set off towards the wetlands boardwalk where they encountered a large Eastern Water Dragon on the path. Unfortunately it took fright, dashing off on its rear legs and plunging into the water before the photographers had a chance to record this most unusual sighting. Few waterbirds could be seen from the boardwalk, though there were good views of an Australian Reed Warbler and Superb Fairy-wrens. Walking towards Hull Road Wetlands a Crimson Rosella and a Laughing Kookaburra provided good photo opportunities.
Beside the wetlands was a hot spot where there was a mixed feeding flock of White-eared and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Grey Fantails and Brown and Striated Thornbills. There were not many birds on these wetlands until a large flock of Australian Wood Ducks flew in. Walking back towards the lake Eastern Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets and a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike were seen.
Lunch was taken near the car park, by which time the rain had stopped and the sun had appeared. After this a short afternoon walk was taken across the wetland boardwalk again, then down to the lake track. There was a good view of a Little Pied Cormorant and back at the lake a number of the Darters were perched in an island tree.
Nearly all were females with their light coloured breasts, but then back in a small gully a beautiful dark male was seen drying his wings. An adult Purple Swamphen was also seen ushering her offspring away from the walking track.
Despite the less than optimal viewing conditions a total of 48 species was recorded for the day and members went home relieved to think that the long dry spell might finally be coming to an end.
Forecast: Strong wind from the SW. Possible shower. Temperature: 14 -16°C
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.
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.
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.
On reaching the wetland, the wind wasn’t as strong and the Sun was shining assisting with the identification of the many water birds.
Nine duck species, including Australasian Shoveler, Blue-billed Duck and at least 20 Freckled Duck.
Several Royal Spoonbill, Little and Great Egret, and on the mud flats, Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel plus several Masked Lapwing.
Only one raptor for the day, a lone Black-shouldered Kite having a few problems hovering in the windy conditions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 52
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.
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.
Soon afterwards a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo caused much amusement, screeching loudly and repeatedly flashing its crest.
Rainbow Lorikeets were also seen displaying their magnificent multi-coloured feathers.
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.
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.
However, four Australasian Darters were seen drying their wings and there were brief sightings of Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Overcast and mild weather greeted 21 birdwatchers from many areas of Victoria as we assembled in the Beach Picnic area car park. Alan and Hazel Veevers were our leaders and the car park soon added Superb Fairy-wren, New Holland Honeyeater and Red Wattlebird to the Common Starlings, Australian Magpies and Willie Wagtails most had noted on their drive in.
Time and tide wait for no bird watcher so we immediately drove to the homestead car park and walked through the pine trees to the beach. Highlights here were Zebra Finches near the fence line and an obligingly perched Brown Falcon which gave photographers very good views.
Galahs, Little Ravens and Crested Pigeons were also noted here and the squeals from a windmill were initially confusing till the machinery was noted among some trees. No birds really make that noise.
Crested Tern. Photo by Graeme Dean
Crested Tern, immature. Photo by Graeme Dean
Low tide at the beach saw a flock of Chestnut Teal, many Silver Gulls and Crested Terns and the occasional Pacific Black Duck and Pacific Gull perched on the exposed rocks.
Pacific Gull. Photo by Graeme Dean
Australian Pelican. Photo by Graeme Dean
Farther along we encountered Pied and Little Pied Cormorants which enabled people to compare the sizes and markings for future identification.
Heading back to the cars prior to lunch Black-shouldered Kite and Nankeen Kestrel were added to our growing raptor list which also had couples of Whistling Kites and Black Kites seen earlier.
A brief stop at the water control area of a housing estate added Dusky Moorhen and Purple Swamphen. One of the swamphens caused some excitement when it appeared to be eating a yabby but closer inspection showed ‘lunch’ to be the rhizome of one of the water plants, complete with apparent ‘legs’.
Our lunch was accompanied by several optimistic magpies and enlivened by fairy-wrens in great numbers foraging low around us. The magpies moved out and an enormous racket drew our attention to their mobbing of a raptor. It was only slightly larger than the magpies but they had the numbers and the raptor departed. Much discussion about its identity followed but no one had managed a clear view. The ID came later after photos had been closely examined – the wings and tail were those of a Brown Goshawk. Cameras now freeze action much better than human vision.
After lunch we walked beside the beach. Initially there were only a few fairy-wrens foraging among the seaweed but carefully continuing south we encountered more gulls, teal and terns roosting on the exposed rocks close to shore. Scanning yielded two Musk Ducks swimming beyond the crowd and then a rather unexpected sighting – an immature Australasian Gannet resting on one of the rocks.
White-faced Heron and Australian White Ibis were also present in small numbers and a few Grey Teal were swimming together in one area. Back through the scrub where Grey Fantails dominated sightings and then on to a new wetland near the RAAF Lake car park. Expectations may have been low as we approached it but soon “grebes” were called.
Both Australasian and Hoary-Headed were present and diving out of sight as grebes are wont to do. The omnipresent Chestnut Teal were noted, plus a couple of Pacific Black Ducks and then there were the dotterels on the further, smaller lake.
Both Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel were there and a pair of the latter were engaging in a bobbing display to each other. The edges of the reed beds housed Australian Reed-Warblers (silent at this time of the year) and Golden-headed Cisticolas perching on seed heads and making their buzzing call.
Leaving this area with regret we gathered for bird call. Total species count was 56, very creditable for an area which is being surrounded more and more closely by housing. We thanked Hazel and Alan enthusiastically for all their preparation and care which had given us such a good day’s birding.
All photographs by BirdLife Melbourne member, Graeme Dean
A fine breezy day with blue sky changed to cloudy and the wind became cold, causing everyone to don windproof overclothing. There were 22 rugged up participants with Graeme Hosken leading the group. Haversham Avenue, where the cars were parked, is suburbia on one side with the reserve facing it and so initial birds were simply a few flyovers and such garden birds as Red Wattlebird and Common Starling. We started walking to the south and started listing birds as we entered the reserve. Waterbirds flying over included Australian White Ibis, White-faced Heron, Australasian Darter and Pacific Black Duck.
Later the ponds yielded Royal Spoonbill in breeding plumage, Black Swan, Australian Pelican, both Chestnut and Grey Teal and initially a lone Eurasian Coot which became at least 20 on the adjacent water.
Purple Swamphens foraged singly and Dusky Moorhen and both Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes were represented by solitary sightings. Cormorants were present – Little Pied, Little Black and Great – flying over, fishing and perched plumply while digestion proceeded. Water levels were high after recent rains and the absence of exposed mud meant neither crakes nor rails was detected.
A Swamp Harrier flying over was announced by alarm calls and we later watched it quartering the reed beds. It, plus Brown Goshawk and Nankeen Kestrel made up the raptor sightings for the walk. Several areas had been planted and protected with extensive netting which in one area made the sighting of a Great Egret through the netting challenging. Welcome Swallows swooped and in some places were joined by Fairy Martins whose mud bottle nests were detected below the bridging of one of the outlets.
No one saw a Little Grassbird but the population must have been considerable to judge by the amount of calling heard. Glimpses were obtained of Golden-headed Cisticola and Australian Reed-Warbler among the grass and reeds. Eastern Common Froglets were the most frequently heard frogs. A Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo really needed scoping as it perched distantly but those with powerful bins considered it identified.
A welcome lunch break was taken at the eastern East Link service area (coffee, toilets and hot food) much appreciated on a carry-lunch walk. Bush birds were encountered once we left the edge of the water and Grey Shrike-thrush, Golden Whistler and both Spotted and Striated Pardalotes joined the list. Honeyeaters included New Holland and Yellow-faced as well as Eastern Spinebill and Noisy Miner. White-browed Scrubwrens were glimpsed in the undergrowth while Superb Fairy-wrens were common throughout the walk. Grey Butcherbird and Grey Currawong called, Grey Fantails were common and only a couple of Willie Wagtails were detected. A female Flame Robin was seen by many and Red-browed Finches often foraged beside the path.
Introduced birds were “the usual”, Common Myna, Starling and Blackbird plus Spotted Dove and Feral Pigeon/Rock Dove.
In all 59 species were detected and there were smiles all round as people planned to add the area to their walking lists. We thanked Graeme heartily for sharing the knowledge he had gained during the Melbourne Water surveys.
It was a fine but cool morning as 42 members set off to walk around Jells Park Lake. A lone Nankeen Night-Heron was sighted through the bushes and on closer investigation this proved to be a group of four adults and one juvenile. An early distant view of a single Tawny Frogmouth was later followed by two more separate views of pairs of them, making a total of five individuals for the day.
There was a great deal of activity around the lake with dozens of Australian White Ibis nesting on the islands and on the edges of reed beds, often on communal rafts which they had constructed from dead twigs. Australasian Darters, Great and Little Pied Cormorants were also nesting, but in much smaller numbers. Interestingly, their nests were constructed from live twigs, complete with leaves.
Freckled, Blue-billed and Pink-eared Ducks were amongst the less common species on the lake.
A Great Egret was spotted on a small pond to the left of the track, fishing amongst dense red weed, apparently oblivious to the activities of the nearby Purple Swamphens.
Parrot species were plentiful, with Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets and Eastern Rosellas being the most noticeable as they jostled for nest hollows.
After completing the lake circuit a short walk was taken along the track towards Norton Park. Two Cattle Egrets could be seen among livestock in the distance and a Nankeen Kestrel was seen hovering and diving, then perched in a far-off dead tree.
This was the only raptor seen during the day. Noisy Miners were dominant amongst the smaller bush birds and it was a challenge to find other species. A friendly Grey Butcherbird was an exception.
After lunch the members drove to Carpark 4 where profusely flowering Ironbarks were attracting birds, most surprisingly including a pair of Princess Parrots (presumably aviary escapees).
A final short circuit walk was taken where good views of Australian King-Parrots and Musk Lorikeets were the highlights.
A total of 64 species was recorded for the day – an excellent result for a suburban park in August.
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 57
Twenty-six members gathered on a sunny morning at the Ibis carpark where Noisy Miners certainly lived up to their name. They were the dominant species in that area, chasing away any other bush bird that dared to enter their territory. A Little Eagle circling overhead provided an exciting diversion as the group were just about to set off down the main drive towards the wetlands. It was not easy to identify for certain until a long-range photograph (attached) was examined on the camera.
The old dead trees, scattered amongst the lush live ones, enabled good views to be had of Red-rumped Parrots and Rainbow Lorikeets as they investigated the many available nesting hollows.
A few Crested Pigeons appeared, feeding in the grasslands alongside the track. Another raptor was seen but, after much discussion, it was decided that it was, again, a dark morph Little Eagle.
Walking round the wetlands in an anticlockwise direction, a hotspot was found by a shallow muddy pool.
Here were Golden-headed Cisticolas, female Flame Robins, Red-browed Finches and numerous Superb Fairy-wrens. It took a further hour-and-a-half before a male Flame Robin was spotted by a sharp-eyed observer!
There was a plentiful supply of Ducks to be seen on the main ponds, where the water levels were encouragingly high. Highlights were Blue-billed Ducks, Australasian Shovelers, Hardheads and a relatively large number of Pink-eared Ducks.
Little Pied, Little Black and Great Cormorants, together with White-faced Herons, Australian White Ibis and Australasian Darters were also present.
At the edge of the wetlands a flock of Silvereyes perched on low bushes created a beautiful sight as the sun shone on their feathers. Members then returned to the Ibis carpark for lunch.
A short afternoon walk began at the Visitor Centre and explored the mixed bushland in the vicinity. The first sighting, much to everyone’s delight, was a pair of Tawny Frogmouths resting in typical fashion on a low branch of a nearby tree.
Continuing along the Heathland Trail, both Grey and Chestnut Teal accompanied by Dusky Moorhens were seen in a small pond. A final productive area, amongst River Red Gums, was encountered before we made our way back to the cars. This yielded Golden Whistler, White-browed Scrubwren, White-plumed Honeyeater and a very colourful flock of Spotted Pardalotes.
After the bird count, it was agreed that it had been a very rewarding day with 57 species recorded.