15 August 2016
Thirty-two people assembled in the car park, 27 members (including several new members) and five visitors. Rob Grosvenor was our leader and the morning was perfect for birding: mild, clear and calm.
Much better than the winds which had occurred earlier and which returned the following day. The winds had been strong enough to drop branches and trees, including some after the recce in the previous week.
We observed these as we negotiated the fallen material in several places along the walking track. The day was good but where were the birds?
The picnic ground devotees – Crimson Rosellas, Laughing Kookaburras and Pied Currawongs – were present in force but others were the Sulphur-crested Cockatoos screeching loudly high in the trees.
Several times their massed alarm calls suggested the presence of a raptor/predator but we didn’t detect anything.
As we stood quietly for instructions other birds became more evident – Superb Fairy-wrens, Brown Thornbills and Australian King-Parrots appeared and as we started walking a male Common Bronzewing gave good views as it foraged near a picnic table.
Some calls were heard as we walked Stringybark Track but sightings were rare in the forest. A call of a Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo was briefly heard and Spotted and Striated Pardalotes were calling.
Lewin’s Honeyeater first called frustratingly and then finally in the afternoon walk there was a clear view which was much appreciated by those for whom it was a “lifer”.
White-throated Treecreeper, Eastern Spinebill and Eastern Yellow Robin were all calling giving people a chance to compare the differing rates of their staccato calls. Other honeyeaters included Red Wattlebird, Crescent, Brown-headed and White-naped Honeyeaters. Sightings by some but not all people included Eastern Whipbird, White-browed and Large-billed Scrubwren, Tree Martin and Red-browed Finch. A lucky few detected a Bassian Thrush as it foraged, well camouflaged, among the ground litter.
The whistlers were well represented with Grey Shrike-thrush, Olive Whistler and a female Golden Whistler. Occasionally an Australian Raven called and flew over, giving all an opportunity to listen to the difference of the call from the more familiar Little Raven of the suburbs.
The final bird list totalled 31 species which nearly yielded a bird for each attendee and amid smiles we thanked Rob for showing us this under-appreciated gem.
Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings