Geoff Deason once again led the Beginners Outing to the You Yangs, in ideal weather conditions. Due to the drought it was decided not to visit Hovell’s Creek but to take a circuit from the Ranger Station for the morning walk. Highlights included good views of Rufous Whistlers, Eastern Yellow Robins, Shining Bronze-cuckoos and a family of White-winged Choughs with a nest.
Near the dam a small female Koala was much admired by those at the front of the group.
The photographers, who arrived shortly afterwards, were fascinated to see a Brown-headed Honeyeater pecking at her back, possibly to collect fur as nesting material.
During lunch at the Valley Picnic Area there was much bird activity including Weebills building a nest which was very well camouflaged in a low branch of a gum tree. A pair of Scarlet Robins, nesting Striated Pardalotes and a family group of Tawny Frogmouths were other highlights.
Members then drove the circuit route to the Eastern Flats where a ‘hotspot’ revealed a female Mistletoebird, Varied Sitellas and more Brown-headed Honeyeaters and Rufous Whistlers. At the edge of the farmland, high up in a tree, three Little Lorikeets were spotted, and nearby, a large male Koala.
Despite the dry conditions a total of 51 species were recorded for the day and Geoff was thanked for his expert leadership.
Forty members gathered at Newport Lakes Reserve in perfect weather conditions and watched numerous birds in the car park, including a female Rufous Whistler, Silvereyes and Rainbow Lorikeets. Many of the eucalypts in the reserve were flowering, where the dominant birds were Red Wattlebirds and New Holland Honeyeaters.
On the lake a male Australasian Darter was perched alongside Great, Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants. A small white bird flew across the water and perched near to the group causing much excitement, but after careful consideration it was reluctantly concluded that it was an aviary escape, probably a Canary! Some members saw a Sacred Kingfisher and others a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, but everyone saw and heard an Australian Reed-Warbler perched on a tall reed singing beautifully for a considerable time (view the video):
Whistling Kite and Collared Sparrowhawk were the only raptors. Fifty-one species were recorded for Newport Lakes.
Most of the group then drove down Maddox Street to the shore for lunch. It was high tide which limited the number of waders to be seen at the beach, though Black Swans, Australian Pelicans and gulls were plentiful. A walk through Jawbone Reserve was most productive, with good views of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Red-kneed Dotterels, Black-winged Stilts, Hardheads and numerous other ducks, of which Blue-billed were the most unusual. A Buff-banded Rail and a swimming snake added to the interest. Several Royal Spoonbills were displaying their spectacular breeding ‘hairstyles’ and the many cormorants were in splendid plumage. A pair of White-fronted Chats was seen towards the end of the walk.
A few members returned for a second look at the shore and were rewarded with a great view of a Caspian Tern perched on the breakwater, being mobbed by Silver Gulls, as well as a flock of Bar-tailed Godwits in the distance. Fifty-eight species were recorded for Jawbone with a magnificent 76 species for the day.
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 62
Glorious spring weather and some great bird sightings produced an excellent day for the 26 participants. On the way to Morang Wetlands, the very first Red Gum yielded several species, including Striated Pardalote, Musk and Rainbow Lorikeets. This set the tone for Parrot sightings as 10 species were spotted during the day, amongst which were Gang-gang Cockatoos, Little and Long-billed Corellas, Eastern and Crimson Rosellas, and Red-rumped Parrots.
Taking the Ridge Track around the wetlands we had a fantastic view, from above, of nesting Wedge-tailed Eagles. When the adults left the nest we saw two fluffy white chicks poking their necks above the top of the massive nest, waiting for the next feed. Our vantage point gave terrific views of the adults gliding past, much to the delight of the beginners. Above us, a Horsefield’s Bronze-Cuckoo called persistently whilst Dusky Woodswallows flew overhead, occasionally alighting on branches of nearby trees.
A pair of Wood Ducks shepherded 16 chicks away from us as we watched many of the common water birds loafing in the wetlands. Large mobs of Eastern Grey Kangaroos appeared almost everywhere and an Echidna nuzzled in the grass alongside the track, providing additional creatures to interest us.
After lunch we went down to Le Page Homestead and did a short return walk alongside the Plenty River. The different environment contained Yellow-faced, White-eared and White-naped Honeyeaters as well as Eastern Yellow Robin, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo and Fan-tailed Cuckoo. We ended the outing with a count of 62 species and, though a little weary, were well satisfied with a day out in this suburban park.
Twenty-eight members met at the lake on a lovely sunny day. Several Australasian Darters were seen on the central island and a pair of Chestnut Teal guarded eight recently hatched ducklings on a nearby small pond.
Magpie-larks were observed building their mud nest at mid-height in a gum tree as we headed for the wetlands. Two Pink-eared Ducks resting on a partly submerged log and brief sightings of two Spotless Crakes were highlights at the boardwalk pond. Continuing towards Hull Road wetlands produced several of the common bush birds but the wetlands themselves had, disappointingly, only a few species in residence. An obliging Dusky Moorhen gave the photographers an opportunity to test their skills.
Finally, a female Golden Whistler, a Spotted Pardalote and several Brown Thornbills, feeding in profusely-flowering Silver Wattles, held our attention before we headed back towards the lake.
On route we had a good view of Cattle Egrets attending a small herd of cows and, soon
after, a Wedge-tailed Eagle passed overhead then soared high towards the horizon.
After lunch a short walk along the track between the lake and adjoining wetlands enabled close-up views of both male and female Australasian Darters. An entertaining sight on the lake was provided by about 20 Little Black Cormorants seemingly engaged in synchronised swimming and diving as they popped up and down making brisk headway in search of food. A single Australian Pelican treated us to a low flypast, as if to bid us farewell, as we returned to the car park after an enjoyable day.
Shortly after 10am in overcast but fine weather conditions, 39 members embarked on a wetlands circuit walk. Grey Butcherbirds, Eastern Rosellas and Cattle Egrets were amongst the early sightings, whilst male and female Flame Robins were seen just before reaching the wetlands outer track.
A few lucky people at the rear were delighted to get an all-too-brief view of an Australasian Bittern, which had been the main target species for the walk. Low water levels and a cool breeze perhaps limited the number of species on the ponds, with one Hardhead and one Freckled Duck being found amongst the more common Eurasian Coots and the two Teal species. Three Black-fronted Dotterels dashed around on a muddy bank, watched by a White-faced Heron resting on a nearby log.
A Black-shouldered Kite stood unconcerned on top of a dead tree whilst the group trooped past, bringing the raptor count to three as a Nankeen Kestrel and a Swamp Harrier had been encountered earlier. Striated Pardalotes were seen near the bird hide, as was a local bird-watcher who kindly told us where we could find a Tawny Frogmouth (also a target species). After finding it and having a good look, the happy group returned to the car park for lunch.
Afterwards, a short walk along the Heathland Track produced several more species including a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and several Laughing Kookaburras. A total of 55 species was recorded for the day’s outing.
Thirty-six members including several ‘new’ beginners assembled at Centennial Park on a cool but fine morning. Yellow-faced Honeyeaters were feeding on flowering gums in the carpark.
After car-pooling the group drove to a nearby wetland which was full of bird activity. Freckled Ducks and Pink-eared Ducks were easy to spot swimming amongst their more common relations, whereas Black-fronted Dotterels were harder to see until they scurried across the mud at the edge of the lake. Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants were perched on a dead tree as an Australian Darter flew overhead.
Next, we drove up to the summit of Mount Macedon in search of Flame Robins and were soon rewarded with a female in the picnic area. Eastern Yellow Robins and a Grey Shrike Thrush were also in evidence around the tables. A walk to the Memorial Cross followed, during which a Fan-tailed Cuckoo was seen quietly perched in a wattle tree. Nearby, a flock of Varied Sittellas were foraging in tall trees and then a male Flame Robin was spotted and, to everyone’s delight, stayed around for some time.
Lunch was taken in the picnic area where more robins appeared. A ‘wild’ Peacock, seen outside the café, was an unusual addition to the list.
A Wedge-tailed Eagle soared above as the convoy left for the final destination at Sanitarium Lake. The rainforest was looking beautiful following overnight rain and Eastern Yellow Robins and White-browed Scrubwrens were out in force. Beside the Lake several species of honeyeater were seen swooping down to dip their feathers in the water and then preen in nearby trees. These included White-naped and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. A Crescent Honeyeater was heard but only briefly glimpsed in the same area.
A total of 56 species were recorded on what was a most rewarding day, with ‘lifers’ for several members.
The weather was overcast but with little wind, giving good conditions for the forty-two members who met at Newport Lakes. Flocks of small bush birds such as Red-browed Finches and Superb Fairy-wrens were plentiful along the edges of the tracks. A Nankeen Night-Heron was perched by the creek at the Amphitheatre whilst two young Red Wattlebirds being fed in their nest provided another highlight. A male Australasian Darter standing on a rock near the stepping stones was much admired and further along three Cormorant species; Great, Little Black and Little Pied were all perched on the same old stag, providing good comparisons. Inevitably, with such a large group, some species were not seen by everyone. For example, those near the front had a clear view of a Rufous Whistler while those at the back saw a Collared Sparrowhawk and a Sacred Kingfisher. A total of 47 species was recorded during the morning walk around the lakes.
Most of the group then drove down Maddox Street to the Bay, where lunch was taken beside the recently refurbished hide. Scopes proved useful in identifying five distant Gull-billed Terns and also for enabling close-up views of Common Greenshank and Royal Spoonbill. Many other waterbirds were seen from this excellent picnic spot, including several hundred roosting Whiskered Terns. The afternoon walk took us from the lunch spot into Jawbone Reserve using the coastal cycle/walking track. There were good sightings of waders such as Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and Red-kneed Dotterels in the salt marshes and numerous ducks on the deeper ponds. Several male Blue-billed Ducks as well as Great-crested Grebes were in full breeding plumage. Another interesting sighting was of European Greenfinch eating seeds from an aquatic plant on a small wetland beside the path.
This was a most productive and enjoyable day with an overall total of 71 species, from 47 at Newport Lakes and 55 at Jawbone Reserve and beach.
27 September 2014; leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 64
Weather conditions were perfect as 36 members, including several ‘new’ beginners, assembled at Coolart Wetlands. Heading first to the Lagoon, a pleasing number of small bush birds such as Red-browed Finches and Superb Fairy-wrens lined the track. From the Minsmere Hide great activity amongst the two types of nesting Ibis was witnessed at close quarters. All stages from incubation to the feeding of chicks were represented. Also present were several duck species, including Freckled and Blue-billed. The group then took to the wetlands tracks and watched an unconcerned Eastern Great Egret jabbing its beak into the water seeking food. From the Antechinus Hide two pairs of Australasian Shovelers were studied whilst they rested on a log. Descending onto the woodland, a Fan-tailed Cuckoo was heard calling loudly, and as the group tracked it down a large koala was spotted in a fork of a nearby gum tree. The cuckoo was located at the top of a dead tree, affording excellent views for the beginners.
After lunch in the Homestead picnic area, most of the group took the Woodland Walk to the beach where two dolphins were frolicking just offshore. The sharp eyes of Geoff Deason found a well-camouflaged pair of Red-capped Plovers not far away and, approaching cautiously, everyone was able to see them with ease. Other birds were subsequently seen flying close to the waves, including an Australasian Gannet and a Pied Cormorant. On the return walk through the woodlands several more bush bird species were seen as well as a snake and a second koala. As the group returned to the car park across the Homestead’s formal garden, a Wedge-tailed Eagle and a Black-shouldered Kite appeared above as if to provide a rousing finale to a most pleasant and rewarding day on which the species count reached 64.
Thirty-three members met at the lake on the warmest day for several months. Setting-off upstream towards the boardwalk, a Buff-banded Rail emerged from the reeds to join the many other waterbirds nearby. A lot of small bush birds such as Superb Fairy-wrens and White-browed Scrubwrens were busy foraging in the sunshine.
Walking towards the Hull Road Wetlands, spring was definitely in the air as several birds were observed attending nests, including Australian Magpie, Brown Thornbill, Little Raven and Tawny Frogmouth. It was interesting for the beginners to compare their different building techniques. Some had good views of a pair of Peregrine Falcons soaring above, and later, a Brown Goshawk flew close by whilst a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles were clearly seen in the distance. A group of about 30 Cattle Egrets were in a paddock across the creek, far outnumbering the available cows around which they jostled for space.
Close-up views of Australian Darters were had as the group returned to the car park for lunch. Afterwards, the Buff-banded Rail obligingly gave an encore, ensuring that everyone had a good view.
Most of the group then drove to the far end of the lake to a pond behind the model car track. Australian Wood Ducks already had a brood of ducklings whilst Purple Swamphens were busy gathering nesting material. A nearby tree contained a colourful mixed flock of Silvereyes and Spotted Pardalotes. Walking to the wetlands near the site of the former Swinbourne Campus it was disappointing to see that recent drainage work had destroyed what was once a great bird habitat. Two pairs of Australian King-parrots and several Crimson Rosellas were feeding in adjacent flowering wattles. In lake-side trees a snoozing Ring-tailed Possum was oblivious to a large flock of Little Corellas, most roosting with a few feeding on the grass below.
A total of 54 species was recorded on a day that suggested the cold winter months could, at last, be left behind.
Thirty-three members set off from the Stringybark Car Park on a dull, overcast morning, soon reaching a ‘hotspot’ where Spotted Pardalotes, Golden Whistlers and several species of honeyeater were clearly visible, though few of them were calling. Many Swamp Wallabies were seen, including a group of about a dozen, which was most unusual for these normally solitary animals. At the Wylie Wetlands a male Blue-billed Duck and a pair of Australasian Shovelers were amongst the highlights and many of the group had good views of a male Mistletoebird near the dam wall. At lunchtime, two young Black-shouldered Kites were first heard and then seen harassing their parents for food.
After lunch most of the group drove to the Australian Garden Car Park, first listening unsuccessfully for Bell Miners and then walking up to the Trig Lookout from which they were rewarded with the sight of a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles first perched and then flying in the distance. Inside the Australian Garden New Holland Honeyeaters were very much the predominant species, but there were also good views of Little Wattlebirds. Australasian Grebes in full breeding plumage were engaged in territorial squabbles on the ponds.
Despite the poor weather conditions a creditable total of 51 species was recorded for the day.