Tag Archives: Bellarine Peninsula

Weekdays outing to Bellarine Peninsula

20 November 2017
All photographs by Bevan Hood, member
Whiskered Tern - Bevan Hood.jpg
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.

Rainbow Lorikeet - Bevan Hood.jpg
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

Weekday outing to Bellarine Peninsula

4 March 2014, species count 59

The weather was good though the cloud made colour identification challenging as eight people assembled at the Balyang Sanctuary. Magda Dodd led the group and the bird list quickly mounted as assorted waterbirds were observed. Highlights included (1) a Royal Spoonbill perched in clear view on a dead tree

Royal Spoonbill (Photographer: Ron Garrett)
Royal Spoonbill (Photographer: Ron Garrett)

(2) nesting Darter beside the Barwon River with two well grown young on one nest with an adult female perched on a branch beside plus an adult male occasionally in attendance

Darter's nest with her young (Photographer: Ron Garrett)
Darter’s nest with her young (Photographer: Ron Garrett)

and (3) a close encounter with a Latham’s Snipe for a couple of early birders. A group of four or five Gang-gang Cockatoo were also noisily present and added to the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo in a tree hollow and the Little Corella flying about. Rainbow Lorikeet was the only other parrot here.

New Holland Honeyeater at Balyang Sanctuary (Photographer: Ron Garrett)
New Holland Honeyeater at Balyang Sanctuary (Photographer: Ron Garrett)
White-necked Heron also at Balyang Sanctuary (Photographer: Ron Garrett)
White-necked Heron also at Balyang Sanctuary (Photographer: Ron Garrett)

We drove beside the river to Jerringot Wildlife Reserve near the golf course. There was very little water and we watched unsuccessfully for crakes or rails at the edges of the mud. Australian White Ibis, Black-winged Stilt and Black-fronted Dotterel were welcome additions here. Some of our group were fairly new to birding and the finer points of identification were explained with the aid of printed field guides and mobile phone apps. The presence of both Yellow and Yellow-rumped Thornbill in the same acacia clump gave plenty of practice. The species count for these Geelong sites was 41.

From Geelong we drove to Drysdale where we parked by the tourist railway and lunched in the shade before checking the Lake Lorne birds. Eurasian Coot dominated but the sighting of Hoary-headed Grebe with young was welcome. A Whistling Kite over the lake caused some alarm calls. Masked Lapwing were present in numbers, several dozen rather than the more familiar twos or threes, and they became quite vocal when the predator was present. A Rufous Whistler was observed by a fortunate few just before we returned to the cars. Despite the middle of the day we recorded 34 species here.

The final stop was the Swan Bay Jetty, an unfamiliar location for the Melbourne birders. It is favoured by fishermen so we didn’t expect rarities but we were still able to add shorebirds and seabirds to our day. A lone Common Greenshank shared a sand spit with two Pacific Gull while a line of cormorants perched on a rail allowed comparison between Little Black, Pied and Great.

Pied and Little Black Cormorants (Photographer: Ron Garrett)
Pied and Little Black Cormorants (Photographer: Ron Garrett)

Peeping cries alerted us to a begging young Crested Tern beside an adult on a small sand islet. A highlight was a Striated Fieldwren perched and singing close to our group. However it was a brief encounter of the bird kind as an aggressive Welcome Swallow drove it away. There were 17 species listed here, not bad for an afternoon when the fishermen had been launching and landing boats all day.

Happy participants (Photographer: Ron Garrett)
Happy participants (Photographer: Ron Garrett)

The cumulative total for the day was 59 species and we were very grateful to Magda for sharing a little of her home area with us.

Contributor: Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings