Tag Archives: BirdLife Australia

Weekdays outing to 3 Chain Road

9 April 2019

Australian Owlet-nightjar 2 - Katmun Loh
Australian Owlet-nightjar. Photo by Katmun Loh

The participants numbered 18 with Graeme Hosken leading the group. The weather was clear and cool after the overnight showers and the first bird calls were the raucous ones of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. The dam at the start of the walk had only Dusky Moorhen and Pacific Black Duck and at the start of the walk only these and Little Raven, Australian Magpie and Red Wattlebird were recorded.

The country is dry in the continuing drought and the roadside forest was very open with little understorey. Further walking added numerous Grey Fantails, one Crimson Rosella and the calls of Spotted Pardalote.

Brown Thornbill? - Bevan Hood
Challenge no. 1: Brown Thornbill or … ? Photo by Bevan Hood

Flowering eucalypts hosted Varied Sitellas, thornbills and Weebills while Grey Shrike-thrush and New Holland Honeyeaters called.

Grey Shrike Thrush? - Katmun Loh
Challenge no. 2: Grey Shrike-thrush or … ? Photo by Katmun Loh

Here the highlight was an Australian Owlet-nightjar perched on a branch in the open.

Australian Owlet-nightjar 1 - Bevan Hood
Australian Owlet-nightjar. Photo by Bevan Hood

This was the first view for many of this cute nocturnal bird outside a tree hole. The walk proceeded by returning to the cars at intervals and then driving north to further locations. Three Chain Road owes its name to the government’s provision of sufficient space for turning traffic, for example bullock drays, in the nineteenth century. Only the central section was surfaced and the roadsides are here left unaltered giving habitat for the wildlife.

Australian Owlet-nightjar 2 - Bevan Hood
Australian Owlet-nightjar. Photo by Bevan Hood

Birds were the winners but the current subdivision of the larger farms into “hobby farms” may impact on birds in the future with less grass, more people and more traffic. The next walk added both Rufous and Golden Whistler males, glimpses of Laughing Kookaburra and the single note winter calls of Grey Shrike-thrush.

Golden Whistler male 2 - Katmun Loh
Golden Whistler, male. Photo by Katmun Loh

The highlight here was a pair of Scarlet Robins, male and female in brilliant plumage, foraging along the fence-line.

Scarlet Robin female - Katmun Loh
Scarlet Robin, female. Photo by Katmun Loh

Scopes were needed at the next stop as the dam was distant and the birds in silhouette. Persistence was rewarded with the addition of Black Swan, Hardhead, Australasian Shoveler, Chestnut Teal and Hoary-headed Grebe. Eurasian Coot and Little Pied, Little Black and Great Cormorant also joined the list while Welcome Swallows swooped through the scopes’ viewing fields.

Scarlet Robin male - Bevan Hood
Scarlet Robin, male. Photo by Bevan Hood

Only one wader, a Black-fronted Dotterel, was detected. The next stage was the turn of the raptors, first a Brown Goshawk caused a chorus of alarm calls then a Whistling Kite elicited some birdwatchers’ debate before its identification. Two Wedge-tailed Eagles soaring high above completed our day’s raptors. A large colony of White-winged Choughs, about 20 in number, occasionally called mournfully while foraging high and low through the forest.

White-winged Chough - Katmun Loh
White-winged Chough. Photo by Katmun Loh

Parrots were few today with only the cockatoos and both Crimson and Eastern Rosellas seen. However both White-throated and Brown Treecreepers were watched closely as they foraged.

Brown Treecreeper 1 Bevan Hoood
Brown Treecreeper. Photo by Bevan Hood

The latter is not seen in Melbourne so sightings were especially appreciated.

Brown Treecreeper 1 - Katmun Loh
Brown Treecreeper. Photo by Katmun Loh

By walk’s end all the “usual” thornbills had been listed – Yellow-rumped, Yellow, Striated, Brown and Buff-rumped. Jacky Winter joined Scarlet Robin in the robin list. The list of small birds’ predators detected also included Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Pied and Grey Currawongs and Australian Raven.

Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike - Katmun Loh
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Katmun Loh

By walk’s end we had a list of 55 species and we thanked Graeme most enthusiastically for his leadership.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Education activities for February and March 2019

On Wednesday 13 February, Pat Bingham gave a talk entitled “Early Birds” to the Deepdene U3A. Twenty-two people attended. The talk was all about early European explorers’ records (c. 1600-1800) of their encounters with Australian birds. Some of these were apparently similar to those they were familiar with and so they were called robins, wrens, magpies and the like (but, in reality, were from biologically quite different families). Others were confusingly ‘mixtures’ like the Anomalous Hornbill, the New Holland Bird of Paradise and the Slender-billed Merops.

On Friday 15 February, U3A Hawthorn began their 2019 monthly bird walks with Pat Bingham. There were 19 attendees including 8 newcomers this year. The bird walk was around the Sinclair Street Wetlands in Glen Iris. Twenty one species were seen including Crested Pigeon, Little Black Cormorant, Masked Lapwing and a feather from an adult Nankeen Night-heron, though sadly, this year we didn’t actually see the bird itself.

On Friday 15 March, bird walk for U3A Hawthorn members was with Pat Bingham to Karkarook Park. It was a dull, cool morning and because of our poor summer rain, the water level in the wetlands was very low.

Fourteen members attended, with 33 species seen, of which the best were an Eastern Great Egret with lovely breeding plumes, a single Black-winged Stilt, a Hoary-headed Grebe carrying a stripy youngster on its back, and several noisy White-plumed Honeyeaters. Sue Wilson has kindly supplied the photographs in this article.

The Doncaster Valley Probus Club, which meets in Doncaster East Invited Janet Hand to talk about the local birds found around Manningham. This is a new club and about 45 members were present on Thursday 21 March. Questions were raised about the large numbers of corellas (Long-billed) in the area at the moment. 80 were seen in one flock earlier in the month.

Thank you Pat and Sue for your contributions.

Janet Hand, BirdLife Melbourne Education Coordinator (Phone 9842 4177)

Weekdays outing to the Grantville area

19 March 2019
Foreshore with Black Swans, Silver Gulls, mangrove - D Tweeddale
Black Swans, Silver Gulls and mangrove. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

Pacific Gulls at various stages of development outnumbered the birdwatchers and were in turn outnumbered by the Silver Gulls at the Grantville foreshore while we assembled in the car park under a grey sky. We numbered 14 and Alan and Hazel Veevers, much appreciated organisers of the monthly beginners group, were our leaders. While everyone arrived we noted Red and Little Wattlebirds in the adjacent bush before carpooling to drive to the Candowie Reservoir.

the group at Candowie Reservoir - Katmun Loh
The group at Candowie Reservoir. Photo by Katmun Loh

The water level was very low because the dam was the water source for firefighting aircraft taking tanker loads to fight the recent fires in the area. The continuing drought has prevented any replenishment. A lone White-faced Heron patrolled the bank and a couple of Little Ravens foraged. The most numerous species was Eurasian Coots at water’s edge but other species were also over the mud – Australasian Shoveler and Chestnut Teal were closer than the Black Swans.

Australasian Shoveler - Katmun Loh
Australasian Shoveler. Photo by Katmun Loh

Two sightings of grebes sequentially added Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes while distant views using scopes added Blue-billed Duck and Hardhead after some discussion. Australian Wood Ducks were seen around the point after a short drive to move the cars. Sadly one of them appeared to be dead on an old tree stump. Turning our backs to the dam we were fascinated to observe a Black-shouldered Kite on a dead branch with its tailed prey, possibly a large mouse or a small rat, in its talons. Probably the viewing highlight of the outing.

Black-shouldered Kite with prey - Katmun Loh
Black-shouldered Kite with prey. Photo by Katmun Loh

Another hunter in this area was a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike using the fence as a perch. A pair of soaring Wedge-tailed Eagles was the third raptor of the day (the first had been a Whistling Kite sending up the Silver Gulls near the foreshore). The bush by the dam also held Grey Butcherbird, Grey Shrike-thrush and Magpie-lark while both Australian White and Straw-necked Ibis passed overhead.

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike - D Tweeddale v2
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

We drove on to the Grantville cemetery and walked the adjacent Gurdies track listening and watching. An Australian Magpie and a Masked Lapwing seemed to be alone among the gravestones but along the track we recorded a Golden Whistler, heard several honeyeaters including White-eared and White-naped and glimpsed a White-browed Scrubwren in the understorey.

Wedge-tailed Eagle - Katmun Loh
Wedge-tailed Eagle. Photo by Katmun Loh

Both Crimson Rosella and Laughing Kookaburra were listed as we walked back. Back to the car park for lunch where the local Superb Fairy-wrens came out confidently once we were all seated quietly. A beach walk after lunch yielded no waders as the water level was against us and there was little mud. Mangroves seem to be growing well along the shore. By walk’s end there had been 30 species listed for the reservoir and 38 for the foreshore and the adjacent Gurdies Nature Conservation Reserve. The total for the day was 56 species which was a very pleasing result in the continuing drought and we thanked Hazel and Alan for all their preparation which yielded such a satisfactory result.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

 

Beginners outing to Lillydale Lake

23 March 2019
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 48
Australasian Darter - Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Darter. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

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.

Long-billed Corella - Eleanor Dilley
Long-billed Corella. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Galah - Alan Veevers
Galah. Photo by Alan Veevers

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.

Welcome Swallows and Tree Martin - Eleanor Dilley
Welcome Swallows and Tree Martin. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A Brown Goshawk was seen flying above the lake and this proved to be the only raptor for the day.

Australian White Ibis - Alan Veevers
Australian White Ibis. Photo by Alan Veevers

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.

Lauhing Kookaburra - Eleanor Dilley
Laughing Kookaburra. Photo Eleanor Dilley

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.

Crimson Rosella, - Eleanor Dilley
Crimson Rosella. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

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.

Little Pied Cormorant, Eurasian Coot - Eleanor Dilley
Little Pied Cormorant and Eurasian Coot. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

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.

Australasian Swamphen and chick 2 Eleanor Dilley

Australasian Swamphen and chick 1 - Eleanor Dilley
Australasian (Purple) Swamphen and chick. Photos by Eleanor Dilley

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.

View complete bird list: BM Mar 2019 Bird List Lillydale Lake

Beginners outing to Yan Yean Reservoir Park

23 February 2019
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 70
Photographs by Eleanor Dilley

Light winds and mild temperatures provided perfect weather conditions for the 44 members attending the February excursion. With the aid of three scopes, large numbers of birds could be seen on the reservoir. Looking from the dam wall, these included Blue-billed Ducks, Great-crested Grebes, Eurasian Coots and three kinds of Cormorant: Great, Little Black and Little Pied.

Red-browed Finch - E Dilley.jpg
Red-browed Finch

The cars were then moved to be nearer to the wetlands where Yellow Thornbills, Red-browed Finch and Red-rumped Parrots were among the more colourful bush-birds seen. Ducks and Dusky Moorhens were plentiful on the water but a major highlight was the good sighting of a Spotless Crake on the mud beside a clump of reeds and then clambering up on top of it.

Spotless Crake - E Dilley
Spotless Crake

A Wedge-tailed Eagle soaring overhead added further excitement. On entering the fenced area the second pond provided good sightings including a Common Sandpiper, Black-fronted Dotterels plus a group of nine Freckled Ducks.

Common Sandpiper - E Dilley
Common Sandpiper

 

Returning to the cars around the back of the wetlands four lucky members had a brief view of a Latham’s Snipe before it shot off out of sight.

Freckled Duck - E Dilley
Freckled Ducks

Soon afterwards a female Australasian Darter circled low overhead giving everyone a good look.

Australasian Darter -Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Darter

Lunch was taken at the top of the hill where it was pleasing to see that the Nankeen Night-herons were still roosting in their usual Corsican Pine, though sadly the vegetation on the tree was much sparser than in previous years.

Nankeen Night-heron - E Dilley
Nankeen Night-heron

A short afternoon walk was taken along the fence line down towards the reservoir where two flocks of White-winged Choughs were seen, one foraging in the leaf litter beyond the fence and the other flying through the picnic area. Using the scopes a Great Egret and an Australian Pelican were identified and then at the carpark a Little Eagle was seen, bringing the total number of species recorded to 70. This was an excellent total and 19 more than in the same month in 2018. Perhaps the water provided by the reservoir in this very dry summer was a major reason.

Many thanks to Eleanor Dilley for providing all the photographs.

See complete bird list: BM Feb 2019 Bird List Yan Yean Reservoir Park

Weekdays outing to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

12 February 2019
D Tweeddale.JPG
Ornamental Lake. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

Skies were grey as we assembled but the weather started mild with a slight breeze. There were 14 of us with Diane Tweeddale leading in place of David Plant who was unable to attend on the day. Fine rain started to fall and the shelter of trees was welcome, especially when we could observe birds as we stood there.

A Willie Wagtail foraged and then was upstaged by an enthusiastic Little Wattlebird which gave close, excellent views as it probed flowers. The north corner of the Ornamental Lake added Pacific Black Duck and Eurasian Coot to our started list while Bell Miners called loudly and White-browed Scrubwrens chattered from the understory. Walking over to Long Island we noted the floating islands designed to remove pollutants which wash in from the storm water drains of the adjacent streets. Then we were up close and (almost) personal with an adult Bell Miner feeding a fluffy youngster. What a pity the intervening foliage prevented photography, particularly in the low light conditions. However there were fleeting very close views of Bell Miners giving several people their first actual sightings of these well-camouflaged honeyeaters. So close indeed that their calls were so loud as to be almost painful.

Waterbirds recorded were Pacific Black and Australian Wood Ducks, Chestnut and Grey Teal, Black Swan, the usual trio of Purple Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen and Eurasian Coot with Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants and a flock of young Silver Gulls finishing the list. Eastern Spinebills were heard mostly but seen by some and a small flock of Silvereyes was viewed foraging among the fruit of a Kangaroo Apple near the corpse of the vandalised Separation Tree.

By now the rain, wind and cold were telling even with our cold weather gear in use and we retreated to the café in search of hot drinks. The gardens were not crowded with visitors today and drinks were quickly acquired, to be drunk while assessing the weather beyond the windows. It was not hopeful so the decision was made to do bird call and then people could head home or on to some other sheltered and rewarding occupation. The bird list totalled 25 species, not great by historical standards but very acceptable by today’s RBG birding. Next time the weather may allow longer walks, especially to Guilfoyle’s Volcano and through the Australian forest plantings.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Beginners Outing to Point Cook Coastal Reserve

26 January 2019

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 60

Crested Terns - 1 - Eleanor Dilley
Crested Terns posturing

Thirty members assembled on Australia Day in the Beach Car Park in pleasantly cool conditions following horrendously hot weather the previous day.  On the way in, several people had seen a pair of Spotted Harriers flying over the RAAF Lake. Walking towards the shore, several Superb Fairy-wrens were seen foraging in the undergrowth and from the beach the majority of the birds seen were Silver Gulls with distant views of Australian Pelicans and Australasian Gannets.

Australian Hobby - Eleanor Dilley
Australian Hobby

An Australian Hobby flew low overhead and soon afterwards a Black-shouldered Kite gave everyone good views as it hovered over a nearby saltbush patch.

Black-shouldered Kite - Eleanor Dilley
Black-shouldered Kite

There were good views of a Singing Honeyeater but the real hot spot was back in the carpark where numerous small birds were feeding in a large old casuarina. Included were Yellow and Yellow-rumped Thornbills, European Goldfinch and Grey Fantail.

Singing Honeyeater - Eleanor Dilley
Singing Honeyeater

The members then drove to the RAAF Lake Carpark to see the new small wetland which contained plenty of water despite the dry weather. This was very productive with views of three Australian Spotted Crakes, Australasian Grebes, Pacific Black Ducks, Australian Reed-warblers and Zebra Finch.

Australian Spotted Crake - Eleanor Dilley
Australian Spotted Crake

A pair of Black-shouldered Kites perched in a dead tree and a large snake slithered off into the reeds.

After lunch the members drove to the Cheetham Wetlands car park, pausing en-route at the wetlands by the new housing estate. There, Purple Swamphens and Dusky Moorhens could be seen and a Brown Falcon perched on a power pole for a while before flying off.

Brown Falcon - Eleanor Dilley
Brown Falcon

From the car park members walked down to the shore.  As it was low tide a lot of seabirds were at the Point and as the group cautiously approached they had good views of Common and Crested Terns, Little Pied and Pied Cormorants, Masked Plovers and with the aid of a telescope were better able to see Red-necked Stints and Curlew Sandpipers.

Eleanor Dilley
Variety of species on Point Cook

Walking back through the grounds of the old homestead Galahs were seen and an unidentified raptor was heard calling loudly.

Crested Terns - 2 - Eleanor Dilley
Crested Terns feeding youngster

Everyone agreed that this had been a most enjoyable excursion, with delightful views of numerous yachts sailing on the Bay enhancing the pleasure of recording 60 species for the day including several unusual sightings.

Many thanks go to Eleanor Dilley who provided all the photographs in this Report.

View complete bird list: BM Jan 2019 Bird List Point Cook

Education activities September 2018

On Friday 7 September, Bill Ramsay and Ron Hand assisted Janet Hand set up the display for the Yarra Yarra Plant Expo in the Eltham Community Centre.

Picture1

During the following weekend on Saturday and Sunday 8 and 9 September, hundreds of people visited the Yarra Yarra Australian Plant Expo at Eltham. Five hundred and fifty people came through the doors on Saturday and a few less on Sunday. Over the weekend Janet Hand was assisted by Daphne Hards, Scot Sharman, Pat Bingham, Sally Heeps, Susan Bailey and Peter Bennet. Many interesting discussions were held and their bird questions answered. Thanks to everyone who helped.

On Monday 10 September, Janet Hand gave a PowerPoint presentation to the East Doncaster Women’s Group in Donvale. The topic was “Backyard birds of Manningham”. With this being a smaller group it was a very interactive presentation with questions being answered as it progressed.

The U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk was held on Friday 21 September at the Banyule Flats Reserve in Viewbank. Fourteen people attended and 37 species were seen and/or heard. Two Pink-eared Ducks were on the swamp, taking particular interest in one of the nest boxes so maybe they’ll breed there. Two Tawny Frogmouths on nests were also found. Other enjoyable sightings were of Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Grey Shrike-thrush and pairs of Red-rumped Parrots. Pat Bingham led this outing. Thanks Pat.

On Wednesday 26September, Janet Hand made her annual visit to Mercy Place in Boronia. Mercy Place is a member group of BirdLife Australia. Janet gave her PowerPoint presentation on her trip across Arnhem Land last year and her follow on journey to Alice Springs and Ayres Rock. The ladies were fascinated by the Field of Lights photographs and how they worked.

The Nunawading Library is holding a display for the month of October with four display cases being used to showcase BirdLife Australia and various aspects of its work.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The largest case is promoting the upcoming Bird Week and the Aussie Bird Count which runs from 22 to 28 October. Please get involved this year and submit a minimum of one 20 minute count. BirdLife Melbourne’s October activities are also listed to show what a wide range of activities we run. Janet Hand set up this display on 29 September and it will be there until late October, so pop in for a look.

Janet Hand, BirdLife Melbourne Education Coordinator (Phone: 9842 4177)

Education activities – July 2018

This month there have been three education activities.

On Tuesday 10 July, Gay Gallagher addressed approximately 20 ladies at the Mooroolbark YWCA. Gay’s presentation was ‘Attracting birds to your garden naturally’. The ladies found the topic interesting and asked plenty of questions.

Friday, 20 July found 19 U3A Hawthorn Bird walkers at the Glen Iris Wetlands. Again, a cold, very windy morning after heavy rain. Birds were few and far between but several Spinebills put on a good show feeding in Correa bushes. Dusky Moorhen and Coot emerged from reedbeds in one of the pondages, probably hoping to be fed, joining Pacific Black Ducks, Chestnut Teal and Wood Duck that milled around on the shore. A couple of the ‘Black Ducks’ were definitely Mallard hybrids with heavy orange-yellow legs and big, yellowish bills. 21 species in total were seen/heard over the course of the morning. Thank you to Pat Bingham for leading the walk and reporting on it.

Bill Ramsay gave a presentation to about 30 people at a Glencare meeting at the Glen Waverley Community Centre on the morning of 31 July. The presentation was titled ‘Attracting birds to your garden and what you can hope to see’. Several questions, on a range of issues, were asked by the attendees.  Some time was spent in explaining that those large black birds that are frequently seen in Melbourne gardens are Little Ravens and not Crows, and this seemed to be a surprise to most. The BirdLife Australia ‘Backyard Birds of Victoria’ flyer was distributed and hopefully some of the attendees will use it to try and identify birds in their garden.

Thanks to Gay, Pat and Bill for their activities.

Janet Hand, BirdLife Melbourne Education Coordinator (Phone: 9842 4177)

Flockwiz event with quizmaster, the Flaming Galah

Think you know your birds? Then why not put it to the test in this fun, irreverent and in depth knowledge of all things birdy. Grab a bunch of like-minded friends to book a table and resolve once and for all who is the Bird Brain of 2017!
Drinks and snacks will be served, and free parking out front.
There are only 10 tables of 8 people available, so get in quick and register a table now, this will help us out with running the night and providing prizes.
We look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday 14 December, 7.30-10.30pm

Go here to register!