Tag Archives: BirdLife Australia

Weekday outing to Tirhatuan Park

9 March 2022
Laughing Kookaburra. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The weather was fine with a good breeze while we assembled at the car park. After the now-obligatory complaints about the state of the traffic and the freeway roadworks we numbered 17 including a few on their first birding walk.

Grey Butcherbird, adult. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The car park started the list with the reliable Noisy Miners and Rainbow Lorikeets but an Australian Pelican gliding past was less usual and the Eastern Rosellas and Grey Butcherbirds were welcome additions.

Magpie-lark, female. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Initially we headed to the nearest pond where Australian Wood Duck outnumbered the Pacific Black Ducks.

Australian Grebe (female and male). Photo by Steve Hoptroff

The pair of Australasian Grebes appeared fleetingly between dives and a solo Little Black Cormorant dived repeatedly before perching to dry and presumably, digest.

Royal Spoonbill, slightly grubby. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Royal Spoonbill foraging. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Royal Spoonbill in flight. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Royal Spoonbills foraged at the next water’s edge and one had presumably “bitten off more than it could chew” as it repeatedly shook its head and showed a distended gullet. Eventually avian greed was rewarded and the distension and shaking stopped.

Royal Spoonbill sleeping. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

We were now in bush and waterbirds gave way to bird calls from the scrub and trees. Spotted Pardalotes called but sightings were few and most of us recorded very active Grey Fantails plus somewhat fewer Yellow-faced Honeyeaters.

Little Wattlebird. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

The highlight for many people was the discovery of a roost of Tawny Frogmouths – two adults and a youngster (somewhat harder to see) – quite low (2-3 m from the ground) in a tree.  

Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Tawny Frogmouth, well camouflaged. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A large nest box was also observed. About a meter long, it may have been intended for Powerful Owls but perhaps was not ideally long enough compared with some hollows, natural or artificial. A small nondescript brown bird puzzled everyone till sharp eyes spotted a red bill. It was a juvenile Mistletoebird.

Mistletoebird. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Mistletoebird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Mistletoebird. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

This was a new sighting for everyone. Another puzzle was slightly less difficult when the definite breast spots of an Olive-backed Oriole were seen. This bird was also a juvenile and lacked colour.

Olive-backed Oriole. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Olive-backed Oriole. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Back to the car park for lunch where all public seating was already occupied, demonstrating how popular this park is, including on weekdays. Some people needed to leave at this stage and a quick bird call gave 42 species recorded in the morning’s walk.

Silvereye. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Post-lunch the few remaining drove a few kilometers to Tirhatuan Wetland. This is only a very short distance as the bird flies from our morning area so the bird species were mostly the same and the 10 of us only added 3 more species to the cumulative total, Chestnut Teal, Laughing Kookaburra and Australian Reed-Warbler.

White-faced Heron. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

However, we also saw 2 Tawny Frogmouth roosts and a couple of us were delighted to be accepted enough for a duck (Australian Wood Duck) to lead her ducklings to water within a meter of our feet.

Australian Wood Ducks, female. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Plus, the non-avian interest was provided by a paper wasp nest where the new adults seemed to be emerging from their cells. We recorded 20 species in this area and the cumulative total was 44. John received our enthusiastic thanks for his preparation which gave such good results for a small suburban area.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekday outings

Beginners outing to Yan Yean Reservoir Park

26 February 2022
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 45
All photographs by Eleanor Dilley

Thirty members met near the entrance in pleasant sunny weather conditions.  Starting up at the dam wall several good sightings gave an excellent start to the morning:  a male Musk Duck just offshore; an immature male Australasian Darter on the roof of the small hut; a little Pied Cormorant and a White-faced Heron on the crane on the jetty and a pair of Red-rumped Parrots drinking by the slipway.   

Male Musk Duck
Australasian Darter

Members then drove to the third carpark and began the wetlands walk alongside the water. Dusky Moorhens, Australian Wood Ducks and Chestnut Teals were the predominant species, with Pacific Black Ducks, Australasian Grebes and Purple Swamphens in smaller numbers. 

Pacific Black Ducks
Purple Swamphen

Grey Fantails, Spotted Pardalotes and Brown Thornbills were seen in the taller trees, with Superb Fairy-wrens foraging at the water’s edge. After crossing the road to the fenced wetlands, several Parrot species were seen including Little and Long-billed Corellas, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Eastern Rosellas. A bird-scarer was sounding shots from a neighbouring property which no doubt disturbed them, and possibly reduced the number of ducks and waders on these wetlands. A flock of Australasian Grebe with young of various ages were the main waterbirds seen here.

Australasian Grebes with chicks under wings
Wedge-tailed Eagle

A pair of Wedge -tailed Eagles flying overhead caused a lot of interest, as did a lone Red-rumped Parrot well hidden in a tree. On returning to the first wetlands a White-faced Heron was perched on the opposite bank and later a Falcon flew overhead. It was initially thought to be a Peregrine Falcon, but later examination of Eleanor’s photo revealed it to be an Australian Hobby.

Red-rumped Parrot
Nankeen Night-Heron

Lunch was eaten at the top of the hill near the old caretaker’s cottage. There were only 2 Nankeen Night-herons in the nearby Corsican Pine, which was well down on the numbers seen there in previous years. After bird call members drove back to the other end of the park to the Lookout.  Two spotting scopes were set up near the fence, but it was hard to see between the trees.  After some perseverance a Great Crested Grebe was identified as well as a pair of Blue-billed Ducks.

This concluded a satisfying day with 45 species recorded, including 9 Parrot species.

Many thanks to Eleanor Dilley, who provided all the photographs.

Weekdays Outing to Pound Bend

8 February 2022
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 36

Thirty members gathered at Pound Bend on a hot sunny morning, admiring the many Parrots and Kookaburras in the picnic area. Walking the river track, upstream from the carpark, a Little Pied Cormorant fishing in the river was an early point of interest. 

Laughing Kookaburra. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Galahs. Photo by Kathie Thomas

As the vegetation became denser many small birds could be heard and, although hard to see, Silvereyes, Grey Fantails, Yellow-faced and White-naped Honeyeaters were soon identified.

Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Black Ducks and Dusky Moorhens were seen on the river along with a large-tailed Water Dragon which was sunning itself on a rock by the opposite bank.

White-naped Honeyeaters. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Two ladies bathing in the river further along seemed unaware of a Tiger Snake swimming beside them!

Tiger Snake. Photo by Kathie Thomas

Water Dragon. Photo by Alan Veevers

An Eastern Yellow Robin, a pair of White-eared Honeyeaters, several Spotted Pardalotes and an immature Golden Whistler were observed beside the track.

Eastern Yellow Robin. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Eastern Yellow Robin. Photo by Kathie Thomas
Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Unfortunately, one of the ladies at the rear of the group became unwell and subsequently fainted. Fortunately, Alan was nearby and provided first aid. As she was recovering three other members kindly volunteered their assistance, and all four helped to get her back to the carpark.  After resting, she and her car were taken home, by two of our volunteers, to be met by an awaiting friend.

Further along the track the vegetation thinned out and Noisy Miners began to dominate. After reaching the grassed area at the end of the track members retraced their steps along by the river, enjoying several more good sightings, including Crimson Rosella, Superb Fairy-wrens and Welcome Swallows. In the picnic area Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes were heard but not seen.

Sacred Kingfisher. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Australasian Darter. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

After lunch a short walk was taken towards the tunnel where many visitors were sunbathing and cooling-off in the water. Not surprisingly, no further bird species were seen there!  At this point the bird count was 34 species. Two of the members who had assisted Alan, thereby missing out on part of the morning walk, decided to stay behind after the formal closure and re-walk the river track. They photographed 2 extra birds; a Sacred Kingfisher and a female Australasian Darter (included above) – a just reward for the kindness they had shown earlier in the day! Thus, the group recorded a total of 36 species for the day.

Beginners Outing to Point Cook Coastal Reserve

22 January 2022

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 48
Little Eagle. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Twenty six members braved the very hot weather to attend the Point Cook excursion. Whilst assembling at the Beach Picnic Area a Little Eagle circled low overhead providing great views for everyone. Superb Fairy-wrens and Willie Wagtails were the predominant birds as members walked towards the shore. At the beach the only birds which could be clearly seen were dozens of Silver Gulls, with a lone Australian Pelican in the far distance. 

Silver Gull. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Taking the track parallel to the shore, Silvereyes and a Singing Honeyeater were spotted in the bushes and a Nankeen Kestrel flew overhead. On the track back towards the cars a Crested Pigeon obligingly perched on a dead branch while smaller bushbirds were much harder to see.  

Crested Pigeon. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

At the carpark members searched for Yellow Thornbills which proved to be elusive, though seen and heard by a couple of senior spotters. A number of Yellow-rumped Thornbills were, however, clearly seen.

Yellow-rumped Thornbill. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

As we drove to the RAAF Lake carpark it was pleasing to see that the recent heavy rains must have almost filled the lake, as it was still about two-thirds full. Three Australian Shelducks were on the lake and a Masked Plover was roaming the nearside bank. In the distance a White-bellied Sea-Eagle was spotted being determinedly mobbed by Silver Gulls. In the small ponds on the opposite side of the road several species were found, including a family of Australasian Grebes with very small chicks, two of which clambered onto the back of a parent as we watched. Australian Reed Warblers were very vocal, and a few were seen darting in and out of the reeds. Some members, at the rear of the group, saw Zebra Finches and Golden-headed Cisticolas and heard a Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo calling in the distance.

Australasian Grebe, chick(s) under wing. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Australasian Grebe and chicks, one on parent. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Members then drove towards the Homestead area, pausing briefly at the ponds beside the housing estate. Dusky Moorhens and Purple Swamphens were seen on the water and European Goldfinches and House Sparrows were feeding on thistles. On arrival, lunch was eaten in the welcome shade of some old trees beside the carpark. Here, immature Collared Sparrowhawks were very noisy in their demands for food and there were numerous sightings of them as they whizzed past overhead. Members then set off towards the Point at low tide where there were a number of Crested Terns, Pied and Little Pied Cormorants along with many more Silver Gulls. It was disappointing that no migrant waders were seen in this area. Continuing along the shore a Pied Oystercatcher could be seen in the distance, along with scores more Silver Gulls. Walking back inland, towards the carpark, the White-bellied Sea-Eagle flew overhead, giving much closer views this time. On reaching the carpark the young Sparrowhawks were still calling loudly and some members decided to stay behind to have further attempts at photographing them.

Despite the heat it was felt that this had been a successful excursion. 48 species were recorded, and the excellent raptor sightings partly compensated for the absence of waders.

Tawny Frogmouth: from rescue to release

On the morning of 28 October 2021, I was driving down our court when I noticed a small fluff-ball on the footpath below a neighbour’s large Eucalyptus nicholii nature strip tree.  I stopped to check it out and found a very young Tawny Frogmouth which I assumed had fallen out of a nest.  A parent bird was in the tree, on the lowest branch about 4m up, looking down and keeping watch as there was a Pied Currawong showing a lot of interest.

Tawny Frogmouth chick fallen from a nest
Parent keeping watch

I rang my wife Shirley who was quickly on the scene.  We decided that Shirley would ring the Wildlife Emergency Response to seek instructions on what to do while I kept guard.  Shirley was advised that we should make a nest in a container, make some drainage holes, nail the container in a tree, and place the chick in the new nest.  The advice was that hopefully the parent would watch us transfer the chick and attend the nest to look after it.  If this didn’t happen after a few hours, we were to ring them back.  

I made the nest according to instructions, using an ice-cream container and drilled the drainage holes.  I placed broken twigs in the bottom, with a layer of native grasses cut to length as an upper layer.  I can modestly say that it was a more comfortable nest than the parents would have made.  The height of the lowest branch on the E nicholii was far too high for me, so as advised, I fixed it to a lower tree branch in our front garden.  I picked up the chick and transported it to its new home.  Unfortunately during the whole process, the parent bird was very aware of the Pied Currawong and tried to see it off.  Because of this it may not have seen the relocation.

By this stage Shirley had decided that the chick needed a name, and it was named Thursday, because that was the day we found it.

Thursday in new nest

By mid-afternoon, after several checks, there was no sign of the parent bird, so Shirley rang the Wildlife Emergency Response again.  We were asked to email a photo of the chick so that they had a good idea of the age of the rescued bird.  We were then advised to place the chick in its nest in a dark place, and they would arrange for a Wildlife Rescue Service Volunteer (WRSV) to collect the bird.

The WRSV arrived late afternoon to take Thursday into care. She told us that Thursday looked healthy and was probably a female. She expected to release her near the rescue site, in about 2 months, and she would keep us informed.  We felt quite confident that Thursday was in good hands.

Over the next 2 months we received texts from the WRSV, with attached photos showing Thursday’s development.

8 November 2021: Thursday in centre
23 November 2021: Thursday at end right
8 December 2021: Thursday on right
24 December 2021: Thursday

Thursday with friends in the enclosure
Photos by the Wildlife Rescue Service Volunteer

During care the rescued Tawny Frogmouths lived in meshed enclosure, of sufficient size for the birds to take short flights.  The enclosure had many guests, a normal season being a temporary home to a total of about 20 rescued Tawny Frogmouth chicks. They were fed chicken hearts, meal worms and mice.  The enclosure had lighting to attract moths to supplement their diet and introduce them to becoming self sufficient.  

In early Jan we received a text from the WRSV advising that Thursday, with a friend, would be released as soon as the weather was suitable.  The release site was to be the treed corridor along the creek that runs between Waverley Road & Crosby Drive, Glen Waverley, about 200m from the rescue site.  At dusk, on 10 Jan 2022, Thursday and friend were released, both with full stomachs.  Thursday took off and quickly flew to some low vegetation about 30m distant.  The friend flew higher and perched on a horizontal branch about 4m above the ground, 15m distant.  We watched and waited for a while but the birds seemed settled for the night.  The WRSV assured us that they would be OK, and she would check on them the next day.  Sexing the birds is difficult, but because of the greyer plumage, the WRSV thought Thursday was probably female, and because the friend was browner, she thought it was probably male.

On our walk home, Shirley and I wondered if they would be OK and if we would ever see them again.  We decided that the friend deserved a name, so he was named Novak, as the bird’s release date was on the same day as Novak Djokovic’s release from detention.

Next morning at 8:30 we checked out the release site but at first could not find either bird.  After a closer look in the immediate area where Thursday was last seen, Thursday and Novak were there, back from the track, in classic stick posture, with eyes narrowed to slits, on a near vertical fallen branch only about 1m above the ground.  I had concerns about their safety as they were so close to the ground.  Checking HANZAB, one study reported that of roosting birds flushed, 50% were flushed from the ground, so perhaps there was no need for my concern.

Morning of 11 January 2022: Thursday rear, Novak front
Afternoon of 11 January 2022: Thursday rear, Novak front

On a return visit to the site mid-afternoon, I found both birds at the same roosting site, but Novak was much more animated than for the morning visit.

On a visit to the site on the morning of 12 Jan, neither bird could be found, but encouragingly there was no heap of feathers on the ground at the previous day’s roosting site.  Another visit on the same afternoon, and again no bird could be found.  Further visits on the morning and afternoon of 13 Jan also produced no sightings.  The corridor is a well timbered stretch with many suitable roosting sites, both at low level and higher level.  The WRSV advised that released birds are rarely seen at the release site, so no sightings could be a good sign.

I chose to believe that they are hunkered down somewhere in the corridor.  I was resigned to the fact that maybe I would never see either of the birds again, but just maybe one day, on a walk along the creek I will discover one or both Tawny Frogmouths.

Afternoon of 18 January 2022: A third juvenile Tawny Frogmouth 50m from the release site

But there is a sequel to this story.  Late afternoon on 18 Jan I spotted a juvenile Tawny Frogmouth only about 50m from the release site.  I was very excited with my find and hoped it was Thursday or Novak, so I took several photos to try and confirm which one it was.  The bird appeared to be smaller than either of the two, and on close examination of the photos, the tail was shorter and markings on the back, wings and tail didn’t agree with those of either Thursday or Novak.  I can only conclude that it was a third juvenile bird in this small patch of bush.  Of course, I will keep looking.

Bill Ramsay, Jan 2022
All photos by Bill Ramsay unless noted otherwise

Weekdays outing to Donnelly’s Weir

8 December 2021
Photographs by Danika Sanderson
Sacred Kingfisher

The weather forecast was not really reassuring, predicting late showers for Melbourne. This might mean wet weather in the mountains around Healesville but at least winds were not emphasized. Alan and Hazel Veevers led and had spent considerable time and analysis to prepare a well-received outing.

The weir

My main worry was the ford on the track into Donnelly’s. My car is a small sedan and I worried that its clearance might not be enough if I slowed or stopped in the water. As it was I was one of the few who gratefully accepted lifts from drivers with a higher wheel base and spare seats. Most drivers came through without a murmur.  I am just a wimp at bottom.

The group

There were 20 at the outing and even the car park yielded sightings of Eastern Yellow Robin, Crimson Rosella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo

A Sacred Kingfisher proved very hard to locate and Australian King-Parrots moved through very quickly except for a calm male which remained perched near the track until most of our group had walked by.

Sacred Kingfisher

Another bird coping with our party was a female White-throated Treecreeper which stayed stationary on its tree trunk for so long we initially wondered if it might be ill – until we passed “it’s” tree during our return walk and saw that it had departed.

White-throated Treecreeper (female)

Birds heard without being seen included Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Spotted Pardalote. Only a few actually saw the Superb Fairy-wrens and Striated Pardalotes were also present while a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles briefly soared very high overhead.

Superb Fairy-wren (male)

Other elusive small birds were the White-browed Scrubwrens by the well-flowing aqueduct and a flock of Silvereyes briefly sighted as they foraged among dense bushes. It wasn’t totally birds. Plants included flowering spyridium as well as a small colony of hyacinth orchids.

Waterlilies
Yellow-faced Honeyeater

At morning’s end we drove around to the Maroondah Reservoir Park where we lunched in a rotunda even though rain hadn’t arrived yet. We were checked out by 3 Australian White Ibis, living up to their reputation.

Eastern Spinebill

Careful watchfulness meant that no one’s lunch was in jeopardy. A short walk around the base of the dam wall added Corellas, several Little and a single Long-billed Corella plus a few Australian Magpies.

Galah

Bird call revealed we’d noted 39 species which made a satisfactory total. Into the cars just as the long-expected rain started driving across the car park and feeling very grateful to both Veevers for all their planning. 

Grey Fantail

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Beginners Outing to Newport Lakes and Jawbone Reserve

27 November 2021
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 56

Thirty-five members assembled at Newport Lakes, delighted to be able to meet again after many months being unable to do so, due to Covid restrictions. The weather conditions were fine but windy which caused some of the birds to seek shelter. The vegetation around the reserve was looking lush with many Eucalypts flowering profusely. Also, there was a lot of water in the lakes following the winter rains.

Two early sightings were of a Sacred Kingfisher and a female Rufous Whistler. Around the lakes dozens of Australian Reed-Warblers were very vocal, but extremely hard to see! There were few ducks or other waterbirds on the lakes and ponds. One Hardhead and a single Little Black Cormorant with a few Grebes, both Australasian and Hoary-headed. 

In the sheltered area of the Amphitheatre, birds were easier to find. An immature Golden Whistler and a Willie Wagtail on a nest were of special interest. Then, suddenly, “bird of the morning” was spotted by a new member – a Nankeen Night-Heron perched low under foliage just above the creek. 

A bird call at lunchtime recorded 33 species for Newport Lakes.

Members then drove down Maddox Road to the shore where there were fewer birds than expected. A single Pied Oystercatcher was on the breakwater along with a few Cormorants and Silver Gulls. Several Black Swans were on the bay. No small waders could be seen along the shoreline. A highlight was the sighting of an immature Black-shouldered Kite, perched behind a bush, sheltering from the wind. Walking beside the creek a Black-winged Stilt with an injured leg was busy feeding in the shallows. 

Members followed the track through Jawbones Reserve where there were fewer ducks than on previous visits. However, there were several Great Crested Grebes, some Blue-billed Ducks, and more Little Black, Little Pied and Pied Cormorants. Little Grassbirds were calling from the reeds along with many more Australian Reed Warblers. 

Dusky Moorhens and Purple Swamphens with tiny chicks also attracted some interest. On the return walk to the cars an Australian Hobby flew overhead, and a small group of Superb Fairy-wrens foraged beside the track. 

A few Common Greenfinches were seen feeding in their regular place and a Singing Honeyeater seemed to pose for a photo just before we finished. Three Australian Pelicans flying overhead were a fitting finale to a most enjoyable excursion.

42 species were recorded for the Jawbones Reserve, with the total for the day being 56.

View bird list for the day:

Weekday outing to Wilson Botanic Park, Berwick

14 July 2021

The location was a first for the Melbourne Branch on Weekday Outing.

The forecast wasn’t promising, cold and cloudy, with showers in the afternoon. It was cold, 13°C, but fortunately, no rain and the wind was only noticed on the afternoon walk along the ‘ridge’ track.

The park area was originally a stone quarry, when it reached its end-by-date, the owner Mr Wilson, donated the land with a considerable sum of money to the City of Casey to establish a botanic park. Extensive landscaping has taken place since the 1990s by the City of Casey with two large lakes filling in the original quarry and planting is still continuing and in some places, rare Australian plants and trees eg: Woolamai Pine, making a Botanical Park.

BirdLife and BOCA have provided volunteers to conduct surveys twice a year, Autumn and Spring. Since 1991, with 87 bird species recorded, including the following highlights: Satin Bowerbird, Striated Fieldwren, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Australasian Bittern, Common Koel, White-browed Woodswallow and Channel-billed Cuckoo.

On today’s outing we managed 30 bird species, a highlight being two Tawny Frogmouth, not previously recorded on a survey day taking the total to 88 species for the park. Cold conditions today reduced bird activity but a Spotted Gum in full flower was a favourite for Rainbow Lorikeets and Little and Red Wattlebirds. Further, in the sheltered northern area of the park a flock of Silvereyes were avoiding a sparring match between several Eastern Spinebills and a couple of New-Holland Honeyeaters. A couple Common Bronzewing were feeding under the trees.

Hoping for better weather the next time the Branch visits the park.

If you wish to visit the park, during the week is a good option as it is a very busy spot on the weekends since a Coffee Cafe was installed recently a short walk from the visitors Centre overlooking the Anniversary Lake.

Graeme Hosken, Leader for the day.

Beginners Outing to Woodlands Historic Park

26 June 2021

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers

Species Count: 40

Fortunately, the Covid restrictions were relaxed just in time for the Beginners outing to Woodlands Historic Park. The Park is famous for many reasons, including ancient trees, Eastern Grey Kangaroos and, our main interest, red Robins. 

Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Thirty-five members started the morning walk, following the creek that winds between the old and much-admired River Red Gums. Red-rumped Parrots, Crimson Rosellas and Rainbow Lorikeets were amongst those taking advantage of the numerous nesting hollows the ancient trees provided. 

Superb Fairy-wrens were seen in good numbers foraging at the side of the track while both Striated and Spotted Pardalotes, together with Weebills, were much higher up in the trees. Near the homestead a Brown Falcon, which was the only raptor recorded for the morning, was spotted flying overhead.

After lunch most of the group drove down Providence Road to the Cemetery carpark on a quest for Robins. This section of Woodlands is known to be an ideal area for seeing them, for those with patience, persistence, and a good deal of luck. To everyone’s delight some were sighted in the area between the road and the dam. First, both male and female Scarlet Robins were spotted low down amongst thickets of young trees. Whilst observing them, a pair of Flame Robins appeared in the same area.

The group stayed there for some time enjoying watching and photographing them. A Grey Shrike-thrush, a Grey Fantail and a Little Eagle were seen nearby. 

Everyone then continued towards the gate to the fenced Back Paddock which was due to be open for the first time in many months. Just outside the gate a male Red-capped Robin was perched in a young tree, as if awaiting our arrival, with his brilliant red plumage shining in the sun.  A walk, longer than planned, was undertaken inside the fence, hoping for more sightings.  Sadly, very few birds were seen, though some in the middle of the group saw a male Rufous Whistler and a Yellow Thornbill.

Back at the carpark some of the group stayed on for a while longer and were well rewarded when a flock of 30+ Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos flew low overhead, shortly followed by the brief appearance of a male Rose Robin!  This was a fantastic conclusion to a wonderful day with 4 different red Robin species recorded out of a grand total of 40 for the outing!

Thanks to Eleanor Dilley and Steve Hoptroff for contributing their splendid photographs.

Beginners Outing to Lillydale Lake and Spadonis Reserve

22 May 2021
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 52 for the day
Australasian Darter (female). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Forty-four members gathered by the lake enjoying warm sunshine and little wind. A female Australasian Darter was perched drying her wings on a platform close to the boardwalk and appeared unfazed by our large group of admirers. Several other Darters were seen, including males, along with Little Black, Little Pied, and Great Cormorants, either swimming or resting on the islands.

Australasian Darter (male). Photo by Alan Veevers

A mixed flock of Purple Swamphens, Eurasian Coots and Dusky Moorhens stood on the grassy embankment close to the path giving everyone excellent views. Unfortunately, a large area of the wetland was fenced off with major works being undertaken which involved removing most of the vegetation and scraping out the ponds.

Purple Swamphen. Photo by Eleanor Dilley.

A few brave Chestnut Teal were looking most uncomfortable curled up on the newly placed rocks.

Chestnut Teal. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The members proceeded towards the Hull Road Wetlands and paused to see a female Golden Whistler and, later, a Grey Butcherbird.  A large flock of loft pigeons circling overhead caused some interest, but these were soon spooked by the arrival of a threatening Brown Goshawk. There were disappointingly few birds on these wetlands, with a pair of Coots being the only species seen on the water. Walking back down the road a pair of Australian King-Parrots provided a welcome highlight. 44 species were recorded for the morning.

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch most of the members drove to Spadonis Reserve for a second walk. A wombat grazing in a nearby paddock was an unusual sighting, but sadly it could be seen that it was suffering from mange. Walking along the track by the Yarra River, Bell Miners could be heard but dense vegetation prevented them from being seen. Not so a flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos that were feeding in wattle trees on the riverbank. Initially it was thought there were only a few birds, but as they flew away more than 20 were counted.

Golden Whistler (male). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A male Golden Whistler was much admired as the sunshine brought out the brilliant colour of his breast. At the end of the track beside a farmer’s field a mob of kangaroos stood watching the members as a pair of Australian Pelicans flew overhead. Several other birds were also seen in this area including New Holland Honeyeaters, Grey Shrike Thrush and Red-browed Finch. 26 species were recorded for Spadonis Reserve. The total number of different species for the day was 52. Some good sightings, combined with a new afternoon location and perfect weather conditions, all contributed to a most enjoyable day.

Many thanks to Eleanor Dilley for providing her photographs.