1934 – 2021
Some of you may have known Leonard (Len) Robinson who passed away on 16 December 2021. An obituary written by Peter Menkhorst and first published in Australian Field Ornithology 2022, 39, 42-44 is attached.
7 June 2022
All photographs by Steve Hoptroff
The alarm clock went off to the sound of heavy rain on the roof and that meant the weather bureau was right and birdwatching might not be the best occupation for the day. Unsurprisingly the drive from Melbourne needed your whole attention and it was probably this combination which kept attendance down to four people. Sue Brabender led us and most ably as she frequently birds The Briars and had worked there for some years.
The weather sent a large mixed flock of Australian Wood Ducks, Pacific Black Ducks and Purple Swamphens onto the grass near the car park entrance. The bird list had started early.
These species were joined by Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Noisy Miners, Eastern Rosellas, Australian Magpies and Crested Pigeons in and around the car park. The highlight here was a Buff-banded Rail in the grounds of the café. Skittish but briefly visible.
Also appreciated was a break in approaching dark clouds and accompanying rain. We set off to the Boonoorong bird hide, pausing on the way to find and admire two Tawny Frogmouths cuddled together in a tree fork.
At the hide we added Australasian Grebe, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants.
Superb Fairy-wrens were noted in the closer reed bed but there were few small birds, probably because a Swamp Harrier was quartering the area. A Grey Teal was noted at our stop at the Chechingurk hide and then we concentrated on woodland birds as we followed the Woodland Walk track.
Cute companions throughout the walk were many Black (Swamp) Wallabies and a few Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Several Grey Shrike-thrushes were noted though there was little calling. Contrast in the greyness meant mostly flying silhouettes were seen and this made the distinction between Spotted and Striated Pardalotes difficult in the absence of calls.
This also applied to a couple of thornbills foraging silently low in a medium tree so there was neither Brown nor Striated Thornbill on our final list though subsequent photo development showed Brown Thornbill was more likely. As the weather had been favourable for the whole time we decided to finish with bird call.
The final list numbered 32 species which was very pleasing in the conditions and we warmly thanked Sue for sharing with us her considerable knowledge of the area.
Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator Melbourne BirdLife weekday outings
28 May 2022
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species Count: 47
The 23 members gathered near the Visitor Centre were pleased to see a variety of birds before starting the Sanctuary walk. These included Eastern Rosella, Grey Butcherbird, Masked Lapwing, Purple Swamphen and King Parrot.
Soon after starting off along the boardwalk a Great Egret was spotted preening in a nearby dead tree, thus providing a good opportunity for photographers. From the first hide a pair of Black Swans and a Yellow-billed Spoonbill were found on the water.
Continuing along the boardwalk a number of bushbirds showed themselves, including Superb Fairy-wrens, Silvereyes, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and two Golden Whistlers. From the large hide there were great views of another Yellow-billed Spoonbill as it foraged for food close to the window. A White-faced Heron flew in, landing nearby, and a pair of Pacific Black Ducks swam nonchalantly across the field of view.
On leaving the hide some of the first group were fortunate to see a male Mistletoebird fly overhead, while those who lingered in the hide saw a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels fly in. Continuing along the boardwalk a Swamp Wallaby was seen feeding beside the track whilst more Superb Fairy-wrens busied themselves finding food. A White-eared Honeyeater showed itself as it foraged in the outer foliage of a flowering eucalyptus tree.
A flock of Little Corellas was seen, and heard, flying past the lookout overlooking the wetlands. As we walked along the high part of the track, Noisy Miners and Rainbow Lorikeets were the dominant species, though a pair of Long-billed Corellas and some Galahs were seen in a distant tree. A pair of Australian Pelicans flying gracefully in formation overhead were a delight to see. On the descent towards the creek New Holland Honeyeaters, Grey Fantails and Dusky Moorhens were sighted.
At lunch, back in the picnic area, the sun appeared and highlighted the colourful plumage of the many Crested Pigeons that foraged underfoot. Most of the members stayed for the afternoon walk up the hill towards the old homestead. Species seen here included Australian Wood Ducks, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Spotted Doves and lots more Crested Pigeons. The heritage chickens and pigs were admired along with the vast plantings of heritage fruit and vegetable species. A distant raptor created a lot of interest and, after examining photographs, it was positively identified as a Brown Goshawk.
On returning to the carpark a few members decided to revisit the first section of the wetlands walk and, following a tip-off from a Ranger, found 3 Tawny Frogmouths high up in a tree near the first hide.
A total of 47 species were recorded for the day which was deemed to be excellent for the time of year.
Thanks once again to Eleanor Dilley who provided all but two of the above photos and also for those used to verify the Brown Goshawk sighting.
11 May 2022
All photographs by Bevan Hood
A dry day and a suburban location combined to attract 17 birdwatchers to the small car park. Someone had clearly been feeding the pigeons as there was a flock of at least 100 Rock Doves/Feral Pigeons beside the car park. They were accompanied by several Dusky Moorhens, including a couple of immatures without any marked colour.
Australian White Ibis passed overhead on their way to the islet in the creek and Silver Gulls perched on the top of the weir.
A quartet of Black Swans paddled about and at intervals one would sit on a nest. Swans believe in recycling as it was clear that much human-derived litter was incorporated in the nest.
Adding to our bird lists were smaller numbers of Common Mynas, Australian Wood Ducks, Chestnut Teal pairs and Little Ravens.
We noted occasional Australian Magpies and Magpie-larks as we set off under the guidance of Elsmaree Baxter, our leader, and kept alert for blossoming eucalypts. The lerps, nectar and blossoms certainly attracted the lorikeets and we recorded both Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets in considerable numbers. Today honeyeaters were limited to Red Wattlebirds and Noisy Miners, both aggressive and fairly large species.
The high point for many people occurred when the call “Tawny Frogmouth” went up. Yes, a sharp-sighted member had found it roosting against a eucalypt trunk. Pied Currawong was first heard and then seen by most while only a few of us heard a brief kookaburra call. Additional water birds were added later in the walk and their recognition was explained to newcomers to birding. Little Black Cormorants flew past and a brief overhead passage of a female Australasian Darter gave a good ID session. Australasian Grebes were finally sighted after a frustrating wait for the pair to surface after repeated dives. A Little Pied Cormorant flew past and then one was seen flying into a lakeside tree. Closer watching revealed an occupied nest, surprisingly difficult to see. Near the bank a couple of White-faced Herons stood watchfully while the only Eurasian Coot of the day occurred late in the walk.
Also late in the walk, Crested Pigeons joined the many Rock Doves and few Spotted Doves on our list. And at the far point of the walk came a second highlight – a Nankeen Night-Heron was perched beside the track. Not a full view but recognizable. No raptors were recorded but they would have been unexpected in heavily built-up suburbia.
At the finish we recorded 33 species and thanked Elsmaree for all her preparation which resulted in finding so many birds in suburbia.
Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekday outings
23 April 2022
Leader: Robert Grosvenor
Number of species: 40
Thirty one birders arrived at Lysterfield Park for the Beginners’ outing on a sunny, calm day, perfect for birding. While in the carpark, we were assailed by numerous Rainbow Lorikeets and Little Ravens, and then the familiar call of Gang Gangs announced their presence. This was followed by fleeting views of Crimson and Eastern Rosellas.
At the start of the walk around the lake it was very quiet with nothing flying or calling apart from a lone Red Wattlebird. Fortunately things improved further along the track and while stopped to see an Eastern Rosella, we added Superb Fairy Wrens, a small flock of Red-browed Finches, a Brown Thornbill and a lovely Eastern Spinebill which came in very close giving good views. Just a short distance ahead we luckily found a pair of well camouflaged Tawny Frogmouths, one of which was in the classical Tawny pose.
A diversion off the established track led us to a jetty on the lake where we saw Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants. Both male and female Musk Ducks were also seen here together with a flotilla of Eurasian Coots.
The lack of flowering trees and shrubs contributed to the dearth of Honeyeaters but we managed to obtain good looks at a White-eared Honeyeater. Another diversion down to the water’s edge added Silver Gulls and very good views of a Spotted Pardalote.
This was followed by one of the highlights of the walk – seeing a Brush Bronzewing drinking from a puddle in the middle of the track. With the sun behind them it gave all the photographers an excellent shot. Despite the bush looking in fine condition birds were still scarce and apart from a couple of Eastern Spinebills and a Grey Fantail there was little to see.
Reaching the dam wall we saw Welcome Swallows over the water, more Musk Ducks and Cormorants, Masked Lapwings, Magpie Larks, Wood Ducks on the grassland and a Common Bronzewing.
This was followed by another highlight when a Little Eagle was spotted being harassed by two Magpies. This pale morph Little Eagle provided us all with excellent views sit circled overhead, continuously chased by the Magpies. Walking along the lake’s edge saw us pick up a pair of Pacific Black Ducks, Purple Swamphens, more Cormorants and Silver Gulls.
After lunch, a short walk along Logans Track resulted in a Crested Pigeon and at least three Eastern Yellow Robins being added to the list. Returning to the carpark we found another pair of Tawny Frogmouths in a tree very close to where we had lunch.
A total of forty species for the day was a fair result considering the time of year and because it was such a lovely day there were large numbers of bike riders and walkers all along the track, ensuring the birds were staying further into the bush, making birding that much more difficult.
Photographs by Steve Hoptroff
We met at Haversham Avenue near Cronia Court on a cool, fine and mainly cloudy day. Grey Butcher bird and Magpie were calling and a pair of White-faced Herons were sitting on a nearby house.
Dandenong Valley Wetland was opened in July 2010 by Melbourne Water, it is 48 hectares in size and divided into 4 large cells which can be individually filled and emptied. Water is diverted from nearby Dandenong Creek and stored in the cells for 3 days and then released back into the creek. Birdlife Melbourne has been doing monthly surveys here for Melbourne Water since 2010 and recorded over 130 species within the first 2 years.
We entered the wetland via the bridge over Dandenong Creek and saw Grey Fantail, Spotted Pardalote, Red-browed Finch, Superb Fairy-wren, Brown Thornbill, Golden Whistler, Red Wattle Bird New Holland Honeyeater Gold Finch and Noisy Miner.
As we approached the outlet of Cell 3 we were entertained by a White-faced Heron which had just caught a small fish, it dropped it on the ground and picked it up again many times before finally deciding to swallow it.
Looking into Cell 3 we saw Black Duck, Musk Duck, Dusky Moorhen and Australasian Grebe, White Ibis and Welcome Swallows flew overhead.
On our way to the outlet of Cell 2 we saw a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike while a huge flock of Little Corellas flew over, in the cell we found a Little Pied and Little Black Cormorant.
At the outlet of Cell 1 we saw a lone Australasian Darter and heard Pied Currawongs calling from the creek.
We then headed east, towards the inlet end of the cells via a track between Cell 1 and Cell 2, didn’t see much along here until near the end where there was plenty of water around, we then came across Reed Warbler, Eurasian Coot, Purple Swamphen and Black Swan.
Heading south along the top of the Cells, we had the distribution channel on our left and the top of the Cells on our right. A White-browed Scrubwren was seen beside the track, we were now coming under the power lines and decided to look for raptors, soon a White-bellied Sea-Eagle was spotted, soaring high above, then a pair of Nankeen Kestrels on a pylon and a Dusky Woodswallow on the power lines.
Further along the track we checked out a clear section of the distribution channel and found a Spotless Crake foraging along the muddy edge.
The inlet to Cell 4 had a small amount of water in it with a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels resting on the edge while a Royal Spoonbill was busy swishing its bill in the water.
We now started the long walk west to the outlet of Cell 4, no birds were seen until we reached a small pond at the outlet. There were 11 Black-fronted Dotterels and 10 Chestnut Teal here and we heard the calls of many Bell Miners coming from the Creek. As we headed back towards the bridge we heard Grey Shrike Thrush calls several times and when crossing the bridge saw a small flock of Silvereyes foraging in the blackberries and a Yellow-faced Honeyeater resting in a dead Wattle Tree.
It took just under 3 hours to do this walk and we recorded 48 species
Geoff Russell, Leader
Thirty members assembled at the Southern Carpark in perfect weather conditions: sunny, light winds and not too hot. Soon after commencing the walk towards the wetlands, a very well camouflaged Tawny Frogmouth was spotted in one of the gum trees. It gave everyone a good view and posed for many photographs before we moved on.
On the first pond a pair of Pink-eared Ducks was seen carefully shepherding their eight newly-hatched ducklings from one safe place to another. On the shore were a pair of Masked Plovers which dwarfed a nearby Black-fronted Dotterel, as did three Royal Spoonbills which were feeding in the background. The Dotterel was the first of many to be seen during the morning walk.
Continuing clockwise around the ponds some Australian White Ibis and many more waterbirds were seen. These included several more of the common Duck species, Australian Pelicans, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants and Australasian Darters.
At the far end of the wetlands a Black-shouldered Kite perched on top of a dead tree, leaving it several times for short hunting trips before returning to the roost. On one such occasion it became involved in a fracas with a much larger Brown Goshawk, effectively chasing it away.
Several bushbirds were also seen in this area, as well as on the return track, including Grey Butcherbird, European Goldfinch, Superb Fairy-wren and Grey Fantail.
After lunch most of the members drove to the northern end of Braeside and parked in the Pelican Carpark. A brief visit to the Visitor Centre was made so that the group could see more of the park’s raptors, albeit stuffed, before setting off on the Heathland Trail. A female Common Bronzewing feeding on the path did not seem threatened by our presence and walked across into the sunshine so that her wonderful feathers shone brightly. On reaching the ponds a few more Ducks were seen, along with Purple Swamphens and Long-necked Turtles. An Echidna was rescued from some children who were poking it with a stick, and then more small bushbirds were spotted. Another new species for the afternoon was a Pied Currawong which was heard calling in the distance.
The beautiful weather and abundant birdlife made this a most enjoyable excursion with 56 species recorded on the day.
Thanks to Eleanor Dilley, Steve Hoptroff and Bevan Hood for providing the photographs.
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.
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.
Initially we headed to the nearest pond where Australian Wood Duck outnumbered the Pacific Black Ducks.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Two ladies bathing in the river further along seemed unaware of a Tiger Snake swimming beside them!
An Eastern Yellow Robin, a pair of White-eared Honeyeaters, several Spotted Pardalotes and an immature Golden Whistler were observed beside the track.
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.
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.