Tag Archives: Birds

Beginners Outing to Yan Yean Reservoir Park

24 February 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 51
Black-fronted Dotterel AV
Black-fronted Dotterel. Photograph by Alan Veevers

A large flock of Long-billed Corellas foraged in a paddock by the entrance gate, as if greeting the 22 members who arrived at Yan Yean Reservoir on a windy, hot and humid morning. Those arriving early were taken to look over the reservoir from the dam wall near the entrance.

Long-billed Corella AV
Long-billed Corella. Photograph by Alan Veevers

A few Great Crested Grebes and several Musk Ducks could be seen amongst the plentiful Eurasian Coots in the choppy water.

Great Crested Grebe AV
Great Crested Grebe. Photograph by Alan Veevers

When all were assembled, the group drove to the car park at the far end of the wetlands from where the main walk of the day was to begin. Noisy Miners were dominant and only a few small bush-birds were seen. There were a lot of waterbirds in the wetland, mainly Dusky Moorhens and Chestnut Teals.

Latham's Snipe - Graeme Dean
Latham’s Snipe. Photograph by Graeme Dean

There was great excitement when a Latham’s Snipe was sighted on the opposite bank, though it soon walked off to hide in the undergrowth.

Red-rumped Parrot (m) AV
Red-rumped Parrot, male. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Very good views were had of Red-rumped Parrots on the ground and resting in small trees near the water’s edge.

Red-rumped Parrot - Graeme Dean
Red-rumped Parrot. Photograph by Graeme Dean

The walk continued across the track into the fenced area containing three large ponds. Several Australasian Grebes and more Ducks, including Hardheads, were spotted.

Australasian Grebe AV
Australasian Grebe. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Good views were had of a Black-fronted Dotterel feeding at the water’s edge and soon afterwards, to the delight of all, a Common Sandpiper was sighted, also feeding in the mud. Both of these birds stayed around long enough for everyone to have a good look.

Common Sandpiper AV
Common Sandpiper. Photograph by Alan Veevers

A Purple Swamphen with two very small chicks provided a lot of amusement as the little ones dashed along trying to keep up with mum.

Purple Swamphen and chick - Graeme Dean
Purple Swamphen and chick. Photograph by Graeme Dean

Just as the group was leaving the area two Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flew slowly by. On returning to the main wetlands several raptors could be seen soaring above the reservoir. They were identified as three Wedge-tailed Eagles (perhaps a breeding pair with a juvenile) and two Whistling Kites.

Common Bronzewing AV
Common Bronzewing. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Walking around the back of the wetland, where it was more sheltered, several Common Bronzewings were feeding on the ground. Nearby, a few lucky participants had a brief sighting of a Spotless Crake trudging through mud at the edge of a small island. The group then drove up to the top of the hill and walked to the Corsican Pine near the Caretaker’s Cottage and were rewarded with the sight of several Nankeen Night Herons roosting in the canopy.

Juvenile Nankeen Night Heron AV
Juvenile Nankeen Night Heron. Photograph by Alan Veevers
Nankeen Night Heron AV
Nankeen Night Heron. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Lunch was eaten in the rotunda and then a brief walk was taken down to the fence alongside the reservoir. A White-bellied Sea-Eagle’s nest was pointed out by a local member but the bird was not seen in the short time available. On the water were large numbers of Blue-billed Ducks and Hardheads as well as two Little Pied Cormorants perched on an overhanging dead branch.

Blue-billed Duck AV
Blue-billed Duck, male. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Rain had been forecast and storm clouds were threatening so it was agreed to have an early finish to this very rewarding outing. The bird call revealed a total of 51 species for the day.

View the bird list for the day: BM Feb 2018 Bird List Yan Yean Reservoir Park


Weekdays outing to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

12 February 2018
Photographs by Bevan Hood, member (unless otherwise indicated)
australian wood ducks male and female - bevan hood
Australian Wood Duck

The weather was kind to birdwatchers with a cloudy morning, mild temperature and little breeze. We were a group of eleven – members and visitors – with David Plant leading. Bell Miners dominated the area near the H gate entrance and a team of tree surgeons was noisily working there as well. We walked from the disturbance and surveyed the azolla-covered water. It looked stable enough to walk on, very misleading, and areas of bank were taped off to deter youngsters from falling in. Waterfowl paddled and upended among the floating fern, Pacific Black Duck and Chestnut Teal, Eurasian Coot, Dusky Moorhen and Purple (now Australian) Swamphen. Silver Gulls and Australian Wood Duck walked on the lawns, not far from Australian Magpies and Magpie-larks.

magpie-lark male - bevan hood

Occasionally Red Wattlebirds flew past and a couple of Eastern Spinebills were sighted along with one Little Wattlebird. With the Bell Miners these were the only honeyeaters detected. The only parrot species observed was a few Rainbow Lorikeets high in eucalypts. Flyovers of Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants and a solitary White-faced Heron added to the waterfowl list.

white-faced heron - bevan hood
White-faced Heron

No raptors were seen today and they seem to be no longer in the gardens after a presence of many years. The ͞big black birds͟ category contained Little Ravens and Pied Currawongs, flying and foraging. Down in the fern gully we were pleased to present David with sightings of White-browed Scrubwrens, a species which is becoming increasingly uncommon in the gardens, possibly from competition from miners plus modifications of the vegetation.

pied currawong - bevan hood
Pied Currawong

As all gardeners know, a garden is never a static place and change is continuous, especially now with climate change. David explained how the gardens were managing their water and power. Little tap water is used, for drinking and toilet flushing (a legal requirement) mostly. Street runoff is collected, litter trapped and the water then purified by plants, many in ͞garden beds that move͟.

floating islands in azolla - tweeddale
Floating island in azolla. Photograph by Diane Tweeddale

It was fascinating to watch the slow dance of the floating gardens, among the lake azolla or high in Guilfoyle’s volcano. Power is another aspect where savings are being made with 35% being generated by solar panels. The aim is to attain self-sufficiency in water and power.

purple (australian) swamphen foraging in azolla - bevan hood
Purple (Australian) Swamphen foraging in azolla

Lunch was taken near the tea room and was only slightly marred by the numerous Common Mynas (they are the most common bird in the gardens) pecking at uncleared lunch remains on the tables. The day was warming so we had a bird call at the tables and then headed back to our starting point, pausing to mourn the corpse of the much-vandalised Separation Tree. Mindless destruction seems much easier than caring for nature or manmade beauty. Before the old tree finally died seeds were collected and it was reassuring to admire the growth of the resulting offspring.

Soon we thanked David enthusiastically for sharing his garden with us and then went our ways, pleased that our list of 34 species did not continue an observed slide but was slightly above the previous year.
Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Beginners Outing to Newport Lakes and Jawbone Reserve

27 January 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 60
Chestnut Teal - Roger Needham
Chestnut Teal. Photo by Roger Needham

Despite the forecast for a hot and humid day, 37 members attended the January Beginners excursion. Many small birds were seen in the car park area, including surprisingly high numbers of Superb Fairy-wrens and Willie Wagtails. Soon after the walk started, a Royal Spoonbill was spotted circling high overhead. Whilst watching it, a Brown Goshawk appeared on the scene apparently inspecting the larger bird.

Dollarbird - Roger Needham
Dollarbird. Photo by Roger Needham

There was great excitement when a Dollarbird (seen two weeks earlier on the recce.) was spotted perched on the top of a tall dead tree-trunk rising from the water. It stayed in place for many minutes, enabling everyone to have a really good look.

Dollarbird - Eleanor Dilley
Dollarbird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A Little Black Cormorant and several Little Pied Cormorants were resting lower down in the same group of dead trees. One Little Pied Cormorant went fishing and caught and ate a decent sized one!

Little Pied Cormorant eating fish Newport Lakes 2018 01 27 800x500 M Serong

Little Pied Cormorant eating fish Newport Lakes - M Serong
Little Pied Cormorant feeding. Photos by Merrilyn Serong
0065 little pied cormorant eating fish newport lakes 2018 01 27 800x500 m serong
Little Pied Cormorant eating fish. Photo by Merrilyn Serong.

Continuing down-hill to the water level track enabled good views to be had of Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes, as well as young Eurasian Coots begging for food from their parents.

Hoary-headed Grebes Newport Lakes - M Serong
Hoary-headed Grebes. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

There were very few ducks on the lake which may be attributed to the presence of some large carp which are known to nibble on the feet of ducks.

Young Eurasian Coot - Eleanor Dilley
Young Eurasian Coot. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A welcome lunch was enjoyed in a convenient shaded picnic shelter near the car park. A bird call tallied 34 species for the morning at the lakes.

About 20 members stayed on to drive down Maddox Road to the shore for the afternoon session. The tide was rather high and no small waders were initially seen. However, several Common Greenshanks were observed as they foraged at the edge of the shore. A large group of Black Swans and Australian Pelicans were disturbed into flight by a very low-flying microlight aircraft.

Blue-billed Duck male Jawbone Res - M Serong
Blue-billed Duck. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Nothing much was seen from the track across the salt marsh but walking around the first lake in Jawbone Reserve revealed a remarkable number of species. Included were Great-crested Grebe, Blue-billed Duck, Hardhead, Australasian Shoveler and Musk Duck.

Great Crested Grebe Jawbone Res - M Serong
Great-crested Grebe. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Several Royal Spoonbills on a small island still had their breeding head plumes on display.

Royal Spoonbill - Eleanor Dilley
Royal Spoonbill. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

They were accompanied by both Chestnut and Grey Teal, mostly resting with their heads tucked under a wing.

Further into the reserve, many different birds were seen resting at the edge of an island in one of the lakes.

Black-winged Stilt - Roger Needham
Black-winged Stilt. Photo by Roger Needham

These included Black-winged Stilts, Pink-eared Ducks and several Pied Cormorants along with their smaller relatives.

Pied Cormorant - Eleanor Dilley
Pied Cormorant. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Whilst watching the roosting birds, a White-faced Heron flew gracefully overhead as if to remind us it was time to turn for home.

Returning towards Maddox Road a flock of Yellow-rumped Thornbills were seen in low bushes. Surprisingly these were the only thornbills seen on the excursion.

White-faced Heron Jawbone Res - M Serong
White-faced Heron. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Back at the shore the tide had receded, leaving more mud banks available for the waders. Pied and Sooty Oystercatchers were on the distant sand-banks, and a small flock of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers with a lone Red-kneed Dotterel were in the drainage channel.

Little Pied Cormorant - Eleanor Dilley
Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

46 species were recorded for the afternoon, with a combined total of 60 for the day. Although it had been hot and humid, everyone felt they had enjoyed some excellent sightings, with ‘Bird of the Day’ clearly awarded to the Dollarbird.

View full bird listing: BM Jan 2018 Bird List Newport Lakes and Jawbone Reserve

Weekdays outing to Bolin Bolin, Bulleen

4 December 2017
Leader: Elsmaree Baxter

The previous weekend’s deluge did not deter 23 people from assembling. An erroneous cancellation notice in the website may have worried others but we do NOT cancel except when a fire ban is declared in the area of the walk. It takes more than rain to stop birders.

Tawny Frogmouth - Marilyn Ellis
Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

The weather was reasonably fine with only some light drizzle and our stand-in leader, Elsmaree Baxter, had already checked that walking was feasible for a good distance along the main river trail, (and was prepared to access detours if any of the weekend flooding remained near the billabong). Birds were soon recorded and it was reassuring that the preceding weather had not diminished their activity. The car park area had flyovers of Silver Gull and both Australian White and Straw-necked Ibis. Bird numbers rose as the party reached the bush beside the water. Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Shining Bronze-Cuckoo were both heard as were Common Bronzewing and Spotted Pardalote. Water’s edge yielded White-faced Heron, Australasian Darter and both Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants. Two families of Tawny Frogmouths were spotted by sharp eyed members of the group.

Scarlet Honeyeater male - Tina Wong
Scarlet Honeyeater, male. Photo by Tina Wong (Toorourrong Reservoir on 8 November 2017)

Delight was universal when a group of Scarlet Honeyeaters was seen high in a tree beside the path. “Lifers” for some and still greatly appreciated by the rest. Fortunately the flooding near the billabong had cleared, but damp ground and flattened grass showed where the river had flowed across the path to fill the billabong. Pacific Black and Australian Wood Ducks were there, as were Grey and Chestnut Teal, undoubtedly avoiding the (still) turbulently flowing waters of the river.


By walk’s end there was a list of 50 species. See the bird list here: BirdLife Melbourne Outing Bolin Bolin 17

Unfortunately a low point was the observation of an Indian Ringneck in the company of some Galahs. It was possibly an aviary escape but they are a declared noxious pest, becoming very successful invasive hollow nesters wherever they have become established. They have displaced native birds in the UK and Turkey, among other places.

All agreed that the area had provided excellent birding and thanked Elsmaree for proceeding with the outing.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Education activities November 2017

Photographs by Sue Wilson, Hawthorn U3A

On Saturday 11 November, Geoff Russell lead a Bird Walk through the Yarran Dheran Reserve in Mitcham. The activity was limited to 25 participants and 30 species were seen. The most interesting sighting was Olive-backed Orioles.

Graeme Hosken addressed the Australian Plants Society – Wilson Park Berwick Group on “Catching up with the illegals” (Bird migration between Australia and the Northern hemisphere) on Tuesday 14 November. The audience was fascinated by the movement of these birds.

201711 picture 1The U3A Hawthorn 2017 Birdwalks finished the programme at Wilson Reserve, Ivanhoe, on November 17. It was a rather warm, muggy morning but they succeeded in doing the circuit before the thunder rolled and the rain started. 14 people attended and 24 species were recorded. The best birds were Nankeen Night-heron, Common Bronzewing, and a glimpse of an Azure Kingfisher by a lucky few people. A tiger snake was also close to the billabong so they needed to remember to look at their feet as well as the heavens!

201711 picture 2The final planned activity for the year was on Tuesday 28 November at the Mooroolbark Library. Janet Hand’s Powerpoint was about “Attracting birds to your Garden naturally”. This was a community event where 30 plus people booked at attend, thus a very interested group with plenty of questions. Problems/questions about Pied Currawongs killing the smaller birds and bats in Upwey and Eastern Koels calling at two different locations. ‘How do you discourage Noisy Miners?’ seems to be a common question everywhere.

I wish to thank the 25 people who have assisted me this year with our 43 activities. Without your help we could not have made so many people in the community aware of our lovely birds and their needs.

Season’s Greetings to all.

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

Beginners Outing to the You Yangs

25 November 2017
Leaders: Roger and Inta Needham
Photographs by Alan Veevers

Twenty-eight members met near the Rangers’ Office in hot and dry conditions hoping to see some of the less common birds which have historically visited the You Yangs for the summer months. Sadly this was not to be the case and very few birds were seen for most of the day.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Near the car park Galahs and Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes were spotted and Superb Fairy-wrens were seen foraging by the path. A circuit walk was taken on which Common Bronzewing, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Laughing Kookaburra and Brown Falcon were clearly seen. Large numbers of Common Brown butterflies fluttering in the treetops increased the challenge of spotting bird movement.

Laughing Kookaburra

Flying majestically overhead were four Australian Pelicans and a small flock of Woodswallows which were identified as White-browed by the reddish-brown colour of their breasts. A vociferous group of White-winged Choughs foraged near the murky Duck Pond, providing some enjoyment when there were few other species to see.

White-winged Coughs

After lunch most of the members car-pooled to drive to the Eastern Flats which, although dry, had healthier looking vegetation. There were rather more birds to be seen here, including Red-browed Finch, Grey Shrike-thrush and a pair of Willie Wagtails. Over the fence a Nankeen Kestrel was seen in the far distance while a small flock of Tree Martins circled above the nearby eucalypts. A colourful Jewel Spider provided an interesting sight, capturing the imagination of some of the group.

Jewel Spider

Roger and Inta Needham kindly led this walk as we had only returned from overseas the previous day. They were warmly thanked by everyone for their efforts. A total of 39 species was recorded for the day, but not many of these were seen by the majority of the participants. It was thought that the very dry conditions combined with the lack of clean fresh water contributed to the low bird count.

Alan and Hazel Veevers

See the complete bird list: BM Nov 2017 Bird List You Yangs

Education activities October 2017

Pat Bingham gave a talk to the East Burwood Probus on 2 October entitled ‘Birding with BirdLife’ – so it was both a bit of history of the formation of the organization and what it does, including advertisement of Bird Week activities. 80 people attended on the day.

On Friday 6 October, Sally Heeps spoke to the Greensborough Salvation Army Triple L Club (Laughter, Lunch and Leisure). Approximately 25 people attended on this day. Her PowerPoint presentation was about the birds of the area with special reference to the Doreen wetlands.

On Saturday 7 October, the Whitlesea Council planned a walk through the Quarry Hills Park, South Morang covering both the Hunters road and Granite Hills sections. This same walk was planned last year but cancelled because of the dangerous windy conditions. This year it was cancelled because of lack of numbers. I thank Sally Heeps for volunteering both years to lead the walks.

A Kinglake West Birdwalk was held on Sunday 8 October. This was the seventh annual birdwalk since the 2009 bushfires which burnt much of this property. Strong winds made it very difficult to hear or see birds this year. I thank Graeme Hosken and Peter Dynes for leading the bird walk this year. Eastern Whipbird was added to the list this year. The total species seen on the property on survey days is now 66.

Janet Hand made a trip to Kilmore to set up an information stall on Saturday 14 October, at the APS Mitchell Plant Expo and Plant sale. The weather was kind and over 200 people attended. Country people certainly are very interested in their gardens and the birds that live in them. It made for some very interesting discussions.

Picture 1

On Sunday 15 October, Graeme Hosken led a Spring Bird Walk at Wilson Botanic Park in Berwick. This was a Breakfast with the Birds event starting at 8am. Although the attendance number was low Graeme tells me the supplied breakfast was lovely. The group saw 24 species and added a Yellow-faced Honeyeater to the Park’s list.

About 40 ladies attended a PowerPoint presentation on Monday 16 October, for the Templestowe Ladies Probus Club. Janet Hand gave this presentation about the ‘Birds found in Manningham.’

Picture 3

On Friday 20 October, Pat Bingham had the U3A Deepdene walk at Jells Park; 20 people, 40 species and a good time was had by all as the Freckled Ducks (two females) sailed past; a pair of Sacred Kingfishers called and were seen briefly; the breeding White Ibis, Cormorants (Great and Little Black) and Reed-Warblers were cacophonous. Attached photos, by Sue Wilson, are fun, especially the Wood Duck with attitude – ‘What a big breast I’ve got!’.

Picture 2

The next day, October 21, Ian Moodie and Pat Bingham led the Spring Bird Survey at Blackburn Lake Creeklands. They had about 25 people and 21 species. Lots of breeding – including Chestnut Teal with ducklings, Magpie-larks building a mud nest, Grey Butcherbird, Kookaburras and White-browed Scrubwrens feeding young, and three Tawny Frogmouths on nests but no sign of young on these nests yet.

Our 19th Annual Breakfast with the Birds at Banyule was held on Sunday 22 October, 2017. With 116 people enrolled we were ready with our leaders at 7.30am. As light showers passed Janet Hand sent off groups of eight with each leader. Towards the end it was obvious that many of those who had booked failed to attend. I thank my leaders on the morning – Susan Bailey, Pat Bingham, Emma Bond, Alan Crawford, Peter Dynes, Lyn Easton, Anthea Fleming, Robert Grovenor, Sally Heeps, Meg Houghton, Owen Lishmund, Richard Loyn, Ian Muir, Geoff Russell, Scot Sharman. Thanks also to Daphne Hards, Bill Ramsay and Sam (Banyule Council employee) for their assistance with the telescopes at the wetlands. Special thanks to Jim Mead, his assistants and the Banyule City Council for a beautiful sit down breakfast. 73 species were seen in Banyule and 37 in the Warringal area. Three Warringal species were not seen in Banyule so we had a grand total of 76 species for the morning. A dozen species were observed breeding in Banyule and two in Warringal. Eastern Whipbird was added to the Banyule list this year. Our list now totals 123 species for this one day in October. Well done everyone.

Picture 4.png

My thanks to the many people who have helped with these activities.

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

Beginners Outing to Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

28 October 2017
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 66


Spotted Pardalote (F), Cranbourne
Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Scarlet Honeyeaters calling from the trees in Stringybark Carpark set the scene for a remarkable day for the Beginners at Cranbourne Botanical Gardens. There were numerous sightings of these beautiful little birds throughout the day and everyone became familiar with their melodious call.

Scarlet Honeyeater (M), Cranbourne
Scarlet Honeyeater (m). Photo by Eleanor Dilley


Cuckoos were also in good voice. A close encounter with a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo provided much interest whilst more distant views of Pallid and Fan-tailed Cuckoos were enjoyed.

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, Cranbourne
Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

An Olive–backed Oriole continually repeated its distinctive call as it allowed the group to walk directly underneath its perch.

Olive-backed Oriole, Cranbourne
Olive-backed Oriole. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Wylie Wetlands were full to overflowing and there were plentiful views of different waterbirds, including six duck species. Three Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flying from a nearby tree gave a graceful flying display.

Swamp Wallaby, Cranbourne
Swamp Wallaby. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Several small Swamp Wallabies were seen throughout the walk while back near the carpark a Southern Brown Bandicoot and an Echidna were seen foraging for food.

Grey Shrike-thrush Cranbourne
Grey Shrike-thrush. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Lunch was taken in the Stringybark Picnic Area where we were joined by a very tame Grey Shrike-thrush and yet more Scarlet Honeyeaters.

The afternoon walk was in the Australian Gardens which were looking splendid with lots of colourful Spring-flowering plants.

Scarlet Honeyeater (m). Photo by Alan Veevers


A Spotted Pardalote was keenly watched as it gathered nesting material and then entered its hole in a nearby embankment, only to return moments later for another load.

Spotted Pardalote (F) in nesting hole, Cranbourne
Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Excitement peaked when a male White-winged Triller flew overhead and perched in a distant tree well-within binocular range.

White-winged Triller, Cranbourne
White-winged Triller. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Several honeyeater species were seen in a wetland just outside the fence enclosing the formal garden. A Dusky Woodswallow sitting on a nest in a bush alongside the path seemed unconcerned as several members took advantage of a good photographic opportunity.

Dusky Woodswallow on nest, Cranbourne
Dusky Woodswallow. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

There were very few ducks on the garden ponds, but a Black-fronted Dotterel and Australasian Grebes were of interest. Light rain began to fall as the Eucalypt Walk was reached, bringing the excursion to a slightly damp close. It was certainly an exceptionally good outing, with Scarlet Honeyeaters and White-winged Trillers being outstanding sightings. A total of 66 species was recorded for the day.

See the full bird list for the day: BM Oct 2017 Bird List Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

Education report: September 2017

September and October are traditionally the busiest months for education activities and this year is no exception. We started with three different activities on Friday, 8 September.

Firstly, on 8 September Pat Bingham led members of the Deepdene U3A on a birdwalk through Banyule Flats. 11 people attended and 32 species were seen and a good time had by all. Lyn Easton (who happened to be doing her regular morning walk in the area) showed them a Tawny Frogmouth on a nest.  At the swamp they saw Hardheads, Chestnut Teal and Australasian Grebes. Several pairs of Red-rumped Parrots disputed over nest hollows in the old trees in the swamp.  Along the Main Yarra Trail they saw a Fan-tailed Cuckoo and had a pair of Gang-gang Cockatoos fly over.

Also on Friday, 8 September Janet Hand addressed the Hawthorn Glen Combined Probus Club in Camberwell. About 60 members were present to hear about the birds found in the area. Many expressed their surprise at the large number of species around.

That afternoon Janet Hand, Bill Ramsay and Ron Hand set up our display and information stall at the Eltham Plant Expo at the Eltham Community Centre.

The Expo ran on Saturday and Sunday 9-10 September and was run by the APS Yarra Yarra branch of the Australian Plant Society. Many other ‘plant related’ organisations were present as well as many plant sales and displays. Over 700 people attended over the weekend. This number did not include the organisers and helpers at the different displays. Janet Hand was assisted over the weekend by Elizabeth Ainsworth, Daphne Hards, Susan Bailey, Sally Heeps and Anthea Fleming.


The monthly Hawthorn U3A Birdwalk on 15 September was at Wattle Park. 14 people attended on this warm morning with lovely wattles and a big patch of Nodding Greenhood orchids but rather few birds (11 species).  They saw a Tawny Frogmouth on a nest and found another pair, surviving, but their nest had been destroyed and broken egg-shells were on the ground beneath the nest site.  Once again Pat Bingham led this walk.

Also on 15 September Graeme Hosken led a group of 12 people on a bird walk to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Fairy Dell. This area was part of the old Healesville Freeway reserved land behind the Wantirna shops. Much of the land was sold for development but this section was saved.

On Monday 25 September Susan Bailey addressed the members of the Darebin U3A.  She spoke about the birds found in that area of Melbourne. With over 50 people attending it was the second largest crowd at a function this year. The topic obviously created a lot of interest and discussion.

‘Attracting birds to your garden naturally’ was the subject of Janet Hand’s Powerpoint to the ladies of the Yarra Valley VIEW Club at Chirnside Park on Tuesday 26 September. Fifty ladies were present for this luncheon and presentation.

On Thursday 28 September Janet Hand made her annual visit to the ladies at the Mercy Hostel in Boronia. This hostel is a member of BirdLife Australia and they are blessed with a range of birds visiting their gardens. The topic changes each year but it was back to the basics of talking about local birds again this year.

My thanks to all those who have assisted this month.

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

Weekdays outing to Banyule Flats

2 October 2017

All photographs by Bevan Hood, BirdLife Melbourne member

Spotted Dove - Bevan Hood
Spotted Dove

A crowd of 23 assembled in the car park under grey skies. There may have been clouds but there was no wind, even hot air balloons were being safely launched. Lyn Easton led our walk and explained the white foam on the sports ground to the early arrivals. It was fertilizer which became absorbed over the next hour. Car park birds included Red Wattlebirds, Rainbow Lorikeets, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Australian Magpies but the best sightings here were the pair of Tawny Frogmouths on and near their nest.

Tawny Frogmouth - Bevan Hood
Tawny Frogmouth

By the morning’s end it was a bit “Another frogmouth! How many does that make?” Lyn knew her birds and we ticked nine frogmouth sightings with five active nests. Quite a haul, but the detection of this cryptic species remained challenging. The calls of Fan-tailed Cuckoo initially caused discussion but a solitary sighting helped the unsure watchers and from then on the many calls were readily identified. Horsefield’s and Shining Bronze-Cuckoos were less cooperative and did not show themselves despite much looking in the direction of the calls. Bush birds were listed first and Yellow and Brown Thornbills joined White-browed Scrubwren and Superb Fairy-wren. Red-browed Finches took longer for all to see but were worth the wait. Flocks of Silvereyes moved through the area, flying high and foraging actively. Moving along the river bank we were delighted to find an Azure Kingfisher perched just above the water. No Platypus was seen today but the river was running high and had been considerably higher.

Easterm Grey Kangaroos - Bevan Hood
Eastern Grey Kangaroos

Looking uphill we recorded a mob of Eastern Grey Kangaroos that was spooked by some cyclists allowing us to admire their speed and to count more than 20 in the mob. The only other non-avian sighting was a long-necked turtle but rabbit scratchings and wombat and fox scats were often seen beside the track. Higher up the hillside black cattle grazed, apparently indifferent to the Cattle Egrets foraging beside them. Past the golf course, over the bridges over the Plenty River and a lesser tributary we walked, under the powerlines (which yielded a Laughing Kookaburra but little else). Retracing our steps some encountered a pair of Australian King-Parrots as well as Eastern Rosellas.

Australian King-Parrot female - Bevan Hood
Australian King-Parrot, female

A nesting White-faced Heron was difficult to see but that, after all, was the preferred situation if you’re incubating eggs or brooding nestlings. Raptors were few, a Brown Goshawk soared high against the late morning grey cloud but no other bird of prey was recorded. The cloud broke at lunch time and we finished the day in mild sunshine.

White-faced Heron on nest - Bevan Hood
White-faced Heron on nest

Down to the wetlands where the count rose again. Grey and Chestnut Teal and Hardhead joined Pacific Black and Australian Wood Duck. Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebes dived as did Eurasian Coot. No swamphens were seen as they were probably brooding young but Australasian Darter and Little Pied Cormorant dried their wings after fishing. The dead trees in the water added Red-rumped Parrots in nesting hollows while Welcome Swallows dipped over the water surface.

The final parrot and cockatoo count was quite impressive – Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Little and Long-billed Corella, Australian King-Parrot, Eastern Rosella, Red-rumped Parrot and Musk and Rainbow Lorikeet were all seen. The day’s end saw people with tired feet and large smiles as they contemplated a total of 70 species for the day. We thanked Lyn most enthusiastically for sharing her “home patch” with us so successfully.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings