Tag Archives: Birds

Beginners Outing to Lysterfield Lake

23 July 2017
Leader: Robert Grosvenor; Species Count: 45
Golden Whistler (M), Lysterfield Lake
Golden Whistler, male. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

Twenty eight hardy birders braved the very strong and cold wind to attend the beginners outing at Lysterfield Lake.

Magpie-lark (M), Lysterfield Lake - Dilley
Magpie-lark, male. Photograph by Eleonor Dilley

While waiting for all attendees ,Crimson and Eastern Rosellas, Purple Swamp Hen, Magpie-lark and Rainbow Lorikeets were viewed in the carpark. A Masked Lapwing was spotted closer to the Lake’s edge.

Masked Lapwing Lysterfield 2017 07 22 1588 800x944 M Serong
Masked Lapwing. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

On the reccie more Kangaroos were seen than birds and it looked like this outing would be more of the same as the first twenty minutes went by before we sighted our first bird – a Brown Thornbill, quickly followed by a White-eared Honeyeater.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo joey Lysterfield 2017 07 22 1468 800x1067 M Serong
Eastern Grey joey. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

There were long periods of inactivity until we would come upon a small hot spot. The first of which produced excellent sightings of Grey Shrike-thrush, Grey Fantail, both male and female Golden Whistlers and the two birds of the walk, a male Rose Robin and a Brush Bronzewing.

Unfortunately not all the beginners were able to see both. The Rose Robin surprised everyone when it appeared in a tree at eye level not more than two metres in front of us but did not stay for long. Still, many of the group got their first look at this beautiful bird. The Bronzewing skulked in the undergrowth, making sighting difficult before it was disturbed and flew off.

Little Pied Cormorant Lysterfield 2017 07 22 1513 800x836 M Serong
Little Pied Cormorant. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

The strong wind was keeping the small birds hidden but in a more protected spot we found Superb Fairy-wren, Silvereye and Spotted Pardalote.

Venturing down to the edge of the lake enabled us to see Musk Duck, Hoary-headed Grebe, Hardhead and Coot all on the water, before returning to the main track.

Little Black Cormorant Lysterfield 2017 07 22 1516 800x704 M Serong
Little Black Cormorant. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

Again there was a long period of inactivity with only a Grey Butcherbird heard and a Little Raven overhead. We were now back at the lake wall where Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants, Australasian Grebe and Dusky Moorhen were seen.

With the wind howling across the lake we were all glad to break for lunch and find an area out of the wind to partake of some refreshments.

After lunch we walked to the eastern end of the carpark and a short distance along the Logan track. In the more open fields we saw Straw-necked  and White Ibis, Wood Duck, Cattle Egret and in the distance a few Red-rumped Parrots.

Common Bronzewing (F), Lysterfield Lake
Common Bronzewing. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

Returning to the carpark we had excellent views of another Brush Bronzewing together with a number of common Bronzewings.

Brush Bronzewing (M), Lysterfield Lake
Brush Bronzewing. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

Overall 45 species were seen for the day which, considering the wintery conditions, was noteworthy.

See the complete bird list for the outing: BM July 2017 Bird List Lysterfield Lake

 

 

 

June 2017 Education activities

On Wednesday 7 June, Bill Ramsay did a presentation at the Hawthorn Library for their Everyday English Class which is run as part of the Library’s Multicultural Program. The audience consisted of seven women plus the Coordinator. Usually she expected 12 but a few had pulled out. Bill spoke about “Attracting birds to your garden and what you may hope to see”. There was a fair bit of audience interaction and questions during the presentation which was a good sign. This was the purpose of such presentations and everyone seemed appreciative of Bill’s efforts.

Approximately 50 people were present when Sally Heeps addressed the Mill Park Garden Club on Friday 16 June. Sally’s topic was ‘Attracting birds to your garden naturally”. They seemed to enjoy hearing how to attract birds by plantings and liked identifying the birds which did visit their gardens. Sally also talked a little about nest boxes, and digressed into how the changes in natural vegetation can impact bird species – how the Kinglake fires opened the canopy to birds of prey. The Club donated $50 to BirdLife Melbourne in appreciation of our work.

On the same day – Friday 16 June, Pat Bingham led the Hawthorn U3A monthly Birdwalk to Norton’s Park & Shepherd’s Bush. They had a lovely sunny morning with 17 participants. 27 species were sighted including three Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos chewing up pinecones, a female Scarlet Robin and several Sulphur-crested Cockatoos exploring tree hollows and raucously defending their choices. Then for the lucky late leavers, they had a Peregrine Falcon circling over the car park.

Sue Wilson from the Hawthorn U3A group supplied the following photos.

 

Thank you to all the above people.

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

Beginners Outing to Westerfolds Park

24 June 2017
Leader: Robert Grosvenor; Species Count: 46
Words by Robert Grosvenor; photographs by Eleanor Dilley
Laughing Kookaburra, Westerfolds Park.jpg
Laughing Kookaburra

Despite the cold weather and the forecast rain, which fortunately did not eventuate, 39 enthusiastic birders met at Westerfolds Park for this outing.

There were at least five new members and a couple of visitors on their first outing.

Prior to starting Eastern Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, White Faced Herons and a lone Pied Currawong were all seen overhead.

Starting the walk a couple of Kookaburras were the first to sighted, followed by Rock doves under the bridge. Grey Butcherbirds were calling regularly and excellent views were had by all.

Grey Butcherbird, Westerfolds Park
Grey Butcherbird

Together with Common Bronzewing and Noisy Miners they were probably the most common birds seen.

Common Bronzewing, Westerfolds Park
Common Bronzewing

Near the bridge, a pair of Galahs was sitting in a tree.

Galahs, Westerfolds Park
Galahs 

On the way to the observation platform overlooking the river a Little Pied Cormorant and Australasian Grebe were spied on the river, together with Dusky Moorhen and a solitary Purple Swamphen on the bank.

Australasian Grebe, Westerfolds Park
Australasian Grebe

A magnificent Wedge-tailed eagle overflew and although missed by some returned later in the walk to allow everybody to see it.

We were fortunate to find a single Musk Lorikeet which made a welcome change from all the raucous Rainbows. Both male and female Golden Whistlers were observed on the way back for lunch and a lucky few also saw a female Scarlet Robin. While enjoying our lunch break a King Parrot called and eventually showed itself to the joy of all present.

Dusky Moorhen, Westerfolds Park
Dusky Moorhen

The morning walk produced a total of 41 species.

In the afternoon we went in the opposite direction to the rapids observation lookout.

Although the birding was initially quiet it was a very pleasant walk through some lovely bush. Fortunately we then hit on a small hot hot patch with Yellow faced Honeyeaters, Silver Eyes, Grey Shrike Thrush, Grey Fantail, Spotted Pardalote and a Black Faced Cuckoo-shrike, all seen well.

Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Westerfolds Park
Yellow-faced Honeyeater

At the rapids a pair of Coots were seen, surprisingly the first for the day. Returning to the carpark provided a fleeting glimpse of a Brown Goshawk but a good look at a resting White Ibis.

Grey Shrike-thrush, Wessterfolds Park
Grey Shrike-thrush

Overall we spotted 46 species, far better than we expected considering the weather and the start of winter.

View the birdlist for the outing: BM JUNE 2017 Bird List WESTERFOLDS PARK

 

 

 

Weekdays outing to Wonga Park/Heritage wetlands

6 June 2017
All photographs by Danika Sanderson
Rainbow at start of the walk - Sanderson
Rainbow at the start of the walk

Despite the overnight rain and the showers on the drive to Wonga Park, 12 of us assembled in the car park as conditions started to ease. Some interest was expressed in a car and trailer in the car park which seemed to have been there overnight. Perhaps an illegal camper? Geoff Russell led our group and our first walk followed the short trail downstream where calls were heard from Superb Fairy-wrens, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Brown Thornbills.

Superb Fairy-wren male in breeding plumage - Sanderson
Superb Fairy-wren, male in breeding plumage

Both Little and Australian Ravens were heard as well as the single winter call of Grey Shrike-thrushes. An unexpected sighting was a single Silver Gull overhead while a brief glimpse of an Eastern Spinebill was much appreciated by the few who were looking in the right direction at the moment.

Superb Fairy-wren male - Sanderson
Superb Fairy-wren, male in eclipse plumage

Eastern Grey Kangaroos were numerous on both sides of the river and apparently used to humans on the path. We returned to the car park where a school kayaking session was about to start. We didn’t envy them as the river was flowing high and fast, even at this part of its course.

We went on upstream, bypassing the unused stile. The river edge gave us female Australasian Darters perched on snags, Dusky Moorhen swimming near the bank and an Australasian Grebe diving near one of the darters.

Australasian Darter - female - Sanderson
Australasian Darter, female

Further along the walk there were very good views of a trio of Common Bronzewings in a dead tree. Heading across the golf course by the public path we sighted Grey Butcherbird, a female Australian King-Parrot, Noisy Miners and Australian Wood Ducks while Magpie-larks and Masked Lapwing called.

Australian Wood Ducks - Sanderson
Australian Wood Ducks on golf course dam

A solitary Crested Pigeon preferred clear ground beyond the manicured gardens. Back on the river path we added New Holland Honeyeater, Silvereye, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and Red-browed Firetail. Turning around with thoughts of lunch becoming more prominent, most were disappointed to miss the sole sighting of a platypus which dived before even the adjacent birder could see it. Never mind, lunch was next.

Silvereye - Sanderson
Silvereye

However, lunchtime proved considerably more entertaining than usual. Things started with a request for jumper leads by the guy from the “overnight” car. Then a police car arrived and there was much interviewing. When the car was restarted the police donned blue gloves for a car search and we speculated on the reason. Eventually both vehicles left with drivers smiling. As said above, it was different from our regular lunch breaks.

Walkers - Sanderson
Walkers participating in the outing

The eight people remaining after lunch then tackled the uphill walk which starts about 400 m before the car park. We hoped for views and we were not disappointed. The view up the valley is great, even when misty in the distance, with the mountains in silhouette. A bonus was the sighting of our only raptors for the day, a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles and another of Whistling Kites. Carrying on to the highest point we were able to add brief views of a wary female Flame Robin, thus doubling our robin count as there had been a sighting of a female Scarlet Robin earlier.

Red-browed Firetail - Sanderson
Red-browed Firetail

Now it was time to descend and make our way through a great mob of roos. The males tended to rear up and scratch their flanks, which we interpreted as a threat action, but they allowed us to carry on walking. Down at the cars again we were able to count up 49 species for the day and we thanked Geoff very much for extending our experiences of this varied area.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings.

Weekdays Outing to Troups Creek Wetlands

15 May 2017

“A misty, moisty morning in the merry month of May” did not really apply to a cold foggy start to the day but still 15 people met at the Troups Creek car park. John Bosworth led our group and the incessant traffic noise from the adjacent Hallam Road faded slightly as we walked out. Recently the grass had been mowed – so considerate – and we greatly appreciated the shorter grass which meant minimum water on trouser legs.

Early morning mist - Diane Tweeddale.JPG
Early morning mist. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

Both areas, Troups Creek and River Gums, are part of the flood mitigation planning by Melbourne Water and BirdLife Melbourne has succeeded BOCA in performing the monthly surveys of the birds living in and around the plantings and ponds. The nearer ponds were not crowded with birds but a few Purple Swamphens and Eurasian Coots foraged around the edges and Welcome Swallows and Rainbow Lorikeets flew over. A Spotted Pardalote was heard from the garden trees to the south. Heading north initially we heard, then saw, Superb Fairy-wrens in the reed beds while Masked Lapwings were unexpectedly common – at least eight adults were sharing one grassy area. Further on a “conference” of about 20 Australian Magpies took place on the short grass where grubs were accessible but the birds dispersed as we approached.

There have been extensive plantings to generate patches of bush in the zone and a recent one of these hosted numerous European Goldfinches. Some of the ponds carried Hoary-headed Grebes but it was not till after lunch that we encountered Australasian Grebes at the River Gum wetlands. The morning, in contrast, had Red-browed Finches flitting between the bushes beside the ditch by the surfaced path. Both the ditch and its sides showed the flood levels of the rain about three weeks previously when the flood mitigation design of the basin had been tested and passed with flying colours. Ducks were Pacific Black, Chestnut and Grey Teal and Australian Wood Duck plus a few Black Swans, including a nesting pair. Other waterbirds included Australian White and Straw-necked Ibis, a Great Egret and both White-faced and White-necked Herons. Both male and female Australasian Darters were present at Troups and a pair of Black-winged Stilts at River Gum was interesting as we could compare the adult plumage with that of the immature.

Australasian Bittern - Kathy Zonneville
Australasian Bittern. Photo by Kathy Zonneville

The highlight for many started with the call of “Bittern!” It really was an Australasian Bittern which flushed and then flew around us in circles giving everyone excellent opportunities to study its markings under differing light conditions. It was a “lifer” for at least four people (including one who’d given up and consigned the species to the mythical category). Happily walking back to the cars, we then moved to River Gum Creek and lunch. Our numbers were reduced in the afternoon as several had other afternoon activities scheduled.

Black-shouldered Kite - Kathy Zonneville
Black-shouldered Kite. Photo by Kathy Zonneville

Raptors had not been common as the early fog would not have produced useful thermals but several species flew in the sunnier afternoon – Black-shouldered Kite and Nankeen Kestrel were seen by most and Peregrine Falcon and Brown Goshawk by a couple then the “Bird Call bird” appeared – indubitably an Australian Hobby pair – as we totalled up the day. Quite a finish for a day as we counted 54 species for the group. We thanked John enthusiastically for sharing his knowledge of the zone.

Diane Tweeddale coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Education report April 2017

On Friday 21 April, Pat Bingham led the U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk at Blackburn Lake Sanctuary. On this cold, wet morning, umbrellas were put to good use by the 15 people who attended. Twenty five species were seen with nice views of Spinebills feeding in Correa bushes as well as both Pied and Grey Currawongs.  They walked right under the roosting Tawny Frogmouths but it was too wet to look up much. Pat found them the next day when she was again at the same location.

On Saturday 22 April Pat Bingham led the Friends of Blackburn Creeklands Bird Survey. Eighteen people attended and they found 29 species. There were plenty of ‘big’ birds like Gang-gangs, Galahs, King Parrots, Pied Currawongs and Little Ravens.  The many Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets were all very noisy.  Only Brown Thornbills and a couple of Grey Fantails of the smaller fry were sighted.

Graeme Hosken again led the Breakfast with the Birds at Wilson Park in Berwick walk on Sunday 23 April. It was a perfect morning for birding with no wind and mild conditions. Several new faces joined the group for the two hour walk around the park. Twenty four species were sighted during the morning with Striated Thornbill being added to the list. The list for this bi-annual activity now totals 86 species. All enjoyed their breakfast at the walk’s end.

Thank you Pat and Graeme.

Janet Hand, BirdLife Melbourne Education Coordinator (9842 4177)

March 2017 Education Report

This month, four activities have been delivered, by four different people.

On Thursday 9 March, Janet Hand gave a Powerpoint presentation to the senior members of St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Box Hill. She spoke about how the bird species have changed in Box Hill since Tess Kloot’s book on the “Birds of Box Hill” was researched from 1988 to 1991. Crested Pigeons were not recorded in those surveys. This presentation followed a luncheon for the 25 people present.

Graeme Hosken spoke to 14 members of St Mark’s Uniting Church in Mount Waverley on Wednesday 15 March. His presentation was titled “Catching up with the illegals” – the story of our migrating birds.

On Friday 17 March, Pat Bingham began her monthly bird walks with members of the Hawthorn U3A. That day they met at the Sinclair Avenue Wetlands adjacent to the U3As HQ in Glen Iris. They had 18 participants and recorded 17 species – best of these were a Nankeen Night-heron and about 30 Little Corellas.

Gay Gallagher addressed the Ivanhoe Garden Club in Ivanhoe on Tuesday 28 March. Her topic was “Birds of Metropolitan Melbourne”.  Approximately 50 people were in attendance and they were very interested and asked lots of questions.

Many thanks to the above presenters.

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

Weekdays outing to Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens

14 February 2017
Photographs by Diane Tweeddale

There were 19 of us when the final arrivals appeared. Our numbers included a few visitors including a lady in her 99th year who inspired us all with her fortitude. The day was cool, cloudy and slightly damp after overnight rain so birds were visible though making out their markings was often challenging. David Plant led the group and shared his knowledge of the gardens’ history and function as well as their birds. Unfortunately the Bell Miners which had been confined to one small area have expanded so much that there are only a few places where they are not detected. It’s challenging to detect and see your first miner but they do pall quite quickly afterwards, especially when you realise how they have displaced so many other species. At least we detected no Noisy Miners this day but they are reportedly increasing in numbers just outside the gardens.

azolla-bloom-and-warning-notice
Azolla bloom and warning notice – children and pets may mistake the surface plants for a lawn and fall into the underlying water

Shortly after we started walking we came across a very tall flowering yucca beside the Temple of the Winds. It was certainly popular with the birds and we recorded Rainbow Lorikeets and Little and Red Wattlebirds all using it simultaneously. Government House grounds yielded our first Laughing Kookaburra which promptly flew over the fence and joined us in the main gardens. We didn’t spend much time by the main lake as an extensive azolla bloom was being reduced by a powered weeding vessel and the consequent noise was driving away almost all birds.

pacific-black-duck-with-young-2
Pacific Black Duck with young

Near a quieter lake area we encountered a Pacific Black Duck with eight tiny ducklings and watched interestedly as she led them a considerable distance to a further lake. One little fellow (we decided it was a difficult male) consistently lagged behind the brood and was last seen running determinedly to catch up before entering the target lake.

purple-swamphen
Purple Swamphen – these will kill and eat any undefended ducklings

An Eastern Koel had been recently recorded in the gardens and its call had been heard that morning so we kept listening but unfortunately could not detect it unequivocally. The only parrots listed were the lorikeet, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and an immature Crimson Rosella and David pointed out the plantings of kangaroo grass which hopefully will attract Red-rumped Parrots into the gardens. No owls were seen but the finding of a Tawny Frogmouth feather indicated its recent presence.

Small birds are reducing in numbers as miners and Common Mynas increase – there are no further sightings of Superb Fairy-wrens and the numbers of Brown Thornbills seem down.

little-wattlebird-and-common-myna-2
Little Wattlebird and Common Myna – eating from the humans’ leftovers near the cafe

Silvereyes, on the other hand, were seen today in some areas and there were several Willie Wagtails plus a few Eastern Spinebills, the only other honeyeater seen today. At lunch break it was interesting to observe a Little Wattlebird feeding from the leftovers on the terrace. That’s an additional species utilising that area. At lunch we encountered the only non-avian sighting of the day, an Eastern Water Dragon which was quietly shedding its skin and warming on the dark asphalt path.

eastern-water-dragon
Eastern Water Dragon

David chatted with his friend, one of the polers of the lake punts, who reported that, it being St. Valentine’s Day, he had overheard two proposals in his punt that morning.

lotus-flower
Lotus flower – ethereal beauty out of the mud

The gardens are important for many activities. During the afternoon walk there was considerable noise coming from the canopy of a tall tree and we made out a small flock of Bell Miners angrily mobbing a Pied Currawong. By walk’s end, with 32 species recorded on our first outing of 2017, we were each deciding to revisit the gardens as they have so much to offer. We heartily thanked David for his generosity and preparation.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings.

April Education Report

On Wednesday 6 April, Janet Hand spoke to 25 members of the Doncaster & Templestowe Historical Society about the different species of birds that can be found in Manningham. The open fire was welcome on this wet evening.

On Saturday 9th April Geoff Deason and Jenny Frohlich assisted with the bird survey of the Blackburn Lake Sanctuary. Twenty-nine species were seen within the sanctuary.

On Wednesday 13th April twelve ladies from the Mercy Boronia Hostel met our members at the recently refurnished Blackburn Lake Education Centre.

Image 1

They were given a brief history of the area by Peter Dempsey (Blackburn Lake Committee) and then a PowerPoint presentation on the different style of nests that birds build. It was then their turn to construct a birds nest with coconut fibre and line it with cotton wool. The ladies were then given morning tea and a short walk in the Sanctuary before leaving by bus at midday. Thank you to the helpers on the day – Peter Dempsey, Gay Gallagher, Jenny Frohlich and Janet Hand.

nests image

The following day Janet Hand visited the Heidelberg Pre-school and spoke to the 4year old group about backyard birds. They were given a short PowerPoint and shown some birds from our skins collection. As they have a treed area, they already had a good knowledge of the local species that rest and nest nearby.

Pat Bingham led a group from the Hawthorn U3A on a walk on Friday 15 April. They visited the Karkarook Park in Heatherton. Seventeen people attended, including an American birdo, and they saw 27 species. These included a female Blue-billed Duck, Red-browed Finches, 60 Long-billed Corellas and a Black-fronted Dotterel. A Pacific Gull was seen here – an unusual visitor to inland waters, as well as a very active Copperhead snake. Perhaps the warm weather brought out this late sighting.

On Saturday 23 April, the Friends of Blackburn Lake Creeklands conducted their biannual survey. This survey was led by Pat Bingham and Ian Moodie and produced 29 species. The most interesting being ‘lots of’ (more than six) Australian King-Parrots, Musk Lorikeets and Tawny Frogmouths. Four Cattle Egret and three Gang-gang Cockatoos flew overhead. The usual female Golden Whistler was found in the same tree as on other Autumn surveys. For the first time in four years an Australian Wood Duck was added to the list. Twenty five people attended this survey and were divided into two groups. Thanks Pat and Ian.

Janet Hand, BirdLife Melbourne Education Co-ordinator