Tag Archives: Black Swan

Weekday outing to Braeside Park

5 October 2022

Pink-eared Ducks. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

The day promised fine weather, calm and clear for birdwatching, and it didn’t disappoint. Seventeen started the walk under the leadership of Rosemaree Mclean and Malcolm Brown of The Friends of Braeside Park. 

Eastern Rosella. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Our interest was high as the morning’s walk was to be through the heathland area which is as yet not publicly accessible. The heathland has formed on low-nutrient sands and our track passed along white sand where tiny insectivorous sundews grew. At the start, Rosemaree’s favourite Tawny Frogmouth, was beautifully cooperative as it sat patiently and photogenically on its tree fork nest. 

Tawny Frogmouth on nest. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After the aggressive Noisy Miners in the car park a Tawny was a great sighting. Trees are more spaced and fewer on the heaths so birds are restricted, though we still noted Little Raven and Rainbow Lorikeet while the calls of Grey Butcherbird, Red Wattlebird and Spotted Pardalote reached us as we walked. 

Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Rainbow Lorikeet. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A skein of Straw-necked Ibis flew over and a couple of birders were briefly able to glimpse a Brown Goshawk pass above.

The call of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo reached us and a small pond contained a Chestnut Teal – birds took advantage of any resource.

Swamp Harrier. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Swamp Harrier. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch back at the cars we farewelled Rosemaree and Malcolm with many thanks. A couple of people with afternoon appointments also departed and the remainder arranged to visit the wetlands and bush, walking in 3 groups according to walking ability. This covered a variety of habitats and so the afternoon species list added a range of species. 

Red-rumped Parrot, male and female. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Black Swan with cygnets. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

Waterbirds were present in numbers – Black Swans with fluffy cygnets, male and female Musk Ducks, Pink-eared Ducks in a tree, both Chestnut and Hoary-headed Grebes and Great, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants while Cattle Egrets foraged around the small herd of cattle in the adjacent paddock. 

Musk Duck, male. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Musk Duck, female. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Pink-eared Duck. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Cattle Egret. Photo by Steve Hoptroff
Blue-billed Duck, male. Photo by Steve Hoptroff

A Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike was first heard then finally seen as it exited the tree canopy. 

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike with prey. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The walk finished with the separate groups comparing lists and noting the variation with habitat. We recorded 34 species in the heathland and 27 in the bush and wetlands later in the day. 

Little PIed Cormorant, breeding adult. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The cumulative total was 50 species, a very pleasing result.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekday outings

Weekday outing to Coburg and Merri Creek

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.

Dusky Moorhen, adult
Dusky Moorhen, immature

Australian White Ibis passed overhead on their way to the islet in the creek and Silver Gulls perched on the top of the weir.

Australian White Ibises

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.

Black Swan on 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.

Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet

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.

Pacific Black Duck

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

Weekday outing to Dandenong Valley Wetland, Wheelers Hill

5 April 2022

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.

Grey Butcherbird

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.

Red-browed Finch
Superb Fairy-wren, breeding male
Superb Fairy-wren, male in eclipse plumage

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.

New Holland Honeyeater

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. 

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike

Little Black Cormorant, with Australasian Grebe in background

At the outlet of Cell 1 we saw a lone Australasian Darter and heard Pied Currawongs calling from the creek. 

Australasian Darter, female

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.

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. 

White-bellied Sea-Eagle

Further along the track we checked out a clear section of the distribution channel and found a Spotless Crake foraging along the muddy edge.

Spotless Crake

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. 

Black-fronted Dotterel
Royal Spoonbill

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

Beginners outing to Newport Lakes and Jawbone Reserve

24 November 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 62
Photographs by Eleanor Dilley

Rufous Fantail - Eleanor Dilley
Rufous Fantail – bird of the day

Moderate temperatures and light winds provided excellent conditions for the 37 members attending this outing. The Newport Lakes Reserve was looking very good with lots of eucalypts flowering and plenty of water in the ponds. Soon after leaving the carpark a small water hole on the left had attracted a male Rufous Whistler which moved around in a small bush alongside it.

Rufous Whistler male - Eleanor Dilley
Rufous Whistler, male

Red Wattlebirds, New Holland Honeyeaters and a few White-plumed Honeyeaters were dominant in the tree canopy.

White-plumed Honeyeater - Eleanor Dilley
White-plumed Honeyeater

From the amphitheatre several Dusky Moorhens were seen, some shepherding very small chicks away from the admiring crowd. Australian Reed-Warblers were singing lustily around the edge of the lakes and could occasionally be seen.

Dusky Moorhen with chicks - Eleanor Dilley
Dusky Moorhen with chicks

Near the bridge a pair of Spotted Pardalotes had a nest between some rocks and members enjoyed excellent views of them. On crossing the stepping stones a pair of Black Swans had four young cygnets learning to feed themselves. On the dead trees further up the lake a male Australasian Darter was drying his wings along with a Great and a Little Black Cormorant.

Black Swan cygnets - Eleanor Dilley
Black Swan cygnets

Several Superb Fairy-wrens were seen foraging in the undergrowth beside the lake. On heading towards the arboretum ‘bird of the day’ was spotted – a Rufous Fantail!  This was a most unusual sighting for a suburban park in November. The bird stayed around for 10 to 15 minutes, enabling everyone to have a good look at its beautiful plumage.

During lunch a bird call for the morning produced 38 species. Some members voiced their delight at the large total number of individual birds actually seen. Most of the group then drove down Maddox Road to the shore, where it was high tide. Unfortunately a serious pollution event had contaminated the Paisley-Challis Wetlands with an oily chemical, seriously degrading the habitat.

White-faced Heron - Eleanor Dilley
White-faced Heron

With the aid of booms the pollutant had been prevented from entering the bay, so the birds there seemed unaffected. Pied and Little Pied Cormorants were resting on partially submerged tyres whilst lots of Silver Gulls along with a few Black-winged Stilts and a lone White-faced Heron were on the shore.

Red-kneed Dotterel - Eleanor Dilley
Red-kneed Dotterel

A Red-kneed Dotterel and a Common Greenshank were also located amongst rocks on shore. Members then took the track through the wetlands to Jawbones Reserve and were rewarded with some great sightings. These included several Blue-billed Ducks, Pink-eared Ducks, Grey and Chestnut Teal, Royal Spoonbills and Hoary-headed Grebes.

Blue-billed Duck - Eleanor Dilley
Blue-billed Duck

Pink-eared Ducks - Eleanor Dilley
Pink-eared Ducks

A few Whiskered Terns showed off their flying skills, swooping down to the water’s surface to grab whatever morsel was on the surface. Little Grassbirds were calling lustily from the reeds, but were very hard to see.

Whiskered Tern - Eleanor Dilley
Whiskered Tern

At the turning point of the walk a large number of Pied Cormorants were displaying their very white breasts in contrast to the Little Pied Cormorants, some of which looked decidedly grubby.

Pied Cormorants Royal Spoonbill - Eleanor Dilley
Pied Cormorants watched by a Royal Spoonbill

A Great Crested Grebe was spotted nearby, raising excitement levels as we retraced our steps to the car park. A final look was taken on the shore where the tide was lower than it had been when we set out. Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and Red-necked Stints could now be seen foraging in the mud close to the bird hide.

Sharp-tailed Sandpipers Red-necked Stint - Eleanor Dilley
Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and Red-necked Stint

Forty-four species were recorded for the afternoon session, which produced a combined total of 62 for the day. Once again, many thanks go to Eleanor Dilley for taking all the splendid photographs in the Report.

View the complete bird list for the day: BM Nov 2019 Bird List Newport Lakes and Jawbone Reserve

 

 

 

Weekdays outing to Phillip Island

1-2 October 2019

Black Swan cygnets - Bevan Hood
Black Swan cygnets. Photo by Bevan Hood

The group numbered 16 when we assembled by the information centre on Tuesday at 13.00 in calm sunny weather, perfect for birdwatching.

Group with Phillip Island bridge in background - Katmun Loh.JPG
Group with Phillip Island Bridge in the background. Photo by Katmun Loh

Our leaders were Sally and Derek Whitehead, keen birders who live on the island. They were very familiar with the Cape Barren Goose population but those visiting from the Melbourne branch were very interested to see the recovery of this once-threatened species. Almost to plague proportions according to some disgruntled land owners.

Cape Barren Goose Bevan Hood
Cape Barren Goose. Photo by Bevan Hood

Cape Barren Goose goslings- Bevan Hood
Cape Barren Goose goslings. Photo by Bevan Hood

The geese were quiet but that cannot be said of the numerous Masked Lapwings. These noisy neighbours appreciate the mowed grasses and clearly you were not an islander if your block didn’t boast a pair, preferably breeding. Meanwhile the sky was filled with skeins and small groups of Ibis, mainly Straw-necked though there were a few Australian White.

Straw-necked Ibis - Bevan Hood.jpg
Straw-necked Ibis. Photo by Bevan Hood

Our first location was the Newhaven jetty where both Silver Gulls and Pacific Gulls were observed, the latter mostly immatures in their mottled brown plumage and looking somewhat scruffy.

Silver Gull - Bevan Hood
Silver Gull. Photo by Bevan Hood

Pacific Gull immature - Bevan Hood
Pacific Gull, immature. Photo by Bevan Hood

The area also hosted Black Swans and Australian Pelicans while cormorants included Little Pied, Pied and Little Black.

Black Swan - AustnPelican - Royal Spoonbill - Bevan Hood
Black Swan, Australian Pelican and Royal Spoonbill. Photo by Bevan Hood

 

Out to sea an Australian Gannet was briefly viewed and then confirmed as it plunged after fish. Around the houses ringing the jetty area we also noted Welcome Swallows, Galahs, Australian Magpies and Wattlebirds, Red and Little.

Australian Pelican - Katmun Loh
Australian Pelican. Photo by Katmun Loh

Australian Pelican - Bevan Hood - 2
Australian Pelican. Photo by Bevan Hood

Australian Pelican - Bevan Hood
Australian Pelican. Photo by Bevan Hood

Then it was across to Fisher’s Wetlands, Newhaven, where there were ducks, Chestnut Teal, Australian Wood Ducks, Australasian Shovelers and Australian Shelducks.

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

Australian Shelduck f and m - Katmun Loh
Australian Shelduck, male and female. Photo by Katmun Loh

 

Both Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes were present while Black-winged Stilts foraged on the far side of the water.

Musk Duck female - Katmun Loh
Musk Duck, female. Photo by Katmun Loh

A Royal Spoonbill shared a roosting islet with swans and pelicans and a Whiskered Tern fluttered and dipped near them. From the bush we could hear a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo calling while a Swamp Harrier and then a Brown Falcon started our raptor count for the visit.

Brown Falcon - Katmun Loh
Brown Falcon. Photo by Katmun Loh

Black-shouldered Kite - Bevan Hood
Black-shouldered Kite. Photo by Bevan Hood

The birding is usually excellent at Fisher’s Wetland and today was no exception. The bush was home to Yellow-rumped and Brown Thornbills plus White-eared Honeyeaters and Grey Fantails.

White-eared Honeyeater - Katmun Loh
White-eared Honeyeater. Photo by Katmun Loh

White-eared Honeyeater - Bevan Hood
White-eared Honeyeater. Photo by Bevan Hood

On checking Rhyll inlet from the cliff top (scopes are recommended for this location) we were able to include several new species. The sand spit hosted Bar-tailed Godwits and Australian Pied Oystercatchers and a Caspian Tern flew past while the highlight here was Whimbrels on the rocks at the cliff base.

Australian Pied Oystercatcher - Katmun Loh
Australian Pied Oystercatcher. Photo by Katmun Loh

We were kept so busy observing and recording that we decided to drive over to the Shearwater estate and complete the day with a bird call there rather than visit the Rhyll yacht club as originally planned.

Galah - Bevan Hood
Galah. Photo by Bevan Hood

The yacht club might have similar results to the Newhaven jetty area while the estate contains central wetlands for water management and is well worth a visit. Yes, there were Little Grassbirds calling and many watchers managed to see an Australian Reed-Warbler as it foraged along the reed base. Highlights here were Fairy Martins collecting mud for nests under a culvert and a pair of Superb Fairy-wrens glowing brilliantly in the late afternoon light as they perched on the reeds.

Superb Fairy-wren male - Katmun Loh
Superb Fairy-wren, male. Photo by Katmun Loh

We called the list and were gratified to number 68 species for the afternoon. Thanks to Sally and Derek.

Next morning we assembled at 08.30 without two of our number who were only available for the Tuesday. The first stop was the Oswin Roberts Reserve on Harbison Rd, Rhyll, another excellent birding location.

Common Starling - Bevan Hood
Common Starling. Photo by Bevan Hood

We didn’t need to leave the car park to record Musk and Rainbow Lorikeets, Laughing Kookaburra, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Eastern Rosella and Fairy Martin.

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

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike - Bevan Hood
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Bevan Hood

Eastern Rosella - Bevan Hood
Eastern Rosella. Photo by Bevan Hood

Walking around the short circuit by the car park we had the good fortune to locate and then actually see a calling Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, to watch brilliantly coloured Striated Pardalotes and to encounter a couple of feeding Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos.

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo - Katmun Loh
Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. Photo by Katmun Loh

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo - Katmun Loh
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. Photo by Katmun Loh

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo - Bevan Hood
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. Photo by Bevan Hood

Fan-tailed Cuckoo proved challenging to locate but most of us were finally able to view the birds. A fortunate group actually observed not one but three Fantail Cuckoos in the same binocular view.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo - Bevan Hood
Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Photo by Bevan Hood

Fan-tailed Cuckoo 2 - Katmun Loh
Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Photo by Katmun Loh

Fan-tailed Cuckoo 1 - Katmun Loh
Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Photo by Katmun Loh

Along the track we encountered a couple of Swamp Wallabies while checking the understorey. Then it was time to drive to the Nobbies for seabirds. Here the raptor count increased as we recorded Peregrine Falcon, Nankeen Kestrel and Whistling Kite.

Peregrine Falcon - Katmun Loh
Peregrine Falcon. Photo by Katmun Loh

Many smiles resulted from the glimpses of Little Penguins in their nesting boxes on the side of the hillside as we traversed the board walk. Crowds of tourists and families were taking advantage of the school holidays and beautiful weather. The calm settled conditions for the previous couple of days were not likely to have driven any albatrosses inshore so we were not surprised when none were seen.

It was not a far drive to Swan Lake from the Nobbies and most of us were soon smiling as pairs of Black Swans led their fluffy grey cygnets and a pair of Chestnut Teal boasted seven ducklings.

Black Swan - Bevan Hood
Black Swan. Photo by Bevan Hood

Chestnut Teal - Bevan Hood
Chestnut Teal. Photo by Bevan Hood

There were raptors, Swamp Harriers and Whistling Kites, as we walked the board walk and some of us wondered how many cygnets, ducklings and goslings would make it to adulthood. We decided to have the bird call here and made ourselves comfortable but the usual “bird call calls” rang out with White-browed Scrubwren and Silvereye joining the list at the last minute. The morning’s list totalled 66 species and the cumulative total for the two days was 90 species. It goes almost without saying that we thanked both Sally and Derek whole-heartedly for all their preparation which had gone into such a successful session.

Diane Tweeddale Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

 

Weekdays outing to Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands Environmental Area

17 July 2019
Photographs by Diane Tweeddale

Black Swan - Tweeddale
Black Swan

Cold wind but no rain was the day’s weather. Fifteen assembled at the walk’s start and Rob Grosvenor, our leader, had contacted Margaret Hunter of the Friends of Edithvale Wetlands who very kindly opened the bird hide on a week day. The drought had almost emptied the lake and the recent rain had partially refilled it, producing a water depth of 0.4 m near the hide. Black Swans had arrived and were breeding. In the distance there were at least 6 occupied mounds where nesting was in progress or soon to be so. Feathers were ruffled and necks arched and it was fascinating to realise the time the pens needed to hold their breath while underwater during copulation. On or around the water there were also many Chestnut Teal and Purple Swamphens with fewer numbers of Pacific Black Ducks and a couple of Willie Wagtails.

Black Swan and Chestnut Teal - Tweeddale
Black Swans and Chestnut Teal

Strong reed growth (now dry) limited vision and we were very glad of the elevation provided by the bird hide. The reeds also provided habitat for Superb Fairy-wrens and at least two brilliantly coloured males were using the area beside the hide. Heading across Edithvale Road (by the safe convenience of the pedestrian crossing lights) we quickly added Crested Pigeons, Galahs and Red-rumped Parrots.

Walking off the path but keeping to the north side there were the (almost inevitable) Noisy Miners as well as Australian Magpies and Magpie-larks. Eastern Rosellas moved quickly through the open forest and a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets seemed to be checking out a hollow stump. The golf course hosted Eurasian Coot, Australian Wood Ducks, a Masked Lapwing and a lone Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. There was also the much-viewed Magpie Goose which seems to have spent some lonely time there. Nearer the pond it was easier to use the height of the observation deck to check out the bird population on or by the water – a White-faced Heron, a Little Pied Cormorant, a male Australasian Shoveler, two Musk Ducks (male and female) and at least one Hoary-headed Grebe. A Swamp Harrier slowly quartered the pond edges, causing alarm calls and some change of direction in a small flock of teal.

Heading back to the cars and lunch we recorded a rather unusual sighting for the area. The sharp eyes of Geoff Deason picked up a well-hidden Tawny Frogmouth in a eucalypt beside the path. Few had previously seen one in this area.

Tawny Frogmouth - Tweeddale - 2
Tawny Frogmouth

While doing a preliminary bird call after eating lunch we paused when a somewhat unfamiliar call came from the reeds. Confirmation of a White-browed Scrubwren came from call recordings. After lunch several had to depart but the rump of nine continued walking along the track beside the golf course. We didn’t expect to add much to the morning’s respectable species total of 43 or 44 but it wasn’t long before someone saw four Australian Pelicans. Later our second raptor, a Black-shouldered Kite, hovered and soared close to the track not far from a perched Grey Butcherbird (which had only been heard before). Little Wattlebirds were heard along the track and Red Wattlebirds had been recorded in the morning. Spotted Pardalotes called from the trees but none were seen.

Back to the cars we thanked Rob enthusiastically for his preparation and felt rather satisfied to realise the species list now totalled 50. It was an excellent result for a grey, cold and breezy day, so typical of Melbourne in July.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekdays outing to the Grantville area

19 March 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

 

Weekdays outing to Hallam Valley floodplain wetlands

24 September 2018
Photographer: Bevan Hood, member

Black Swan - B Hood
Black Swan

Eleven of us met and considered that the car park birding was so very good we really didn’t need to leave that area. Rob Grosvenor led the group and had good expectations. He is part of the team of volunteers who do the monthly surveys for Melbourne Water so is very familiar with the site.

Highlights as we waited to start included a flock of Fairy Martins. They were repeatedly landing on muddy banks to collect mud for their bottle nests, presumably located in a culvert nearby, although the nest locations were not visible when we peered briefly while walking past. Another good sighting by the car park was a Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo perched on the nearby power line and calling loudly.

Australian White Ibis - B Hood
Australian White Ibis

 

Frogs called from the ponds and creek-sides but we were here to bird. Numerous flocks of Silver Gulls and skeins of Australian White Ibis flew past. The fenceline produced Superb Fairy-wrens and a bird finally identified as an Australasian Pipit (after some discussion of the respective appearances and habits of it and the European Skylark). Not easy species to differentiate from a distance.

Eastern Great Egret - B Hood
Eastern Great Egret

The south wind was cold and we were all glad of our “appropriate clothing” when the clouds blew across. Initially few birds appeared on the lakes– only a Hoary-headed Grebe and a pair of Pacific Black Ducks were recorded. Later, when we had walked to the far side (near the go-kart circuit) the list grew to include Australian Wood Duck, Chestnut Teal and a pair of Black Swans.

Australasian Swamphen - B Hood
Australasian Swamphen

Australasian Swamphen, Eurasian Coot and Dusky Moorhen added to a list of waterbirds which finally included Little Pied, Little Black and Great Cormorants and White-faced Heron plus an overflying Australasian Darter.

Little Pied Cormorant - B Hood
Little Pied Cormorant

Clearly the wetlands appeal to the waterbirds. Introduced species were also recorded – Common Myna, Starling and Blackbird plus Spotted Dove and (slightly unexpectedly as their numbers have fallen) a House Sparrow. Other observed introductions were Common Greenfinch and European Goldfinch.

European Goldfinch - B Hood
European Goldfinch feeding on anthropoids in the cobweb, or collecting cobweb for nesting

The most common honeyeater sighted was the New Holland but there were also a few White-plumed Honeyeaters, Noisy Miners and Red and Little Wattlebirds. Parrots were limited today to a few Little Corellas and Rainbow Lorikeets plus one Eastern Rosella. No one saw the calling Spotted Pardalote and few sighted the Little Grassbird and Australian Reed-Warbler but the calls were unmistakable.

Crested Pigeon - B Hood
Crested Pigeon

While we lunched White-browed Scrubwrens appeared between the adjacent warehouse wall and the cyclone fence marking the edge of the reserve. Some seemed to be fluttering, perhaps trapped, but we soon realised they included young birds with very short tails which were probably exercising. Earlier some ‘scrubbies’ had been glimpsed around and in gorse bushes in front of that building but this later sighting was in excellent light and allowed everyone unusually good long views of their markings. Bird call gave a most satisfactory species count of 50 and we thanked Rob for sharing his knowledge of this man-made area.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Beginners Outing to Braeside Park

24 March 2018
Photographs by Eleanor Dilley

The Beginners’ outing to Braeside Park coincided with the end of a two-month dry spell in the Melbourne area! The rain began in earnest soon after the start and it poured down relentlessly for the rest of the excursion!

Musk Lorikeet, Braeside
Musk Lorikeet

Setting off down Cypress Drive there were good views of Eastern Rosellas feeding in the grass, and of Musk and Rainbow Lorikeets feeding in eucalypts. Walking anticlockwise around the back of the wetlands two fluffy, cream-coloured, Australasian Darter chicks were seen on a nest in a tree on an island.

Australasian Darter chicks, Braeside
Australasian Darter chicks on nest

Eurasian Coots were plentiful, as were Grey and Chestnut Teal. Australian Pelicans, Black Swans, Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants

Australian Pelican, Braeside
Australian Pelican

White-faced Herons, a lone Royal Spoonbill, Hardheads and Blue-billed Ducks could all be seen without the aid of binoculars, which by that time had steamed up. Harder to distinguish were Red-kneed and Black-fronted Dotterels on mud flats at the back of the ponds. Noisy Miners were present in huge numbers and did not seem deterred by the soggy conditions but other bushbirds were harder to find.

Black Swans, Braeside
Black Swan

The only raptors seen were Swamp Harrier and Whistling Kite. It was a very bedraggled group that returned to the car park with many deciding to head straight for home and hot showers. Others stayed for lunch in the welcome shelter of the visitor centre. After a short discussion it was unanimously agreed that the planned afternoon walk be cancelled.

It had been a commendable effort for all those involved, and especially for our photographer, Eleanor Dilley, whose battle with the elements produced the above photographs. A tally of 52 species was recorded, a creditable total given the conditions. Although very wet, everyone was really glad to see the rain falling on the parched bushland. The homeward journey for most was no doubt filled with thoughts and hopes that rain had also fallen on their own backyards!

View the full bird list: BM Mar 2018 Bird List Braeside Park

 

Weekdays Outing to Lillydale Lake, Lilydale

12 July 2017
Photographs by Dianne Tweeddale

Reflections on a still morning.JPG
Reflections on a still morning

It was cold as we set off from our homes. Not as chilling as a week previously but still very low temperatures. Sixteen braved the still, cold but sunny morning and Jane Moseley led us. We checked out the Australian Wood Ducks, Magpie Larks, Purple Swamphens, Eurasian Coots and Dusky Moorhens on the grass beside the car park and also noted Australian Magpies, Red Wattlebirds, Rainbow Lorikeets and the inevitable Noisy Miners in the surrounding trees.

Purple Swamphen and Australian Wood Ducks
Purple Swamphen and Australian Wood Ducks

On the adjacent wetland there were a couple of Pacific Black Ducks and teal. It was some of the latter which occasioned close examination and discussion. The Chestnut Teal were readily counted but the two or three paler birds catching the sunlight, which teal were they? Careful attention to the plumage decided Grey Teal. It was that frequent “Which teal is that?” discussion. Our visitors and newcomers had been promised darters and Lillydale Lake did not disappoint. As we were moving out the first darter was pointed out and from then on we admired and compared male and female Australasian Darters both near and far. We kept our eyes out for Azure Kingfishers which had been seen a few days previously but the first location drew a blank. On the boardwalk we watched an Australasian Grebe warm its fluffy backside in the morning sun before we passed the structure which has been voted “world’s worst bird hide”. It consists of a fence with rectangular holes cut at different heights which look out onto an impenetrable stand of tall vegetation. Still, after we had dismissed it we rounded the corner and started to check the lake and the reed beds. The cry went up “Pink-eared Duck!” and there they were. Two pinkies which had not followed the rains inland. Voted bird of the day on the spot.

Black Swans feeding
Black Swans feeding

Then we wondered if we’d been a bit premature with the award when an Azure Kingfisher was sighted, not on its previously-favoured nest box but on a farther one and from which it flew to a low perch and afforded everyone good or brief views. Spotted Pardalotes called but it seemed that only a couple of watchers at a time were able to chalk up good views. Still, most people had seen them well by day’s end. Grey Shrike-thrushes gave their beautiful single winter calls and Grey Butcherbirds were finally seen as well as heard. The south-western wetlands are undergoing “rectification works” and new plantings are covered with nets so that no birds are currently using that area. Five years should see an improvement. The lake supports lots of fishers, the darters, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants and humans on the banks and occasionally in boats. It wasn’t all waterbirds. As well as the lorikeets mentioned above there were Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Little Corellas, Crimson (adult and immature) Rosellas, Eastern Rosellas and Australian King Parrots (male and female).

resting Australian Wood Ducks
Resting Australian Wood Ducks

After lunch we walked out to Bellbird Park where a pair of Black Swans paddled unconcerned by our presence while they cropped the pond plants. Walking back added Eastern Spinebill, then White-faced Herons and finally a Laughing Kookaburra to our list which numbered 45 species at the end of the walk. Very creditable birding for a cold mid-July day. We thanked Jane most enthusiastically for all her preparations and leading.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings