Despite the forecast for extreme heat and strong winds, 17 members attended Point Cook Coastal Park. At 10am the group walked through the Beach Picnic Area to the beach. Superb Fairy-wrens and Yellow-rumped Thornbills were the most numerous birds seen in the area. A Crested Pigeon obligingly remained close to the path to enable photographers some close shots. On Port Phillip Bay rafts of Silver Gulls could be seen.
Soon after exiting the Beach Reserve carpark, an unnamed lake on the right contained large numbers of ducks including Australian Wood Ducks, Chestnut and Grey Teal and Pacific Black Ducks. Australasian Grebes were seen gliding across the far end of the lake and Magpie-larks were numerous around the shore.
At the RAAF Lake birds were huddled close to the North shore to avoid the worst of the wind and through the ‘scope Australian Shelducks and Pied Stilts could be identified. Alongside the carpark in a patch of Dock Weed two Golden-headed Cisticolas provided all in the group close sustained views.
Across the road on a small wetland Australian Reed-Warblers were seen flying across the water and landing in the reeds. Both adult and juvenile Dusky Moorhens were seen and members had close views of Australasian Grebes in breeding plumage. Flying over the wetland were Welcome Swallows accompanied by a number of Tree Martins.
The constructed wetland at Saltwater Coast beside Citybay Drive produced sightings of Eurasian Coot and a Little Grassbird. A Little Pied Cormorant was perched atop a viewing platform. In the gardens surrounding the wetland New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters and European Goldfinch were seen.
The lunch location was under the shady trees beside the Homestead parking area. Numerous Little Ravens and Magpies were in the trees there and a number of raptors were seen hawking over the trees to the south including a Brown Falcon and a juvenile Collared Sparrowhawk.
Members set off after lunch toward the Homestead and most walked along the beach toward the Point. Good sightings were had of Pied Cormorants and the youngest member of our group, picked out two Black-faced Cormorants sitting on the remains of an old jetty. Soon after passing the jetty a cooling breeze from the west arrived.
At the Point was a multitude of Silver Gulls and numerous Crested Terns. On closer inspection a couple of flocks of Red-necked Stints were noticed foraging amongst the seaweed and a few Common Terns were perched on rocks alongside the Crested Terns. Two Black Swans were also seen there.
The rain received over the past few months ensured that many of the lakes in this area held water and the vegetation looked healthy. Regardless of the heat members enjoyed the opportunity to see the 49 species some of which were new to some members.
Another ideal day for birding, clear and calm, as we assembled under the leadership of Graeme Hosken. Our enthusiasm did not reach to expecting any of the birds historically recorded here after we read an old list which included Plains Wanderer and Mallee Fowl. We listed a couple of Crimson Rosellas and Red Wattlebirds flying through and a few Brown Thornbills foraging among the lower tree trunks. Over the stile and along the Long Point Track to Coimadai Creek and then the circuit back to the cars. Thirteen people attended and provided plenty of ears to record Spotted and Striated Pardalotes, White-throated Treecreeper and Yellow-faced Honeyeater while eyes recorded Grey Fantail and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Fan-tailed Cuckoos trilled incessantly but none were seen.
The only waterbirds of the morning were a pair of Grey Teal on the Coimadai. Raptors were initially a single Brown Goshawk overhead but a Brown Falcon was added on later inspection of a photo.
Back at the cars we then drove to the picnic area at Lake Merrimu. This is a very mowed, fenced and apparently unpromising area, with wind sweeping across the lake. Scopes are useful as waterbirds are quite distant. After the Welcome Swallows, Little Corellas and Little Ravens overhead the list from the water and banks grew. Ducks seen were Grey Teal, Pacific Black Duck and Australian Shelduck. Australasian Grebe and Great-crested Grebe swam and Masked Lapwing were sighted on a close bank. A walk around the lightly wooded perimeter of the reserve added White-plumed Honeyeater and Common Bronzewing. The only raptor here had been a Nankeen Kestrel over the water when the Bird of the Day appeared as we were winding down. An adult White-bellied Sea-Eagle flew around the bend and was then pursued by the lapwings and landed on the nearer promontory and the water.
A grand finish to a successful day. Thirty species at Long Forest, 23 at Merrimu and a cumulative total of 46 species. We thanked Graeme for his preparation and knowledge which led to this result.
The group numbered 16 when we assembled by the information centre on Tuesday at 13.00 in calm sunny weather, perfect for birdwatching.
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.
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.
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.
The area also hosted Black Swans and Australian Pelicans while cormorants included Little Pied, Pied and Little Black.
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.
Then it was across to Fisher’s Wetlands, Newhaven, where there were ducks, Chestnut Teal, Australian Wood Ducks, Australasian Shovelers and Australian Shelducks.
Both Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes were present while Black-winged Stilts foraged on the far side of the water.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 60
Thirty members assembled on Australia Day in the Beach Car Park in pleasantly cool conditions following horrendously hot weather the previous day. On the way in, several people had seen a pair of Spotted Harriers flying over the RAAF Lake. Walking towards the shore, several Superb Fairy-wrens were seen foraging in the undergrowth and from the beach the majority of the birds seen were Silver Gulls with distant views of Australian Pelicans and Australasian Gannets.
An Australian Hobby flew low overhead and soon afterwards a Black-shouldered Kite gave everyone good views as it hovered over a nearby saltbush patch.
There were good views of a Singing Honeyeater but the real hot spot was back in the carpark where numerous small birds were feeding in a large old casuarina. Included were Yellow and Yellow-rumped Thornbills, European Goldfinch and Grey Fantail.
The members then drove to the RAAF Lake Carpark to see the new small wetland which contained plenty of water despite the dry weather. This was very productive with views of three Australian Spotted Crakes, Australasian Grebes, Pacific Black Ducks, Australian Reed-warblers and Zebra Finch.
A pair of Black-shouldered Kites perched in a dead tree and a large snake slithered off into the reeds.
After lunch the members drove to the Cheetham Wetlands car park, pausing en-route at the wetlands by the new housing estate. There, Purple Swamphens and Dusky Moorhens could be seen and a Brown Falcon perched on a power pole for a while before flying off.
From the car park members walked down to the shore. As it was low tide a lot of seabirds were at the Point and as the group cautiously approached they had good views of Common and Crested Terns, Little Pied and Pied Cormorants, Masked Plovers and with the aid of a telescope were better able to see Red-necked Stints and Curlew Sandpipers.
Walking back through the grounds of the old homestead Galahs were seen and an unidentified raptor was heard calling loudly.
Everyone agreed that this had been a most enjoyable excursion, with delightful views of numerous yachts sailing on the Bay enhancing the pleasure of recording 60 species for the day including several unusual sightings.
Many thanks go to Eleanor Dilley who provided all the photographs in this Report.
Overcast and mild weather greeted 21 birdwatchers from many areas of Victoria as we assembled in the Beach Picnic area car park. Alan and Hazel Veevers were our leaders and the car park soon added Superb Fairy-wren, New Holland Honeyeater and Red Wattlebird to the Common Starlings, Australian Magpies and Willie Wagtails most had noted on their drive in.
Time and tide wait for no bird watcher so we immediately drove to the homestead car park and walked through the pine trees to the beach. Highlights here were Zebra Finches near the fence line and an obligingly perched Brown Falcon which gave photographers very good views.
Galahs, Little Ravens and Crested Pigeons were also noted here and the squeals from a windmill were initially confusing till the machinery was noted among some trees. No birds really make that noise.
Crested Tern. Photo by Graeme Dean
Crested Tern, immature. Photo by Graeme Dean
Low tide at the beach saw a flock of Chestnut Teal, many Silver Gulls and Crested Terns and the occasional Pacific Black Duck and Pacific Gull perched on the exposed rocks.
Pacific Gull. Photo by Graeme Dean
Australian Pelican. Photo by Graeme Dean
Farther along we encountered Pied and Little Pied Cormorants which enabled people to compare the sizes and markings for future identification.
Heading back to the cars prior to lunch Black-shouldered Kite and Nankeen Kestrel were added to our growing raptor list which also had couples of Whistling Kites and Black Kites seen earlier.
A brief stop at the water control area of a housing estate added Dusky Moorhen and Purple Swamphen. One of the swamphens caused some excitement when it appeared to be eating a yabby but closer inspection showed ‘lunch’ to be the rhizome of one of the water plants, complete with apparent ‘legs’.
Our lunch was accompanied by several optimistic magpies and enlivened by fairy-wrens in great numbers foraging low around us. The magpies moved out and an enormous racket drew our attention to their mobbing of a raptor. It was only slightly larger than the magpies but they had the numbers and the raptor departed. Much discussion about its identity followed but no one had managed a clear view. The ID came later after photos had been closely examined – the wings and tail were those of a Brown Goshawk. Cameras now freeze action much better than human vision.
After lunch we walked beside the beach. Initially there were only a few fairy-wrens foraging among the seaweed but carefully continuing south we encountered more gulls, teal and terns roosting on the exposed rocks close to shore. Scanning yielded two Musk Ducks swimming beyond the crowd and then a rather unexpected sighting – an immature Australasian Gannet resting on one of the rocks.
White-faced Heron and Australian White Ibis were also present in small numbers and a few Grey Teal were swimming together in one area. Back through the scrub where Grey Fantails dominated sightings and then on to a new wetland near the RAAF Lake car park. Expectations may have been low as we approached it but soon “grebes” were called.
Both Australasian and Hoary-Headed were present and diving out of sight as grebes are wont to do. The omnipresent Chestnut Teal were noted, plus a couple of Pacific Black Ducks and then there were the dotterels on the further, smaller lake.
Both Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel were there and a pair of the latter were engaging in a bobbing display to each other. The edges of the reed beds housed Australian Reed-Warblers (silent at this time of the year) and Golden-headed Cisticolas perching on seed heads and making their buzzing call.
Leaving this area with regret we gathered for bird call. Total species count was 56, very creditable for an area which is being surrounded more and more closely by housing. We thanked Hazel and Alan enthusiastically for all their preparation and care which had given us such a good day’s birding.
Skies were blue but a strengthening wind promised challenges in detecting birds. Still the weather was warm as we assembled under the leadership of Rob Grosvenor. Once all had arrived there were 22 in the group and all were delighted by the Tree Martins circling overhead and plunging down among the trees where several were observed feeding young in nests located in tree holes. Spotted Pardalotes called occasionally while Striated Pardalotes were calling and plunging inside the tree hollows around the car park. We watched as they dived into diminutive spaces and then exited very swiftly. They had reason for caution as we observed a Little Raven removing a Noisy Miner nestling despite the adult birds’ attempts to divert it. Other ravens had clearly found a food source somewhere as numbers flew past carrying something bright yellow-orange in their bills. We wondered – loquats, takeaway chips, orange? None was close enough to identify.
An interesting brief sighting near the car park area was a Varied Sittella foraging down one of the tree trunks. Both Horsefield’s and Shining Bronze-Cuckoos were heard and the latter was seen though that took some effort. The other seen cuckoo was a rufous morph of the Pallid Cuckoo which was rather quieter. The wetland was dry and the creek was reduced to a couple of very small muddy puddles in this section so waterbirds were restricted to an overflying Pacific Black Duck and a solitary White-faced Heron. Parrots were numerous – screeching Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, quieter Little Corellas, and pairs of Rainbow Lorikeets, Crimson and Eastern Rosellas and Red-rumped Parrots flew past while Galahs were heard and over at the Homestead we found Long-billed Corellas perched in a tall pine tree. The glossy-coated retired racing legends were duly admired as we walked past their paddocks.
Cleared ground was favoured by Eastern Grey Kangaroos and we saw a couple of mobs with at least 20 individuals. House Sparrows occurred near the homestead buildings plus some in the picnic area by our cars. Raptors were restricted to a Peregrine Falcon in the afternoon and in the morning a Brown Falcon and a pair of Brown Goshawks which caused many alarm calls. The falcon appeared to successfully dominate the goshawks. No robins were observed this day; Red-browed Finches were seen a couple of times; as for whistlers, there was a vocal Rufous Whistler beside the trail in the morning and a Grey Shrike-thrush in the homestead garden. The introduced species were also there – Common Starlings seemed to be having a successful breeding season around the car park, feeding young in the nests in the hollows, removing faecal sacs and trying to evade ravens which were clearly checking out the nests. Common Mynas and Blackbirds were also recorded and by walk’s end the bird list totalled 44 species, two for each participant, and we thanked Rob for his careful preparation which had reminded some of us how good this location was and had introduced others to the area for the first time.
After a week of wild winter weather a fine sunny day greeted the 30 attendees gathered at Somerton Road Picnic Area where Red-rumped Parrots, Rainbow Lorikeets and Crimson Rosellas were perched in the magnificent River Red Gums.
Taking the creek-side track, two Australian Wood Ducks were seen perched near the top of a large dead tree with lots of hollows. This was of particular interest to those unaware of their nesting habits.
Weebills and Crested Shrike-tits were among the less common species seen foraging in nearby eucalypts, whereas Superb Fairy-wrens were evident in large numbers throughout the day.
Walking up the hill towards Woodlands Homestead a Brown Falcon flew overhead and a large flock of Red-browed Finches was seen on the grass inside the gated area.
An ancient Peppercorn Tree beside the house was eagerly searched as, earlier in the day, one of the members had seen and photographed a male Mistletoebird feeding on its berries. Sadly, the bird had moved on and we had to make do with seeing the excellent photographs. A female Scarlet Robin and lots of Eastern Grey Kangaroos were seen by everyone as we walked back towards the car park.
After lunch most of the group stayed for a second walk beginning a short drive away, at the Aboriginal Cemetery car park. Near to the dam beside the old hospital more Scarlet Robins were seen, along with another Crested Shrike-tit and a pair of Golden Whistlers. A Wedge-tailed Eagle and a Whistling Kite circled high overhead. A short walk was then taken inside the Wildlife Enclosure and, thanks to the local knowledge of David and Dorothy Jenkins, resident Red-capped Robins were tracked down and eagerly photographed by those suitably equipped. Nearby a Flame Robin and a Varied Sittella were also spotted. Returning down the main track towards the car park there were further sightings of Scarlet and Flame Robins.
46 species were recorded in total and it was very gratifying to have located three species of red robins, though sadly they were far less abundant than in previous years.
The traffic was heavy, the weather was fine and 25 birders met at Braeside. Geoff Russell led a 5 km walk around the northern portion of the park and we were soon rewarded by encountering a ‘purple patch’ in the bush beside the paddocks buffering the industrial zone. At least 10 species were recorded here. The mixed feeding flock included White-browed Scrubwrens, Brown Thornbills, Red-browed Finches and Spotted Pardalotes. Superb Fairy-wrens and Grey Fantails were listed plus Grey Shrike-thrush while male and female Golden Whistlers came close. The paddock added Straw-necked Ibis, Masked Lapwing and Silver Gull with Rock Dove (or Feral Pigeon) while Australian Pelicans flew overhead. Quite a patch! Ditches were damp from recent rain and several frog species were calling. The inevitable rabbits were also present – one flushed near the ‘purple patch’. A few Cattle Egrets left the grazing cows while others stayed among the herd as the farmer’s ute approached.
By one of the wetlands four trilling birds rose and descended repeatedly, puzzling many until they were identified as Australian Pipits. Many of us had not previously heard their calls. The park is noted for its varied environments so we walked quietly through a reed bed searching for bitterns (a fortunate few up front briefly saw two Australasian Bitterns while the rest at the rear were content with Golden-headed Cisticolas). At one pond a Great Egret posed on the roof of a hide. The raptor list was started by a Swamp Harrier but expanded to eventually include Wedge-tailed and Little Eagle, Whistling Kite, Brown Goshawk and Brown Falcon. Most soared high or flew low and fast. Dead trees served as perches for many including Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Long-billed Corellas, Rainbow Lorikeets and Red-rumped Parrots. We hoped for robins near fences which are used as a lookout for these pouncing birds, and eventually we were rewarded with male and female Flame Robins. Soon we came to a larger lake and the number of waterbirds increased, though not the number of species. Eurasian Coots dominated one area with Pacific Black Ducks coming second. A few Chestnut and Grey Teal were present and a solo Hardhead was recorded by a few watchers.
On a smaller pond Dusky Moorhen completed the triumvirate of coot, moorhen and swamphen while an active Willie Wagtail entertained us as it swooped across the water surface. Some stragglers eventually caught up with the main group near the bird hide which had been disappointingly short of birds and then it was back to a well-deserved late lunch and an interim bird call for those who needed to leave early. We’d notched up 58 species by then and so we set off on the short afternoon walk hoping to pass 60 for the day. In this afternoon walk we added Common Bronzewing, Dusky Moorhen and Scarlet Robin with an interesting sighting of a Cockatiel. This was judged an aviary escapee as its plumage included considerable white feathers and, though it appeared to be foraging for seeds, it allowed humans to approach rather too closely for its own safety.
By day’s end we had 62 species (63 unofficially including the Cockatiel) and we thanked Geoff enthusiastically for his work in presenting this rewarding area.