Those arriving at the car park were clearly optimists as the heavy overnight rain would have deterred pessimists. Graeme Hosken led the group which numbered 27 at the outset. Soon we had recorded the inevitable Noisy Miners plus a few Australian Wood Ducks, Eastern Rosellas and a single immature Crimson Rosella. One miner nest hung over the car park, neat on its branch, attended by two adults. An opportunistic Laughing Kookaburra checked out the car park without visible reward while the mournful calls of White-winged Choughs sounded across the swollen creek. Few of us had ever seen the creek as high as it ran deep and fast after the rain and at day’s end we also noted that the water level had come up even while we walked.
A few corellas were identified as Little Corellas as they flew over (no visible pink colouring) but screeching Sulphur-crested Cockatoos presented no ID challenges. Further into the walk we passed Magpie-larks, some collecting mud for their bowl nests. Bush birds were not prominent, perhaps since the rain or perhaps inhibited by the many miners. Australian White Ibises, however, were clearly not fazed and were flying continually overhead. They have, in fact, taken over a small island in the main lake as a breeding colony and are also spreading along the lake edges – apparently displacing other species. Ibis breeding has been successful, to judge by the young which were seen begging food from adults. A few Little Pied Cormorants still used the lake while smaller numbers of Australasian Grebe and Australasian Darter were joined by more numerous Eurasian Coots. A lone Royal Spoonbill challenged observers by hiding its head as it stood at lake’s edge and a Pink-eared Duck was initially thought to be solo until its mate appeared at the entrance to a nest box. A great sighting was a lone Freckled Duck which swam near a Black Swan beside the bank.
After an Australian Pelican obligingly glided overhead we searched the nearby bush for small birds. Mostly there were calls but few sightings. However we recorded Grey Fantail, Superb Fairy-wren, White-browed Scrubwren and Yellow-faced Honeyeater. Out from the edge of the scrub we added White-faced Heron and, less enthusiastically, Spotted Dove. The Crested Pigeons near the viewing platform were received more positively. It was now lunch break which all felt had been well-earned, even though a few needed to leave to attend to other commitments. The continuing group walked on, happily adding Chestnut and Grey Teal, Eastern Great and Cattle Egret and, thought by raptor enthusiasts the highlight of the afternoon, Australian Hobby. This like an earlier Brown Goshawk caused the smaller birds to raise the alarm vociferously against a predator.
Back to the car park and we checked the bird list for the day – 59 species had been recorded. Such a result caused smiles all round and we thanked Graeme enthusiastically for all his work which had resulted in such a successful day.
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species Count: 55
Thirty-two members met at the Southern Carpark in chilly overcast weather conditions. Amongst the first birds seen was a pair of Red-rumped Parrots feeding on a very dry parched area of grass whilst a pair of Crested Pigeons watched us from a branch in a nearby tree. Setting off towards the wetlands a Black- shouldered Kite was perched on top of a dead tree where it remained as we passed, allowing everyone to admire its beautiful markings.
The group then walked clockwise around the wetlands and were rewarded with many excellent sightings. We saw Freckled and Pink-eared Ducks; Australasian Shovelers; White-necked and White-faced Herons; Great and Little Egrets; Red-kneed and Black-fronted Dotterels; Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes plus many more common species.
On reaching the paddocks some bullocks grazing had attracted a few Cattle Egrets, while just over the fence a small flock of Flame Robins fed on the grass with the bright red breasts of the males being much admired by the Beginners.
There was plenty to see from the Bird Hide including a Royal Spoonbill, a female Australasian Darter and a Little Pied Cormorant drying its wings.
Soon afterwards we came across a mixed feeding flock of small bushbirds, including Spotted Pardalotes, Brown Thornbills, Grey Fantails, a juvenile Golden Whistler and a female Scarlet Robin.
From the last viewing platform on our circuit there were further good sightings, including a male Blue-billed Duck. Shortly before returning to the carpark there was a flyover by five Australian Pelicans.
Bird call was held after lunch with a total of 55 species being recorded. The cars were then driven to the Northern end of the park and a short walk was taken along the Heathland Trail.
In previous years this had been quite productive but this time no further species were found, no doubt due to the very dry conditions and lack of undergrowth. Despite this, everyone agreed that it had been a most successful day with great sightings on and around the wetlands.
A perfect day for birding with sunshine from a clear blue sky and no wind. Twenty attendees assembled at the car park for Jells Park East, an area considerably less busy than the main car parks. Our leader John Bosworth had done his preparation thoroughly. He hadn’t prepared the ‘bee-eater on steroids’ in one of the trees – a tangled and very colourful kite – but the area did have the expected population of Noisy Miners and Australian Magpies while Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Little Ravens were calling. Rainbow Lorikeets were plentiful and Musk Lorikeets also gave good views to those less familiar with this species.
There were even glimpses of Australian King-Parrots and a few Crimson and Eastern Rosellas. Then we started walking beside the creek and added bushbirds – Brown Thornbills, Superb Fairy-wrens and Grey Fantails dominated and there were plenty of calls from Spotted Pardalotes. Frogs called from the wetlands but it was the ‘haul’ of duck species on the east end of the lake which surprised and delighted everyone. There were Chestnut and Grey Teal, Pacific Black, Freckled, Blue-billed, Pink-eared and Australian Wood Duck as well as Australasian Shoveler (male and female) and Hardhead. Eurasian Coots and Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebes were repeatedly diving and Little Pied Cormorants dried their wings not far from a female Australasian Darter.
It’s not every walk where we record nine species of ducks in a small area and they were possibly escaping the duck hunting season in this refuge. We retraced our steps back to the cars as continuing the lake circuit entered the busy area where few birds had been observed during preliminary walks. Birds still joined the list – Red-browed Finch and Laughing Kookaburra, Eastern Spinebill, Red Wattlebird and White-plumed Honeyeater while Australian White and Straw-necked Ibis were now present at the lake and at least one Cattle Egret.
Back for a welcome lunch break followed by a walk northward with paddocks beside the park where the border of bush and grassland might have harboured robins. Alas, that hope did not materialise despite a female Scarlet Robin having been present two days previously.
There were plenty of Noisy Miners and several pairs of Magpie-larks. Those who completed the walk added Masked Lapwing and Common Bronzewing and at the final bird call the group had recorded 55 species. We voted it a great day’s birding and thanked John for his leadership.