Ten intrepid birders braved the cold and wet of mid-winter Melbourne to attend the beginners outing at Jells Park. When we first arrived the usual cacophony of squawking Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and squealing Rainbow Lorikeets was replaced with an eerie silence. This didn’t last long, as both of the above-mentioned birds soon made their present felt, along with numerous Noisy Miners.
Heading off on the walk, a Striated Pardalote was heard but could not be seen. Then the bird of the day was found, a resting Nankeen Night Heron. We also had excellent views of a Grey Butcherbird in this area before heading off again. We then entered the domain of the Spotted Pardalote with numerous pairs seen along the next 500 or so metres, along with Grey Fantails and Brown Thornbills.
We continued to the bird hide where we saw a good range of waterbirds, highlighted by a male Blue-billed Duck, but also including the usual suspects: Pacific Black Duck, Australian Wood Duck, Australasian Darter, Dusky Moorhen, Australasian Swamphen, Eurasian Coot and Australasian Grebe. Being a relatively small contingent, everybody was able to obtain good views of all the birds.
Further around the lake we encountered a feeding White-faced Heron, Great and Little Pied Cormorants, Hardheads, a Hoary-headed Grebe, Musk Ducks and of course the resident colony of Australian White Ibis. Grebes were extremely common on our walk today, particularly the Australasian.
In a grassy paddock we were fortunate to see a small flock of about ten Eastern Rosellas looking resplendent in their multi-coloured plumage. This was the only Rosella species seen but they were at a number of sites along both the morning and afternoon walks and their beauty was always appreciated.
Almost back to the carpark for lunch we at first saw Musk Lorikeets flying over but were then fortunate to find a small number in a tree close to the carpark. Good views were had and it was a first for one of the beginners
We tallied 41 species for the morning walk, which was a respectable total for mid-winter.
After lunch we went over the bridge and headed north hoping to find some new species to add to our list. It didn’t take long to find some Cattle Egrets in an adjacent cow paddock. This was followed by a large flock of Starlings, a Masked Lapwing and a pair of Chestnut Teal.
As the rain was threatening to increase we called it a day, and retreated to the car park. The additional four species from the afternoon walk took our tally to 45.
Thirty members assembled at the Southern Carpark in perfect weather conditions: sunny, light winds and not too hot. Soon after commencing the walk towards the wetlands, a very well camouflaged Tawny Frogmouth was spotted in one of the gum trees. It gave everyone a good view and posed for many photographs before we moved on.
On the first pond a pair of Pink-eared Ducks was seen carefully shepherding their eight newly-hatched ducklings from one safe place to another. On the shore were a pair of Masked Plovers which dwarfed a nearby Black-fronted Dotterel, as did three Royal Spoonbills which were feeding in the background. The Dotterel was the first of many to be seen during the morning walk.
Continuing clockwise around the ponds some Australian White Ibis and many more waterbirds were seen. These included several more of the common Duck species, Australian Pelicans, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants and Australasian Darters.
At the far end of the wetlands a Black-shouldered Kite perched on top of a dead tree, leaving it several times for short hunting trips before returning to the roost. On one such occasion it became involved in a fracas with a much larger Brown Goshawk, effectively chasing it away.
Several bushbirds were also seen in this area, as well as on the return track, including Grey Butcherbird, European Goldfinch, Superb Fairy-wren and Grey Fantail.
After lunch most of the members drove to the northern end of Braeside and parked in the Pelican Carpark. A brief visit to the Visitor Centre was made so that the group could see more of the park’s raptors, albeit stuffed, before setting off on the Heathland Trail. A female Common Bronzewing feeding on the path did not seem threatened by our presence and walked across into the sunshine so that her wonderful feathers shone brightly. On reaching the ponds a few more Ducks were seen, along with Purple Swamphens and Long-necked Turtles. An Echidna was rescued from some children who were poking it with a stick, and then more small bushbirds were spotted. Another new species for the afternoon was a Pied Currawong which was heard calling in the distance.
The beautiful weather and abundant birdlife made this a most enjoyable excursion with 56 species recorded on the day.
Thanks to Eleanor Dilley, Steve Hoptroff and Bevan Hood for providing the photographs.
Forty-four members gathered by the lake enjoying warm sunshine and little wind. A female Australasian Darter was perched drying her wings on a platform close to the boardwalk and appeared unfazed by our large group of admirers. Several other Darters were seen, including males, along with Little Black, Little Pied, and Great Cormorants, either swimming or resting on the islands.
A mixed flock of Purple Swamphens, Eurasian Coots and Dusky Moorhens stood on the grassy embankment close to the path giving everyone excellent views. Unfortunately, a large area of the wetland was fenced off with major works being undertaken which involved removing most of the vegetation and scraping out the ponds.
A few brave Chestnut Teal were looking most uncomfortable curled up on the newly placed rocks.
The members proceeded towards the Hull Road Wetlands and paused to see a female Golden Whistler and, later, a Grey Butcherbird. A large flock of loft pigeons circling overhead caused some interest, but these were soon spooked by the arrival of a threatening Brown Goshawk. There were disappointingly few birds on these wetlands, with a pair of Coots being the only species seen on the water. Walking back down the road a pair of Australian King-Parrots provided a welcome highlight. 44 species were recorded for the morning.
After lunch most of the members drove to Spadonis Reserve for a second walk. A wombat grazing in a nearby paddock was an unusual sighting, but sadly it could be seen that it was suffering from mange. Walking along the track by the Yarra River, Bell Miners could be heard but dense vegetation prevented them from being seen. Not so a flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos that were feeding in wattle trees on the riverbank. Initially it was thought there were only a few birds, but as they flew away more than 20 were counted.
A male Golden Whistler was much admired as the sunshine brought out the brilliant colour of his breast. At the end of the track beside a farmer’s field a mob of kangaroos stood watching the members as a pair of Australian Pelicans flew overhead. Several other birds were also seen in this area including New Holland Honeyeaters, Grey Shrike Thrush and Red-browed Finch. 26 species were recorded for Spadonis Reserve. The total number of different species for the day was 52. Some good sightings, combined with a new afternoon location and perfect weather conditions, all contributed to a most enjoyable day.
Many thanks to Eleanor Dilley for providing her photographs.
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 39
Photographs by Eleanor Dilley
Perfect weather conditions for birdwatching – sunny, little wind and temperatures in the low 20s – greatly added to the enjoyment for the 38 members who attended the outing to Pound Bend.
From the carpark several parrot species were heard calling loudly, at times drowning out the efforts of the leaders to explain things, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were the major culprits! Rainbow Lorikeets were also plentiful, with the bright sun showing up their brilliant colours.
Walking along the river track it was pleasing to see several Eastern Yellow Robins and a pair of White-throated Treecreepers as well as numerous Grey Fantails and Superb Fairy-wrens.
Several ducks were on the river, including a pair of Chestnut Teal which is a very unusual sighting in this location. There were also three Little Pied Cormorants, one perched and others feeding in the river.
A Tawny Frogmouth perched close to the track with its beak thrust in the air in camouflage pose was a delight to all, especially the photographers. There were fewer birds to be found after the track left the riverside, heading for the higher, drier ground. Laughing Kookaburra and Magpie Lark were amongst the few species seen there. As the return track approached the river the pleasing sound of small birds could again be heard and Grey Shrike-thrush was added to the list.
Lunch was eaten near the carpark and surprisingly no birds arrived to steal the sandwiches! After birdcall about half the group walked along the river track towards the tunnel and they were delighted to see a magnificent Australasian Darter perched on a log in the river with its deep chestnut breast shining in the sun. Members also enjoyed watching numerous Welcome Swallows flying in and out of the tunnel. A total of 39 species was recorded for the day which was a reasonable tally for this time of year.
Many thanks, once again, to Eleanor Dilley, who provided all the above photographs.
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.
While waiting for all attendees to arrive Eastern Rosella, Noisy Miner and White Ibis were all seen overhead but what was most surprising was the sight of a large hare which took off down the path near the car park.
Eventually it was time to commence the walk by then we had 35 eager birders ready to go. It was a lovely sunny winter’s morning, only hampered by the strong, cold northerly wind. A Laughing Kookaburra waited for us at the start of our walk.
A Striated Pardalote was calling in a large gum tree but proved impossible to see due to the windy conditions. Shortly into the walk we deviated from our planned route to try and find a Tawny Frogmouth which had been seen in the area. Although unsuccessful, we did find a Grey Fantail and a female Golden Whistler. Some also had close views of a Grey Butcherbird.
Back on track, many were fortunate to see a Spotted Pardalote flying into and out of its nest in the side of the creek. This was quickly followed by a Grey Shrike Thrush, a Black Faced Cuckoo Shrike, Brown Thornbill and a male Golden Whistler looking resplendent in the bright sunshine.
Eventually we arrived at the bird hide by the lake where Pink Eared Duck, Grey Teal and a few Freckled Ducks were seen together with hundreds of White Ibis, a Darter, Little Pied Cormorant, Eurasian Coot and both Hoary Headed and Australasian Grebes.
Further down the track, a solitary Chestnut Teal was found as well as a pair of Pacific Black ducks, Purple Swamp hens and Dusky Moorhens.
A single Australian Pelican was seen flying above the lake, and was later seen on the water.
When we reached the lake again some eagle-eyed birders managed to find a single Royal Spoonbill amongst the many hundreds of White Ibis. A pair of Little Ravens watched us pass by on our way out of the sanctuary.
Following our walk around the lake, we picked up Wood Duck, Willy Wagtail and a White-faced Heron before we returned for lunch.
Over lunch Galahs, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Eastern Rosellas were seen.
After lunch with a slightly reduced number we crossed the bridge and headed north towards Nortons Park. Although the strong wind made birding difficult in this exposed area we managed an extra seven species for the day with Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Straw-necked Ibis, Silver Gull, Blackbird, Indian Myna and Starling all seen, giving a grand total for the day of 52 species.
A good total for the conditions and a good walk for the birders.
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.
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.
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.
The overnight weather was not reassuring as wind and rain had been widespread and our first arrivals needed to shelter during a brief fall. However the rain radar showed the band of showers passing and we drew reassurance from that, especially when the clouds occasionally broke and bright sunshine resulted. When all had assembled we numbered 17 with Pat Bingham leading the group. Some had visited Pipemakers in the past and some were quite new to birding so we were a happily mixed group.
The car park area was the domain of White-plumed Honeyeaters and Red Wattlebirds but there were also several Willie Wagtails, Australian Magpies and Common Blackbirds.
Little Ravens called overhead and the honeyeaters were augmented by New Holland Honeyeaters and those purveyors of ‘false news’, the frequently alarm-calling Noisy Miners. Not far from the car park a few House Sparrows interested those whose local birds had disappeared. This commensal species seems to be in worldwide decline without a single definitive cause.
Superb Fairy-wrens were common, flying low, foraging in the understory and dashing across the paths. Many were males in eclipse plumage. The well-grown lignin plantings provide such smaller birds with shelter. We set off toward the river which is vastly improved from its past as an industrial dump. Now fish have returned and Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebes, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants and Eurasian Coots plus an Australasian Darter were joined by Silver Gulls and a few humans with rods taking advantage of the piscine possibilities.
The flock of gulls was an indicator of the weather along the coast today and this was confirmed by a Crested Tern using the river rather than the coast. Musk Lorikeets in a tree beside the path delighted us and at least one watcher was very happy to have clear, close and prolonged views showing the birds’ markings.
Red-rumped Parrots foraging in the grass beside the path also gave good, close views but also challenged photographers to clearly record the differences between the brilliant male and the drabber female.
Our path took us beside the golf course, where a magpie’s nest had been made with the usual sticks plus bright green plastic string (human refuse recycled in a good avian cause). Across to the Sanctuary Walk where the ponds supported Pacific Black Ducks (swimming in tandem as if mating season was starting) plus Dusky Moorhen and a lone Hardhead which was considered the best bird today.
The riverbank Australasian Darter was a young female, perching inconspicuously on a ‘whitewashed’ rock not far away from a White-faced Heron. Fallen boughs must not be allowed to menace the public and the maintenance tractor drivers were working despite the holiday when we visited. They expressed interest in our sightings in their area.
We lunched and after walked further along the riverside but added only a few species to the morning’s tally. By day’s end our bird list totalled 40 species and we thanked Pat wholeheartedly for her preparation which resulted in such a satisfactory day’s birding.
For early arrivals birding started promptly as there was a large flock of ducks, Australian Woods plus a few Pacific Blacks, beside the entrance road. Not fazed by vehicles they waddled suicidally in front of cars and drivers were required to stop and wait for “the bird problem” to resolve itself.
The birding continued in the car park where the early arrivals listed cockatoos and parrots as dominant.
A large mob of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos plus some Little Corellas arrived then a lone Long-billed Corella foraged near a Straw-necked Ibis across from the playground while flying around were Galahs, Rainbow Lorikeets, Eastern and Crimson Rosellas and Australian King-Parrots.
Spotted Pardalotes called and our first Common Bronzewings were sighted here. Australian Magpies seemed to be aggressively “sorting out” their young and Noisy Miners, as always, attempted to drive off other species.
John Bosworth led the walk and the attendance of 25 people included members from other branches and visitors. We set off to the first pond south-east of the car park where our waterbird list grew with the addition of Chestnut and Grey Teal as well as Eurasian Coot, that cosmopolitan species.
Continuing on our circular course past the larger pond, where most saw Golden-headed Cisticola, we walked under Stud Road via the pedestrian underpass. The hope here was to proceed to the area where adjacent paddocks come close to the reserve and scan the fence line for robins. No robins were observed but a low-flying Australian Pelican was noted.
We returned along the western edge of the park, again checking out the potential of the larger lake’s edges. Lunch was starting to look very good as we headed back to the cars and the morning’s bird call numbered 48 species at first count, a very pleasing result.
Only two raptors had been recorded – a Little Eagle and a Brown Goshawk – both soaring above the tree tops. Some had to depart after lunch but 16 drove to the bush at the Police Paddocks Reserve, which was only a very short distance as the raven flies from our morning walk but took some time to reach by road.
Here the habitat differed from the morning and among the denser trees we added a female Golden Whistler, White-eared Honeyeater and good sightings of Brown Thornbill, Grey Shrike-thrush and Eastern Spinebill.
At walk’s end the species list totalled 53, and all voted it a great day’s birding as we thanked John for his care and preparation.
The meeting point car park filled with cars as 24 assembled under cloudy skies in Wonthaggi. Rain storms had fallen the previous day so we were grateful for a cold but dry day. Nola Thorpe led the walk and warned us that her recent recce had yielded very few birds in the heathland. However we were a hopeful mix of Melbourne and Wonthaggi birders as we drove off in convoy – you never know with birding.
The heathlands car park was already occupied by a pair of horse riders, regulars, who wished us good birding as they set off. Initially Nola’s dire prediction looked accurate for we saw and heard little. Then there were Grey Shrike-thrush calls and glimpses of New Holland Honeyeaters. In more timbered country there were Spotted Pardalote, Grey Fantail and Grey Butcherbird. Near a small dam, five Australasian Shelducks flew overhead.
The dam, which birds frequent in summer, was uninhabited as recent rains had provided plenty of surface water elsewhere. A small flock of Red-browed Finches foraged on the ground and White-eared Honeyeaters called and perched on emergent boughs, seeming to take on the roles of Singing Honeyeaters elsewhere. A cool burn had been done about a month previously and it was interesting to see the growth of grass blades and of the Xanthorrhoea bases below the burn line.
The heathlands are a mosaic of different burnt zones which will hopefully provide habitat for many species. We searched unsuccessfully for the elusive Southern Emu-wren and the Striated Fieldwren before returning to the cars to drive to the desalination plant. The car park was under surveillance as we assembled – several Eastern Grey Kangaroos watched quietly from a bracken patch.
We lunched at the picnic area of the desal plant before walking on the trails and checking the ponds. Here waterbirds predominated with large flocks of Pacific Black Ducks and Grey Teal. A few Eurasian Coots and fewer Chestnut Teal and Australasian Grebes were also present.
Both White-faced and White-necked Herons used the ponds and Straw-necked Ibis flew over. Raptors here were Black-shouldered Kite, Nankeen Kestrel, Swamp Harrier and Peregrine Falcon while Welcome Swallows swooped across the ponds. As always, Superb Fairy-wrens were among the reed beds. Back to bird call and the group’s lists were 36 species in the heathlands, 39 species at the desalination plant and a gratifying total of 59 species for the day.
We thanked Nola for all her preparation which had produced such a great result for this cold season of the year.