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Beginners Outing to Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

27 February 2016
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 51

In pleasantly mild conditions 49 members gathered at the Stringybark Carpark and were pleased to observe several species of honeyeater in the nearby trees, including Brown-headed, New Holland and White-eared. The bush tracks leading to the wetlands were similarly rewarding, with Rufous Whistlers and an immature Shining Bronze-Cuckoo being among the more unusual sightings.

New Holland Honeyeater (L) and Immature Shining Bronze-Cuckoo (R). Photographs by Kathy Zonnevylle

The water level at the wetlands was low resulting in fewer ducks than usual, though there was a White-faced Heron and both Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebes present. Two Whistling Kites were seen circling in the distance and an immature Laughing Kookaburra was making strange noises as he practised his cackle.

Australasian Grebe (L). Photo by Kathy Zonnevylle. Southern Brown Bandicoot (R). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Soon afterwards those lucky members at the front of the group saw a male Mistletoebird perched beside the track displaying his brilliant red breast and vent. There were good views of a pair of Eastern Yellow Robins and two Swamp Wallabies as the group returned to the carpark. In the information shelter a Southern Brown Bandicoot was feasting on a yellow jelly snake (clearly it had not read the notice saying they live on fungi and beetles!). The animal was without a tail, but in otherwise good condition and kept the members well entertained at lunchtime as it darted under chairs and between legs foraging for any interesting tit-bit.

Amongst the smaller bush-birds were several Spotted and Striated Pardalotes, and a lone Striated Thornbill graced us with its presence.

Spotted Pardalote (L). Photo by Eleanor Dilley. Striated Thornbill (R). Photo by Kathy Zonnevylle

After lunch about half the group continued on to the Australian Gardens and, before entering, walked up to the Trig Lookout. No additional species were seen from the top, though two extras for the bird list: Eastern Spinebill and European Goldfinch, were spotted in the Gardens. Members enjoyed walking round this area and observing the progress since the last visit, though it would appear that the birds prefer the wild bushland area to the native gardens. Fifty-one bird species were recorded for this visit – exactly the same total as for our last visit in July 2014.

See the full bird list: BM February 2016 Bird List Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

Beginners outing to Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

26 July 2014; Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers

Species count: 51

Thirty-three members set off from the Stringybark Car Park on a dull, overcast morning, soon reaching a ‘hotspot’ where Spotted Pardalotes, Golden Whistlers and several species of honeyeater were clearly visible, though few of them were calling. Many Swamp Wallabies were seen, including a group of about a dozen, which was most unusual for these normally solitary animals. At the Wylie Wetlands a male Blue-billed Duck and a pair of Australasian Shovelers were amongst the highlights and many of the group had good views of a male Mistletoebird near the dam wall. At lunchtime, two young Black-shouldered Kites were first heard and then seen harassing their parents for food.

After lunch most of the group drove to the Australian Garden Car Park, first listening unsuccessfully for Bell Miners and then walking up to the Trig Lookout from which they were rewarded with the sight of a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles first perched and then flying in the distance. Inside the Australian Garden New Holland Honeyeaters were very much the predominant species, but there were also good views of Little Wattlebirds. Australasian Grebes in full breeding plumage were engaged in territorial squabbles on the ponds.

Despite the poor weather conditions a creditable total of 51 species was recorded for the day.