10 May 2023
Leader: Rhonda Miller
What a blessing that the weather had cleared up somewhat in the still, cool and damp clearing of O’Donohue’s picnic ground. Two wallabies grazed quietly in one corner while, car by car, a bevy of birdwatchers gathered on the other. Sixteen keen and hardy souls, most of whom would have been forgiven for staying under the covers on such a miserable Melbourne morning, were now rugging up for a walk in the forest.
We started on O’Donohue’s track. After a brief glimpse of a Grey Shrike-thrush near the gate, our leader Rhonda proceeded slowly and alertly. The forest, we know, can be slow to reveal and quick to hide. The majesty of the mountain ash, the beauty of the tree ferns, the moss and lichen covered trunks and logs and the damp leaf litter all helped to paint a wonderful picture, even on a cool grey morning.
We stayed on O’Donohue’s track down to Sherbrooke Falls and were soon rewarded with some brief sightings of White-browed Scrubwrens, Brown Thornbills, Yellow Robin, and a female Golden Whistler.
Sightings were harder to come by than sounds…Sulphur-crested Cockatoos continually announced their presence, screaming and squawking high up in the canopy. Crimson Rosellas also seemed numerous with their bell-like calls and squeaky chattering, and just occasionally they perched in the mid-story nearby.
Our patient progress paid off as Rhonda got us a Superb Lyrebird at the side of the path…probably a female or a young male judging by the tail…the bird was very obliging as it stayed in the same small area at the base of a large eucalypt scratching and digging at litter, affording everybody a look.
Arriving at the area near the falls the openness of the canopy was quite striking…very light and open compared with much of the forest…. a result of a very bad storm in June 2021 and massive fallen trees. The following link gives some interesting detail about the forest here.
Sherbrooke Forest – National icon, urban forest and sanctuary – A case study in bush regeneration – Parks and Recreation Collection – Narratives (parcaustralia.com.au)
Laughing Kookaburra (top left and top right by Maarten Grabandt; bottom right and bottom by Steve Hoptroff)
No new species were added at the falls. We continued our loop with a walk back up the Sherbrooke track to the Sherbrooke picnic ground. We added a Grey Fantail, a couple of Kookaburras and a single Lewin’s Honeyeater before some of the group were lucky enough to see a second Superb Lyrebird at the Link Track.
From the Sherbrooke picnic ground, we took the Sherbrooke Lodge Road back to O’Donohue’s Picnic ground. This short stretch proved productive with a good sighting of a White-throated Treecreeper and some further small birds which turned out to be Striated Thornbills. An Australian Magpie and two Little Ravens were also noted here.
A quick check of the list at lunch resulted in the addition of a Pied Currawong and 2 Galahs.
After lunch at the car park, we set off in convoy to the nearby Ferny Creek Reserve to explore a landscape that was a little more open. We did another loop walk from the oval around the back of the ornamental gardens to the Tan track and then a return via the track alongside Sherbrook Road. This walk added a few species not seen in the forest. Little Wattlebird, Red Wattlebird, Grey Butcherbird, Pacific Black Duck, Welcome Swallow and Australian King Parrot.
Four species I think rate a special mention…
Eastern Yellow Robin for being quite numerous but photo shy.
Kookaburra for being playful and photogenic.
Australian King Parrot for hiding away too long.
Superb Lyrebird for showing up…twice!
The bird records for the day are spread over two surveys, one for the morning and one for the afternoon and can be found via the links below.
Many thanks to Rhonda Miller for leading on the day and guiding us to a very good total of 23 species.
Photos kindly provided by Steve Hoptroff and Maarten Grabandt.
Bonus photographs of Superb Lyrebird by Steve Hoptroff. These were taken at the nearby Rhododendron Gardens in Olinda and show the tail: