On Friday 21 April, Pat Bingham led the U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk at Blackburn Lake Sanctuary. On this cold, wet morning, umbrellas were put to good use by the 15 people who attended. Twenty five species were seen with nice views of Spinebills feeding in Correa bushes as well as both Pied and Grey Currawongs. They walked right under the roosting Tawny Frogmouths but it was too wet to look up much. Pat found them the next day when she was again at the same location.
On Saturday 22 April Pat Bingham led the Friends of Blackburn Creeklands Bird Survey. Eighteen people attended and they found 29 species. There were plenty of ‘big’ birds like Gang-gangs, Galahs, King Parrots, Pied Currawongs and Little Ravens. The many Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets were all very noisy. Only Brown Thornbills and a couple of Grey Fantails of the smaller fry were sighted.
Graeme Hosken again led the Breakfast with the Birds at Wilson Park in Berwick walk on Sunday 23 April. It was a perfect morning for birding with no wind and mild conditions. Several new faces joined the group for the two hour walk around the park. Twenty four species were sighted during the morning with Striated Thornbill being added to the list. The list for this bi-annual activity now totals 86 species. All enjoyed their breakfast at the walk’s end.
The unpredictable weather has had a negative effect on our October activities.
On Sunday, 9 October 2016 Graeme Hosken led a group of 11 people on a walk through Wilson Park in Berwick. The area was sheltered from the worst of the wind and an 8am start assisted too. Twenty eight species were found on their walk and this was followed by a lovely breakfast supplied by the Friends of Wilson Park.
On the same day Sonja Ross and Sally Heeps were to lead a walk through the Granite Hills in South Morang. This walk was cancelled due to the dangerous high winds forecast. It was organised by a staff member from the City of Whittlesea. Hopefully we can assist them at a later date.
On Saturday, 15 October 2016 Janet Hand set up an information table at the Mitchell Annual Spring Plant Expo and sales in Kilmore. It was the first lovely weekend for a while and many people decided to attend other outdoor activities in the district but many interesting conversations were had.
The sixth bird survey was scheduled on Sunday, 16 October on a Kinglake West property as part of the Discover Whittlesea’s Native Birds sponsored by the City of Whittlesea. Again the weather was responsible for this being postponed until Sunday, 20 November. Thank you Tazmin Duggan and Sally Heeps for volunteering for the 16th.
On Friday, 21 October 2016 Pat Bingham led 11 walkers from the Hawthorn U3A along the Blackburn Lake Creeklands. Pat reported the ‘weather was grey, no rain at the time but very wet underfoot.’ They found 20 species including three of those nesting (Noisy Miner, Pied Currawong and Tawny Frogmouth). They also saw a large melon-sized, very cold and bedraggled bee swarm hanging from an Acacia twig – probably took off on Thursday (very warm day) and got caught out by the change of weather.
On Saturday, 22 October 2016 Pat returned to the same venue to assist the Friends of Blackburn Lake Creeklands conduct their survey. On this occasion 20 people came and they found 24 species. It was another cold start (mufflers and gloves all round) so it was great that anyone turned up at all to join Ian Moodie (Pat’s co-leader) and Pat, and with all the local knowledge and extra pairs of eyes and ears they helped to make it a good morning in spite of the weather. The bee swarm was still on its twig, colder and wetter and less movement of bees around it than the day before. The group found five more Tawny Frogmouths but still only one nest; nesting Kookaburras and Grey Butcherbirds both feeding young; nesting Wood Ducks as well as Pacific Black Ducks with families of fluffy ducklings. The rain started after about an hour so the hot drinks and lovely breakfast after the walk, courtesy of the Friends’ Committee, was very much appreciated.
The same weather pattern continued onto Sunday, 23 October 2016 when we had our 18th Breakfast with the Birds at Banyule. With an occasional shower predicted, half of those who had booked chose to stay in bed. The ground was wet under foot from the 22ml of rain on the Saturday but the participants who did arrive and my leaders had dressed appropriately. It’s a pity that the 50 people who booked, and didn’t turn up, obviously don’t care about the effort and expense that goes into organising such a function. The Banyule City Council organised another wonderful sit-down breakfast spread with plenty of food left over. Thank you to Jim Mead and his six staff members from the Banyule City Council for all their help and preparation.
I appreciate the distances that many of my leaders travelled on the day with most not being locals. Special thanks to my leaders Pat Bingham, Peter Dynes, Lyn Easton, Anthea Fleming, Carol Griffiths, Robert Grosvenor, Daphne Hards, Richard Loyn, Elva and Ian Muir, Shirley and Bill Ramsay, Sonja Ross and Scot Sharman.
Again the bird list didn’t disappoint. Daphne and Shirley’s group added the 123rd species to our BwtB list with two Rufous Fantails found down near the river. 61 species were found within Banyule Flats and 39 in the Warringal wetlands area. With five species being found in the Warringal area that weren’t found in Banyule, the total species for the day was 66 species. Ten species were noted breeding in Banyule Flat and only one in Warringal. With the wetlands full, all the waders have left and there was no raptors seen on the day. Shining Bronze-Cuckoos and Fan-tailed Cuckoos were observed as well as five species of Honeyeaters.
My thanks to all those who have been kind enough to help with our BirdLife Melbourne Education activities.
On Wednesday 6 April, Janet Hand spoke to 25 members of the Doncaster & Templestowe Historical Society about the different species of birds that can be found in Manningham. The open fire was welcome on this wet evening.
On Saturday 9th April Geoff Deason and Jenny Frohlich assisted with the bird survey of the Blackburn Lake Sanctuary. Twenty-nine species were seen within the sanctuary.
On Wednesday 13th April twelve ladies from the Mercy Boronia Hostel met our members at the recently refurnished Blackburn Lake Education Centre.
They were given a brief history of the area by Peter Dempsey (Blackburn Lake Committee) and then a PowerPoint presentation on the different style of nests that birds build. It was then their turn to construct a birds nest with coconut fibre and line it with cotton wool. The ladies were then given morning tea and a short walk in the Sanctuary before leaving by bus at midday. Thank you to the helpers on the day – Peter Dempsey, Gay Gallagher, Jenny Frohlich and Janet Hand.
The following day Janet Hand visited the Heidelberg Pre-school and spoke to the 4year old group about backyard birds. They were given a short PowerPoint and shown some birds from our skins collection. As they have a treed area, they already had a good knowledge of the local species that rest and nest nearby.
Pat Bingham led a group from the Hawthorn U3A on a walk on Friday 15 April. They visited the Karkarook Park in Heatherton. Seventeen people attended, including an American birdo, and they saw 27 species. These included a female Blue-billed Duck, Red-browed Finches, 60 Long-billed Corellas and a Black-fronted Dotterel. A Pacific Gull was seen here – an unusual visitor to inland waters, as well as a very active Copperhead snake. Perhaps the warm weather brought out this late sighting.
On Saturday 23 April, the Friends of Blackburn Lake Creeklands conducted their biannual survey. This survey was led by Pat Bingham and Ian Moodie and produced 29 species. The most interesting being ‘lots of’ (more than six) Australian King-Parrots, Musk Lorikeets and Tawny Frogmouths. Four Cattle Egret and three Gang-gang Cockatoos flew overhead. The usual female Golden Whistler was found in the same tree as on other Autumn surveys. For the first time in four years an Australian Wood Duck was added to the list. Twenty five people attended this survey and were divided into two groups. Thanks Pat and Ian.