Tag Archives: Great Cormorant

Weekdays outing to Jells Park East, Wheelers Hill

16 September 2019
Photos by Johnny Wong, member
Gret Cormorant - Johnny Wong
Great Cormorant

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.

Great Cormorant - Johnny Wong - 2
Great Cormorant showing the hooked bill of a fish predator

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.

Cattle Egret - Johnny Wong
Cattle Egret

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.

Australian Hobby - Johnny Wong
Australian Hobby

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.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekdays outing to Bellarine Peninsula

20 November 2017
All photographs by Bevan Hood, member
Whiskered Tern - Bevan Hood.jpg
Whiskered Tern

Blues skies and a light breeze combined with heat. Leaders were Leonie Robbins and Diane Tweeddale and at Balyang initially there were 12 people which swelled to 13 at our second stop, Jerringot. The sanctuary deserves to be more widely known.

Rainbow Lorikeet - Bevan Hood.jpg
Rainbow Lorikeet

High water levels from recent rains meant no mud was visible around any ponds making seeing crakes and rails unlikely. Australasian Darters were rearing pairs of well-grown young in nests overhanging the Barwon River and Little Pied Cormorants were nesting in the trees around and in the large pond. Not bad for a constructed wetland. Australian Pelicans sat on the tops of duck nesting boxes.

Purple Swamphen - Bevan Hood
Purple Swamphen

Rainbow Lorikeets and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos investigated nesting holes while a few Red-rumped Parrots and a lone Long-billed Corella foraged on the grass. This was the only location of the outing where we recorded parrots and cockatoos.

Grey Teal - Bevan Hood
Grey Teal

The ducks showed plenty of cross-breeding but a couple seemed purebred enough to call Northern Mallard and Pacific Black Duck. Chestnut Teal swam aloof from the riffraff and a very few of Grey Teal were also observed.

Chestnut Teale male - Bevan Hood
Chestnut Teal

Welcome Swallows swooped near the bridge and House Sparrows favoured the picnic area. Far above a Brown Goshawk circled and soared. The sanctuary recorded 34 species.

White-faced Heron - Bevan Hood
White-faced Heron

Next was the Barwon Heads golf club with adjacent Jerringot. Little Grassbird and Australian Reed-Warbler were calling among the reeds. A couple of Crested Pigeons bobbed near our shady lunch spot but flushed when we began assembling.

Australasian Grebe - Bevan Hood
Australasian Grebe

A highlight was the presence of several White-necked Herons flying around with one obliging bird foraging, apparently unconcerned by us eating our lunches about 4 m away.

White-necked Heron - Bevan Hood
White-necked Heron

It foraged delicately but no prey appeared to be taken despite more than one frog species calling. There were two fluffy Purple Swamphen chicks in the company of two protective adults. Time spent here, including lunch, allowed us to record 23 species.

The Hospital Swamp drive features two left turns with minimum warning and the group straggled in to the meeting area but we all made it. Again, no visible mud for crakes, rails or waders. Whiskered Terns quartered the water while our sole sighting of a Great Egret was here, across the lake on the top of a nesting box. A Swamp Harrier gave good views.

Swamp Harrier - Bevan Hood
Swamp Harrier

Less obliging was a Double-fronted Dotterel which flew rapidly in from the lake, calling, and then as quickly flew out again. Time was passing so we left this area, recording 11 species during our brief visit.

Our last stop was Tait’s Point, high above Lake Connewarre where we’d hoped for Caspian Tern. Never go hoping, it doesn’t work. Scopes came in useful here and confirmed Australian Shelduck and Wedge-tailed Eagle far away. A distant “branch-lump” resolved into an Australian Magpie which was less exciting than we’d hoped. Cormorants perched on a jetty and Great, Little Pied, Little Black and Pied were noted.

Little Pied Cormorant - Little Black Cormorant - Great Cormorant - Bevan Hood
Little Pied Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Great Cormorant

A New Holland Honeyeater lifted our “bag” of honeyeaters which had been only White-plumed Honeyeaters and numerous Red Wattlebirds till then. The sun was hot enough at 3pm to lead to a group decision to stop the outing here and tot up the list. Tait’s Pt yielded 22 species and the overall count was 54 species. Not bad considering the weather. The only birds recorded at all locations were Australian Magpie and Masked Lapwing which reflects the adaptability of these species.

Diane Tweeddale, co-leader and Co-ordinator Weekdays Outings