6 March 2019
Forecast: Strong wind from the SW. Possible shower. Temperature: 14 -16°C
The forecast was spot-on. Unfortunately, the wind through the trees for most of the morning prevented hearing birds calling. Two showers for the day. One lasted a few minutes in the morning and a second, in the afternoon, caused a run for tree cover as hail joined the rain for five minutes with sunshine following.
Eighteen persons attended, a few, their first visit to Braeside. Graeme Hosken led the outing as Geoff Russell was unavailable as his wife was not well.
Geoff completed a recce in February and suggested a route for today leaving the Cockatoo Car Park and heading west to the Howard Road Trail and then following the trail south along the western boundary of the park passing the Community Nursery and Indigenous Garden then the Wetland Circuit which skirts the southern boundary of the wetland and on to the Red Gum Picnic Area for lunch, then back to the Car Park via the Red Gum Trail.
Understory was very dry due to low rainfall during the past months. Bird activity minimal in the bush along the boundary walk and the wind didn’t help as it buffeted the trees and bushes. Once out of the wind, sightings improved, Superb Fairy-wrens joined by Yellow Thornbills and then Grey Fantails with a couple of their Rufous cousins, the latter the highlight for the day. For several in the group, the Rufous Fantail was their first sighting.
On reaching the wetland, the wind wasn’t as strong and the Sun was shining assisting with the identification of the many water birds.
Nine duck species, including Australasian Shoveler, Blue-billed Duck and at least 20 Freckled Duck.
Several Royal Spoonbill, Little and Great Egret, and on the mud flats, Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel plus several Masked Lapwing.
Only one raptor for the day, a lone Black-shouldered Kite having a few problems hovering in the windy conditions.
At lunch, the count was 52 species which included two Straw-necked Ibis testing the hard ground in the Red Gum picnic area. On returning to the cars, along the Red Gum Track via the Phar Lap Track, hundreds of Martins, Fairy outnumbering Tree, were feeding over the grassed area to the east.
Eastern Rosella, White-plumed Honeyeater and a lone Pied Currawong were a few of the several species added to the days observations which totalled 62 bird Species. Mammals. Several rabbits only, and no frogs calling. The lack of honeyeater species could be due to eucalyptus not in flower.
An enjoyable day.
Graeme Hosken, BirdLife Melbourne