On Tuesday, 1 August Gay Gallagher addressed the ladies of the Bulleen Baptist Pathways Church. About 50 ladies attended to hear her speak about attracting birds to their gardens. Great interest was shown and many questions followed. I thank Gay for standing in for me on this occasion.
On Thursday, 3 August Sally Heeps attended Lauriston Girls School in Armidale. She spoke to the Grade one girls about which birds they may see in their backyards. The chosen birds were those featured on the Victorian Birds in Backyards poster. The girls got very excited when they saw one that they recognised. Thanks Sally.
Karkarook Park in Cheltenham was the latest venue for the Hawthorn U3A’s monthly bird walk on Friday, 18 August. The day was very, very windy and cold and all birds were taking shelter (especially bush birds). Eleven people attended and they saw 27 species. The best birds were Hardheads, Caspian Tern and two Black-fronted Dotterel. A Black Swan was on a nest very close to the pedestrian bridge on the approach to the main lake – hope it survives people, push-chairs and dogs! Pat Bingham led this walk and the following photographs were taken by Hawthorn U3A member Sue Wilson. Thank you Pat and Sue.
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 57
Twenty-six members gathered on a sunny morning at the Ibis carpark where Noisy Miners certainly lived up to their name. They were the dominant species in that area, chasing away any other bush bird that dared to enter their territory. A Little Eagle circling overhead provided an exciting diversion as the group were just about to set off down the main drive towards the wetlands. It was not easy to identify for certain until a long-range photograph (attached) was examined on the camera.
The old dead trees, scattered amongst the lush live ones, enabled good views to be had of Red-rumped Parrots and Rainbow Lorikeets as they investigated the many available nesting hollows.
A few Crested Pigeons appeared, feeding in the grasslands alongside the track. Another raptor was seen but, after much discussion, it was decided that it was, again, a dark morph Little Eagle.
Walking round the wetlands in an anticlockwise direction, a hotspot was found by a shallow muddy pool.
Here were Golden-headed Cisticolas, female Flame Robins, Red-browed Finches and numerous Superb Fairy-wrens. It took a further hour-and-a-half before a male Flame Robin was spotted by a sharp-eyed observer!
There was a plentiful supply of Ducks to be seen on the main ponds, where the water levels were encouragingly high. Highlights were Blue-billed Ducks, Australasian Shovelers, Hardheads and a relatively large number of Pink-eared Ducks.
Little Pied, Little Black and Great Cormorants, together with White-faced Herons, Australian White Ibis and Australasian Darters were also present.
At the edge of the wetlands a flock of Silvereyes perched on low bushes created a beautiful sight as the sun shone on their feathers. Members then returned to the Ibis carpark for lunch.
A short afternoon walk began at the Visitor Centre and explored the mixed bushland in the vicinity. The first sighting, much to everyone’s delight, was a pair of Tawny Frogmouths resting in typical fashion on a low branch of a nearby tree.
Continuing along the Heathland Trail, both Grey and Chestnut Teal accompanied by Dusky Moorhens were seen in a small pond. A final productive area, amongst River Red Gums, was encountered before we made our way back to the cars. This yielded Golden Whistler, White-browed Scrubwren, White-plumed Honeyeater and a very colourful flock of Spotted Pardalotes.
After the bird count, it was agreed that it had been a very rewarding day with 57 species recorded.
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 57
Fine sunny weather greeted the 31 members gathered in the car park at Coolart Wetlands. The outing began by taking the track towards Luxton Lagoon, along which a ‘hot spot’ was soon reached. Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Shining Bronze-Cuckoo were both heard and eventually seen.
An Eastern Yellow Robin was observed feeding chicks in a well-hidden nest and a pair of Red-browed Finches flew to-and-fro across the path carrying nesting material deep into the low bushes. Many other bush birds were found on the approach to Minsmere Hide, including Brown Thornbills, Superb Fairy-wrens and Golden Whistlers.
Great views were had from the two-level hide of Australian White Ibis nesting on nearby log islands in the lagoon. Some nests were still being built and some had two or three eggs in already. Males were proudly presenting their mates with freshly collected sticks and leaves and joining in the squabbling going on between the closely packed birds.
Blue-billed Ducks were well spotted in a distant reed bed and Chestnut Teal were seen keeping a close watch on their fluffy youngsters.
Although there was plenty of water in the lagoon, the other wetland areas had very little. Consequently, there was not much bird activity in these areas. Lunch was had in the pleasant surroundings of the picnic area, joined by a fearless Grey Shrike-thrush and some rather pushy Australian Magpies.
The afternoon walk followed the woodland track to the beach where Red-capped Plovers were known to have nested. Three adults and three young were located in various parts of the roped area and also at the water’s edge.
A large number of hoof marks showed that the beach was heavily used by horse riders, emphasising the importance of protecting the area around the nest sites. A Little Pied Cormorant took no notice of us as it continued fishing some way offshore.
Both Red and Little Wattlebirds were evident in the woodlands and two female King Parrots engaged the group, feeding in track-side bushes.
A skull in the middle of the track had people guessing its origin, which was later verified (by Merrilyn Serong) to be that of a Koala. Back at the car park our attention was drawn to a Tawny Frogmouth which was hard to see, though everyone remaining managed to get on to it before the final bird call; a fitting finale to the day with a count of 57 species.
Despite our searches we had failed to find the Hardheads and Swans known to frequent the Luxton Lagoon. However, Merrilyn found both species after the formal close and provided lovely photographic evidence of what we had missed.