The Autumn Survey at Blackburn Creeklands was held on Saturday 14 April, which was very windy and dull, but the 27 participants, including visitors from South Australia, Holland and China, enjoyed the 27 species they found. Everyone had superb views of Gang-gang Cockatoos, feeding on gumn uts, squabbling over perches and trying to get away from a very persistent youngster who wanted to be fed. Other Autumn visitors like King Parrots and Grey Fantails were good to see but the resident Tawny Frogmouths, Brown Thornbills and White-browed Scrubwrens were rather hard to find. 27 species is a low number for the survey (now in its 7thyear) but the dry conditions and the wind on the day may have contributed to this rather poor result.
This survey was led by Pat Bingham and Ian Moodie. Pat also led the Karkarook walk (below).
The U3A Hawthorn outing was on Friday 20 April. There were 14 attendees including six newcomers to this programme. There was bright sunshine in Melbourne but they hit a bank of fog just as they got to Karkarook Park in Heatherton, so that the birds seemed quiet and the wetlands ‘disappeared’. Luckily, a few Noisy Miners continued to chase a Brush-tailed Possum through the gums (did the possum think it was still night-time?) and Pied Currawongs called eerily from the gloom – so they at least had something to peer for! Eventually the mistiness cleared and they found six species of duck, a busy flock of Red-browed Finches acrobatically collecting grass-seed, a party of Superb Fairy-wrens including young males in their sombre winter colours and blue tails, and a Little Wattlebird (uncommon at Karkarook). The wren’s winter plumage change and the differentiation of Little and Red Wattlebirds made good talking-points for beginning birders, and the total of 33 species for the morning sent them home with lots of ‘homework’ to do. The following photographs were taken by Sue Wilson – a member of this group. I thank Pat and Sue for their contributions.
The BirdLife Melbourne Education Group has started off the year with early activities.
On Wednesday, 10 January Janet Hand addressed approximately 40 members of the Hawthorn U3A Summer School in Glen Iris. There were two parts to her presentation. First there was a PowerPoint on the work of BirdLife titled “BirdLife – preserving the future of birds.” That presentation was followed by another PowerPoint with tips on identifying birds and showing those birds found around the Hawthorn/Glen Iris area.
On Tuesday 20 February, Gay Gallagher visited the Walmsley Village Garden Club, Kilsyth. Approximately 35 people attended to see her PowerPoint on “Attracting birds to our gardens.” She said the audience was very interested and she fielded many interesting questions.
On Monday 26 February, Susan Bailey was the lunchtime speaker at a meeting of the Ferntree Gully VIEW Club who met at the Knox Club in Wantirna. Approximately 75 members were present on the day. Susan also spoke on how to attract birds into their gardens.
On Saturday 10 March Graeme Hosken led an early morning walk at Jells Park, Waverley for the Friends of Diamond Valley Parklands. Twelve members of the FODVP attended an early morning bird walk from the Information Centre and clockwise round the lake and returning to the Information Centre. A perfect morning weather-wise but groups of runners and bike riders kept them on the lookout to prevent an accident. Late nesting by a Darter was a highlight with four young in a nest. One member asked what is a small bird with red breast? A further sighting produced a male Mistletoebird with its mate close at hand. A rewarding sight for all the members. At the end of the three hour bird walk, 37 species were recorded.
Tuesday 13 March saw Graeme Hosken speak to members of the Australian Plant Society, Wilson Botanic Park, Berwick on the subject “Catching up with the Illegal’s” Shorebird Migration – Australian/Asian Flyway. Thirty-two APS members attended.
On Thursday 15 March Janet Hand was a last minute replacement Guest Speaker at the Community of Ringwood Indigenous Species Plant (CRISP) Nursery AGM in Ringwood. She spoke about “Attracting birds to your garden naturally” 30 members were present and appreciative of the effort that Janet had made to attend with only 24 hours notice.
The first U3A Hawthorn monthly Birdwatching Group walk for the year was at the Sinclair Wetlands, Glen Iris on Friday 16 March. 19 attenders including several newcomers; 20 species recorded. Best birds were a young-ish Nankeen Night-heron patiently waiting for prey adjacent to the opening of a stormwater drain while a very healthy-looking Brown Rat played about on the rocks above. Bird and rat ignored each other. Also much amusement was caused by a Kookaburra, in a very noisy dispute with two attacking Little Ravens, just over their heads. The observers thought they might, too, get dive bombed! The group also had good looks at Musk Lorikeets and a pair of Red-rumped Parrots. Thank you Pat Bingham for leading this group.
Breakfast with the Birds was held on Sunday 18 March, at Wilson Botanic Park, Berwick from 7 – 9.30am. Breakfast with the Bird walks at Wilson Botanic Park commenced in 2004 with two walks, one in Spring and the other in Autumn. Unfortunately weather conditions for the day’s walk were not pleasant with a strong north wind and the possibility for rain. Luckily the rain and a cool change came after the walk concluded. The recent dry conditions have had an effect on many plant species in the park and the ‘bush’ birds are not in their usual haunts. Missing were Superb Fairy-wren and White-browed Scrubwren. A Hoary-headed Grebe with young was the highlight for the morning. No new species were added on Sunday for the WBP Bird list which stands at 87. This list contains highlights being: Satin Bowerbird, Australasian Bittern and Channel-billed Cuckoo. Thanks to Graeme Hosken for leading the Wilson Botanic Park walks.
Janet Hand BirdLife Melbourne Education Coordinator (Phone: 9842 4177)
September and October are traditionally the busiest months for education activities and this year is no exception. We started with three different activities on Friday, 8 September.
Firstly, on 8 September Pat Bingham led members of the Deepdene U3A on a birdwalk through Banyule Flats. 11 people attended and 32 species were seen and a good time had by all. Lyn Easton (who happened to be doing her regular morning walk in the area) showed them a Tawny Frogmouth on a nest. At the swamp they saw Hardheads, Chestnut Teal and Australasian Grebes. Several pairs of Red-rumped Parrots disputed over nest hollows in the old trees in the swamp. Along the Main Yarra Trail they saw a Fan-tailed Cuckoo and had a pair of Gang-gang Cockatoos fly over.
Also on Friday, 8 September Janet Hand addressed the Hawthorn Glen Combined Probus Club in Camberwell. About 60 members were present to hear about the birds found in the area. Many expressed their surprise at the large number of species around.
That afternoon Janet Hand, Bill Ramsay and Ron Hand set up our display and information stall at the Eltham Plant Expo at the Eltham Community Centre.
The Expo ran on Saturday and Sunday 9-10 September and was run by the APS Yarra Yarra branch of the Australian Plant Society. Many other ‘plant related’ organisations were present as well as many plant sales and displays. Over 700 people attended over the weekend. This number did not include the organisers and helpers at the different displays. Janet Hand was assisted over the weekend by Elizabeth Ainsworth, Daphne Hards, Susan Bailey, Sally Heeps and Anthea Fleming.
The monthly Hawthorn U3A Birdwalk on 15 September was at Wattle Park. 14 people attended on this warm morning with lovely wattles and a big patch of Nodding Greenhood orchids but rather few birds (11 species). They saw a Tawny Frogmouth on a nest and found another pair, surviving, but their nest had been destroyed and broken egg-shells were on the ground beneath the nest site. Once again Pat Bingham led this walk.
Also on 15 September Graeme Hosken led a group of 12 people on a bird walk to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Fairy Dell. This area was part of the old Healesville Freeway reserved land behind the Wantirna shops. Much of the land was sold for development but this section was saved.
On Monday 25 September Susan Bailey addressed the members of the Darebin U3A. She spoke about the birds found in that area of Melbourne. With over 50 people attending it was the second largest crowd at a function this year. The topic obviously created a lot of interest and discussion.
‘Attracting birds to your garden naturally’ was the subject of Janet Hand’s Powerpoint to the ladies of the Yarra Valley VIEW Club at Chirnside Park on Tuesday 26 September. Fifty ladies were present for this luncheon and presentation.
On Thursday 28 September Janet Hand made her annual visit to the ladies at the Mercy Hostel in Boronia. This hostel is a member of BirdLife Australia and they are blessed with a range of birds visiting their gardens. The topic changes each year but it was back to the basics of talking about local birds again this year.
My thanks to all those who have assisted this month.
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.
On Friday 21 July, Pat Bingham lead 15 members from the Hawthorn U3A on their monthly bird walk. This month the venue was Rigby’s (Dandenong Creek Wetlands) where they saw 31 species. They saw a Swamp Harrier, Flame Robins (including three lovely males) and 50+ Red-browed Finches. The pondages were very full and overflowing, so there were very few wading birds but they did see two White-faced Herons squabbling in a tree adjacent to Dandenong Creek, very close to a tree where they have previously nested. Are they planning to nest there again?
Thanks Pat and thank you Sue Wilson (U3A Hawthorn) for your photos.
On Wednesday 7 June, Bill Ramsay did a presentation at the Hawthorn Library for their Everyday English Class which is run as part of the Library’s Multicultural Program. The audience consisted of seven women plus the Coordinator. Usually she expected 12 but a few had pulled out. Bill spoke about “Attracting birds to your garden and what you may hope to see”. There was a fair bit of audience interaction and questions during the presentation which was a good sign. This was the purpose of such presentations and everyone seemed appreciative of Bill’s efforts.
Approximately 50 people were present when Sally Heeps addressed the Mill Park Garden Club on Friday 16 June. Sally’s topic was ‘Attracting birds to your garden naturally”. They seemed to enjoy hearing how to attract birds by plantings and liked identifying the birds which did visit their gardens. Sally also talked a little about nest boxes, and digressed into how the changes in natural vegetation can impact bird species – how the Kinglake fires opened the canopy to birds of prey. The Club donated $50 to BirdLife Melbourne in appreciation of our work.
On the same day – Friday 16 June, Pat Bingham led the Hawthorn U3A monthly Birdwalk to Norton’s Park & Shepherd’s Bush. They had a lovely sunny morning with 17 participants. 27 species were sighted including three Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos chewing up pinecones, a female Scarlet Robin and several Sulphur-crested Cockatoos exploring tree hollows and raucously defending their choices. Then for the lucky late leavers, they had a Peregrine Falcon circling over the car park.
Sue Wilson from the Hawthorn U3A group supplied the following photos.
On the morning of Wednesday 17 May, BirdLife Melbourne hosted ten ladies and three carers from Mercy Place Boronia at the Education Centre at Blackburn Lake. This hostel is a long time member of BOCA and now BirdLife. The morning started with a PowerPoint entitled ‘Birds in Flight’ about how birds change their shapes as they fly. This was followed by morning tea and a craft activity of making bird mobiles. This annual outing ends with the ladies going for a short walk to the Lake. The weather cleared and it was possible to do this again this year. Janet Hand was assisted by Jenny Frohlich and Gay Gallagher. Thank you ladies.
On the evening of the same day Gay Gallagher addressed approximately 45 people from the Springvale Garden Club. She spoke about how to attract birds to your garden naturally. Everyone was very happy and rewarded BirdLife Melbourne with a $50 donation.
On Friday 19 May, Pat Bingham led her monthly walk with the members of the Hawthorn U3A. The venue on this occasion was Ricketts Point in Black Rock. She had 14 participants and they saw 27 species. It was a dull but mild morning with calm seas. Tide was about half-way in so plenty of exposed rock shelves. Best birds were White-necked Heron and Pied Cormorant. Local wildlife rescue personnel were keeping an eye on a Little Pied Cormorant and a Pelican, both with fishing line entanglement, and were hoping to get close enough to capture and free them of the line. One male swan with a black collar and white script (K40) was seen offshore.
On Wednesday 25 May, Graeme Hosken gave a PowerPoint to the ladies of the Vermont South Ladies Probus Club in Forest Hills. His Powerpoint was “Catching up with the illegals” (bird migration) and was very well received by the 50 ladies present. Many commented to Graeme that they had no idea about the movements of our bird migrants and had enjoyed his presentation.
Thank you to everyone who has assisted with our Education Program this month.
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.
This month, four activities have been delivered, by four different people.
On Thursday 9 March, Janet Hand gave a Powerpoint presentation to the senior members of St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Box Hill. She spoke about how the bird species have changed in Box Hill since Tess Kloot’s book on the “Birds of Box Hill” was researched from 1988 to 1991. Crested Pigeons were not recorded in those surveys. This presentation followed a luncheon for the 25 people present.
Graeme Hosken spoke to 14 members of St Mark’s Uniting Church in Mount Waverley on Wednesday 15March. His presentation was titled “Catching up with the illegals” – the story of our migrating birds.
On Friday 17 March, Pat Bingham began her monthly bird walks with members of the Hawthorn U3A. That day they met at the Sinclair Avenue Wetlands adjacent to the U3As HQ in Glen Iris. They had 18 participants and recorded 17 species – best of these were a Nankeen Night-heron and about 30 Little Corellas.
Gay Gallagher addressed the Ivanhoe Garden Club in Ivanhoe on Tuesday 28 March. Her topic was “Birds of Metropolitan Melbourne”. Approximately 50 people were in attendance and they were very interested and asked lots of questions.
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.