Tag Archives: Laughing Kookaburra

Weekdays outing to Long Forest Reserve

5 September 2017
Photographs by Bevan Hood, member BirdLife Melbourne

 

 

 

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Grey Fantail

The weather forecast could best be described as dire, with rain, hail and wind among the expected attractions. Still, there were nine slightly apprehensive birdwatchers gathered by the reserve entrance. Graeme Hosken was leader and his experience from several years of surveys allowed him to take an optimistic stance. The reserve is in a rain shadow which results in mixed flora, including Mallee due to the dry conditions. The creeks have cut through the sedimentary rocks and the resulting valleys were sheltered from the strongest of the wind gusts. Still there were few birds around the entrance and we walked some distance before the occasional calls of Superb Fairy-wren and Spotted Pardalote gave way to glimpses of Brown-headed Honeyeaters and Grey Fantails. An Australian Raven called in the distance and the closer calls of a White-eared Honeyeater were not the usual “chock” but more complex so both of these caused some discussion. Recent rain had fallen, if the greening of moss in patches was any evidence and Echidnas’ broad scratches showed in many of the ant mounds we passed. The ‘Steep Track’ lived up to its name and required careful planning and placement of feet. However the creek at the bottom was actually flowing and bird twitters were frequent though sightings were mostly of fairy-wrens and fantails. A lone Australian Wood Duck was the closest to a water bird for the walk. Our walk was cut short, however, when we arrived at the ford to find it well covered with water – gum boots might have crossed but no one was wearing them – so we turned back and eventually lunched by the entrance. Here the birding had improved compared to the morning and small flocks of honeyeaters flew past us while we sat.

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Laughing Kookaburra

After lunch we drove the few kilometres to Lake Merrimu where the wind was whipping up white caps on the water surface and scopes would have been made useless by excessive wind judder. Initially few birds were seen but then flocks of cockatoos, Little Corellas and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, flew over calling. Then we started adding more – Common Starlings on a wooden gate, Magpie-larks in the paddock, a flock of Little Ravens against a stormy sky. Welcome Swallows demonstrated their aerial ability as they swooped near and through a wire fence. Then we watched carefully as two White-plumed Honeyeaters harassed a Red Wattlebird. Were they defending a nesting site? A Willie Wagtail foraged near a grazing cow. The western sky looked threatening and so we called it a day.

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Grey Fantail

The bird count was 30 species in total – 22 for Long Forest and 11 for Lake Merrimu – and we thanked Graeme for sharing his knowledge of this unique area. By the way, it didn’t rain on people till they had left the reserve well behind.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Beginners Outing to Westerfolds Park

24 June 2017
Leader: Robert Grosvenor; Species Count: 46
Words by Robert Grosvenor; photographs by Eleanor Dilley
Laughing Kookaburra, Westerfolds Park.jpg
Laughing Kookaburra

Despite the cold weather and the forecast rain, which fortunately did not eventuate, 39 enthusiastic birders met at Westerfolds Park for this outing.

There were at least five new members and a couple of visitors on their first outing.

Prior to starting Eastern Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, White Faced Herons and a lone Pied Currawong were all seen overhead.

Starting the walk a couple of Kookaburras were the first to sighted, followed by Rock doves under the bridge. Grey Butcherbirds were calling regularly and excellent views were had by all.

Grey Butcherbird, Westerfolds Park
Grey Butcherbird

Together with Common Bronzewing and Noisy Miners they were probably the most common birds seen.

Common Bronzewing, Westerfolds Park
Common Bronzewing

Near the bridge, a pair of Galahs was sitting in a tree.

Galahs, Westerfolds Park
Galahs 

On the way to the observation platform overlooking the river a Little Pied Cormorant and Australasian Grebe were spied on the river, together with Dusky Moorhen and a solitary Purple Swamphen on the bank.

Australasian Grebe, Westerfolds Park
Australasian Grebe

A magnificent Wedge-tailed eagle overflew and although missed by some returned later in the walk to allow everybody to see it.

We were fortunate to find a single Musk Lorikeet which made a welcome change from all the raucous Rainbows. Both male and female Golden Whistlers were observed on the way back for lunch and a lucky few also saw a female Scarlet Robin. While enjoying our lunch break a King Parrot called and eventually showed itself to the joy of all present.

Dusky Moorhen, Westerfolds Park
Dusky Moorhen

The morning walk produced a total of 41 species.

In the afternoon we went in the opposite direction to the rapids observation lookout.

Although the birding was initially quiet it was a very pleasant walk through some lovely bush. Fortunately we then hit on a small hot hot patch with Yellow faced Honeyeaters, Silver Eyes, Grey Shrike Thrush, Grey Fantail, Spotted Pardalote and a Black Faced Cuckoo-shrike, all seen well.

Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Westerfolds Park
Yellow-faced Honeyeater

At the rapids a pair of Coots were seen, surprisingly the first for the day. Returning to the carpark provided a fleeting glimpse of a Brown Goshawk but a good look at a resting White Ibis.

Grey Shrike-thrush, Wessterfolds Park
Grey Shrike-thrush

Overall we spotted 46 species, far better than we expected considering the weather and the start of winter.

View the birdlist for the outing: BM JUNE 2017 Bird List WESTERFOLDS PARK

 

 

 

Beginners Outing to Banyule Flats

22 October 2016
Leaders: Alan and Hazel Veevers; species count 47

Despite a very poor weather forecast, 36 members came to Banyule Flats and were delighted to see a resident Tawny Frogmouth on a nest beside the car park.

Tawny Frogmouth, Banyule
Tawny Frogmouth on nest. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Setting off towards the swamp, a male Mistletoebird, a Grey Currawong and a pair of Common Bronzewings provided good sightings.

Common Bronzewing (M), Banyule
Common Bronzewing. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After the heavy winter rains the swamp was full to overflowing and so there was no visible mud available for waders. A lone Pacific Black Duck was the only duck to be seen and a Dusky Moorhen made a brief appearance ‘running’ across the water.

Dusky Moorhen, Banyule
Dusky Moorhen. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants perched on the dead trees in the water, whilst male and female Red-rumped Parrots investigated nest hollows on the same trees.

Taking the track around the billabong there was little bird activity, though a female Golden Whistler, a pair of Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes and a pair of Laughing Kookaburras were seen. Upon reaching the river a second male Mistletoebird and several Red-browed Finches provided clear views and a few lucky members saw a pair of Sacred Kingfishers in bright breeding plumage.

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Mistletoebird. Photo by Yun Shao

Several birds were heard but not seen, including Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo and Rufous Whistler.

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Young Noisy Miners waiting for food. Photo by Yun Shao

Noisy Miners were the most evident species, being present on almost all sections of the walk. The forecast rain then began to fall as the group quickened pace on the walk back to the carpark.

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Noisy Miners receiving food. Photo by Yun Shao

Due to the inclement weather it was decided to take a second short walk to the ‘Grotty Ponds’, before lunch. This yielded two further Tawny Frogmouth nests, each occupied by one of their respective pairs, with the other partner also located nearby in each case.

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Tawny Frogmouth and chick. Photo by Yun Shao

Also, Australian Wood Ducks were loitering near the track but neither crakes nor rails were found. The rain then became torrential and the wind blew very strongly and so it was decided not to have an afternoon walk. Lunch was eaten in the shelter of the sports pavilion and it was amusing to watch six Pacific Black Ducks enjoying the soggy conditions of the oval.

Laughing Kookaburra, Banyule
Laughing Kookaburra. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

Although most people went home rather damp there had been some very good sightings and several new members were very enthusiastic and vowed to return on a sunnier day. Grateful thanks go to Eleanor Dilley and to our overseas visitor Yun Shao for providing excellent photographs taken in difficult conditions. A total of 47 species was recorded.

See the full bird list: bm-oct-2016-bird-list-banyule-flats

Beginners Outing to Jells Park

27 August 2016

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 50
All photographs by Eleanor Dilley

Forty-six members set off from the Eastern Carpark in fine weather conditions to begin the walk around the lake. After entering the wildlife enclosure a few small birds were seen including Striated Pardalotes and Superb Fairy-wrens.

Jells Park 2016 Butcherbird
Immature Grey Butcherbird

Grey Butcherbirds and Laughing Kookaburras were plentiful but Noisy Miners were very much the most numerous species.

Jells Park 2016 Kookaburra
Laughing Kookaburra

At the lake there were only a few ducks but these included a Freckled Duck, an Australasian Shoveler and Chestnut and Grey Teals.

Jells Park 2016 Chestnut Teal
Male (left) and female (right) Chestnut Teal

Of great interest were the birds nesting on a small treed island where there was much activity. Many Australian White Ibis were nesting at ground level, while higher up in the bare trees several pairs of Little Pied Cormorants, Great Cormorants and Australian Darters tended their nests. Sticks were still being brought in to build some nests, but many birds were clearly incubating eggs.

Jells Park 2016 Australian White  Ibis
Australian White Ibis

An Eastern Great Egret looked dazzling in its beautiful white breeding plumage contrasting with a few dirty-looking Ibis perched on the same log. On completing the lake circuit a short return walk was taken along the track towards Norton Park and a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and White-faced Heron were added to the morning tally.

Jells Park 2016 Great Egret
Great Egret

Lunch was taken near the carpark, after which about half the group drove to the top of the hill where a second shorter walk was taken.

Jells Park 2016 Purple Swamphen
Purple Swamphen

Highlights of this included a well camouflaged Tawny Frogmouth and great views of Musk Lorikeets in the flowering Ironbark trees.

Jells Park 2016 Tawny Frogmouth
Tawny Frogmouth
Jells Park 2016 Musk Lorikeet
Musk Lorikeet

Those at the rear of the group were fortunate to witness a Peregrine Falcon flying rapidly overhead – the only raptor spotted during the day. Eight Parrot species added a wonderful range of colours to the sightings, making up for the near zero contribution from the few Honeyeaters that were around.

Jells Park 2016 Galah
Galah
Jells Park 2016 Eastern Rosella
Eastern Rosella

A total of 50 species were recorded on a most interesting and enjoyable excursion.

See the bird list for the outing: BM Aug 2016 Bird List Jells Park

Weekdays Outing to Badger Weir, Healesville

15 August 2016
Laughing Kookaburra - Stephen Garth
Laughing Kookaburra. Photo by Stephen Garth

Thirty-two people assembled in the car park, 27 members (including several new members) and five visitors. Rob Grosvenor was our leader and the morning was perfect for birding: mild, clear and calm.

Brown Thornbill - Stephen Garth
Brown Thornbill. Photo by Stephen Garth

Much better than the winds which had occurred earlier and which returned the following day. The winds had been strong enough to drop branches and trees, including some after the recce in the previous week.

Australian King-Parrot male - Stephen Garth
Australian King-Parrot, male. Photo by Stephen Garth

We observed these as we negotiated the fallen material in several places along the walking track. The day was good but where were the birds?

The picnic ground devotees – Crimson Rosellas, Laughing Kookaburras and Pied Currawongs – were present in force but others were the Sulphur-crested Cockatoos screeching loudly high in the trees.

Pied Currawong - Margaret Bosworth
Pied Currawong. Photo by Margaret Bosworth

Several times their massed alarm calls suggested the presence of a raptor/predator but we didn’t detect anything.

Superb Fairy-wren female - Stephen Garth
Superb Fairy-wren, female. Photo by Stephen Garth
Superb Fairy-wren male - Stephen Garth
Superb Fairy-wren, male. Photo by Stephen Garth

As we stood quietly for instructions other birds became more evident – Superb Fairy-wrens, Brown Thornbills and Australian King-Parrots appeared and as we started walking a male Common Bronzewing gave good views as it foraged near a picnic table.

Common Bronzewing male - Stephen Garth
Common Bronzewing. Photo by Stephen Garth

Some calls were heard as we walked Stringybark Track but sightings were rare in the forest. A call of a Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo was briefly heard and Spotted and Striated Pardalotes were calling.

Crimson Rosella - Stephen Garth
Crimson Rosella. Photo by Stephen Garth

Lewin’s Honeyeater first called frustratingly and then finally in the afternoon walk there was a clear view which was much appreciated by those for whom it was a “lifer”.

Eastern Yellow Robin - Margaret Bosworth
Eastern Yellow Robin. Photo by Margaret Bosworth

White-throated Treecreeper, Eastern Spinebill and Eastern Yellow Robin were all calling giving people a chance to compare the differing rates of their staccato calls. Other honeyeaters included Red Wattlebird, Crescent, Brown-headed and White-naped Honeyeaters. Sightings by some but not all people included Eastern Whipbird, White-browed and Large-billed Scrubwren, Tree Martin and Red-browed Finch. A lucky few detected a Bassian Thrush as it foraged, well camouflaged, among the ground litter.

Bassian Thrush - Margaret Bosworth
Bassian Thrush. Photo by Margaret Bosworth

The whistlers were well represented with Grey Shrike-thrush, Olive Whistler and a female Golden Whistler. Occasionally an Australian Raven called and flew over, giving all an opportunity to listen to the difference of the call from the more familiar Little Raven of the suburbs.

Laughing Kookaburra - Janet Hand
Laughing Kookaburra. Photo by Janet Hand

The final bird list totalled 31 species which nearly yielded a bird for each attendee and amid smiles we thanked Rob for showing us this under-appreciated gem.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings

Beginners Outing to Pound Bend, Warrandyte

26 March 2016
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 45

The 47 participants celebrating Easter Saturday at Pound Bend enjoyed plenty of bird activity in the carpark, mainly from Rainbow Lorikeets, which proved to be the dominant species throughout the day.

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Rainbow Lorikeet (L) Laughing Kookaburra (R). Photos by Ron Garrett

Walking along the riverside track overcast conditions made it hard to identify the smaller species, especially as their calls were drowned out by the more, raucous parrots. On the river Dusky Moorhens were seen foraging amongst the reeds and a Little Pied Cormorant flew past finally perching on a dead log further upstream. Two Tawny Frogmouths huddled close together were a highlight of the walk, though keen observers at the rear of the group spotted a further Tawny nearby. In the paddock at the far end of the track a huge mob of 60+ Eastern Grey Kangaroos were reclining, totally ignoring our members. A flock of White–winged Choughs and a White-faced Heron were seen beside the dam near the native plant nursery.

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Australian Magpie (L) White-browed Scrubwren (R). Photos by Merrilyn Serong

The track alongside the road proved to be a real hotspot, with good views of a female Scarlet Robin, Male Golden Whistler, White-eared and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. Walking back towards the river a Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike was seen, then along the river track good views of Eastern Yellow Robins and White-browed Scrubwrens were enjoyed.

Golden Whistler - Merrilyn Serong
Golden Whistler. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Lunch was taken beside the carpark, closely supervised by a pair of Laughing Kookaburras and several Australian Magpies, so that members were obliged to guard their sandwiches! Afterwards a short walk was taken to the tunnel exit where Crested Pigeon was the only new bird to add to the list. A creditable total of 45 species were recorded on a very relaxing and enjoyable excursion.

See the bird list for this excursion: BM Mar 2016 Bird List Pound Bend