Tag Archives: Lillydale Lake

Beginners Outing to Lillydale Lake and Spadonis Reserve

22 May 2021
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 52 for the day
Australasian Darter (female). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Forty-four members gathered by the lake enjoying warm sunshine and little wind. A female Australasian Darter was perched drying her wings on a platform close to the boardwalk and appeared unfazed by our large group of admirers. Several other Darters were seen, including males, along with Little Black, Little Pied, and Great Cormorants, either swimming or resting on the islands.

Australasian Darter (male). Photo by Alan Veevers

A mixed flock of Purple Swamphens, Eurasian Coots and Dusky Moorhens stood on the grassy embankment close to the path giving everyone excellent views. Unfortunately, a large area of the wetland was fenced off with major works being undertaken which involved removing most of the vegetation and scraping out the ponds.

Purple Swamphen. Photo by Eleanor Dilley.

A few brave Chestnut Teal were looking most uncomfortable curled up on the newly placed rocks.

Chestnut Teal. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The members proceeded towards the Hull Road Wetlands and paused to see a female Golden Whistler and, later, a Grey Butcherbird.  A large flock of loft pigeons circling overhead caused some interest, but these were soon spooked by the arrival of a threatening Brown Goshawk. There were disappointingly few birds on these wetlands, with a pair of Coots being the only species seen on the water. Walking back down the road a pair of Australian King-Parrots provided a welcome highlight. 44 species were recorded for the morning.

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch most of the members drove to Spadonis Reserve for a second walk. A wombat grazing in a nearby paddock was an unusual sighting, but sadly it could be seen that it was suffering from mange. Walking along the track by the Yarra River, Bell Miners could be heard but dense vegetation prevented them from being seen. Not so a flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos that were feeding in wattle trees on the riverbank. Initially it was thought there were only a few birds, but as they flew away more than 20 were counted.

Golden Whistler (male). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A male Golden Whistler was much admired as the sunshine brought out the brilliant colour of his breast. At the end of the track beside a farmer’s field a mob of kangaroos stood watching the members as a pair of Australian Pelicans flew overhead. Several other birds were also seen in this area including New Holland Honeyeaters, Grey Shrike Thrush and Red-browed Finch. 26 species were recorded for Spadonis Reserve. The total number of different species for the day was 52. Some good sightings, combined with a new afternoon location and perfect weather conditions, all contributed to a most enjoyable day.

Many thanks to Eleanor Dilley for providing her photographs.

Beginners Outing to Lillydale Lake

28 July 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species Count: 49

Little Pied Cormorant, Lillydale Lake
Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Thirty-one members gathered by the lake in perfect weather for bird-watching – sunshine and very little wind. Water birds were plentiful with many Eurasian Coots, Purple Swamphens, Dusky Moorhens, and lots of Australasian Darters.

Pink-eared Duck, Lillydale Lake
Pink-eared Ducks. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Unfortunately the wetlands boardwalk was closed for repair, but from the track around the outside of it there were good views of Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants as well as a pair of Pink-eared Ducks.

Little Pied Cormorant with fish - Bevan Hood
Little Pied Cormorant with fish. Photo by Bevan Hood

Little Black Cormorant, Lillydale Lake
Little Black Cormorant. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

On some rocks alongside the lake, a young Darter was wrestling with a huge fish, desperately trying to manipulate it into a swallowing position.

Australasian Darter with fish, Lillydale Lake
Australasian Darter with fish. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Two Whistling Kites circling overhead provided close-up views for the beginners but were the only raptors seen all day.

Whistling Kite, Lillydale Lake
Whistling Kite. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

It was pleasing to see family groups of Superb Fairy-wrens in many different locations on the route away from the lake towards Hull Road wetlands. Despite everyone’s best efforts, none of the expected Tawny Frogmouths could be found in that area.

Golden Whistler (F), Lillydale Lake
Golden Whistler (f). Photo by Eleanor Dilley

However, Golden Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, King Parrots, Rainbow Lorikeets, Eastern Spinebills, as well as White-plumed and New Holland Honeyeaters, were seen.

Rainbow Lorikeet, Lillydale Lake
Rainbow Lorikeet. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The Hull Road Wetlands contained plenty of water but very few birds, though an Eastern Yellow Robin and Crimson Rosellas were spotted in the surrounding trees.

Grey Teal - Eleanor Dilley
Grey Teal. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Both Grey and Chestnut Teal were also found but only two and four, respectively, of each species. Returning to the carpark, two White-faced Herons were feeding in a small pond.

White-faced Herons, Lillydale Lake
White-faced Herons. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch a short walk was taken beside the lake. A lone Masked Lapwing stood on the beach, seemingly minding its own business as we walked by.

Masked Lapwing - Bevan Hood
Masked Lapwing. Photo by Bevan Hood

Members stood for a while on a look-out platform enjoying the sight of an Australasian Darter swimming and diving for fish, clearly demonstrating how it got the nickname “snake bird”. A Grey Butcherbird, perched obligingly close to the group, gave the photographers an ideal opportunity for a photo.

Grey Butcherbird - Bevan Hood
Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Bevan Hood

Heading back over the hill members paused to admire the distant view towards the Dandenong Ranges before returning to the car park. A very pleasant outing ended with a tally of 49 species.

View the complete bird list for the day: BM Jul 2018 Bird List Lillydale Lake

Weekdays Outing to Lillydale Lake, Lilydale

12 July 2017
Photographs by Dianne Tweeddale

Reflections on a still morning.JPG
Reflections on a still morning

It was cold as we set off from our homes. Not as chilling as a week previously but still very low temperatures. Sixteen braved the still, cold but sunny morning and Jane Moseley led us. We checked out the Australian Wood Ducks, Magpie Larks, Purple Swamphens, Eurasian Coots and Dusky Moorhens on the grass beside the car park and also noted Australian Magpies, Red Wattlebirds, Rainbow Lorikeets and the inevitable Noisy Miners in the surrounding trees.

Purple Swamphen and Australian Wood Ducks
Purple Swamphen and Australian Wood Ducks

On the adjacent wetland there were a couple of Pacific Black Ducks and teal. It was some of the latter which occasioned close examination and discussion. The Chestnut Teal were readily counted but the two or three paler birds catching the sunlight, which teal were they? Careful attention to the plumage decided Grey Teal. It was that frequent “Which teal is that?” discussion. Our visitors and newcomers had been promised darters and Lillydale Lake did not disappoint. As we were moving out the first darter was pointed out and from then on we admired and compared male and female Australasian Darters both near and far. We kept our eyes out for Azure Kingfishers which had been seen a few days previously but the first location drew a blank. On the boardwalk we watched an Australasian Grebe warm its fluffy backside in the morning sun before we passed the structure which has been voted “world’s worst bird hide”. It consists of a fence with rectangular holes cut at different heights which look out onto an impenetrable stand of tall vegetation. Still, after we had dismissed it we rounded the corner and started to check the lake and the reed beds. The cry went up “Pink-eared Duck!” and there they were. Two pinkies which had not followed the rains inland. Voted bird of the day on the spot.

Black Swans feeding
Black Swans feeding

Then we wondered if we’d been a bit premature with the award when an Azure Kingfisher was sighted, not on its previously-favoured nest box but on a farther one and from which it flew to a low perch and afforded everyone good or brief views. Spotted Pardalotes called but it seemed that only a couple of watchers at a time were able to chalk up good views. Still, most people had seen them well by day’s end. Grey Shrike-thrushes gave their beautiful single winter calls and Grey Butcherbirds were finally seen as well as heard. The south-western wetlands are undergoing “rectification works” and new plantings are covered with nets so that no birds are currently using that area. Five years should see an improvement. The lake supports lots of fishers, the darters, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants and humans on the banks and occasionally in boats. It wasn’t all waterbirds. As well as the lorikeets mentioned above there were Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Little Corellas, Crimson (adult and immature) Rosellas, Eastern Rosellas and Australian King Parrots (male and female).

resting Australian Wood Ducks
Resting Australian Wood Ducks

After lunch we walked out to Bellbird Park where a pair of Black Swans paddled unconcerned by our presence while they cropped the pond plants. Walking back added Eastern Spinebill, then White-faced Herons and finally a Laughing Kookaburra to our list which numbered 45 species at the end of the walk. Very creditable birding for a cold mid-July day. We thanked Jane most enthusiastically for all her preparations and leading.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Beginners Outing to Lillydale Lake

23 April 2016
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species Count: 50

The 24 members who gathered at Lillydale Lake in overcast conditions were greeted by almost as many Australasian Darters. Some swimming in the lake, others perched on the banks and in trees, as well as several circling overhead.

Australasian Darters (male at left; female at right). Photos by Eleanor Dilley

On crossing the boardwalk over the wetlands a most unusual sighting was that of a Rakali (Water Rat) swimming through the reeds. Here we found ‘Bird of the Day’, an Azure Kingfisher, which perched for several minutes at the far side of the pond, enabling everyone to get a good view.

Water Rat (left); Azure Kingfisher (right). Photos by Eleanor Dilley

Walking upstream along Olinda Creek, three Tawny Frogmouths were seen very well camouflaged in a dead wattle tree. At Hull Road Wetlands a very close Black Swan was unconcerned as the group walked slowly by. Soon afterwards we came upon a ‘hot spot’ of small bush birds, including Spotted Pardalote, Eastern Yellow Robin and Red-browed Finch. Highlights of the return walk included Australian King-Parrots, a huge flock of Little Corellas and a single Cattle Egret. A total of 47 species were recorded for the morning.

Darter in almost ‘snake bird’ pose (left); Tawny Frogmouths (right). Photos by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch, back at Lillydale Lake, a short walk was taken around the nearby wetlands where Pink-eared Ducks and a Little Pied Cormorant were added to the tally. To everyone’s delight further great views of the Azure Kingfisher were enjoyed, as well as many more sightings of the Darters. A creditable 50 species were recorded on a very enjoyable outing.

See full outing bird list: BM Apr 2016 Bird List Lillydale Lake

Beginners Outing to Lillydale Lake

22 August 2015; Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers

Species count: 53

Twenty-eight members met at the lake on a lovely sunny day. Several Australasian Darters were seen on the central island and a pair of Chestnut Teal guarded eight recently hatched ducklings on a nearby small pond.

Chestnut Teal ducklings. Photo by Merrilyn Serrong
Chestnut Teal ducklings. Photo by Merrilyn Serrong

Magpie-larks were observed building their mud nest at mid-height in a gum tree as we headed for the wetlands. Two Pink-eared Ducks resting on a partly submerged log and brief sightings of two Spotless Crakes were highlights at the boardwalk pond. Continuing towards Hull Road wetlands produced several of the common bush birds but the wetlands themselves had, disappointingly, only a few species in residence. An obliging Dusky Moorhen gave the photographers an opportunity to test their skills.

Dusky Moorhen. Photo by Merrilyn Serong
Dusky Moorhen. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Finally, a female Golden Whistler, a Spotted Pardalote and several Brown Thornbills, feeding in profusely-flowering Silver Wattles, held our attention before we headed back towards the lake.

On route we had a good view of Cattle Egrets attending a small herd of cows and, soon

Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Merrilyn Serong
Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

after, a Wedge-tailed Eagle passed overhead then soared high towards the horizon.

After lunch a short walk along the track between the lake and adjoining wetlands enabled close-up views of both male and female Australasian Darters. An entertaining sight on the lake was provided by about 20 Little Black Cormorants seemingly engaged in synchronised swimming and diving as they popped up and down making brisk headway in search of food. A single Australian Pelican treated us to a low flypast, as if to bid us farewell, as we returned to the car park after an enjoyable day.

See bird list: BM Aug 2015 Bird List Lillydale Lake

Beginners outing to Lillydale Lake

23 August 2014; leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers

Species count: 54

Thirty-three members met at the lake on the warmest day for several months. Setting-off upstream towards the boardwalk, a Buff-banded Rail emerged from the reeds to join the many other waterbirds nearby. A lot of small bush birds such as Superb Fairy-wrens and White-browed Scrubwrens were busy foraging in the sunshine.

White-browed Scrubwren. Photographer: Ron Garrett
White-browed Scrubwren. Photographer: Ron Garrett

Walking towards the Hull Road Wetlands, spring was definitely in the air as several birds were observed attending nests, including Australian Magpie, Brown Thornbill, Little Raven and Tawny Frogmouth. It was interesting for the beginners to compare their different building techniques. Some had good views of a pair of Peregrine Falcons soaring above, and later, a Brown Goshawk flew close by whilst a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles were clearly seen in the distance. A group of about 30 Cattle Egrets were in a paddock across the creek, far outnumbering the available cows around which they jostled for space.

Great Cormorant. Photographer: Ron Garrett
Great Cormorant. Photographer: Ron Garrett

Close-up views of Australian Darters were had as the group returned to the car park for lunch. Afterwards, the Buff-banded Rail obligingly gave an encore, ensuring that everyone had a good view.

Most of the group then drove to the far end of the lake to a pond behind the model car track. Australian Wood Ducks already had a brood of ducklings whilst Purple Swamphens were busy gathering nesting material. A nearby tree contained a colourful mixed flock of Silvereyes and Spotted Pardalotes. Walking to the wetlands near the site of the former Swinbourne Campus it was disappointing to see that recent drainage work had destroyed what was once a great bird habitat. Two pairs of Australian King-parrots and several Crimson Rosellas were feeding in adjacent flowering wattles. In lake-side trees a snoozing Ring-tailed Possum was oblivious to a large flock of Little Corellas, most roosting with a few feeding on the grass below.

A total of 54 species was recorded on a day that suggested the cold winter months could, at last, be left behind.

Weekday outing to Lillydale Lake, Lilydale

14 July 2014

Our company numbered 11 and the weather was calm and good for birding. Geoff Russell, our leader, gave a brief history of the reserve and later we noted the remains of the watermill on the creek. Birding started with very good views for everyone of an unexpectedly close Australian Reed-Warbler foraging on the jetty. Australasian Darter were clearly finding the area suitable, at least 11 were seen. Eurasian Coot were numerous and a ‘dinner duck’ accompanied a Northern Mallard and a Pacific Black Duck which was clearly keeping bad company. After the recent rain every pond was full so no mud was visible and consequently, no crakes or rails, but plenty of frogs heard. An Australian Pelican looked rather precarious on a duck nesting box but clearly felt secure as it remained there throughout our visit. Little Corella were numerous and calling. One flock of corellas flew with at least eight Cattle Egret which then perched near a Great Cormorant, giving good contrast. Wedge-tailed Eagle soared overhead for some minutes. A walk away from the main lake yielded Australian King-Parrot, several Grey Fantail, Laughing Kookaburra, numerous Superb Fairy-wren and Brown Thornbill calling and a small flock of Red-browed Finch as well as female and male Golden Whistler. The morning walk had 46 species in total.

After lunch a short walk in Spadoni’s Nature Reserve yielded 31 species despite numerous dogs (not always on the required lead). The slight surprise here was the Yarra running a banker, necessitating care where shallow water was covering a short stretch of the path. We debated on ‘intrepid’ or ‘stupid’ but decided on the former as there had been no rain for at least two days and the river was unlikely to suddenly rise. A pity none of us had a camera to record the sight as it flowed brown, fast and deep. The wild weather earlier had downed quite a few tree tops and the area would not have been safe then. Again frogs were vocal in the reed beds and numerous wrens and thornbills were calling. A small flock of Striated Thornbill came low and helpfully foraged in a bare shrub affording excellent views of a species usually in the high canopy. We added Black-shouldered Kite and Collared Sparrowhawk plus a defensive Straw-necked Ibis, which buzzed a Peregrine Falcon which then flew further from a small ibis flock. Bush birds were similar to those at Lillydale Lake and the total species count for both locations was a satisfying 56; not bad for winter birding.

Contributor: Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings