A cold, grey morning greeted the 29 birders (including a number of first timers) at the beginners outing at Shepherds Bush in Glen Waverley. Although there was a very light shower just prior to the start, the forecast rain fortunately did not eventuate and it remained dry for both the morning and afternoon walks.
There was some activity in the car park prior to starting, with Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets, Pied Currawongs, Noisy Miners, and a solitary Common Bronzewing also flew overhead.
Shortly after the morning start we all had excellent views of both male and female King Parrots as we headed towards High Street Road.
Further along a Little Pied Cormorant was spied before Wood Ducks, a Kookaburra, Eastern Rosella, Galahs and a pair of White Faced Herons were all seen near the baseball diamond.
Continuing on, a female Golden Whistler, Spotted Pardalote, Brown and Striated Thornbills were all seen before a couple of Little Corellas flew overhead. In the paddocks Welcome Swallows chased a feed and White and Straw-necked Ibis were plentiful. There was also a single Cattle Egret but unfortunately no Robins.
A Dusky Moorhen was spotted browsing on the steep bank of the creek.
Just prior to returning for lunch we detoured off the main road to check one of a number of possible roosting sites of a Powerful Owl. Luckily it was present and we all had good views; a first for many of the beginners.
After lunch it was on to the Paperbark trail where good views were had of a Laughing Kookaburra, a Yellow Robin, a White-browed Scrub-wren, both male and female Golden Whistlers, White Eared and White-plumed Honeyeaters.
The noisy squawks of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos accompanied us throughout both morning and afternoon walks, and towards the end of the walk, another Spotted Pardalote sat for quite some time high up on a thin branch, giving us good, if distant, views.
Back at the car park a final count revealed that we had seen 47 species which, considering the weather, day and time of year was a good result.
Overcast and mild weather greeted 21 birdwatchers from many areas of Victoria as we assembled in the Beach Picnic area car park. Alan and Hazel Veevers were our leaders and the car park soon added Superb Fairy-wren, New Holland Honeyeater and Red Wattlebird to the Common Starlings, Australian Magpies and Willie Wagtails most had noted on their drive in.
Time and tide wait for no bird watcher so we immediately drove to the homestead car park and walked through the pine trees to the beach. Highlights here were Zebra Finches near the fence line and an obligingly perched Brown Falcon which gave photographers very good views.
Galahs, Little Ravens and Crested Pigeons were also noted here and the squeals from a windmill were initially confusing till the machinery was noted among some trees. No birds really make that noise.
Crested Tern. Photo by Graeme Dean
Crested Tern, immature. Photo by Graeme Dean
Low tide at the beach saw a flock of Chestnut Teal, many Silver Gulls and Crested Terns and the occasional Pacific Black Duck and Pacific Gull perched on the exposed rocks.
Pacific Gull. Photo by Graeme Dean
Australian Pelican. Photo by Graeme Dean
Farther along we encountered Pied and Little Pied Cormorants which enabled people to compare the sizes and markings for future identification.
Heading back to the cars prior to lunch Black-shouldered Kite and Nankeen Kestrel were added to our growing raptor list which also had couples of Whistling Kites and Black Kites seen earlier.
A brief stop at the water control area of a housing estate added Dusky Moorhen and Purple Swamphen. One of the swamphens caused some excitement when it appeared to be eating a yabby but closer inspection showed ‘lunch’ to be the rhizome of one of the water plants, complete with apparent ‘legs’.
Our lunch was accompanied by several optimistic magpies and enlivened by fairy-wrens in great numbers foraging low around us. The magpies moved out and an enormous racket drew our attention to their mobbing of a raptor. It was only slightly larger than the magpies but they had the numbers and the raptor departed. Much discussion about its identity followed but no one had managed a clear view. The ID came later after photos had been closely examined – the wings and tail were those of a Brown Goshawk. Cameras now freeze action much better than human vision.
After lunch we walked beside the beach. Initially there were only a few fairy-wrens foraging among the seaweed but carefully continuing south we encountered more gulls, teal and terns roosting on the exposed rocks close to shore. Scanning yielded two Musk Ducks swimming beyond the crowd and then a rather unexpected sighting – an immature Australasian Gannet resting on one of the rocks.
White-faced Heron and Australian White Ibis were also present in small numbers and a few Grey Teal were swimming together in one area. Back through the scrub where Grey Fantails dominated sightings and then on to a new wetland near the RAAF Lake car park. Expectations may have been low as we approached it but soon “grebes” were called.
Both Australasian and Hoary-Headed were present and diving out of sight as grebes are wont to do. The omnipresent Chestnut Teal were noted, plus a couple of Pacific Black Ducks and then there were the dotterels on the further, smaller lake.
Both Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel were there and a pair of the latter were engaging in a bobbing display to each other. The edges of the reed beds housed Australian Reed-Warblers (silent at this time of the year) and Golden-headed Cisticolas perching on seed heads and making their buzzing call.
Leaving this area with regret we gathered for bird call. Total species count was 56, very creditable for an area which is being surrounded more and more closely by housing. We thanked Hazel and Alan enthusiastically for all their preparation and care which had given us such a good day’s birding.
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 60
Despite the forecast for a hot and humid day, 37 members attended the January Beginners excursion. Many small birds were seen in the car park area, including surprisingly high numbers of Superb Fairy-wrens and Willie Wagtails. Soon after the walk started, a Royal Spoonbill was spotted circling high overhead. Whilst watching it, a Brown Goshawk appeared on the scene apparently inspecting the larger bird.
There was great excitement when a Dollarbird (seen two weeks earlier on the recce.) was spotted perched on the top of a tall dead tree-trunk rising from the water. It stayed in place for many minutes, enabling everyone to have a really good look.
A Little Black Cormorant and several Little Pied Cormorants were resting lower down in the same group of dead trees. One Little Pied Cormorant went fishing and caught and ate a decent sized one!
Continuing down-hill to the water level track enabled good views to be had of Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes, as well as young Eurasian Coots begging for food from their parents.
There were very few ducks on the lake which may be attributed to the presence of some large carp which are known to nibble on the feet of ducks.
A welcome lunch was enjoyed in a convenient shaded picnic shelter near the car park. A bird call tallied 34 species for the morning at the lakes.
About 20 members stayed on to drive down Maddox Road to the shore for the afternoon session. The tide was rather high and no small waders were initially seen. However, several Common Greenshanks were observed as they foraged at the edge of the shore. A large group of Black Swans and Australian Pelicans were disturbed into flight by a very low-flying microlight aircraft.
Nothing much was seen from the track across the salt marsh but walking around the first lake in Jawbone Reserve revealed a remarkable number of species. Included were Great-crested Grebe, Blue-billed Duck, Hardhead, Australasian Shoveler and Musk Duck.
Several Royal Spoonbills on a small island still had their breeding head plumes on display.
They were accompanied by both Chestnut and Grey Teal, mostly resting with their heads tucked under a wing.
Further into the reserve, many different birds were seen resting at the edge of an island in one of the lakes.
These included Black-winged Stilts, Pink-eared Ducks and several Pied Cormorants along with their smaller relatives.
Whilst watching the roosting birds, a White-faced Heron flew gracefully overhead as if to remind us it was time to turn for home.
Returning towards Maddox Road a flock of Yellow-rumped Thornbills were seen in low bushes. Surprisingly these were the only thornbills seen on the excursion.
Back at the shore the tide had receded, leaving more mud banks available for the waders. Pied and Sooty Oystercatchers were on the distant sand-banks, and a small flock of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers with a lone Red-kneed Dotterel were in the drainage channel.
46 species were recorded for the afternoon, with a combined total of 60 for the day. Although it had been hot and humid, everyone felt they had enjoyed some excellent sightings, with ‘Bird of the Day’ clearly awarded to the Dollarbird.
Blues skies and a light breeze combined with heat. Leaders were Leonie Robbins and Diane Tweeddale and at Balyang initially there were 12 people which swelled to 13 at our second stop, Jerringot. The sanctuary deserves to be more widely known.
High water levels from recent rains meant no mud was visible around any ponds making seeing crakes and rails unlikely. Australasian Darters were rearing pairs of well-grown young in nests overhanging the Barwon River and Little Pied Cormorants were nesting in the trees around and in the large pond. Not bad for a constructed wetland. Australian Pelicans sat on the tops of duck nesting boxes.
Rainbow Lorikeets and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos investigated nesting holes while a few Red-rumped Parrots and a lone Long-billed Corella foraged on the grass. This was the only location of the outing where we recorded parrots and cockatoos.
The ducks showed plenty of cross-breeding but a couple seemed purebred enough to call Northern Mallard and Pacific Black Duck. Chestnut Teal swam aloof from the riffraff and a very few of Grey Teal were also observed.
Welcome Swallows swooped near the bridge and House Sparrows favoured the picnic area. Far above a Brown Goshawk circled and soared. The sanctuary recorded 34 species.
Next was the Barwon Heads golf club with adjacent Jerringot. Little Grassbird and Australian Reed-Warbler were calling among the reeds. A couple of Crested Pigeons bobbed near our shady lunch spot but flushed when we began assembling.
A highlight was the presence of several White-necked Herons flying around with one obliging bird foraging, apparently unconcerned by us eating our lunches about 4 m away.
It foraged delicately but no prey appeared to be taken despite more than one frog species calling. There were two fluffy Purple Swamphen chicks in the company of two protective adults. Time spent here, including lunch, allowed us to record 23 species.
The Hospital Swamp drive features two left turns with minimum warning and the group straggled in to the meeting area but we all made it. Again, no visible mud for crakes, rails or waders. Whiskered Terns quartered the water while our sole sighting of a Great Egret was here, across the lake on the top of a nesting box. A Swamp Harrier gave good views.
Less obliging was a Double-fronted Dotterel which flew rapidly in from the lake, calling, and then as quickly flew out again. Time was passing so we left this area, recording 11 species during our brief visit.
Our last stop was Tait’s Point, high above Lake Connewarre where we’d hoped for Caspian Tern. Never go hoping, it doesn’t work. Scopes came in useful here and confirmed Australian Shelduck and Wedge-tailed Eagle far away. A distant “branch-lump” resolved into an Australian Magpie which was less exciting than we’d hoped. Cormorants perched on a jetty and Great, Little Pied, Little Black and Pied were noted.
A New Holland Honeyeater lifted our “bag” of honeyeaters which had been only White-plumed Honeyeaters and numerous Red Wattlebirds till then. The sun was hot enough at 3pm to lead to a group decision to stop the outing here and tot up the list. Tait’s Pt yielded 22 species and the overall count was 54 species. Not bad considering the weather. The only birds recorded at all locations were Australian Magpie and Masked Lapwing which reflects the adaptability of these species.
Diane Tweeddale, co-leader and Co-ordinator Weekdays Outings
All photographs by BirdLife Melbourne member, Graeme Dean
A fine breezy day with blue sky changed to cloudy and the wind became cold, causing everyone to don windproof overclothing. There were 22 rugged up participants with Graeme Hosken leading the group. Haversham Avenue, where the cars were parked, is suburbia on one side with the reserve facing it and so initial birds were simply a few flyovers and such garden birds as Red Wattlebird and Common Starling. We started walking to the south and started listing birds as we entered the reserve. Waterbirds flying over included Australian White Ibis, White-faced Heron, Australasian Darter and Pacific Black Duck.
Later the ponds yielded Royal Spoonbill in breeding plumage, Black Swan, Australian Pelican, both Chestnut and Grey Teal and initially a lone Eurasian Coot which became at least 20 on the adjacent water.
Purple Swamphens foraged singly and Dusky Moorhen and both Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes were represented by solitary sightings. Cormorants were present – Little Pied, Little Black and Great – flying over, fishing and perched plumply while digestion proceeded. Water levels were high after recent rains and the absence of exposed mud meant neither crakes nor rails was detected.
A Swamp Harrier flying over was announced by alarm calls and we later watched it quartering the reed beds. It, plus Brown Goshawk and Nankeen Kestrel made up the raptor sightings for the walk. Several areas had been planted and protected with extensive netting which in one area made the sighting of a Great Egret through the netting challenging. Welcome Swallows swooped and in some places were joined by Fairy Martins whose mud bottle nests were detected below the bridging of one of the outlets.
No one saw a Little Grassbird but the population must have been considerable to judge by the amount of calling heard. Glimpses were obtained of Golden-headed Cisticola and Australian Reed-Warbler among the grass and reeds. Eastern Common Froglets were the most frequently heard frogs. A Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo really needed scoping as it perched distantly but those with powerful bins considered it identified.
A welcome lunch break was taken at the eastern East Link service area (coffee, toilets and hot food) much appreciated on a carry-lunch walk. Bush birds were encountered once we left the edge of the water and Grey Shrike-thrush, Golden Whistler and both Spotted and Striated Pardalotes joined the list. Honeyeaters included New Holland and Yellow-faced as well as Eastern Spinebill and Noisy Miner. White-browed Scrubwrens were glimpsed in the undergrowth while Superb Fairy-wrens were common throughout the walk. Grey Butcherbird and Grey Currawong called, Grey Fantails were common and only a couple of Willie Wagtails were detected. A female Flame Robin was seen by many and Red-browed Finches often foraged beside the path.
Introduced birds were “the usual”, Common Myna, Starling and Blackbird plus Spotted Dove and Feral Pigeon/Rock Dove.
In all 59 species were detected and there were smiles all round as people planned to add the area to their walking lists. We thanked Graeme heartily for sharing the knowledge he had gained during the Melbourne Water surveys.
Twenty eight hardy birders braved the very strong and cold wind to attend the beginners outing at Lysterfield Lake.
While waiting for all attendees ,Crimson and Eastern Rosellas, Purple Swamp Hen, Magpie-lark and Rainbow Lorikeets were viewed in the carpark. A Masked Lapwing was spotted closer to the Lake’s edge.
On the reccie more Kangaroos were seen than birds and it looked like this outing would be more of the same as the first twenty minutes went by before we sighted our first bird – a Brown Thornbill, quickly followed by a White-eared Honeyeater.
There were long periods of inactivity until we would come upon a small hot spot. The first of which produced excellent sightings of Grey Shrike-thrush, Grey Fantail, both male and female Golden Whistlers and the two birds of the walk, a male Rose Robin and a Brush Bronzewing.
Unfortunately not all the beginners were able to see both. The Rose Robin surprised everyone when it appeared in a tree at eye level not more than two metres in front of us but did not stay for long. Still, many of the group got their first look at this beautiful bird. The Bronzewing skulked in the undergrowth, making sighting difficult before it was disturbed and flew off.
The strong wind was keeping the small birds hidden but in a more protected spot we found Superb Fairy-wren, Silvereye and Spotted Pardalote.
Venturing down to the edge of the lake enabled us to see Musk Duck, Hoary-headed Grebe, Hardhead and Coot all on the water, before returning to the main track.
Again there was a long period of inactivity with only a Grey Butcherbird heard and a Little Raven overhead. We were now back at the lake wall where Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants, Australasian Grebe and Dusky Moorhen were seen.
With the wind howling across the lake we were all glad to break for lunch and find an area out of the wind to partake of some refreshments.
After lunch we walked to the eastern end of the carpark and a short distance along the Logan track. In the more open fields we saw Straw-necked and White Ibis, Wood Duck, Cattle Egret and in the distance a few Red-rumped Parrots.
Returning to the carpark we had excellent views of another Brush Bronzewing together with a number of common Bronzewings.
Overall 45 species were seen for the day which, considering the wintery conditions, was noteworthy.
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.
The morning was perfect for birding, calm, clear and mild, as our 19 assembled. Our number included Jennifer, a birder over from the USA for a month.
Hazel Veevers led the group once we could discipline ourselves to leave the car park where, as usual, the birding was rewarding and effortless. There were Red Wattlebirds, Crested Pigeons, Superb Fairy-wrens, Musk Lorikeets, New Holland Honeyeaters and House Sparrows in numbers with Rainbow Lorikeets, Little Ravens and Magpie-larks somewhat fewer.
The main lake had both Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes in considerable numbers. Welcome Swallows soared above the canopy and over the water.
Walking further we noted the amphitheatre was very popular with Superb Fairy-wrens and honeyeaters foraging in and under the trees. The only raptor of the day was recorded here – two Brown Goshawks interacted very briefly before disappearing behind the trees. Eurasian Coots and Purple Swamphens were present on all lakes but Dusky Moorhens were only present later at Jawbone. Spotted Pardalotes called and finally one allowed us to glimpse him among the foliage, delighting all and especially those who hadn’t seen one before. Flowering trees each attracted several species of bird and therefore also attracted the attention of birdwatchers.
Back for lunch which was interrupted with a quiet call of “Robin”. The “sparrow” on the path was actually a female Flame Robin which stayed around long enough for all to achieve good views. The lakes reserve had a bird count of 34 species.
We drove down to Jawbone where the bird count mounted quickly. Waterbirds were numerous though a scope was an asset when identifying those on the distant sand bar. A highlight here was an Arctic Jaeger unsuccessfully attacking a Silver Gull and being harassed in its turn.
Black Swans and Silver Gulls were numerous but there were other species in smaller numbers – Pied, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants, Royal Spoonbills, Australian Pied Oystercatchers, Australian White Ibis, White-faced Heron, Crested Terns, the list continued with both Grey and Chestnut Teal, Common Greenshanks and a small flock of Red-kneed Dotterels quite close to the hide.
We counted nine duck species as well as the ubiquitous grebes and numbers of swans on the pond near the houses. It was good to record Pink-eared, Bluebill, Australasian Shoveler and Musk Duck as well as the more familiar species.
A Great Egret by the far bank was clearly having success with its fishing and a small flotilla of grebes moved closer to it, possibly to join the hunt.
Time to call it a day and count the Jawbone species. Here we recorded 56 species and calculated the day’s total as 64 species. It had been a good day’s birding with good views of many species and we thanked Hazel for introducing some and reintroducing others to this area.
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species Count: 50
All photographs by Alan Veevers
Many regulars were unable to come to the outing, thus reducing the attendance to 22 including five first-timers. These, however, were to enjoy an exceptionally good day! After viewing the resident Australasian Darters from the lakeside track, the group began the walk alongside the stream that delivers water to the lake from the upstream wetlands.
To everyone’s delight a pair of Azure Kingfishers was seen perched on a horizontal log, their brilliant iridescent colours shining in the low sun. The pair was observed for several minutes, slowly making their way along the channel, pausing now and then to preen or forage. This was a very hard act to follow! There were few waterbirds on the wetlands, mainly Dusky Moorhens and Eurasian Coots. Two Little Pied Cormorants perched high on a dead tree.
Heading further upstream towards the Hull Road Wetlands, Eastern and Crimson Rosellas together with Rainbow Lorikeets were high in the trees whilst Superb Fairy-wrens and Grey Fantails were lower down in the bushes.
Again there were few birds on the wetlands, but a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles flew overhead in a clear blue sky and an Eastern Yellow Robin and New Holland Honeyeaters were seen in the bush. On the return track to the carpark, a pair of Tawny Frogmouths was spotted, very well camouflaged in the high branches of a tree.
Eventually all the beginners managed to see them and some were awestruck by the apparent impossibility of ever finding any for themselves.
Lunch was taken back near the main lake and members were again entertained by the reappearance of the pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles. A short afternoon walk was taken in the region of the wetlands and unbelievably the two Azure Kingfishers were still in the same section of the little creek! Everyone was able to enjoy further views of them at very close quarters. From beside the wetlands there were better views of the Australian Darters that seemed unperturbed by the young Scouts who were paddling canoes near to their roosts. Others floated gracefully above, clearly showing their gliding profile.
Welcome Swallows perched on the lookout rails, Silvereyes flitted through the shrubs and a White-faced Heron stalked prey at the edge of the water.
A grand total of 50 species was recorded for the day, but the abiding memory for most members will be of a pair of beautiful shining blue birds fearlessly displaying at close quarters.
The weather was perfect, mild, sunny and calm as 28 people gathered in the farthest car park. Seven of these were young people from the Green Army planning to acquire bird ID skills and we were happy to assist with loaned binoculars, field guides and advice.
The immediate area near the car park was well populated with Crested Pigeons, magpies, Superb Fairy-wrens, Galahs and Red Wattlebirds while a few Red-browed Finches were less easy to find though one was sighted carrying a long grass stalk as nesting material.
There were Willie Wagtails and Grey Fantails with Little Ravens calling and flying overhead. Introduced birds were also present – flocks of Common Starlings, some Spotted Doves, fewer Common Mynas with occasional Common Blackbird calling. Small birds among the denser foliage included Spotted Pardalotes and Silvereyes.
The drainage channel and catchment ponds initially looked empty but persistence revealed Chestnut Teal and Pacific Black Duck and a further bankside walk added White-faced Heron, croaking as they flew near, and Eurasian Coot and Dusky Moorhen.
Little Grassbirds called plaintively just after we had identified a Horsefield’s Bronze-Cuckoo by its call. Much searching by many failed to repeat the brief sighting of a Spotless Crake. The Laverton Creek mouth area added Australian Pelican, Little Pied Cormorant and, initially, an extremely distant Great Egret. Then, closer to the group a second egret provided much better views.
The Bird of the Day arrived here – an immature White-bellied Sea-Eagle which flew toward us and then turned direction over our heads, giving great views to all those present. Another bird which proved most cooperative was a Singing Honeyeater which showed great loyalty to the bare dead tree on which it perched, returning there after many short flights and allowing excellent views.
It joined Red Wattlebird and White-plumed and New Holland Honeyeaters on our list. The party divided on its way back to lunch and the car park but neither group added any species to an already impressive list.
After lunch those who stayed on headed north, adding a Brown Falcon and a challenging Australasian Pipit while delighting in the White-fronted Chats on the low bushes. One photographer was recording a chat when another bird flew into the camera’s field. After taking many photos in the brief time available these were compared with field guides and finally we concluded that the intruding bird was a Jacky Winter. Definitely serendipity.
By the walk’s end we counted 60 species for the day and we thanked Gina Hopkins, our leader, for her preparation and enthusiasm which gave such a great result.