Tag Archives: Little Wattlebird

Weekdays outing to Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens

14 February 2017
Photographs by Diane Tweeddale

There were 19 of us when the final arrivals appeared. Our numbers included a few visitors including a lady in her 99th year who inspired us all with her fortitude. The day was cool, cloudy and slightly damp after overnight rain so birds were visible though making out their markings was often challenging. David Plant led the group and shared his knowledge of the gardens’ history and function as well as their birds. Unfortunately the Bell Miners which had been confined to one small area have expanded so much that there are only a few places where they are not detected. It’s challenging to detect and see your first miner but they do pall quite quickly afterwards, especially when you realise how they have displaced so many other species. At least we detected no Noisy Miners this day but they are reportedly increasing in numbers just outside the gardens.

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Azolla bloom and warning notice – children and pets may mistake the surface plants for a lawn and fall into the underlying water

Shortly after we started walking we came across a very tall flowering yucca beside the Temple of the Winds. It was certainly popular with the birds and we recorded Rainbow Lorikeets and Little and Red Wattlebirds all using it simultaneously. Government House grounds yielded our first Laughing Kookaburra which promptly flew over the fence and joined us in the main gardens. We didn’t spend much time by the main lake as an extensive azolla bloom was being reduced by a powered weeding vessel and the consequent noise was driving away almost all birds.

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Pacific Black Duck with young

Near a quieter lake area we encountered a Pacific Black Duck with eight tiny ducklings and watched interestedly as she led them a considerable distance to a further lake. One little fellow (we decided it was a difficult male) consistently lagged behind the brood and was last seen running determinedly to catch up before entering the target lake.

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Purple Swamphen – these will kill and eat any undefended ducklings

An Eastern Koel had been recently recorded in the gardens and its call had been heard that morning so we kept listening but unfortunately could not detect it unequivocally. The only parrots listed were the lorikeet, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and an immature Crimson Rosella and David pointed out the plantings of kangaroo grass which hopefully will attract Red-rumped Parrots into the gardens. No owls were seen but the finding of a Tawny Frogmouth feather indicated its recent presence.

Small birds are reducing in numbers as miners and Common Mynas increase – there are no further sightings of Superb Fairy-wrens and the numbers of Brown Thornbills seem down.

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Little Wattlebird and Common Myna – eating from the humans’ leftovers near the cafe

Silvereyes, on the other hand, were seen today in some areas and there were several Willie Wagtails plus a few Eastern Spinebills, the only other honeyeater seen today. At lunch break it was interesting to observe a Little Wattlebird feeding from the leftovers on the terrace. That’s an additional species utilising that area. At lunch we encountered the only non-avian sighting of the day, an Eastern Water Dragon which was quietly shedding its skin and warming on the dark asphalt path.

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Eastern Water Dragon

David chatted with his friend, one of the polers of the lake punts, who reported that, it being St. Valentine’s Day, he had overheard two proposals in his punt that morning.

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Lotus flower – ethereal beauty out of the mud

The gardens are important for many activities. During the afternoon walk there was considerable noise coming from the canopy of a tall tree and we made out a small flock of Bell Miners angrily mobbing a Pied Currawong. By walk’s end, with 32 species recorded on our first outing of 2017, we were each deciding to revisit the gardens as they have so much to offer. We heartily thanked David for his generosity and preparation.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings.

Beginners Outing to Coolart Wetlands and Homestead

24 September 2016
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.

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Eastern Yellow Robin. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

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.

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Australian White Ibis. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

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.

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Australian White Ibis. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Blue-billed Ducks were well spotted in a distant reed bed and Chestnut Teal were seen keeping a close watch on their fluffy youngsters.

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Grey Shrike-thrush. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

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.

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Red-capped Plover. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

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.

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Red-capped Plover. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

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.

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King Parrot, female. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Both Red and Little Wattlebirds were evident in the woodlands and two female King Parrots engaged the group, feeding in track-side bushes.

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Little Wattlebird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

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.

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Hardhead, female. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

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.

See the full bird list: bm-september-2016-bird-list-coolart

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Hardhead, male. Photo by Merrilyn Serong