The weather forecast of 34o and strong winds failed to deter 28 enthusiasts from assembling. Two of our number came from USA, bravely wielding their binoculars while hoping to be reunited with their missing luggage soon. The area is challenging for birding as it is supplied with well-made paths frequented by walkers, joggers, prams and dogs (which have several off-leash areas and access to the lake). Fishing is prohibited but the visible small fish may tempt anglers. The car park area is mowed grass and spaced trees with picnic shelters and playgrounds. It was dominated by Noisy Miners but there was also a large flock of Long-billed Corellas plus a few Little Corellas, Galahs and the occasional Red Wattlebird.
We initially headed off to the lake which had been created to irrigate early orchards. Here the creek contained Pacific Black and Australian Wood Ducks with a couple of Chestnut Teal. Successful breeding had occurred as most of these were quite young. Grey Butcherbirds called as we walked beside the bush fringing the creek. Revegetation is in progress in several areas along the creek and the fence seems to be quite successful in limiting access by dogs. The adjacent grasslands hosted Australian Magpies and the occasional Magpie-lark (one carrying prey) but little else. Waterbirds were limited to the ducks previously mentioned plus Dusky Moorhen, Purple Swamphen and Eurasian Coot, all with begging young. Another good breeding season. A couple of ‘dinner ducks’ on the lake (not counted) had presumably been dumped as unwanted pets. Lorikeets sometimes flew through and both Rainbow and Musk were recorded. The only other parrots were a pair of Eastern Rosellas near the creek. A young Galah perching beside an adult gave us excellent views of the contrasting pink-crested juvenile plumage and that of the adult. Walking in the sun could be tiring but the cloud cover kept conditions acceptable for much of the time and from the bush came the calls of Spotted Pardalotes and one or two Brown Thornbills.
Most birds, as usual, showed more sense than humans on a hot, windy day and stayed quietly in the shelter of the vegetation. Juvenile Welcome Swallows, however, hadn’t learnt sense yet and crowded the railing near an inlet to the lake, occasionally begging food from an adult. The usual introduced birds were present and apparently doing well in the mixed habitat – Common Blackbird, Starling and Myna were recorded as well as Spotted Dove. An additional sighting was a Long-necked Turtle resting on a lakeside log.
By morning’s end we had recorded 28 species which was gratifying given the location and weather. Several people needed to leave so we finished early and headed off to pre-Christmas tasks which hopefully could be done in cooler, calmer conditions.
Diane Tweeddale, leader
Blog editor’s note: Photos by Dennis Hill not taken on the day.
A sunny mild day saw 26 enthusiasts assemble in the car park. Our number included some new to birding and among these were two young primary students with their parents. Their enthusiasm was infectious and both birds and flowers were pointed out to them by other walkers. The car park and adjacent picnic grounds were raucous with Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Rainbow Lorikeets with Noisy Miners filling in any quiet spells.
They didn’t monopolise the place, though. There were Australian Wood Ducks, Australian Magpies and both Little and Long-billed Corellas. The last two gave good views which enabled all to compare and contrast their colouring and bill shape. Lorikeets and cockatoos were determinedly examining potential nest holes in the tree trunks and branches and if the breeding season is favourable return birdwatching visits may find many young birds. We followed the riverside track, heading northeast under the leadership of Alan and Hazel Veevers. Small bush birds were conspicuously absent from the open picnic area but were now encountered more frequently and we enjoyed sightings of Grey Fantail and White-browed Scrubwren while Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Grey Shrike-thrush called. Striated and Brown Thornbills were seen and Golden Whistlers, male and female, were also present. Honeyeaters appeared and we recorded Yellow-faced, White-eared and White-naped Honeyeaters as well as Red Wattlebirds. Spotted and Striated Pardalotes called loudly but were more challenging to locate among the foliage as the breeze strengthened.
The river was flowing very fast and deep and there were few waterbirds noted. However their absence was more than compensated for by excellent sightings of a platypus swimming against the current and “holding station” once it had reached its preferred position. Further along a loud chorus of Banjo Frogs also indicated that the recent rains were very welcome. A brief detour to show the beginners Eastern Grey Kangaroos also added an Olive-backed Oriole to the list and several times one or two Common Bronzewings flew from us. Not all observed them but an unexpected list of raptors was achieved – Peregrine Falcon and Collared Sparrowhawk were seen as well as a Wedge-tailed Eagle which was being harassed by a Little Raven.
Back to the cars for a welcome lunch break after which some had to leave but 16 remained to drive to Longridge Camp where we had permission to enter as there were no current campers. It was interesting to see the old farm buildings and speculate on when and for what they were last used. There were few birds and we only added those unpopular introductions, Common Myna and Common Starling, but the views from the ridge were breathtaking. At walk’s end the bird list totalled 44 species and we thanked Alan and Hazel for all their preparations which had resulted in a great day’s birding.
The middle part of the drive up from the suburbs was challenging with heavy rain but the 19 who arrived were relieved to find it much drier over the ranges. Graeme Hosken was leader and we drove in convoy to the Suspension Bridge Day Area. The walk beside the Murrindindi River added White-eared Honeyeaters and Long-billed Corellas to the Little Corellas, Red Wattlebirds, Olive-backed Oriole and Crimson Rosellas among others at the meeting car park.
Calls, as always in forests, outnumbered bird sightings and Grey Butcherbird, White-throated Treecreeper and Grey Shrike-thrush were first heard and later glimpsed or, more fortunately, clearly seen. Walking was easy beside the river on well-made tracks and the provision of camp sites with associated toilet blocks made for very comfortable birdwatching. The trees have not yet attained great height and the 2009 dead skeletons still rise high where they are not losing branches or falling. The only downside of walking beside any swiftly flowing river, of course, is the river noise which makes listening for bird calls very challenging though visible Grey Fantails compensated. Thornbill identification continued to challenge but finally Brown and Buff-rumped were confidently added to the list after some debate.
Honeyeaters were not plentiful with Red Wattlebirds, White-eared Honeyeaters and Eastern Spinebills dominating. Some apparent spinebill calls were reassessed as probably the Eastern Smooth Frog as they lasted much longer. The other honeyeater species were not recorded by many but some of the group were able to add Yellow-faced, New Holland and White-naped Honeyeaters to the list. Next stop was the SEC picnic area where Superb Fairy-wrens finally cast off their shyness and came into view at the clearing edges.
Here also was seen White-throated Treecreeper which had been recorded mostly as calls. After lunch most of the group continued their walk to the top of Wilhemina Falls but this proved quite difficult with a steep and pebble-slippery track.
Birds were disappointingly few with no additional species and a couple who had walked the lower river track were able to add Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos to the list. Animal traces were scratchings in dry ground, which may have been by wallabies or lyrebirds plus scats – macropods (probably wallabies), wombats, rabbits and echidna (rather flattened). The several severed claws of crayfish along one section of the track were evidence of predation. When birdcall was taken just after 3 pm we were all delighted to realise the final group tally was 41 species.
We thanked Graeme enthusiastically for taking us through this post-fires regenerating area. Birds and animals are present after the 2009 extreme fires and following the area’s recovery will continue to be fascinating.