Tag Archives: Long Forest Nature Conservation Reserve

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

Weekday outing to Long Forest Nature Conservation Reserve and Merrimu Reservoir, Coimadai

22 September 2014

First an apology: The Day and Date listed in the Newsletter caused confusion. The Date was correct but the Day should have been Monday not Wednesday. For any members that came on Wednesday, I hope you enjoyed the area and if you have species not recorded on the listing for the 22 September, please let me know.

The Long Forest Conservation Reserve consists of several ‘blocks’ of predominant Bull Mallee (Eucalyptus behriana) covering an area of 245ha. It is 50km west of Melbourne and the only Mallee south of the Great Dividing Range. First reports of a birding nature was in 1894 and to this date, 160 species are listed with 68 breeding. Several species previously occurring in the area, Australian Bustard, Bush Stone-curlew, White-browed and Grey-crowned Babbler have long gone. What it must have been like for the earlier ‘Birders’.

Monday 22 Sep was a perfect ‘birding’ day. Little or no wind, clear sky and a moderate temperature.

The morning’s venue was at the northern end of the Reserve from the Canopus Circuit entry point, along Long Point Track through Bull Mallee then descending to Coimadai Creek with a change of habitat, larger Eucalyptus and Acacia replacing the Bull Mallee. With 14 persons in ‘tow’, what rewards were in store. Keen ears picked up the calls of Brown Treecreepers, then the highlight for the day, a Red-capped Robin male feeding a young with the female on a nest. Mistletoebird in the same area and three Cuckoo species calling. A ‘must’ for the area is the Yellow-tufted Honeyeater. Hard to find at first but a pair sighted along the Coimadai Creek. The Yellow-rumped sub-species of the Spotted Pardalote, was also recorded, taking the tally for the morning to 43 species.

After lunch, we drove north towards Merrimu Reservoir stopping briefly along the Diggers Rest – Coimadai Rd then into the Picnic Area at the reservoir. The first raptors for the day. Brown Goshawk, Swamp Harrier, Wedge-tailed Eagle and Nankeen Kestrel. Scopes were out as we overlooked the exposed mud banks and open water of the reservoir. Australian Pelican, Australasian Darter, Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel, and a pair of Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.

The afternoon’s total, also 43 species with the combined total at 65 species for the day.

A most rewarding day, especially for a few, being their first visit to the area and an overseas visitor from Great Britain who couldn’t believe the ‘red’ of the male Red-capped Robin. A highly recommended birding area.

Contributor: Graeme Hosken, Leader for the day, BirdLife Melbourne (gahosken@bigpond.com)