22 October 2018
Twenty-one people assembled under light clouds in a mild breezy day. Our advertised leader, Elsmaree Baxter, was slightly incapacitated so she delegated active leadership to Pat Bingham and merely walked gently at the rear of the group. We had new members and visitors including Suzanne from Austin, Texas.
The day started well with Eastern Grey Kangaroos as well as Eurasian Coots and Silver Gulls present beside the launch area, to the delight of visitors who hadn’t been close to roos previously. Other birds on the water or the bank included Little Pied Cormorants, Pacific Black Ducks, Masked Lapwings and Little Ravens. A female Musk Duck swam beside the short mooring post and beside her splashed a small duckling, charming the watchers. An unusual and unexpected sighting was a Purple Swamphen perched in a tree, 3-4 meters above the ground. In the bush the Noisy Miners dominated the more open areas, even diving at a Common Bronzewing as it foraged on the ground. We headed to the dam wall where the wind blew strongly across the lake and hats were clutched tightly. Among the coots near the wall we had good close views of Grebes, Hoary-headed, Australasian and, much-appreciated, Great Crested (not often seen in this area). The dam wall also provided close views of a young Echidna walking beside the fence until it found a comfortable space in the wire mesh and slid through.
Several Pacific Black Ducks were examined as closely as possible and all seemed to be pure bred, without a sign of the orange legs of hybridisation with the Northern Mallard. A white domestic “dinner duck” was not counted. Up into the bush where frog calls from damp areas included the Common Froglet. A female Rufous Whistler called and was then briefly observed while a couple of Red-browed Finches flitted near the track. Further along a male Tawny Frogmouth was on incubation duty on a simple nest in a tree fork high above the track. The only parrots and cockatoos seen were several Long-billed Corellas on the grass and an Eastern and two Crimson Rosellas plus a couple of Rainbow Lorikeets. Superb Fairy-wrens, both brown females and blue males, delighted all, especially visitors. The honeyeater list was not long, in addition to the many Noisy Miners there were calling Red Wattlebirds and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. Both an immature and an adult Grey Butcherbird were present and Australian Magpies and Pied Currawongs were present and calling.
After lunch the group reduced to 13 people and we walked briefly on the northern side of the car parks, adding only two extra species to the list, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and Grey Fantail, and gaining improved sightings of several species. The species list now stood at 42 where it had been 40 at lunchtime. We thanked Pat and Elsmaree for all the careful preparation and teamwork which had resulted in a successful outing.
Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekday outings