Tag Archives: Musk Duck

Weekdays outing to Phillip Island

1-2 October 2019
Black Swan cygnets - Bevan Hood
Black Swan cygnets. Photo by Bevan Hood

The group numbered 16 when we assembled by the information centre on Tuesday at 13.00 in calm sunny weather, perfect for birdwatching.

Group with Phillip Island bridge in background - Katmun Loh.JPG
Group with Phillip Island Bridge in the background. Photo by Katmun Loh

Our leaders were Sally and Derek Whitehead, keen birders who live on the island. They were very familiar with the Cape Barren Goose population but those visiting from the Melbourne branch were very interested to see the recovery of this once-threatened species. Almost to plague proportions according to some disgruntled land owners.

Cape Barren Goose Bevan Hood
Cape Barren Goose. Photo by Bevan Hood
Cape Barren Goose goslings- Bevan Hood
Cape Barren Goose goslings. Photo by Bevan Hood

The geese were quiet but that cannot be said of the numerous Masked Lapwings. These noisy neighbours appreciate the mowed grasses and clearly you were not an islander if your block didn’t boast a pair, preferably breeding. Meanwhile the sky was filled with skeins and small groups of Ibis, mainly Straw-necked though there were a few Australian White.

Straw-necked Ibis - Bevan Hood.jpg
Straw-necked Ibis. Photo by Bevan Hood

Our first location was the Newhaven jetty where both Silver Gulls and Pacific Gulls were observed, the latter mostly immatures in their mottled brown plumage and looking somewhat scruffy.

Silver Gull - Bevan Hood
Silver Gull. Photo by Bevan Hood
Pacific Gull immature - Bevan Hood
Pacific Gull, immature. Photo by Bevan Hood

The area also hosted Black Swans and Australian Pelicans while cormorants included Little Pied, Pied and Little Black.

Black Swan - AustnPelican - Royal Spoonbill - Bevan Hood
Black Swan, Australian Pelican and Royal Spoonbill. Photo by Bevan Hood

 

Out to sea an Australian Gannet was briefly viewed and then confirmed as it plunged after fish. Around the houses ringing the jetty area we also noted Welcome Swallows, Galahs, Australian Magpies and Wattlebirds, Red and Little.

Australian Pelican - Katmun Loh
Australian Pelican. Photo by Katmun Loh
Australian Pelican - Bevan Hood - 2
Australian Pelican. Photo by Bevan Hood
Australian Pelican - Bevan Hood
Australian Pelican. Photo by Bevan Hood

Then it was across to Fisher’s Wetlands, Newhaven, where there were ducks, Chestnut Teal, Australian Wood Ducks, Australasian Shovelers and Australian Shelducks.

Australasian Shoveler - Katmun Loh
Australasian Shoveler. Photo by Katmun Loh
Australian Shelduck f and m - Katmun Loh
Australian Shelduck, male and female. Photo by Katmun Loh

 

Both Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes were present while Black-winged Stilts foraged on the far side of the water.

Musk Duck female - Katmun Loh
Musk Duck, female. Photo by Katmun Loh

A Royal Spoonbill shared a roosting islet with swans and pelicans and a Whiskered Tern fluttered and dipped near them. From the bush we could hear a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo calling while a Swamp Harrier and then a Brown Falcon started our raptor count for the visit.

Brown Falcon - Katmun Loh
Brown Falcon. Photo by Katmun Loh
Black-shouldered Kite - Bevan Hood
Black-shouldered Kite. Photo by Bevan Hood

The birding is usually excellent at Fisher’s Wetland and today was no exception. The bush was home to Yellow-rumped and Brown Thornbills plus White-eared Honeyeaters and Grey Fantails.

White-eared Honeyeater - Katmun Loh
White-eared Honeyeater. Photo by Katmun Loh
White-eared Honeyeater - Bevan Hood
White-eared Honeyeater. Photo by Bevan Hood

On checking Rhyll inlet from the cliff top (scopes are recommended for this location) we were able to include several new species. The sand spit hosted Bar-tailed Godwits and Australian Pied Oystercatchers and a Caspian Tern flew past while the highlight here was Whimbrels on the rocks at the cliff base.

Australian Pied Oystercatcher - Katmun Loh
Australian Pied Oystercatcher. Photo by Katmun Loh

We were kept so busy observing and recording that we decided to drive over to the Shearwater estate and complete the day with a bird call there rather than visit the Rhyll yacht club as originally planned.

Galah - Bevan Hood
Galah. Photo by Bevan Hood

The yacht club might have similar results to the Newhaven jetty area while the estate contains central wetlands for water management and is well worth a visit. Yes, there were Little Grassbirds calling and many watchers managed to see an Australian Reed-Warbler as it foraged along the reed base. Highlights here were Fairy Martins collecting mud for nests under a culvert and a pair of Superb Fairy-wrens glowing brilliantly in the late afternoon light as they perched on the reeds.

Superb Fairy-wren male - Katmun Loh
Superb Fairy-wren, male. Photo by Katmun Loh

We called the list and were gratified to number 68 species for the afternoon. Thanks to Sally and Derek.

Next morning we assembled at 08.30 without two of our number who were only available for the Tuesday. The first stop was the Oswin Roberts Reserve on Harbison Rd, Rhyll, another excellent birding location.

Common Starling - Bevan Hood
Common Starling. Photo by Bevan Hood

We didn’t need to leave the car park to record Musk and Rainbow Lorikeets, Laughing Kookaburra, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Eastern Rosella and Fairy Martin.

Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike - Katmun Loh
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Katmun Loh
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike - Bevan Hood
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Bevan Hood
Eastern Rosella - Bevan Hood
Eastern Rosella. Photo by Bevan Hood

Walking around the short circuit by the car park we had the good fortune to locate and then actually see a calling Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, to watch brilliantly coloured Striated Pardalotes and to encounter a couple of feeding Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos.

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo - Katmun Loh
Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. Photo by Katmun Loh
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo - Katmun Loh
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. Photo by Katmun Loh
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo - Bevan Hood
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. Photo by Bevan Hood

Fan-tailed Cuckoo proved challenging to locate but most of us were finally able to view the birds. A fortunate group actually observed not one but three Fantail Cuckoos in the same binocular view.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo - Bevan Hood
Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Photo by Bevan Hood
Fan-tailed Cuckoo 2 - Katmun Loh
Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Photo by Katmun Loh
Fan-tailed Cuckoo 1 - Katmun Loh
Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Photo by Katmun Loh

Along the track we encountered a couple of Swamp Wallabies while checking the understorey. Then it was time to drive to the Nobbies for seabirds. Here the raptor count increased as we recorded Peregrine Falcon, Nankeen Kestrel and Whistling Kite.

Peregrine Falcon - Katmun Loh
Peregrine Falcon. Photo by Katmun Loh

Many smiles resulted from the glimpses of Little Penguins in their nesting boxes on the side of the hillside as we traversed the board walk. Crowds of tourists and families were taking advantage of the school holidays and beautiful weather. The calm settled conditions for the previous couple of days were not likely to have driven any albatrosses inshore so we were not surprised when none were seen.

It was not a far drive to Swan Lake from the Nobbies and most of us were soon smiling as pairs of Black Swans led their fluffy grey cygnets and a pair of Chestnut Teal boasted seven ducklings.

Black Swan - Bevan Hood
Black Swan. Photo by Bevan Hood
Chestnut Teal - Bevan Hood
Chestnut Teal. Photo by Bevan Hood

There were raptors, Swamp Harriers and Whistling Kites, as we walked the board walk and some of us wondered how many cygnets, ducklings and goslings would make it to adulthood. We decided to have the bird call here and made ourselves comfortable but the usual “bird call calls” rang out with White-browed Scrubwren and Silvereye joining the list at the last minute. The morning’s list totalled 66 species and the cumulative total for the two days was 90 species. It goes almost without saying that we thanked both Sally and Derek whole-heartedly for all their preparation which had gone into such a successful session.

Diane Tweeddale Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

 

Weekdays outing to Phillip Island

10-11 October 2016

Two youngsters joined 23 adults at the information centre on Phillip Island Road. The previous day’s storm winds had closed some areas but our leaders, Sally and Derek Whitehead, adjusted their itinerary to accommodate the changing weather. The cold wind and intermittent rain were challenging but all had dressed for the weather. The birds showed less enthusiasm for the wintry conditions and there were few species around the car park – Masked Lapwing, Welcome Swallow and Little Raven dominated though both a Shining Bronze-cuckoo and a Fan-tailed Cuckoo called. We drove to the Newhaven jetty and the bird list grew as Silver Gulls and Crested Terns sheltered near several immature Pacific Gulls, one of which was pecking determinedly at the long backbone (about 80 cm) and head of a rather large fish. Australian Pelicans and Little Pied Cormorants stood further out and in the distance a white dot resolved into a Royal Spoonbill which obligingly flew over us as we were leaving and was added to the Common Blackbird, New Holland Honeyeater and Willie Wagtail foraging in the park side bushes. It was only a short drive to Fishers wetland where the birding was very busy. Cape Barren Geese had clearly had a most successful couple of breeding seasons as they were present not only in the sanctuary but in most paddocks and also in housing estates where the vegetation was grassy. Black Swans with cygnets of varying ages swam at Fishers, to the delight of youngsters and adults. A highlight here was a lone Cattle Egret in breeding plumage. Scopes revealed more distant birds – Australasian Shoveler, White-fronted Chat and Chestnut Teal plus an unexpected Wood Sandpiper– while passing above our heads were Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and Whistling Kite. We left the wetland with regret, pausing to admire a fluffy Dusky Moorhen chick among the reeds. A bush walk added Brown Thornbill, White-naped and White-plumed Honeyeaters as well as Grey Butcherbird.

Bar-tailed Godwit - Derek Whitehead.JPG
Bar-tailed Godwit. Photo by Derek Whitehead

The next stop was at the Shearwater estate where a well-vegetated water retention/purification pond hosted numerous calling Little Grassbirds. Some were lucky enough to glimpse one, including a fortunate birder who’d only ever heard them, infrequently. Over the water Fairy Martins twisted and flew and a happy spotting was a pair of Spotted Pardalotes which flew into a low street tree beside us. The small flock of foraging Red-browed Finches delighted those who saw them. When you consider the bird list (not given comprehensively here) for this housing estate you realise how much has been learnt recently about creating an area which controls water, provides recreation, looks attractive and provides a wildlife habitat. On to the cemetery next as clouds once more built up on the horizon. The day was darkening and fewer birds were detected though a Grey Currawong obligingly perched on a dead tree and posed against grey sky long enough for most to see. As a rainstorm approached it was decided to postpone the day’s birdcall till next morning and finish the day to give everyone a chance to reach their accommodation reasonably comfortably.

Whimbrel - Derek Whitehead.JPG
Whimbrel. Photo by Derek Whitehead

The next morning we reassembled by the info’ centre, did our best to recall what each had recorded the previous day and created the Monday bird list. A quick count indicated that the group had recorded 64 species for that afternoon. First drive was out to Kitty Miller wetlands, on private property with permission to visit. Birding from the road added Australasian Pipit as well as the usual PI suspects, geese, magpies, Common Starlings and Great Cormorant. Then we made our way through some very wet, sticky and slippery mud (who said birdwatching is for wimps?) up to the bank of a chain of ponds where young geese were shepherded by their adults and swans nested. The duck count mounted as Pink-eared, Musk and Australian Shelduck were added to Pacific Black and Australian Wood Duck.

musk-duck-male-derek-whitehead
Musk Duck, male. Photo by Derek Whitehead

All good things must end so it was off to the Oswin Roberts sanctuary which had been reopened after being shut Sunday and Monday due to the dangerous winds. Here were bushbirds – Eastern Rosella, Laughing Kookaburra and Grey Shrike-thrush joined Superb Fairy-wren and female Golden Whistler. The short walking track was chosen as once again we were pressed for time under darkening skies. The children especially were delighted to encounter Black (Swamp) Wallabies watching us from near the path. We then drove to the Rhyll observation point above Rhyll Inlet. There were Whimbrels and Bar-tailed Godwits on the edge of the sand and Crested and Caspian Terns joined cormorants and pelicans on the sandspit. A lone Little Egret walked animatedly in the shallows while a Pied Cormorant flew over. The last birds to be added were Red-necked Stints and Red-capped Plovers bringing the bird list for the two days to 89 species. We thanked Sally and Derek most enthusiastically for all their work and preparation which so successfully overcame the obstacles created by the extreme weather. Far from disappearing, some of us stayed for ‘just a little more’ birding with afternoon tea and others were heard planning return visits now that they knew of more locations than the well-publicised Nobbies and the penguin parade.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings