Tag Archives: Nankeen Night-Heron

Weekdays outing to Barry Road Grasslands, Galada Tamboore

19 November, 2019
New Holland Honeyeater - Katmun Loh.JPG
New Holland Honeyeater. Photo by Katmun Loh

The venue was unfamiliar to most of our members and we were extremely grateful that Jodi Jackson was available to lead us when circumstances prevented Bridget, our advertised leader, from attending.

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Golden-headed Cisticola - Bevan Hood
Golden-headed Cisticola. Photo by Bevan Hood

The weather was favourable, light clouds and breezes, so sunscreen rather than raincoats was advisable. Our group numbered twelve and car park birding was dominated by those introduced evils, the Common Starling and Common Myna. However Crested Pigeons and New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters were sighted with Red Wattlebirds calling and an occasional Willie Wagtail making an appearance.

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

Walking the track toward the ‘rusty’ pedestrian bridge we encountered brief sightings and then heard the trills of a somewhat unexpected White-winged Triller. First at least two males were seen and then at least one female flew between trees. Quite a good start to the walk. Could it get better? We doubted it.

White-winged Triller - Katmun Loh
White-winged Triller. Photo by Katmun Loh

Approaching the bridge we found the traffic noise overwhelmed any bird calls present so it was eyes only. City views can be available from the bridge but today there was insufficient wind so smog cheated photographers of clear views.

Little Pied Cormorant - Katmun Loh
Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Katmun Loh

Male and female Superb Fairy Wrens fluttered around each other near the low scrub and the call of a Eurasian Skylark was audible to many as we walked away from the bridge and freeway.

Group on viewing platform - Katmun Loh
Group on viewing platform. Photo by Katmun Loh

A viewing platform located by the Merri Creek adjoined the reedbed containing calling Australian Reed-Warblers and Little Grassbird (seen by a fortunate few). To maintain the grasslands requires intervention and we passed a small team spraying invading broad-leaved weeds.

Horsefields Bronze-Cuckoo - Katmun Loh
Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo. Photo by Katmun Loh

The track passed a short distance from a wetland where the intrepid observers who braved potential snakes (none detected) were rewarded with Hardheads, Hoary-headed Grebe, Purple Swamphen and Dusky Moorhen.

Hardhead male - Bevan Hood
Hardhead, male. Photo by Bevan Hood

A highlight here was a Nankeen Night-Heron which flushed briefly and allowed everyone to see it.

Nankeen Night Heron - Katmun Loh
Nankeen Night-Heron. Photo by Katmun Loh

Continuing we often encountered Golden-headed Cisticolas rising from the grass and, on one much-appreciated occasion, perching on the grass stalk for a minute. Our only raptor, a Nankeen Kestrel, hovered characteristically over the grass.

Hovering Nankeen Kestrel - Katmun Loh
Nankeen Kestrel. Photo by Katmun Loh

Our track rose toward an escarpment. Here was the creek and denser bush and here we added Red-browed Finches and a couple of Grey Fantails.

Grey Fantail - Katmun Loh
Grey Fantail. Photo by Katmun Loh

By now the thought of lunch was attractive and the potential rock crossing at the end of the track seemed a very good place to turn back. On the return we encountered our only Spotted Pardalote calling and glimpsed Brown and Yellow-rumped Thornbills.

Galah - Bevan Hood
Galah. Photo by Bevan Hood

We would have covered at least 4 km and sitting for lunch was very pleasant, even more so when we did the bird call to find we had a list of 45 species. We thanked Jodi whole-heartedly for sharing her knowledge with us.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

 

Beginners outing to Yan Yean Reservoir Park

23 February 2019
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 70
Photographs by Eleanor Dilley

Light winds and mild temperatures provided perfect weather conditions for the 44 members attending the February excursion. With the aid of three scopes, large numbers of birds could be seen on the reservoir. Looking from the dam wall, these included Blue-billed Ducks, Great-crested Grebes, Eurasian Coots and three kinds of Cormorant: Great, Little Black and Little Pied.

Red-browed Finch - E Dilley.jpg
Red-browed Finch

The cars were then moved to be nearer to the wetlands where Yellow Thornbills, Red-browed Finch and Red-rumped Parrots were among the more colourful bush-birds seen. Ducks and Dusky Moorhens were plentiful on the water but a major highlight was the good sighting of a Spotless Crake on the mud beside a clump of reeds and then clambering up on top of it.

Spotless Crake - E Dilley
Spotless Crake

A Wedge-tailed Eagle soaring overhead added further excitement. On entering the fenced area the second pond provided good sightings including a Common Sandpiper, Black-fronted Dotterels plus a group of nine Freckled Ducks.

Common Sandpiper - E Dilley
Common Sandpiper

 

Returning to the cars around the back of the wetlands four lucky members had a brief view of a Latham’s Snipe before it shot off out of sight.

Freckled Duck - E Dilley
Freckled Ducks

Soon afterwards a female Australasian Darter circled low overhead giving everyone a good look.

Australasian Darter -Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Darter

Lunch was taken at the top of the hill where it was pleasing to see that the Nankeen Night-herons were still roosting in their usual Corsican Pine, though sadly the vegetation on the tree was much sparser than in previous years.

Nankeen Night-heron - E Dilley
Nankeen Night-heron

A short afternoon walk was taken along the fence line down towards the reservoir where two flocks of White-winged Choughs were seen, one foraging in the leaf litter beyond the fence and the other flying through the picnic area. Using the scopes a Great Egret and an Australian Pelican were identified and then at the carpark a Little Eagle was seen, bringing the total number of species recorded to 70. This was an excellent total and 19 more than in the same month in 2018. Perhaps the water provided by the reservoir in this very dry summer was a major reason.

Many thanks to Eleanor Dilley for providing all the photographs.

See complete bird list: BM Feb 2019 Bird List Yan Yean Reservoir Park

Beginners Outing to Jells Park

25 August 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 52
Australasian Darter - Bevan Hood
Australasian Darter. Photo by Bevan Hood

It was a sunny morning with little wind as 46 members set off to walk around Jells Park Lake. Almost immediately Nankeen Night-Herons were seen in dense vegetation near the water’s edge.

Nankeen Night-Heron, Jells Park
Nankeen Night-Heron. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Initially two birds were located, but closer inspection revealed two more.  Nearby, a pair of Grey Butcherbirds were busily building a nest of small twigs.

Grey Butcherbird, Jells Park
Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Soon afterwards a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo caused much amusement, screeching loudly and repeatedly flashing its crest.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Jells Park
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Rainbow Lorikeets were also seen displaying their magnificent multi-coloured feathers.

Rainbow Lorikeets, Jells Park
Rainbow Lorikeets. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Throughout the park Noisy Miners were dominant, which probably explained why few other honeyeaters were seen. Close to the track two sightings of Tawny Frogmouths caused much interest; first a single one and then a pair. All three birds were well camouflaged, with one in particular adopting the classic pose that looks just like a broken branch jutting out from a fork in the tree.

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There was much activity at the far end of the lake with scores of noisy Australian White Ibis nesting in huge island rookeries. They seemed to have been successful in pushing out the Cormorants and Darters which used to nest alongside them.

Australian White Ibis, Jells Park
Australian White-Ibis. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

However, four Australasian Darters were seen drying their wings and there were brief sightings of Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants.

Blue-billed Duck (M), Jells Park
Blue-billed Duck. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Some of the less common duck species were present on the water, with excellent views of Blue-billed and Pink-eared Ducks. Freckled Ducks were also present, but harder to see.

Pink-eared Duck, Jells Park
Pink-eared Duck. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

There was a flock of Red-browed Finches feeding in Casuarina trees and several Superb Fairy-wrens and Brown Thornbills in the lakeside vegetation. On the track heading back towards the car park, a few Eastern Rosellas, Galahs and Crested Pigeons were seen.

Galah - Bevan Hood
Galah. Photo by Bevan Hood

Most of the group stayed for lunch, taken after moving the cars to the upper car park where some Ironbark trees were just coming into flower.  Having been asked to look out for Swift Parrots the group assiduously scanned all possible trees but saw none. Rainbow Lorikeets and Noisy Miners were the only species seen feeding from the early blossoms on the trees.

Crested Pigeon - Bevan Hood
Crested Pigeon. Photo by Bevan Hood

A short circuit walk around the top of the hill finished the day’s agenda, but no further species were added to the morning total of 52.  Somewhat surprisingly, no raptors were seen despite the perfect weather conditions. Nevertheless, everyone seemed to enjoy the day, relishing the late winter sunshine.

View the complete bird list: BM Aug 2018 Bird List Jells Park

 

Beginners Outing to Yan Yean Reservoir Park

24 February 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 51
Black-fronted Dotterel AV
Black-fronted Dotterel. Photograph by Alan Veevers

A large flock of Long-billed Corellas foraged in a paddock by the entrance gate, as if greeting the 22 members who arrived at Yan Yean Reservoir on a windy, hot and humid morning. Those arriving early were taken to look over the reservoir from the dam wall near the entrance.

Long-billed Corella AV
Long-billed Corella. Photograph by Alan Veevers

A few Great Crested Grebes and several Musk Ducks could be seen amongst the plentiful Eurasian Coots in the choppy water.

Great Crested Grebe AV
Great Crested Grebe. Photograph by Alan Veevers

When all were assembled, the group drove to the car park at the far end of the wetlands from where the main walk of the day was to begin. Noisy Miners were dominant and only a few small bush-birds were seen. There were a lot of waterbirds in the wetland, mainly Dusky Moorhens and Chestnut Teals.

Latham's Snipe - Graeme Dean
Latham’s Snipe. Photograph by Graeme Dean

There was great excitement when a Latham’s Snipe was sighted on the opposite bank, though it soon walked off to hide in the undergrowth.

Red-rumped Parrot (m) AV
Red-rumped Parrot, male. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Very good views were had of Red-rumped Parrots on the ground and resting in small trees near the water’s edge.

Red-rumped Parrot - Graeme Dean
Red-rumped Parrot. Photograph by Graeme Dean

The walk continued across the track into the fenced area containing three large ponds. Several Australasian Grebes and more Ducks, including Hardheads, were spotted.

Australasian Grebe AV
Australasian Grebe. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Good views were had of a Black-fronted Dotterel feeding at the water’s edge and soon afterwards, to the delight of all, a Common Sandpiper was sighted, also feeding in the mud. Both of these birds stayed around long enough for everyone to have a good look.

Common Sandpiper AV
Common Sandpiper. Photograph by Alan Veevers

A Purple Swamphen with two very small chicks provided a lot of amusement as the little ones dashed along trying to keep up with mum.

Purple Swamphen and chick - Graeme Dean
Purple Swamphen and chick. Photograph by Graeme Dean

Just as the group was leaving the area two Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flew slowly by. On returning to the main wetlands several raptors could be seen soaring above the reservoir. They were identified as three Wedge-tailed Eagles (perhaps a breeding pair with a juvenile) and two Whistling Kites.

Common Bronzewing AV
Common Bronzewing. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Walking around the back of the wetland, where it was more sheltered, several Common Bronzewings were feeding on the ground. Nearby, a few lucky participants had a brief sighting of a Spotless Crake trudging through mud at the edge of a small island. The group then drove up to the top of the hill and walked to the Corsican Pine near the Caretaker’s Cottage and were rewarded with the sight of several Nankeen Night Herons roosting in the canopy.

Juvenile Nankeen Night Heron AV
Juvenile Nankeen Night Heron. Photograph by Alan Veevers
Nankeen Night Heron AV
Nankeen Night Heron. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Lunch was eaten in the rotunda and then a brief walk was taken down to the fence alongside the reservoir. A White-bellied Sea-Eagle’s nest was pointed out by a local member but the bird was not seen in the short time available. On the water were large numbers of Blue-billed Ducks and Hardheads as well as two Little Pied Cormorants perched on an overhanging dead branch.

Blue-billed Duck AV
Blue-billed Duck, male. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Rain had been forecast and storm clouds were threatening so it was agreed to have an early finish to this very rewarding outing. The bird call revealed a total of 51 species for the day.

View the bird list for the day: BM Feb 2018 Bird List Yan Yean Reservoir Park

 

Beginners Outing to Yan Yean Reservoir Park

25 February 2017
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 50

Musk Lorikeets and Noisy Miners were plentiful near the car park as 38 members arrived in perfect weather conditions at Yan Yean Reservoir. From the top of the dam wall a scope was useful in identifying a pair of Australasian Darters perched on a log, in typical wing-drying pose, on a distant shore. Hardheads and Eurasian Coots were numerous, but were also on the opposite side of the reservoir!

Eastern Rosella (F), Yan Yean
Eastern Rosella. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The group then drove in convoy to the car park adjacent to the main wetland area. Bird life was plentiful, with Little Grassbirds watched for several minutes whilst an adult fed its chick in the shadows at the water’s edge. Superb Fairy-wrens and White-browed Scrubwrens were also foraging in the dense undergrowth. On entering the fenced area across the road, Eastern Rosellas and Red-rumped Parrots were perched in trees, and on the first pond there were several immature Australasian Grebes, still showing some baby streaks in their heads.

 

 

img_3173
Immature Australasian Grebes. Photo by Alan Veevers

On the second pond were several Black-winged Stilts, both adult and juvenile. On the third pond the highlight was a Common Sandpiper seen feeding at the water’s edge and bobbing its tail in its typical manner.

Black-winged Stilt (juvenile), Yan Yean
Juvenile Black-winged Stilt. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
img_3189
Common Sandpiper. Photo by Alan Veevers

Leaving the fenced area and crossing back over the road, a pair of Australasian Shovelers and several other species were observed. Suddenly, a flock of Nankeen Night-Herons, mainly juveniles, flew up from a hidden roost and circled, for some time, high above us.

Australasian Shovelers, Yan Yean
Australasian Shovelers. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Nankeen Night Heron (juvenile), Yan Yean
Juvenile Nankeen Night-Heron. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Lunch was eaten up near the old keeper’s cottage where members enjoyed the beautiful view across the reservoir to the distant hills. A very old Canary Island Pine was the roost for another flock of Nankeen Night-Herons, mostly adults, and these were closely observed by members.

Nankeen Night Heron (juvenile), Yan Yean
Juvenile Nankeen Night-Heron. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
img_3214
Roosting Nankeen Night-Heron. Photo by Alan Veevers

Walking down the hill to the boundary fence revealed two Great Crested Grebes and a male Musk Duck, repeatedly diving and staying submerged for several minutes, which provided a challenge for beginners to try to find them again.

Great Crested Grebe, Yan Yean
Great Crested Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Great Crested Grebe, Yan Yean
Great Crested Grebe. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A final short walk was taken at the opposite end of the park, but no additional species were seen. The day’s total remained at 50, recorded at the previous locations. It was a very successful day, with some unusual sightings in a most attractive setting, in ideal weather conditions.

See bird list for the day: bm-feb-2017-bird-list-yan-yean-reservoir-park

Weekdays outing to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

16 February 2016
Azolla and floating island
Azolla and floating island

Sporadic rain did not deter 18 people assembling near Gate H. Newcomers joined long-term members being led by David Plant as Bell Miners called in the surrounding trees. Early arrivals were met by a young Willie Wagtail confidently foraging nearby. The water levels in all lakes had plummeted since the rains stopped over the previous six weeks or more. The gardens do not receive tap water but are wholly watered by purified road run-off. No run-off, no water. When the rain does fall, the surrounding gutters flow into a series of ponds where pollutants are removed or sequestered by vegetation, often on floating islands. Partially cleaned water is then pumped up to Guilfoyle’s ‘Volcano’ where the final purification proceeds (via more floating islands of vegetation) before it is gravity-fed down to the garden beds where it is distributed where needed by means of a computer-controlled system.

Floating islands on Guilfoyle's Floating islands on Guilfoyle's "Volcano"
Floating islands on Guilfoyle’s ‘Volcano’

Today the lack of recent rain meant that lake levels were about a meter below normal and birds were walking on mud rather than paddling on water. Another problem is the proliferation of Azolla, a water plant whose dense surface growth blocks all light from deeper-growing vegetation.

Floating island and Azolla
Floating island and Azolla

Still, the gardens hosted numerous Silver Gulls, Pacific Black Ducks, Eurasian Coots and Purple Swamphens. There were fewer Dusky Moorhens, which included several well-grown young, and one male Chestnut Teal foraged close to a stripy youngster. Each of the three Black Swans seen was banded on the neck for identification during the ongoing research on breeding patterns. David mentioned that a population of foxes lived among the rockery and had effectively eliminated cats from the gardens, resulting in much less overall predation on the garden wildlife. Several original trees were pointed out, among them a Melaleuca liniariifolia and a swamp gum or ‘kanuka’. Cushiony green lawns are planted with kikuyu which needs no water and resists the wear of heavy traffic.

Azolla
Azolla and a couple of Eurasian Coots and a Dusky Moorhen

Only a couple of other individual waterbirds were recorded – Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants, a Hardhead seen by only a few and a pair of Grey Teal seen by all. A highlight was at least one Nankeen Night-Heron initially in flight then later by a lake. Bush birds were not numerous. White-browed Scrubwrens and Brown Thornbills were heard, Red and Little Wattlebirds were occasionally seen and many had a fleeting glimpse of an Eastern Spinebill. Little Ravens and Australian Magpies called and a Magpie-lark was initially heard before being seen. A still slightly fuzzy young magpie beside an adult elicited ‘Aaww’ all round.

Some of the group
Some of the group

The final bird count was 33 species, continuing a trend of loss of the garden’s birds. David had shared with us his enthusiasm and encyclopaedic knowledge of the garden’s history and treasures and we thanked him wholeheartedly.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings; all photographs by Diane Tweeddale