Good birding weather met the 17 who initially assembled beside the Corinella cemetery. Our leaders promise of orchids had us “eyes down”. We were not disappointed – there were carpets of milkmaids and trigger plants interspersed with blue and pink sun orchids and the likelihood of more flowers when the sun was higher.
Birds were calling in the cemetery and in the roadside trees. A Striated Pardalote was busy flying in and out of its nest in the top of an electricity pole, and a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo was calling loudly in the trees. Through the cemetery and away from the road there were many birds to be seen and/or heard in the remnant bush area managed by Parks Victoria. These included Grey Fantail, Eastern Yellow Robin, Varied Sittella, Golden Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, and Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Flying above us were Straw-necked and Australian White Ibises, and Dusky Woodswallows. A highlight was a Crested Shrike-tit located near the top of a tall eucalyptus tree.
From this bush location we drove to Corinella foreshore, for lunch, followed by a short headland walk. Scopes were put to good use to scan the shoreline and the sandbanks out in the bay. The sightings included Australian Pelican, Silver and Pacific Gulls, Pied Oystercatcher, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants, and Royal Spoonbill. The highlight was an Eastern Curlew on a distant sandbank. Some of the group were treated to a fly-past by a Wedge-tailed Eagle being heartily pursued by several smaller birds.
Our final location was Candowie Reservoir, which involved driving on the picturesque country road leading to its elevated position. Here, we parked alongside the boundary fence from where we could see most of the water surface. Being 100% full to overflowing was no doubt part of the reason for the shortage of ducks and other water birds. Great Cormorants and a Musk Duck with two chicks provided good views. In the nearby trees and bushes we had sightings of several species that were already on the day list, but we added Crimson Rosella and Little Corella to it. A closing highlight, seen by some, was another Wedge-tailed Eagle soaring nearby.
The total species count for the day came to 61, which was ample reward for the those who made the trip to Corinella. Thanks go to Steve Hoptroff who contributed the accompanying photographs.
The group numbered 16 when we assembled by the information centre on Tuesday at 13.00 in calm sunny weather, perfect for birdwatching.
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.
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.
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.
The area also hosted Black Swans and Australian Pelicans while cormorants included Little Pied, Pied and Little Black.
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.
Then it was across to Fisher’s Wetlands, Newhaven, where there were ducks, Chestnut Teal, Australian Wood Ducks, Australasian Shovelers and Australian Shelducks.
Both Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes were present while Black-winged Stilts foraged on the far side of the water.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Overcast and mild weather greeted 21 birdwatchers from many areas of Victoria as we assembled in the Beach Picnic area car park. Alan and Hazel Veevers were our leaders and the car park soon added Superb Fairy-wren, New Holland Honeyeater and Red Wattlebird to the Common Starlings, Australian Magpies and Willie Wagtails most had noted on their drive in.
Time and tide wait for no bird watcher so we immediately drove to the homestead car park and walked through the pine trees to the beach. Highlights here were Zebra Finches near the fence line and an obligingly perched Brown Falcon which gave photographers very good views.
Galahs, Little Ravens and Crested Pigeons were also noted here and the squeals from a windmill were initially confusing till the machinery was noted among some trees. No birds really make that noise.
Crested Tern. Photo by Graeme Dean
Crested Tern, immature. Photo by Graeme Dean
Low tide at the beach saw a flock of Chestnut Teal, many Silver Gulls and Crested Terns and the occasional Pacific Black Duck and Pacific Gull perched on the exposed rocks.
Pacific Gull. Photo by Graeme Dean
Australian Pelican. Photo by Graeme Dean
Farther along we encountered Pied and Little Pied Cormorants which enabled people to compare the sizes and markings for future identification.
Heading back to the cars prior to lunch Black-shouldered Kite and Nankeen Kestrel were added to our growing raptor list which also had couples of Whistling Kites and Black Kites seen earlier.
A brief stop at the water control area of a housing estate added Dusky Moorhen and Purple Swamphen. One of the swamphens caused some excitement when it appeared to be eating a yabby but closer inspection showed ‘lunch’ to be the rhizome of one of the water plants, complete with apparent ‘legs’.
Our lunch was accompanied by several optimistic magpies and enlivened by fairy-wrens in great numbers foraging low around us. The magpies moved out and an enormous racket drew our attention to their mobbing of a raptor. It was only slightly larger than the magpies but they had the numbers and the raptor departed. Much discussion about its identity followed but no one had managed a clear view. The ID came later after photos had been closely examined – the wings and tail were those of a Brown Goshawk. Cameras now freeze action much better than human vision.
After lunch we walked beside the beach. Initially there were only a few fairy-wrens foraging among the seaweed but carefully continuing south we encountered more gulls, teal and terns roosting on the exposed rocks close to shore. Scanning yielded two Musk Ducks swimming beyond the crowd and then a rather unexpected sighting – an immature Australasian Gannet resting on one of the rocks.
White-faced Heron and Australian White Ibis were also present in small numbers and a few Grey Teal were swimming together in one area. Back through the scrub where Grey Fantails dominated sightings and then on to a new wetland near the RAAF Lake car park. Expectations may have been low as we approached it but soon “grebes” were called.
Both Australasian and Hoary-Headed were present and diving out of sight as grebes are wont to do. The omnipresent Chestnut Teal were noted, plus a couple of Pacific Black Ducks and then there were the dotterels on the further, smaller lake.
Both Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel were there and a pair of the latter were engaging in a bobbing display to each other. The edges of the reed beds housed Australian Reed-Warblers (silent at this time of the year) and Golden-headed Cisticolas perching on seed heads and making their buzzing call.
Leaving this area with regret we gathered for bird call. Total species count was 56, very creditable for an area which is being surrounded more and more closely by housing. We thanked Hazel and Alan enthusiastically for all their preparation and care which had given us such a good day’s birding.
Pleasantly cool conditions enhanced the enjoyment of the 49 participants on the January excursion to Point Cook. Whilst members were still arriving a dozen Brown Quail were seen foraging nearby, where they obligingly stayed until everyone had seen them. Many photos of these usually secretive birds were taken.
The cars were then moved to the Cheetham Wetlands car park to facilitate access to the jetty and Point Cook. Sadly, the homestead area was closed and off limits. A Singing Honeyeater and a male Rufous Whistler were seen along the public track to the shore. Several Little Pied Cormorants and a lone Pied Cormorant were perched on the jetty and were later joined by a pair of Pacific Gulls. Numerous Black Swans, Chestnut and Grey Teal were on the water and two Common Greenshanks were discovered feeding in the shallows close to shore.
The group then walked slowly along the beach towards Point Cook where three Common Terns and several Crested Terns were amongst the birds perched on rocks soon to be submerged by the incoming tide. Surprisingly, no small waders were seen.
The whole area was very dry with no water in Spectacle Lake and very little in the RAAF Lake, so the group stopped at the small wetlands by the new housing estate, which had been added to the itinerary for the first time last year. Purple Swamphens, Dusky Moorhens and Pacific Black Ducks were some of the species seen there.
Lunch was taken at the Beach Picnic Area and was followed by a short walk to the shore and around the heathland. A blue Budgerigar was found perched in a low bush near the beach – a colourful bird, though certainly an aviary escapee. There were good views of a Brown Falcon and Yellow-rumped Thornbills on the heath near the car park.
The RAAF Lake was the final location for the day and, on the way there, several members saw a young Wedge-tailed Eagle gliding low overhead. Sadly no birds were seen on the Lake or its shoreline. A total of 46 species were recorded for the day – a creditable total given the dry conditions.