Tag Archives: Point Cook Coastal Reserve

Weekday outing to Point Cook Coastal Park

14 March 2018
Cormorants and Gull - Bevan Hood
Little Pied Cormorant, Pied Cormorant, Silver Gull. Photo by Bevan Hood

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Farther along we encountered Pied and Little Pied Cormorants which enabled people to compare the sizes and markings for future identification.

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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.

Black Kite - Bevan Hood
Black Kite. Photo by Bevan Hood

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’.

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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.

Brown Goshawk - Danika Sanderson
Brown Goshawk

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.

Gannet - Gull - Tern - Bevan Hood
Australasian Gannet, Silver Gull, Crested Tern. Photo by Bevan Hood

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outing

Beginner’s Outing to Point Cook Coastal Reserve

28 January 2017

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 50
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Grey Fantail. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Twenty-nine members met in perfect weather conditions at the Beach Carpark where numerous Superb Fairy-wrens were seen at ground level and lots of other small birds, including Grey Fantails, Yellow Thornbills and Silvereyes were in the trees.

Silvereye, Point Cook
Silvereye. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The group drove in convoy towards Cheetham Wetlands Carpark, pausing en-route at a wetland, beside one of the new housing estates, where Dusky Moorhens paraded a chick and Golden-headed Cisticolas perched proudly on top of a bush. A Whistling Kite and a Brown Goshawk were seen in the distance and, soon afterwards, a Black Kite flew leisurely overhead. These three raptors were seen several more times throughout the morning.

Whistling Kite, Point Cook
Whistling Kite. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
Black Kite, Point Cook
Black Kite. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

The first walk was towards the shore where a huge number of Silver Gulls rested on the sand and on the water. At the actual Point Cook, a number of different water birds were perched on rocks, including both Crested and Common Terns. A large flock of Red-necked Stints flew quickly past, being sadly, the only waders seen at the shore.

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Silver Gull. Photo by Merrilyn Serong
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Common Terns. Photo by Alan Veevers

The old Homestead Jetty, which used to be a roost for different Cormorant species, was barely standing and had been taken over by Common Starlings. An interesting sighting in the bush behind the shore was a flock of Tree Sparrows. Walking back towards the cars, lots of Yellow-rumped Thornbills were watched with interest and several more sightings of our three raptors were made.

Lunch was taken back at the Beach Picnic area, followed by a short walk to the shore and back through the heathland. Singing Honeyeater was the only addition to our species list, although Brown Quail were heard but not sighted in their usual location.

Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Point Cook
Yellow-rumped Thornbill. Photo by Eleanor Dilley
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Zebra Finches. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

A final walk was then taken around a newly reconstructed wetland close to the RAAF Lake Car Park. A pair of Black-fronted Dotterels foraged near the water’s edge and several White-faced Herons gracefully flew around when disturbed. Back near the cars a flock of Zebra Finches provided an exciting and colourful finale to the outing.

The final birdcall of 50 species was very gratifying; especially in an area where there has been an enormous amount of housing development close by.

View the full bird list: bm-jan-2017-bird-list-point-cook

Beginners Outing to Point Cook Coastal Reserve

23rd January 2016

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species Count: 46

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.

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Left: Brown Quail; photo by Merrilyn Serong. Right: Pacific Gull and Little Pied Cormorants; photo by Kathy Zonnevylle

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.

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Left: Black Swans; photo by Merrilyn Serong. Right: Common Greenshank; photo by Kathy Zonnevylle

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.

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Left: Common Tern. Right: Crested Tern. Photos by Kathy Zonnevylle

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.

See the bird list for the outing: BM Jan 2016 Bird List Point Cook

Beginners outing to Point Cook Coastal Reserve

24 January 2015; leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers

Species count: 57

Fifty members, including several ‘new’ beginners, began the walk at the beach car park in pleasant weather conditions. Singing and New Holland Honeyeaters were foraging in the trees and a lone Brown Quail was seen in dense undergrowth. A Black-shouldered Kite hovered over the heathland and an Australian Hobby flew swiftly overhead. Golden-headed Cisticolas and European Goldfinches were also seen there, perched on dead bushes. On returning to the cars, a convoy was formed to drive the short distance to Point Cook Homestead.

On the way, we stopped beside the road at a constructed wetland which proved to be very productive. Birds sighted included an Australian Reed-Warbler on a nest and two Australian Spotted Crakes. Later in the afternoon, 10 members returned to this site and saw a Baillon’s Crake which shows how well waterbirds respond to the right environment when their normal ponds have dried up.

Lunch was eaten at the Cheetham Wetlands car park where a Spotted Harrier was seen to land in an adjacent paddock. Getting a good look at Zebra Finches flying on and off the fences provided an interesting challenge for some of the beginners. The group then walked past the old Homestead to the shore where birds were plentiful. Highlights were several Common Terns perched on rocks at the Point and a Black-faced Cormorant resting on the Homestead jetty. Returning to the cars, a young Brown Falcon perched on a fence post created a lot of interest.

57 species were recorded for the day, including ‘firsts’ for many of the beginners and some great sightings for all.

See attached bird list for this outing: BM Jan 2015 Bird List Point Cook

Weekdays outing to Point Cook Coastal Park

5 November 2014

Migration Tower. Photo by Diane Tweeddale
Migration Tower. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

A cool south westerly chilled 11 post-Cup dedicated birders as they assembled. Hazel and Alan Veevers led our group and the first concern was to drive to the Cheetham wetlands coast to look for shorebirds as the tide rose. We paused to check the small ponds in a new housing estate where Pacific Black Duck, Chestnut Teal and Eurasian Coot had joined the adaptable Common Starling and Little Raven. The tide beat us and a challenging lone Red-capped Plover was the only shorebird but the birding was still eye-opening. Few of us had encountered Hoary-headed Grebe on the sea but here several were diving among the waves. The many Chestnut Teal and Black Swan in such a location were more familiar. Taking the long route back to the cars we encountered territorial squabbles between honeyeaters with a Singing Honeyeater prevailing over a New Holland for possession of the valued high perch on one of the few scattered bushes. Whiskered (Marsh) Terns were numerous along the coast and close inland but we saw only one Crested Tern. Raptors were initially scarce but a perched Australian Hobby ‘broke the drought’ and the final tally included a courting pair of Whistling Kite, a juvenile Black-shouldered Kite, a hunting Nankeen Kestrel and a Brown Falcon. The area is extremely dry with cracked clay and almost no standing water. In only one place were frogs calling though white butterflies were numerous enough to be a distraction as they flew. Golden-headed Cisticola and Eurasian Skylark were finally tracked down by their calls as we walked to the Migration Tower. This area yielded brief glimpses of White-fronted Chat and distant views of Australian Pied Oystercatcher. Near the homestead a determined Willie Wagtail harassed a Little Raven, making audible contact, until the raven departed. After lunch we checked the beach near the homestead where our first approach was made memorable by more than 100 teal flushing from the beach to separate into smaller groups on the water. A short walk brought us to the remains of a jetty with Pied, Little Pied and Black-faced Cormorant roosting.

Pied and Little Pied Cormorants on remains of a jetty near the old Pt Cook homestead. Photo by Diane Tweeddale
Pied and Little Pied Cormorants on remains of a jetty near the old Pt Cook homestead. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

A quick check of the beach picnic area added a couple more bush birds to the day, Grey Fantail and Silvereye, though this area had been recently burnt and slashed so it supported less than previously. Bird call resulted in a final tally of 50 species and broad smiles all round as we thanked Hazel and Alan for showing us the potential of the park.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings

Beginners outing to Point Cook Coastal Reserve

25 January 2014, species count 54, Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers

At the beach car park, 41 members assembled on a pleasantly cool morning, some already having seen a Little Eagle and a Whistling Kite over the heathland as they drove in. Taking the southernmost track, Willie Wagtails and European Goldfinch were plentiful but the hoped-for Brown Quail were elusive (a single bird was seen later). A gusty wind made our task difficult as we returned on the beachside track, seeing only a few species over the heath and the bay.

The totally dry Spectacle Lake was bypassed on the way to lunch at Cheetham Wetlands car park, from which Swamp Harriers and a lone Brown Falcon were seen. The afternoon walk was a circuit taking in Point Cook and returning past the Homestead. An Australasian Pipit stood obligingly for all to see before we reached the ‘hot spot’ at the Point. There, a sizeable flock of Red-necked Stints foraged on the beach whilst many Crested Terns and several Common Terns rested on the rocks with Pied and Little Pied Cormorants. A White-faced Heron waded amongst them. Highlights near the Homestead were a Sacred Kingfisher and a light-morph Brown Falcon, both of which remained perched for all to see.

Despite missing out on a few target species, the group had enjoyed a lovely day birding in a great location.