22 January 2022
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 48
Twenty six members braved the very hot weather to attend the Point Cook excursion. Whilst assembling at the Beach Picnic Area a Little Eagle circled low overhead providing great views for everyone. Superb Fairy-wrens and Willie Wagtails were the predominant birds as members walked towards the shore. At the beach the only birds which could be clearly seen were dozens of Silver Gulls, with a lone Australian Pelican in the far distance.
Taking the track parallel to the shore, Silvereyes and a Singing Honeyeater were spotted in the bushes and a Nankeen Kestrel flew overhead. On the track back towards the cars a Crested Pigeon obligingly perched on a dead branch while smaller bushbirds were much harder to see.
At the carpark members searched for Yellow Thornbills which proved to be elusive, though seen and heard by a couple of senior spotters. A number of Yellow-rumped Thornbills were, however, clearly seen.
As we drove to the RAAF Lake carpark it was pleasing to see that the recent heavy rains must have almost filled the lake, as it was still about two-thirds full. Three Australian Shelducks were on the lake and a Masked Plover was roaming the nearside bank. In the distance a White-bellied Sea-Eagle was spotted being determinedly mobbed by Silver Gulls. In the small ponds on the opposite side of the road several species were found, including a family of Australasian Grebes with very small chicks, two of which clambered onto the back of a parent as we watched. Australian Reed Warblers were very vocal, and a few were seen darting in and out of the reeds. Some members, at the rear of the group, saw Zebra Finches and Golden-headed Cisticolas and heard a Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo calling in the distance.
Members then drove towards the Homestead area, pausing briefly at the ponds beside the housing estate. Dusky Moorhens and Purple Swamphens were seen on the water and European Goldfinches and House Sparrows were feeding on thistles. On arrival, lunch was eaten in the welcome shade of some old trees beside the carpark. Here, immature Collared Sparrowhawks were very noisy in their demands for food and there were numerous sightings of them as they whizzed past overhead. Members then set off towards the Point at low tide where there were a number of Crested Terns, Pied and Little Pied Cormorants along with many more Silver Gulls. It was disappointing that no migrant waders were seen in this area. Continuing along the shore a Pied Oystercatcher could be seen in the distance, along with scores more Silver Gulls. Walking back inland, towards the carpark, the White-bellied Sea-Eagle flew overhead, giving much closer views this time. On reaching the carpark the young Sparrowhawks were still calling loudly and some members decided to stay behind to have further attempts at photographing them.
Despite the heat it was felt that this had been a successful excursion. 48 species were recorded, and the excellent raptor sightings partly compensated for the absence of waders.