Tag Archives: Rufous Whistler

Beginners Outing to The Briars

28 April 2018
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 43

All photographs by Eleanor Dilley

Eastern Yellow Robin, The Briars
Eastern Yellow Robin

Lots of Australian Wood Ducks on the grass beside the main drive greeted the Beginners as they arrived at the Briars on a bright sunny morning.  At the Visitor Centre car park, Noisy Miners were the dominant species, although a mixture of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Little Corellas also announced their presence very loudly. A Brown Goshawk flying overhead provided an early highlight.  As the usual track to the wetlands was closed for repairs, the group had to enter the Wildlife Enclosure from the other entrance and it was immediately evident how dry the bushland was. Ponds which normally are home to ducks and Dusky Moorhens were bone dry, though fortunately there was still a little water in Balcombe Creek.

Rainbow Lorikeet, The Briars
Rainbow Lorikeet

Taking the Woodland track it was pleasing to see Eastern Yellow Robins, the first of several pairs seen throughout the morning. Birds were in short supply along the higher part of the track apart from Eastern Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets and a pair of canoodling Galahs. From the lookout it could be seen that the water level was very low in the main lagoon and hence was not attracting many birds.

Galahs, The Briars
Galahs

However, from the track towards the hide there were excellent views of a Swamp Harrier flying low overhead, followed by more distant views of a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles. Three species of honeyeater were seen from the boardwalk section; Yellow-faced, White-eared and New Holland. From the hide it was disappointing that the only birds seen were a Chestnut Teal and a White-faced Heron, no doubt a result of the low water levels.

Swamp Harrier, The Briars
Swamp Harrier

On returning to the lookout a Nankeen Kestrel skimmed rapidly past and there were distant views of a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels. The group then returned via the Fire Track towards the Visitor Centre and near the creek saw a female Rufous Whistler which was a surprising sighting so late in the season. On leaving the Wildlife Enclosure most members chose to walk a short distance along the Balcombe Creek Track, hoping that the moist conditions would attract more small birds, but sadly this was not to be.

Rufous Whistler (F), The Briars
Rufous Whistler, female

Lunch was taken in the picnic area where the Noisy Miners again made their presence felt and members had to keep tight hold of their sandwiches!  A further walk was then taken up the hill towards the Homestead from which there were distant views of a pair of Nankeen Kestrels perched on fence posts. A pair of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes flew low overhead while a White-faced Heron in a paddock allowed close views.

White-faced Heron, The Briars
White-faced Heron

Walking back down the track to the car park two Whistling Kites were seen, bringing the raptor count to 5. A total of 43 species was recorded for the day which was very respectable given the dry conditions. Many of the members vowed to return when the wetlands are once again full of water.

View the bird list: BM APR Bird List The Briars

Weekdays outing to Toorourrong Reservoir

8 November 2017
Recently fledged Silvereye - Bevan Hood.jpg
Silvereye, recently fledged. Photo by Bevan Hood

The weather was ideal, calm and sunny, as 20 people assembled in the car park. Car park birding kept us focused before Graeme Hosken, our leader, led us downhill towards the dam wall.

Grey Fantail- Christina Law.JPG
Grey Fantail. Photo by Mundell Thomas

The early birds included Little and Long-billed Corellas which gave many a good chance to compare size and the distribution of pink plumage. Other parrots here included Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Galah and Crimson Rosella.

Crimson Rosella - Bevan Hood
Crimson Rosella. Photo by Bevan Hood

After a short walk 6 Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos joined the list. Welcome Swallows dipped over the dam and twittered over the outlet. A Little Raven pursued a Brown Goshawk till out of sight. Down in the swamp beyond the dam wall a Sacred Kingfisher perched obligingly, allowing many to obtain reasonable views.

Sacred Kingfisher - Christina Law
Sacred Kingfisher. Photo by Mundell Thomas

As we walked flitting honeyeaters foraged in the trees offering considerable challenges to identification as they disappeared behind foliage or branches. Yellow-faced, White-eared and White-naped Honeyeaters dominated but then sharp eyes saw red. Lots of red.

Scarlet honeyeater - Christina Law
Scarlet Honeyeater. Photo by Mundell Thomas

The rest of the group peered up and eventually there it was – a male Scarlet Honeyeater. In the end we had recorded both male and female of this species and several people had a “lifer” for the day. High in the trees nesting Striated Pardalotes were noted, calling and disappearing into small holes.

Striated Pardalotes juv - Cristina law
Striated Pardalotes, juvenile. Photo by Mundell Thomas

Walking continued toward the dam and a White-necked Heron was sighted in an adjacent paddock while a grebe was initially identified as Hoary-headed. Later this ID was queried and an Australasian was claimed. Hmm. A re-check found both Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebes in the same section of lily pond. Reassurance all round and two more species for the list.

Lauging Kookaburra with prey - Tweeddale
Laughing Kookaburra with prey. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

The dam yielded the only duck sighting – a distant male Musk Duck. A single Purple Swamphen foraged at the lily pond’s edge. Here were the memorials for the local people killed in the 1990 bushfires. So many had been lost.

dam - Tweeddale
Toorourrong Reservoir and car park. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

A small flock of European Goldfinch flew over the dam wall but not many introduced species were observed – Common Myna and Common Blackbird were also reported. Birds in the canopies included Rufous Whistler and Pied Currawong while Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike appeared to favour high perches in bare dead trees.

female Rufous Whistler - Bevan Hood
Rufous Whistler, female. Photo by Bevan Hood

At walk’s end we paused for the bird call and the often-observed happened – the only Wedge-tailed Eagle of the walk flew past, harassed by Little Ravens and a Brown Goshawk.

Wedge-tailed Eagle - Christina Law
Wedge-tailed Eagle. Photo by Mundell Thomas

Another for the list (the goshawk and ravens had been recorded earlier). Non-birds included sightings of Echidna and Eastern Blue-tongue and calls of assorted frogs by the dam.

Eastern Blue-tongue - Tweeddale
Eastern Blue-tongue Lizard. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

By walk’s end we had 54 species on the list and we thanked Graeme enthusiastically for all his work which had reintroduced us to the area in its recovery from the fires.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

You Yangs Birding and Boneseeding

3 December 2016
Words and photos by Merrilyn Serong

What a beautiful day for birding and boneseeding; mostly calm with a warming sun and good company. Thanks to the participants for making it a very enjoyable day for my last time as organiser of the activity.

As usual, we began at the carpark near the Park Office, where there were both Grey and Pied Currawongs. Two chicks, which I believe were Grey Currawongs, had almost outgrown their nest, high in a nearby Eucalypt. Near the dam, we found two Willy Wagtail nests with a parent sitting on each one.

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Grey Currawong nest near the You Yangs office

 

Despite the good spring rains, the water level of the dam was still low, though a little higher than it was on our September visit. Turtles used to live in the dam; I wonder if they are still there. The trees in the area looked healthy with lots of new bright green leaves, but flowers, and therefore Lorikeets, were few. No Tawny frogmouths were to be found, either.

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Rufous Whistler, Gravel Pit Tor

Next stop Gravel Pit Tor, with more healthy new growth on the eucalypts. We found the reliable Mistletoebird, but no red robins. This is a good place to look for small bush birds, and we did find Silvereye, Brown Thornbill, Spotted Pardalote, White-throated Treecreeper, Yellow-faced Honeyeater and Rufous Whistler. The last two mentioned are prolific in the park at present. We also saw a goat, which is not unusual here.

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Eucalypt, Gravel Pit Tor

Hungry after spending so much time at our first two stops, we eventually arrived at Fawcett’s Gully for lunch. The upper dam had much water, the odd frog, numbers of dragonflies, and a very long Brown Snake.

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Black-headed Skimmer, Fawcetts Gully

Disappointingly, our official boneseeding site, which over the past several years has been virtually boneseed-free, was studded with small boneseed plants. It’s the rain, I suspect, and the fact that boneseed seed stay viable for ever in the soil.

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Boneseed in our You Yangs site

When I first became involved in the project, there were numerous large boneseed plants in our site and over the years we have cleared them out. Boneseed really can’t be eradicated, but it can be controlled, at least for a while. Our site does have a lot of native groundcover and small native shrubs that would not have grown if the boneseed had been left there. The new young boneseed plants have not flowered or fruited yet, and we managed to pull out large numbers of them. However, more work is needed.

While we boneseeded at our site, we were visited by numerous Weebills. The ever-present Rufous Whistlers sang. White-winged Choughs and other regulars were there and a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike appeared. Later we found an Eastern Yellow Robin.

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Eastern Flat

Our last walk for the day was in the Seed Garden / Eastern Flat area, as usual at this time of year when the sun sets so late. The water level in the dam had dropped to almost nothing from the reasonable amount that I saw there on Tuesday, only four days ago. Evidence of spring rains can be seen in the longish and now dry grass in open places.

Total bird species count for the day was 37. A quiet day.

Sincere thanks to all those wonderful people who have been part of the project while I have been co-ordinator and also to those who might not have made it to one of the days, but remain interested.

Best wishes to all for happy seasonal celebrations, a wonderful summer and excellent birding. Wherever you are, may your environment be healthy, rich and diverse.

A bird list for the day will soon be available at http://www.birdlifemelbourne.org.au/outings/site-lists/YouYangs%202016.html

I will include another report and photos on my website, http://www.timeinthebush.com/

Beginners Outing to You Yangs Regional Park

28 November, 2015
Species Count: 51
Rufous Whistler - Ron Garrett
Rufous Whistler. Photo by Ron Garrett

Geoff Deason once again led the Beginners Outing to the You Yangs, in ideal weather conditions. Due to the drought it was decided not to visit Hovell’s Creek but to take a circuit from the Ranger Station for the morning walk. Highlights included good views of Rufous Whistlers, Eastern Yellow Robins, Shining Bronze-cuckoos and a family of White-winged Choughs with a nest.

Near the dam a small female Koala was much admired by those at the front of the group.

Brown-headed Honeyeater - Kathy Zonnevylle
Brown-headed Honeyeater. Photo by Kathy Zonnevylle

The photographers, who arrived shortly afterwards, were fascinated to see a Brown-headed Honeyeater pecking at her back, possibly to collect fur as nesting material.

During lunch at the Valley Picnic Area there was much bird activity including Weebills building a nest which was very well camouflaged in a low branch of a gum tree. A pair of Scarlet Robins, nesting Striated Pardalotes and a family group of Tawny Frogmouths were other highlights.

Members then drove the circuit route to the Eastern Flats where a ‘hotspot’ revealed a female Mistletoebird, Varied Sitellas and more Brown-headed Honeyeaters and Rufous Whistlers. At the edge of the farmland, high up in a tree, three Little Lorikeets were spotted, and nearby, a large male Koala.

Weebill on nest - Kathy Zonnevylle
Weebill on nest. Photo by Kathy Zonnevylle

Despite the dry conditions a total of 51 species were recorded for the day and Geoff was thanked for his expert leadership.

Leaders: Geoff Deason, with Hazel Veevers.

View bird list from the outing: BM Nov 2015 Bird List You Yangs