Tag Archives: Silvereye

Weekdays outing to Toorourrong Reservoir

8 November 2017
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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.

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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.

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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

Weekdays outing to Wonga Park/Heritage wetlands

6 June 2017
All photographs by Danika Sanderson
Rainbow at start of the walk - Sanderson
Rainbow at the start of the walk

Despite the overnight rain and the showers on the drive to Wonga Park, 12 of us assembled in the car park as conditions started to ease. Some interest was expressed in a car and trailer in the car park which seemed to have been there overnight. Perhaps an illegal camper? Geoff Russell led our group and our first walk followed the short trail downstream where calls were heard from Superb Fairy-wrens, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Brown Thornbills.

Superb Fairy-wren male in breeding plumage - Sanderson
Superb Fairy-wren, male in breeding plumage

Both Little and Australian Ravens were heard as well as the single winter call of Grey Shrike-thrushes. An unexpected sighting was a single Silver Gull overhead while a brief glimpse of an Eastern Spinebill was much appreciated by the few who were looking in the right direction at the moment.

Superb Fairy-wren male - Sanderson
Superb Fairy-wren, male in eclipse plumage

Eastern Grey Kangaroos were numerous on both sides of the river and apparently used to humans on the path. We returned to the car park where a school kayaking session was about to start. We didn’t envy them as the river was flowing high and fast, even at this part of its course.

We went on upstream, bypassing the unused stile. The river edge gave us female Australasian Darters perched on snags, Dusky Moorhen swimming near the bank and an Australasian Grebe diving near one of the darters.

Australasian Darter - female - Sanderson
Australasian Darter, female

Further along the walk there were very good views of a trio of Common Bronzewings in a dead tree. Heading across the golf course by the public path we sighted Grey Butcherbird, a female Australian King-Parrot, Noisy Miners and Australian Wood Ducks while Magpie-larks and Masked Lapwing called.

Australian Wood Ducks - Sanderson
Australian Wood Ducks on golf course dam

A solitary Crested Pigeon preferred clear ground beyond the manicured gardens. Back on the river path we added New Holland Honeyeater, Silvereye, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and Red-browed Firetail. Turning around with thoughts of lunch becoming more prominent, most were disappointed to miss the sole sighting of a platypus which dived before even the adjacent birder could see it. Never mind, lunch was next.

Silvereye - Sanderson
Silvereye

However, lunchtime proved considerably more entertaining than usual. Things started with a request for jumper leads by the guy from the “overnight” car. Then a police car arrived and there was much interviewing. When the car was restarted the police donned blue gloves for a car search and we speculated on the reason. Eventually both vehicles left with drivers smiling. As said above, it was different from our regular lunch breaks.

Walkers - Sanderson
Walkers participating in the outing

The eight people remaining after lunch then tackled the uphill walk which starts about 400 m before the car park. We hoped for views and we were not disappointed. The view up the valley is great, even when misty in the distance, with the mountains in silhouette. A bonus was the sighting of our only raptors for the day, a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles and another of Whistling Kites. Carrying on to the highest point we were able to add brief views of a wary female Flame Robin, thus doubling our robin count as there had been a sighting of a female Scarlet Robin earlier.

Red-browed Firetail - Sanderson
Red-browed Firetail

Now it was time to descend and make our way through a great mob of roos. The males tended to rear up and scratch their flanks, which we interpreted as a threat action, but they allowed us to carry on walking. Down at the cars again we were able to count up 49 species for the day and we thanked Geoff very much for extending our experiences of this varied area.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings.

Weekdays outing to Brimbank Park, Keilor East

6 March 2017

The day was very warm with clear skies and a light breeze when 20 of us gathered in the car park. Elsmaree Baxter led our group and, as frequently happens, the car park birding was extremely rewarding. Here we recorded quite a list including Little Raven, Red Wattlebird, Galah, Noisy Miner, Australian Magpie, Rainbow Lorikeet and Long-billed Corella as the more frequent birds, though early arrivals added at least a further six species. The highlight sighting was a Collared Sparrowhawk persistently quartering the trees hoping to flush small prey. Little wonder that some time elapsed before we left the area.

Pacific Black Duck - Bevan Hood
Pacific Black Duck. Photo by Bevan Hood

We headed initially to the nearer ford where the only waterbirds were Dusky Moorhen and Pacific Black Duck but wattlebirds and the occasional White-plumed Honeyeater were dipping to drink from the surface. The ducks amused by using the concrete fish ladder as a swim course or maze.

Red-browed Finch - Bevan Hood
Red-browed Finch. Photo by Bevan Hood

Piles of flow debris indicated the past river height after recent rain. At another ford there were slightly skittish Red-browed Finches and an unexpectedly late, silent, Australian Reed-Warbler.

Reed Warbler Red browed Finch Danika Sanderson
Red-browed Finch and Australian Reed-Warbler. Photo by Danika Sanderson.

Superb Fairy-wrens called mostly from shelter and Spotted Pardalotes were also vocal while Willie Wagtails chattered, warbled and generally took little notice of the large, slow insect stirrers, aka humans. White-browed Scrubwrens could be heard occasionally and some watchers eventually “nailed” sightings, Grey Fantails were considerably more obliging and Brown Thornbills were present in forested areas. Heading out of a treed section on our way back to lunch we were awed and delighted to view a Wedge-tailed Eagle being harassed by a much smaller Brown Goshawk.

Wedge-tailed Eagle Brown Goshawk - Danika Sanderson
Wedge-tailed Eagle and Brown Goshawk. Photo by Danika Sanderson

These were our second raptors for the day and with the earlier sparrowhawk made great memories. We decided that the most successful breeding season award went to the Red Wattlebirds, with Silvereyes coming in second.

Silvereye - Bevan Hood
Silvereye. Photo by Bevan Hood

Some House Sparrows in small groups or singly were seen, though this species has declined or disappeared from former locations. After lunch we kept an eye out for a Tawny Frogmouth but a single sighting was not to be – first one, comparatively easy to see, then a second, pretending to be a dozing possum and initially looking furry, not feathery, then the most challenging of all. The third was truly bark-like and extremely well camouflaged and had eluded even experienced “froggie finders”. Well done to Pearl for penetrating its disguise.

Tawny Frogmouth - Danika Sanderson
Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Danika Sanderson

The day was now quite warm and bird activity had understandably almost stopped so we decided to wrap up the day. The bird list for the group totalled 44 species and we thanked Elsmaree for all her careful planning which had produced such a satisfactory day. It was the first time we had returned to Brimbank in five years and memories of earlier walks had dimmed. What a way to refresh them.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

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

Weekday outing to Altona area

6 September 2016
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Spotted Pardalote, male. Photo by Kathy Zonneville

The weather was perfect, mild, sunny and calm as 28 people gathered in the farthest car park. Seven of these were young people from the Green Army planning to acquire bird ID skills and we were happy to assist with loaned binoculars, field guides and advice.

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Superb Fairy-wren, male. Photo by Kathy Zonneville

The immediate area near the car park was well populated with Crested Pigeons, magpies, Superb Fairy-wrens, Galahs and Red Wattlebirds while a few Red-browed Finches were less easy to find though one was sighted carrying a long grass stalk as nesting material.

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Red-browed Finch. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

There were Willie Wagtails and Grey Fantails with Little Ravens calling and flying overhead. Introduced birds were also present – flocks of Common Starlings, some Spotted Doves, fewer Common Mynas with occasional Common Blackbird calling. Small birds among the denser foliage included Spotted Pardalotes and Silvereyes.

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Silvereye. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

The drainage channel and catchment ponds initially looked empty but persistence revealed Chestnut Teal and Pacific Black Duck and a further bankside walk added White-faced Heron, croaking as they flew near, and Eurasian Coot and Dusky Moorhen.

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White-faced Heron. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

Little Grassbirds called plaintively just after we had identified a Horsefield’s Bronze-Cuckoo by its call. Much searching by many failed to repeat the brief sighting of a Spotless Crake. The Laverton Creek mouth area added Australian Pelican, Little Pied Cormorant and, initially, an extremely distant Great Egret. Then, closer to the group a second egret provided much better views.

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Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

The Bird of the Day arrived here – an immature White-bellied Sea-Eagle which flew toward us and then turned direction over our heads, giving great views to all those present. Another bird which proved most cooperative was a Singing Honeyeater which showed great loyalty to the bare dead tree on which it perched, returning there after many short flights and allowing excellent views.

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White-plumed Honeyeater. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

It joined Red Wattlebird and White-plumed and New Holland Honeyeaters on our list. The party divided on its way back to lunch and the car park but neither group added any species to an already impressive list.

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New Holland Honeyeater. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

After lunch those who stayed on headed north, adding a Brown Falcon and a challenging Australasian Pipit while delighting in the White-fronted Chats on the low bushes. One photographer was recording a chat when another bird flew into the camera’s field. After taking many photos in the brief time available these were compared with field guides and finally we concluded that the intruding bird was a Jacky Winter. Definitely serendipity.

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Spotted Pardalote, female. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

By the walk’s end we counted 60 species for the day and we thanked Gina Hopkins, our leader, for her preparation and enthusiasm which gave such a great result.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings

You Yangs Birding and Boneseeding

4 June 2016
Text and photos by Merrilyn Serong
View from Valley Picnic Ground YY 2016 06 04 0632 800x600 M Serong
View from Valley Picnic Ground

An unexpected weather event in eastern Australia turned what otherwise might have been a fine, but cloudy day into one of intermittent drizzle. It’s not often that we see the ground wet at the You Yangs or water in the gutters beside the Great Circle Drive. The level of the dam near the park entrance was lower than I can remember it, but there was some water in other dams that were quite dry on our last visit. We heard frogs in a few places. Mosses, lichens, fungi and rock ferns were looking marvellous. The wet was not enough to deter the keen cyclists who frequent the park and it did not hamper the six of us on our quest to find birds and pull out boneseed. In these conditions the number of bird species recorded was lower than usual at a mere 24, but the damp ground made it easier to remove the weeds. The day remained pleasantly calm, and with coats on, we were not too cold.

We spent some time, as usual, in the area near the entrance and Park Office. Still no sign of the Tawny Frogmouths, which used to be so reliable here. Weebills were calling and foraging in the eucalypt canopy. An Eastern Yellow Robin posed close by for a moment. Lorikeets were heard briefly, but not seen. I think they were Musk. There seem to be fewer White-plumed Honeyeaters in this area than there were in the past, but more New Hollands. The latter were particularly abundant around the profusely flowering Hakea laurina bushes to the east of the dam. These plants from the south-west of Australia thrive in this area of the You Yangs.

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Eastern Yellow Robin

Morning tea was at the Valley Picnic Ground where we hoped for Boobooks, which are said to be there at times, and Tawny Frogmouths. We saw neither, but we did see numbers of Brown-headed Honeyeaters at the flowering eucalypts. Weebills were plentiful. Some of us saw a koala run across the road and disappear.

Amongst the bird species at Gravel Pit Tor were Crimson Rosella, White-throated Treecreeper, Eastern Yellow Robin, and Yellow and Brown Thornbills. A female Scarlet Robin was seen. There were two pairs of Scarlet Robins near here a couple of weeks ago on a finer day.

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Scarlet Robin, Gravel Pit Tor

At lunch time we shared Fawcett’s Gully with a man who was using water colours to paint a scene of the area. The light rain was not helpful. Here there were also White-plumed and New Holland Honeyeaters, Crimson Rosellas, a White-throated Treecreeper and some frogs.

In mid to late afternoon we tackled a patch of medium-sized boneseed plants to the north of our official site. There were also several newly emerged boneseed plants still at the two-leaf stage. These were much easier to pull out. I found a bird’s leg-ring. It’s the type used on racing pigeons, so its wearer possibly provided a meal for a raptor.

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New Holland Honeyeater in Hakea laurina

Towards the end of the day, when the last of us were preparing to leave our boneseeding site, a small flock of Varied Sittellas appeared together with a few Silvereyes. Soon after, we saw a Buff-rumped Thornbill. These added another three species to the day’s total. It was too dark by then for photos, so we’ll just have to remember them. One of the last bird sounds for the day was the mournful cry of White-winged Choughs. This nicely complemented the approaching night and continuing drizzle.

Many thanks to all participants and others who maintain an interest in the project.

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

More photos are on my website: http://www.timeinthebush.com/you-yangs-2016.html

Thank you

A special thank you to David McCarthy for his dedicated work in our YY boneseeding project. He has made a fantastic contribution over many years. David is no longer able to continue his involvement in boneseed removal, but will keep track of our progress by continuing to add our bird sightings to the data base.