Tag Archives: Superb Fairy-wren

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.

Beginners Outing to Woodlands Historic Park

27 May 2017
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 46

 

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Superb Fairy-wren. Photograph by Alan Veevers

The 42 members who attended the Woodlands excursion were lucky to see more water in the creek than had been seen for some time. Also, the vegetation looked healthier than in past years, presumably due to the recent rains.

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Red-browed Finch. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

This no doubt contributed to the large number of small bush birds seen, especially Superb Fairy-wrens and Red-browed Finches.

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Red-rumped Parrot, male. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

An early highlight of the morning walk was the sighting of both male and female Flame and Scarlet Robins in the same area close to the track.

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Red-rumped Parrots, male and female. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Throughout the walk parrots were plentiful, especially Red-rumped Parrots apparently investigating the numerous nesting hollows available in the wonderful old River Red Gums.

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Galah. Photograph by Merilyn Serong

A few Long-billed Corellas were spotted resting high in a tree, amongst many Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, with Galahs feeding in the grass below.

Long-billed Corella, Woodlands
Long-billed Corella. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

Whistling Kites and a Brown Goshawk were the only two raptor species seen. Up near the homestead several more Flame Robins were seen along the fence lines with Yellow-rumped Thornbills close by.

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Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

On the return track to the car park another hotspot was found with a Fan-tailed Cuckoo, more Flame Robins and a male Mistletoebird, which was seen by the lucky few.

Brown Goshawk, Woodlands
Brown Goshawk. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch most of the group drove to the section of the Park near the old Aboriginal Cemetery for a second walk. Heading towards the Sanatorium Lake a few extra species were recorded, including Grey Currawong and Crimson Rosella.

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Flame Robin. Photograph by Alan Veevers

The only waterbirds seen on the lake were a pair of Australasian Grebes.

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Australasian Grebe. Photograph by Alan Veevers

Inside the feral-proofed Back Paddock, Dave and Dorothy Jenkins kindly helped to track down a pair of Red-capped Robins, providing members with the highlight of the day.

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Flame Robin, female and Red-capped Robin, male. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

A few Scarlet and Flame Robins were also seen in this area.

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Red-capped Robin, female. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

We had achieved our objective of finding three of the red Robin species, with the Red-capped Robin once again being a feature of the Woodlands visit. A total of 46 species was recorded on a most enjoyable and rewarding day.

See bird list for the day: BM May 2017 Bird List Woodlands Historic Park

Weekday outing to Ruffey Lake Park, Doncaster

13 December, 2016

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Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. Photo by Dennis Hill

The weather forecast of 34o and strong winds failed to deter 28 enthusiasts from assembling. Two of our number came from USA, bravely wielding their binoculars while hoping to be reunited with their missing luggage soon. The area is challenging for birding as it is supplied with well-made paths frequented by walkers, joggers, prams and dogs (which have several off-leash areas and access to the lake). Fishing is prohibited but the visible small fish may tempt anglers. The car park area is mowed grass and spaced trees with picnic shelters and playgrounds. It was dominated by Noisy Miners but there was also a large flock of Long-billed Corellas plus a few Little Corellas, Galahs and the occasional Red Wattlebird.

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Long-billed Corellas. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

We initially headed off to the lake which had been created to irrigate early orchards. Here the creek contained Pacific Black and Australian Wood Ducks with a couple of Chestnut Teal. Successful breeding had occurred as most of these were quite young. Grey Butcherbirds called as we walked beside the bush fringing the creek. Revegetation is in progress in several areas along the creek and the fence seems to be quite successful in limiting access by dogs. The adjacent grasslands hosted Australian Magpies and the occasional Magpie-lark (one carrying prey) but little else. Waterbirds were limited to the ducks previously mentioned plus Dusky Moorhen, Purple Swamphen and Eurasian Coot, all with begging young. Another good breeding season. A couple of ‘dinner ducks’ on the lake (not counted) had presumably been dumped as unwanted pets. Lorikeets sometimes flew through and both Rainbow and Musk were recorded. The only other parrots were a pair of Eastern Rosellas near the creek. A young Galah perching beside an adult gave us excellent views of the contrasting pink-crested juvenile plumage and that of the adult. Walking in the sun could be tiring but the cloud cover kept conditions acceptable for much of the time and from the bush came the calls of Spotted Pardalotes and one or two Brown Thornbills.

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Welcome Swallow. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

Most birds, as usual, showed more sense than humans on a hot, windy day and stayed quietly in the shelter of the vegetation. Juvenile Welcome Swallows, however, hadn’t learnt sense yet and crowded the railing near an inlet to the lake, occasionally begging food from an adult. The usual introduced birds were present and apparently doing well in the mixed habitat – Common Blackbird, Starling and Myna were recorded as well as Spotted Dove. An additional sighting was a Long-necked Turtle resting on a lakeside log.

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Superb Fairy-wren, male, with prey. Photo by Dennis Hill

By morning’s end we had recorded 28 species which was gratifying given the location and weather. Several people needed to leave so we finished early and headed off to pre-Christmas tasks which hopefully could be done in cooler, calmer conditions.

Diane Tweeddale, leader

Blog editor’s note: Photos by Dennis Hill not taken on the day.

 

 

Beginners Outing to Newport Lakes and Jawbone Reserve

26 November 2016
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers. Photographs by Eleanor Dilley

 

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White-plumed Honeyeater

A fine but overcast day provided good conditions for the 34 members attending the excursion beginning at Newport Lakes. A local birdwatcher, Mary Burbridge, joined in and advised us to take the ridge track to where she had earlier seen a Horsefield’s Bronze-Cuckoo.

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Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo

We heard it first, calling repeatedly, then located it and enjoyed the excellent views it gave to all the beginners. Nearby Whistlers were heard and a female Golden and a female Rufous were seen, but unfortunately their colourful mates did not put in an appearance. A Common Bronzewing was then sighted, which delighted Mary as, according to her records, the last report at Newport Lakes was in 2009.

Dusky Moorhen and chick, Newport Lakes
Dusky Moorhen

Superb Fairy-wrens, New Holland Honeyeaters and White-plumed Honeyeaters were plentiful throughout the walk, though there were very few Ducks and Cormorants on the lakes. A pair of Black Swans with cygnets, a Dusky Moorhen with chicks and Australasian Grebes were amongst the birds on the water.

Superb Fairy-wren (F), Jawbone Reserve
Superb Fairy-wren

A Willie Wagtail on a nest close to the track provided good opportunities for the photographers amongst us.

Willie Wagtail on nest, Newport Lakes
Willie Wagtail

Before returning to the car park a short walk was taken to the arboretum where Common Greenfinch and Masked Plover were added to the tally.

Common Greenfinch, Newport Lakes
Common Greenfinch

After lunch most of the members drove down Maddox Road to the Bay where it was high tide. Australian Pelicans, Pied Oystercatchers, Great, Pied and Little Black Cormorants, a Crested Tern and numerous Silver Gulls were perched on the breakwater.

Common Greenshanks, Jawbone Reserve
Common Greenshanks

A walk was then taken through Jawbone Reserve. Ten Common Greenshanks in a pond on the saltmarsh and a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels near the new housing development were highlights of this walk.

Black-fronted Dotterels, Jawbone Reserve
Black-fronted Dotterels

Again very few Ducks were seen and Spoonbills and Stilts were completely absent. A hovering Nankeen Kestrel was the only raptor seen for the day.

Despite the low numbers of water birds there were still some good sightings and a creditable 53 species was recorded for the day.

Thanks to Eleanor Dilley who provided all the photographs for this posting.

See the complete bird list for the day: bm-nov-2016-bird-list-newport-lakes-jawbone-reserve

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

Weekdays Outing to Badger Weir, Healesville

15 August 2016
Laughing Kookaburra - Stephen Garth
Laughing Kookaburra. Photo by Stephen Garth

Thirty-two people assembled in the car park, 27 members (including several new members) and five visitors. Rob Grosvenor was our leader and the morning was perfect for birding: mild, clear and calm.

Brown Thornbill - Stephen Garth
Brown Thornbill. Photo by Stephen Garth

Much better than the winds which had occurred earlier and which returned the following day. The winds had been strong enough to drop branches and trees, including some after the recce in the previous week.

Australian King-Parrot male - Stephen Garth
Australian King-Parrot, male. Photo by Stephen Garth

We observed these as we negotiated the fallen material in several places along the walking track. The day was good but where were the birds?

The picnic ground devotees – Crimson Rosellas, Laughing Kookaburras and Pied Currawongs – were present in force but others were the Sulphur-crested Cockatoos screeching loudly high in the trees.

Pied Currawong - Margaret Bosworth
Pied Currawong. Photo by Margaret Bosworth

Several times their massed alarm calls suggested the presence of a raptor/predator but we didn’t detect anything.

Superb Fairy-wren female - Stephen Garth
Superb Fairy-wren, female. Photo by Stephen Garth
Superb Fairy-wren male - Stephen Garth
Superb Fairy-wren, male. Photo by Stephen Garth

As we stood quietly for instructions other birds became more evident – Superb Fairy-wrens, Brown Thornbills and Australian King-Parrots appeared and as we started walking a male Common Bronzewing gave good views as it foraged near a picnic table.

Common Bronzewing male - Stephen Garth
Common Bronzewing. Photo by Stephen Garth

Some calls were heard as we walked Stringybark Track but sightings were rare in the forest. A call of a Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo was briefly heard and Spotted and Striated Pardalotes were calling.

Crimson Rosella - Stephen Garth
Crimson Rosella. Photo by Stephen Garth

Lewin’s Honeyeater first called frustratingly and then finally in the afternoon walk there was a clear view which was much appreciated by those for whom it was a “lifer”.

Eastern Yellow Robin - Margaret Bosworth
Eastern Yellow Robin. Photo by Margaret Bosworth

White-throated Treecreeper, Eastern Spinebill and Eastern Yellow Robin were all calling giving people a chance to compare the differing rates of their staccato calls. Other honeyeaters included Red Wattlebird, Crescent, Brown-headed and White-naped Honeyeaters. Sightings by some but not all people included Eastern Whipbird, White-browed and Large-billed Scrubwren, Tree Martin and Red-browed Finch. A lucky few detected a Bassian Thrush as it foraged, well camouflaged, among the ground litter.

Bassian Thrush - Margaret Bosworth
Bassian Thrush. Photo by Margaret Bosworth

The whistlers were well represented with Grey Shrike-thrush, Olive Whistler and a female Golden Whistler. Occasionally an Australian Raven called and flew over, giving all an opportunity to listen to the difference of the call from the more familiar Little Raven of the suburbs.

Laughing Kookaburra - Janet Hand
Laughing Kookaburra. Photo by Janet Hand

The final bird list totalled 31 species which nearly yielded a bird for each attendee and amid smiles we thanked Rob for showing us this under-appreciated gem.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings

Beginners outing to Woodlands Historic Park

25 June 2016

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 46

After a week of wild winter weather a fine sunny day greeted the 30 attendees gathered at Somerton Road Picnic Area where Red-rumped Parrots, Rainbow Lorikeets and Crimson Rosellas were perched in the magnificent River Red Gums.

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Australian Wood Duck. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

Taking the creek-side track, two Australian Wood Ducks were seen perched near the top of a large dead tree with lots of hollows. This was of particular interest to those unaware of their nesting habits.

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Crested Shrike-tit. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Weebills and Crested Shrike-tits were among the less common species seen foraging in nearby eucalypts, whereas Superb Fairy-wrens were evident in large numbers throughout the day.

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Male Superb Fairy-wren Eleanor Woodlands 6_2016-002
Female (top) and male Superb Fairy-wrens. Photos by Eleanor Dilley

Walking up the hill towards Woodlands Homestead a Brown Falcon flew overhead and a large flock of Red-browed Finches was seen on the grass inside the gated area.

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Brown Falcon. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

An ancient Peppercorn Tree beside the house was eagerly searched as, earlier in the day, one of the members had seen and photographed a male Mistletoebird feeding on its berries. Sadly, the bird had moved on and we had to make do with seeing the excellent photographs. A female Scarlet Robin and lots of Eastern Grey Kangaroos were seen by everyone as we walked back towards the car park.

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Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

After lunch most of the group stayed for a second walk beginning a short drive away, at the Aboriginal Cemetery car park. Near to the dam beside the old hospital more Scarlet Robins were seen, along with another Crested Shrike-tit and a pair of Golden Whistlers. A Wedge-tailed Eagle and a Whistling Kite circled high overhead. A short walk was then taken inside the Wildlife Enclosure and, thanks to the local knowledge of David and Dorothy Jenkins, resident Red-capped Robins were tracked down and eagerly photographed by those suitably equipped. Nearby a Flame Robin and a Varied Sittella were also spotted. Returning down the main track towards the car park there were further sightings of Scarlet and Flame Robins.

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Red-capped Robin. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

46 species were recorded in total and it was very gratifying to have located three species of red robins, though sadly they were far less abundant than in previous years.

View the bird list for the outing: BM June 2016 Bird List Woodlands Historic Park

Weekdays outing to Braeside Park, Braeside

18 May 2016
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Wetland. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

The traffic was heavy, the weather was fine and 25 birders met at Braeside. Geoff Russell led a 5 km walk around the northern portion of the park and we were soon rewarded by encountering a ‘purple patch’ in the bush beside the paddocks buffering the industrial zone. At least 10 species were recorded here. The mixed feeding flock included White-browed Scrubwrens, Brown Thornbills, Red-browed Finches and Spotted Pardalotes. Superb Fairy-wrens and Grey Fantails were listed plus Grey Shrike-thrush while male and female Golden Whistlers came close. The paddock added Straw-necked Ibis, Masked Lapwing and Silver Gull with Rock Dove (or Feral Pigeon) while Australian Pelicans flew overhead. Quite a patch! Ditches were damp from recent rain and several frog species were calling. The inevitable rabbits were also present – one flushed near the ‘purple patch’. A few Cattle Egrets left the grazing cows while others stayed among the herd as the farmer’s ute approached.

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Crossing the wetland by boardwalk. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

By one of the wetlands four trilling birds rose and descended repeatedly, puzzling many until they were identified as Australian Pipits. Many of us had not previously heard their calls. The park is noted for its varied environments so we walked quietly through a reed bed searching for bitterns (a fortunate few up front briefly saw two Australasian Bitterns while the rest at the rear were content with Golden-headed Cisticolas). At one pond a Great Egret posed on the roof of a hide. The raptor list was started by a Swamp Harrier but expanded to eventually include Wedge-tailed and Little Eagle, Whistling Kite, Brown Goshawk and Brown Falcon. Most soared high or flew low and fast. Dead trees served as perches for many including Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Long-billed Corellas, Rainbow Lorikeets and Red-rumped Parrots. We hoped for robins near fences which are used as a lookout for these pouncing birds, and eventually we were rewarded with male and female Flame Robins. Soon we came to a larger lake and the number of waterbirds increased, though not the number of species. Eurasian Coots dominated one area with Pacific Black Ducks coming second. A few Chestnut and Grey Teal were present and a solo Hardhead was recorded by a few watchers.

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Pond at Braeside. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

On a smaller pond Dusky Moorhen completed the triumvirate of coot, moorhen and swamphen while an active Willie Wagtail entertained us as it swooped across the water surface. Some stragglers eventually caught up with the main group near the bird hide which had been disappointingly short of birds and then it was back to a well-deserved late lunch and an interim bird call for those who needed to leave early. We’d notched up 58 species by then and so we set off on the short afternoon walk hoping to pass 60 for the day. In this afternoon walk we added Common Bronzewing, Dusky Moorhen and Scarlet Robin with an interesting sighting of a Cockatiel. This was judged an aviary escapee as its plumage included considerable white feathers and, though it appeared to be foraging for seeds, it allowed humans to approach rather too closely for its own safety.

By day’s end we had 62 species (63 unofficially including the Cockatiel) and we thanked Geoff enthusiastically for his work in presenting this rewarding area.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekday outing to Murrindindi Reserve

12 April 2016
Murrindindi River - Diane Tweeddale
Murrindindi River. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

The middle part of the drive up from the suburbs was challenging with heavy rain but the 19 who arrived were relieved to find it much drier over the ranges. Graeme Hosken was leader and we drove in convoy to the Suspension Bridge Day Area. The walk beside the Murrindindi River added White-eared Honeyeaters and Long-billed Corellas to the Little Corellas, Red Wattlebirds, Olive-backed Oriole and Crimson Rosellas among others at the meeting car park.

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Long-billed Corella (left). Grey Fantail (right). Photos by Berenice Pearcy

Calls, as always in forests, outnumbered bird sightings and Grey Butcherbird, White-throated Treecreeper and Grey Shrike-thrush were first heard and later glimpsed or, more fortunately, clearly seen. Walking was easy beside the river on well-made tracks and the provision of camp sites with associated toilet blocks made for very comfortable birdwatching. The trees have not yet attained great height and the 2009 dead skeletons still rise high where they are not losing branches or falling. The only downside of walking beside any swiftly flowing river, of course, is the river noise which makes listening for bird calls very challenging though visible Grey Fantails compensated. Thornbill identification continued to challenge but finally Brown and Buff-rumped were confidently added to the list after some debate.

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White-browed Scrubwren (left). White-eared Honeyeater (right). Photos by Berenice Pearcy

Honeyeaters were not plentiful with Red Wattlebirds, White-eared Honeyeaters and Eastern Spinebills dominating. Some apparent spinebill calls were reassessed as probably the Eastern Smooth Frog as they lasted much longer. The other honeyeater species were not recorded by many but some of the group were able to add Yellow-faced, New Holland and White-naped Honeyeaters to the list. Next stop was the SEC picnic area where Superb Fairy-wrens finally cast off their shyness and came into view at the clearing edges.

Superb Fairy-wren eclipse male- Berenice Pearcy
Superb Fairy-wren eclips male. Photo by Berenice Pearcy

Here also was seen White-throated Treecreeper which had been recorded mostly as calls. After lunch most of the group continued their walk to the top of Wilhemina Falls but this proved quite difficult with a steep and pebble-slippery track.

At the top of Wilhemina Falls - Graeme Hosken
At the top of Wilhemina Falls. Photo by Graeme Hosken

Birds were disappointingly few with no additional species and a couple who had walked the lower river track were able to add Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos to the list. Animal traces were scratchings in dry ground, which may have been by wallabies or lyrebirds plus scats – macropods (probably wallabies), wombats, rabbits and echidna (rather flattened). The several severed claws of crayfish along one section of the track were evidence of predation. When birdcall was taken just after 3 pm we were all delighted to realise the final group tally was 41 species.

Birders on the track - Diane Tweeddale
Birders on the track. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

We thanked Graeme enthusiastically for taking us through this post-fires regenerating area. Birds and animals are present after the 2009 extreme fires and following the area’s recovery will continue to be fascinating.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekdays Outing to Karkarook, Heatherton

2 December 2015
Contributor: Diane Tweeddale; photographs by Marilyn Ellis

The weather was breezy, fine and clear as we met in the car park. A crowd of 28 took up the challenge to list more than the 40 species seen on a recent recce. Noisy Miners and Australian Magpies dominated the car park area and the latter were clearly used to picnics as at least 30 Magpies, mostly immature, warbled and squabbled around us at lunchtime. We set off around the main lake where the high water level precluded any sightings of rails or crakes with Eurasian Coots (including young) the most numerous species. At the eastern end of the lake a small flock of Silver Gulls rested, a more pleasing sight than the rafts of thousands which had been present, dominating the avifauna, a few years ago. Australian Reed-Warblers were vocal but mostly stayed unseen within the reed beds while Superb Fairy-wrens called and flew near us frequently.

Superb Fairy-wren male - Marilyn Ellis
Superb Fairy-wren, male

Little Grassbirds called plaintively and one was even glimpsed briefly by a couple of walkers. Not far from the bird hide a couple of Red-browed Finches fed on dock seeds. The hide had been senselessly vandalised with glass cracked in one of the display cases. A cormorant on a buoy caused much debate with ‘stained Little Pied’ finally giving way to ‘immature Great Cormorant’. The only other cormorant was one Little Black Cormorant on one of the minor western ponds. Another debate was occasioned by some teal with the final resolution: two Grey Teal with a female Chestnut Teal beside them. Back to the shelter for lunch with lists of over 30 species. The only raptor seen had been a passing Swamp Harrier while cockatoos were absent though Eastern Rosellas plus Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets were recorded. Honeyeaters were White-plumed Honeyeaters and Noisy Miners plus Little and Red Wattlebirds. One Little Raven flew over, making surprisingly good progress despite a complete absence of tail feathers – and thereby hangs a tale?

Pacific Black Duch - Marilyn Elllis
Pacific Black Duck

A few needed to depart after lunch but most stayed to walk around the western chain of ponds beside Warrigal Road. Here the list of waterbirds increased and highlights were Freckled Duck, male and female Australasian Shoveler and then Hoary-headed Grebe (with young) after we had begun to think the day would be ‘grebeless’. Several glimpsed a flushed Latham’s Snipe and everyone admired the solitary Great Egret.

Great Egret - Marilyn Ellis
Great Egret

Two more species not present on the recce but seen today on the mud of these ponds were Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel. A couple of Black-winged Stilts also foraged in the shallows. Here litter traps clean the gross pollution from the incoming storm water and then reed beds remove chemicals and oils to purify the water before it’s sent on to the bay. Not bad for an area that started as swamp, was converted to sand mines and then made into a park (revegetated twice due to losing the initial plants to fire) with paths and facilities. The bird list of 50 species is a tribute to the character of this small area bounded by busy major roads on the north and west and overflown by aircraft from Moorabbin airport to the south-east.

Diane Tweeddale, leader