Tag Archives: Superb Fairy-wren

Weekdays outing to O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail

5 September 2018

Male Superb Fairy-wren in eclipse plumage - Danika Sanderson
Superb Fairy-wren, male. Photo by Danika Sanderson

The weather was perfect for bird watching, clear blue sky, no morning wind and a mild temperature. Twenty-one enthusiasts met at the Launching Place (Don Valley) car park, those from Melbourne were joined by some visitors and some from the Yarra Valley branch. It was interesting that the very small car park did not have many birds. Presumably there was little to attract them out of the bush. Graeme Hosken led and our first walk was uphill beside the aqueduct.

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The aqueduct has been decommissioned for at least five years and only pools of rain water are now present. The concrete walls are almost completely covered with plants where fallen plant debris has formed humus.

sluice gate on aqueduct - D Tweeddale
Sluice gate on aqueduct. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

Tractor tracks beside the ditch and chain-sawn fallen timber marked where the maintenance crew had passed after wind storms. White-browed Scrub-wrens and Fan-tailed Cuckoos called but only the former were visible.

Superb Fairy-wren female - D Sanderson
Superb Fairy-wren, female. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Grey Fantails fluttered high and fanned and Lewin’s Honeyeaters were almost common, calling and occasionally showing themselves which allowed observers to view their markings. Eastern Spinebills were mostly audible as were Crimson Rosellas, the latter occasionally seen in patches of sunshine. Laughing Kookaburras called and White-throated Treecreepers called and then challenged watchers as they foraged high on tree trunks in the canopy. Striated Pardalote was reported by several and Eastern Whipbird was heard by many.

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Returning downhill we had added Eastern Yellow Robin sightings and heard Brown Thornbill, Little and Australian Ravens and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.

Eastern Yellow Robin - D Sanderson
Eastern Yellow Robin. Photo by Danika Sanderson

Most of the group headed across the road and walked near the pipeline while a flat tyre was exchanged. Then the majority drove in convoy to Millgrove for lunch though a few had to finish at morning’s end. The afternoon drive was to Dee Road, parking at the picnic spot with its panoramic view.

Panorama from picnic spot - D Tweeddale
Panorama from picnic spot. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

The birding was good though few species were added to those we had encountered in the morning’s walk. No raptors were recorded despite the wide sky of the panorama. A Rufous Whistler was heard, a Willie Wagtail was being harassed by an Australian Magpie and the best bird of the day was voted a Bassian Thrush seen by most as it foraged in a clearing below the track.

Grey Fantail - D Sanderson
Grey Fantail. Photo by Danika Sanderson

The bird list at day’s end was 32 species for the morning Launching Place section of the trail and 20 species for the Millgrove section in the afternoon. For the whole day there were 35 species recorded and we thanked Graeme enthusiastically for his preparation which led to such a good result for forest birding.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

 

Weekday outing to Cape Schanck, Mornington Peninsula National Park

16 April 2018
All photographs by Katmun Loh, member

There had been hope that strong winds would result in albatrosses close to shore but the winds of the day far exceeded anything requested. We were a group of 11 and our leader, Pat Bingham, had prepared well for the walk. Gales bent the trees and drove rain squalls horizontally to our backs so the occasional dip in the path or thicker stand of scrub that broke the force was welcome.

Group huddling by thte cars - Katmun Loh
The group huddling by the cars

Initially not a bird was seen and only a couple of squeaks were heard from the scrub. Despite a rainbow it did not look promising but, never say die, we kept alert, even though the car park “total” was two unidentified glimpses. Up to the lookout where we watched the spray on white-topped waves blow backwards. Few birds and then “gannet”! Determination was needed but most detected an Australasian Gannet, some saw a Silver Gull and shearwaters were present. A couple of Welcome Swallows appeared and hope was restored. Towards Bushrangers Bay Superb Fairy-wrens were mostly heard and other calls perplexed until they were identified as crickets.

Superb Fairy-wren, male in eclipse plumage - Katmun Loh
Superb Fairy-wren, male in eclipse plumage

An autumnal Red Wattlebird flock of about 20 included at least one Little Wattlebird. The track runs by the park boundary and Australian Magpies were in the adjacent paddocks with a Nankeen Kestrel and Silver Gulls overhead. Those in front saw a Grey Shrike-thrush as we neared our return point and the few who descended to the watercourse added Grey Fantails. Back at lunch we were soon checked out by the locals as the weather eased. A young Grey Shrike-thrush (recognisable by its markings) came first, and an adult approached afterwards.

Grey Shrike-thrush - Katmun Loh
Grey Shrike-thrush

Superb Fairy-wren and Brown Thornbill gave brief views. Little Ravens first flew and then called, confirming the species. Post lunch we set off in the opposite direction, west toward the lighthouse. Both Kelp and Pacific Gulls were observed from the cliff and optimism grew as the weather calmed, briefly. Better views of Shy Albatross, Short-tailed Shearwaters and Australasian Gannet were obtained. A demonstration of the intensification of the wind speed at the top of a cliff compared to a few steps behind the crest was instructive. Calls from Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater were followed but few sightings were obtained. The group recorded only three honeyeater species, two wattlebirds and the Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, but two members who left later were able to photograph a Singing Honeyeater which had presumably ventured out in the sunnier conditions.

Singingh Honeyeater - Katmun Loh
Singing Honeyeater

The bird list for the group added to 20 species and we thanked Pat for all her preparation which had resulted in successful birding under such challenging conditions.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator Melbourne BirdLife weekdays outings

 

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

Weekdays Outing to Rigby’s Wetland

20 September 2017
All photographs by BirdLife Melbourne member, Graeme Dean
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White-faced Heron

A fine breezy day with blue sky changed to cloudy and the wind became cold, causing everyone to don windproof overclothing. There were 22 rugged up participants with Graeme Hosken leading the group. Haversham Avenue, where the cars were parked, is suburbia on one side with the reserve facing it and so initial birds were simply a few flyovers and such garden birds as Red Wattlebird and Common Starling. We started walking to the south and started listing birds as we entered the reserve. Waterbirds flying over included Australian White Ibis, White-faced Heron, Australasian Darter and Pacific Black Duck.

Australian White Ibis - Graeme Dean
Australian White Ibis

Later the ponds yielded Royal Spoonbill in breeding plumage, Black Swan, Australian Pelican, both Chestnut and Grey Teal and initially a lone Eurasian Coot which became at least 20 on the adjacent water.

Australian Pelican - Graeme Dean
Australian Pelican

Purple Swamphens foraged singly and Dusky Moorhen and both Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes were represented by solitary sightings. Cormorants were present – Little Pied, Little Black and Great – flying over, fishing and perched plumply while digestion proceeded. Water levels were high after recent rains and the absence of exposed mud meant neither crakes nor rails was detected.

Little Pied Cormorant -Graeme Dean
Little Pied Cormorant digesting its catch

A Swamp Harrier flying over was announced by alarm calls and we later watched it quartering the reed beds. It, plus Brown Goshawk and Nankeen Kestrel made up the raptor sightings for the walk. Several areas had been planted and protected with extensive netting which in one area made the sighting of a Great Egret through the netting challenging. Welcome Swallows swooped and in some places were joined by Fairy Martins whose mud bottle nests were detected below the bridging of one of the outlets.

Fairy Martin - Graeme Dean
Fairy Martin collecting mud for nest

No one saw a Little Grassbird but the population must have been considerable to judge by the amount of calling heard. Glimpses were obtained of Golden-headed Cisticola and Australian Reed-Warbler among the grass and reeds. Eastern Common Froglets were the most frequently heard frogs. A Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo really needed scoping as it perched distantly but those with powerful bins considered it identified.

Superb Fairy-wren - Graeme Dean
Superb Fairy-wren

A welcome lunch break was taken at the eastern East Link service area (coffee, toilets and hot food) much appreciated on a carry-lunch walk. Bush birds were encountered once we left the edge of the water and Grey Shrike-thrush, Golden Whistler and both Spotted and Striated Pardalotes joined the list. Honeyeaters included New Holland and Yellow-faced as well as Eastern Spinebill and Noisy Miner. White-browed Scrubwrens were glimpsed in the undergrowth while Superb Fairy-wrens were common throughout the walk. Grey Butcherbird and Grey Currawong called, Grey Fantails were common and only a couple of Willie Wagtails were detected. A female Flame Robin was seen by many and Red-browed Finches often foraged beside the path.

Red-browed Finches - Graeme Dean
Red-browed Finches by path

Introduced birds were “the usual”, Common Myna, Starling and Blackbird plus Spotted Dove and Feral Pigeon/Rock Dove.

Grey Fantail - Graeme Dean
Grey Fantail

In all 59 species were detected and there were smiles all round as people planned to add the area to their walking lists. We thanked Graeme heartily for sharing the knowledge he had gained during the Melbourne Water surveys.

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.

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.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo Woodlands 2017 05 27 7891 800x700 M Serong
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.

Flame and Red-capped Robins Woodlands 2017 05 27 7950 800x640 M Serong
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.

long-billed-corellas-diane-tweeddale
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