Tag Archives: Superb Fairy-wren

Beginners Outing to Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

26 October 2019
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 53
All photographs by Eleanor Dilley
Little Pied Cormorant - Eleanor Dilley
Little Pied Cormorant

There was a challenging start to this excursion as members had to negotiate thousands (literally) of motorbikes assembling in Cranbourne for their annual cavalcade to the Grand Prix on Phillip Island. Furthermore, the weather conditions were far from ideal with very strong winds and heavy squally downpours throughout the day.

Common Bronzewing - Eleanor Dilley
Common Bronzewing

Setting out from the Stringybark Car Park a Golden Whistler could be heard calling but he was hard to see as he was very wisely tucked down in dense vegetation. Grey Fantails and Brown Thornbills were also sheltering in the thickets. A Pied Currawong on a nest and a Common Bronzewing in fine breeding plumage were seen early on. A highlight was seeing a Horsefield’s Bronze-Cuckoo and a male White-winged Triller on branches of the same dead tree.

Superb Fairy-wren - Eleanor Dilley
Superb Fairy-wren

There were several duck species on the wetlands including Chestnut Teal with ducklings, Grey Teal and Hardhead. A few Little Black Cormorants were swimming as were Hoary Headed Grebes, while both White-necked and White-faced Herons flew overhead.

White-necked Heron - Eleanor Dilley
White-necked Heron

On leaving the wetlands a Pallid Cuckoo was heard calling and was located in the distance on a dead branch low on a tree.

Pallid Cuckoo - Eleanor Dilley
Pallid Cuckoo

Several Swamp Wallabies were spotted keeping low profiles in the wet bracken. On returning to the cars another heavy downpour forced the members to use the information shelter for their picnic lunch.  An Eastern Yellow Robin was singing lustily as we ate and was eventually located in the nearby undergrowth.

Swamp Wallaby - Eleanor Dilley
Swamp Wallaby

Most of the group then drove to the Australian Garden which was looking very colourful with spring blossoms.  Nine additional species were found here including Dusky Woodswallow, Australasian Grebe, Little Pied Cormorant, Little Wattlebird and Silvereye.

Australasian Grebe - Eleanor Dilley
Australasian Grebe
Dusky Woodswallow - Eleanor Dilley
Dusky Woodswallow

A grand total of 53 species was recorded for the day, which was a very good result considering the weather conditions.  ur thanks go to Eleanor Dilley, our faithful photographer, who still managed to produce the excellent images in this Report despite the gale force winds and patchy rain!

 

 

Weekdays outing to Phillip Island

1-2 October 2019
Black Swan cygnets - Bevan Hood
Black Swan cygnets. Photo by Bevan Hood

The group numbered 16 when we assembled by the information centre on Tuesday at 13.00 in calm sunny weather, perfect for birdwatching.

Group with Phillip Island bridge in background - Katmun Loh.JPG
Group with Phillip Island Bridge in the background. Photo by Katmun Loh

Our leaders were Sally and Derek Whitehead, keen birders who live on the island. They were very familiar with the Cape Barren Goose population but those visiting from the Melbourne branch were very interested to see the recovery of this once-threatened species. Almost to plague proportions according to some disgruntled land owners.

Cape Barren Goose Bevan Hood
Cape Barren Goose. Photo by Bevan Hood
Cape Barren Goose goslings- Bevan Hood
Cape Barren Goose goslings. Photo by Bevan Hood

The geese were quiet but that cannot be said of the numerous Masked Lapwings. These noisy neighbours appreciate the mowed grasses and clearly you were not an islander if your block didn’t boast a pair, preferably breeding. Meanwhile the sky was filled with skeins and small groups of Ibis, mainly Straw-necked though there were a few Australian White.

Straw-necked Ibis - Bevan Hood.jpg
Straw-necked Ibis. Photo by Bevan Hood

Our first location was the Newhaven jetty where both Silver Gulls and Pacific Gulls were observed, the latter mostly immatures in their mottled brown plumage and looking somewhat scruffy.

Silver Gull - Bevan Hood
Silver Gull. Photo by Bevan Hood
Pacific Gull immature - Bevan Hood
Pacific Gull, immature. Photo by Bevan Hood

The area also hosted Black Swans and Australian Pelicans while cormorants included Little Pied, Pied and Little Black.

Black Swan - AustnPelican - Royal Spoonbill - Bevan Hood
Black Swan, Australian Pelican and Royal Spoonbill. Photo by Bevan Hood

 

Out to sea an Australian Gannet was briefly viewed and then confirmed as it plunged after fish. Around the houses ringing the jetty area we also noted Welcome Swallows, Galahs, Australian Magpies and Wattlebirds, Red and Little.

Australian Pelican - Katmun Loh
Australian Pelican. Photo by Katmun Loh
Australian Pelican - Bevan Hood - 2
Australian Pelican. Photo by Bevan Hood
Australian Pelican - Bevan Hood
Australian Pelican. Photo by Bevan Hood

Then it was across to Fisher’s Wetlands, Newhaven, where there were ducks, Chestnut Teal, Australian Wood Ducks, Australasian Shovelers and Australian Shelducks.

Australasian Shoveler - Katmun Loh
Australasian Shoveler. Photo by Katmun Loh
Australian Shelduck f and m - Katmun Loh
Australian Shelduck, male and female. Photo by Katmun Loh

 

Both Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes were present while Black-winged Stilts foraged on the far side of the water.

Musk Duck female - Katmun Loh
Musk Duck, female. Photo by Katmun Loh

A Royal Spoonbill shared a roosting islet with swans and pelicans and a Whiskered Tern fluttered and dipped near them. From the bush we could hear a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo calling while a Swamp Harrier and then a Brown Falcon started our raptor count for the visit.

Brown Falcon - Katmun Loh
Brown Falcon. Photo by Katmun Loh
Black-shouldered Kite - Bevan Hood
Black-shouldered Kite. Photo by Bevan Hood

The birding is usually excellent at Fisher’s Wetland and today was no exception. The bush was home to Yellow-rumped and Brown Thornbills plus White-eared Honeyeaters and Grey Fantails.

White-eared Honeyeater - Katmun Loh
White-eared Honeyeater. Photo by Katmun Loh
White-eared Honeyeater - Bevan Hood
White-eared Honeyeater. Photo by Bevan Hood

On checking Rhyll inlet from the cliff top (scopes are recommended for this location) we were able to include several new species. The sand spit hosted Bar-tailed Godwits and Australian Pied Oystercatchers and a Caspian Tern flew past while the highlight here was Whimbrels on the rocks at the cliff base.

Australian Pied Oystercatcher - Katmun Loh
Australian Pied Oystercatcher. Photo by Katmun Loh

We were kept so busy observing and recording that we decided to drive over to the Shearwater estate and complete the day with a bird call there rather than visit the Rhyll yacht club as originally planned.

Galah - Bevan Hood
Galah. Photo by Bevan Hood

The yacht club might have similar results to the Newhaven jetty area while the estate contains central wetlands for water management and is well worth a visit. Yes, there were Little Grassbirds calling and many watchers managed to see an Australian Reed-Warbler as it foraged along the reed base. Highlights here were Fairy Martins collecting mud for nests under a culvert and a pair of Superb Fairy-wrens glowing brilliantly in the late afternoon light as they perched on the reeds.

Superb Fairy-wren male - Katmun Loh
Superb Fairy-wren, male. Photo by Katmun Loh

We called the list and were gratified to number 68 species for the afternoon. Thanks to Sally and Derek.

Next morning we assembled at 08.30 without two of our number who were only available for the Tuesday. The first stop was the Oswin Roberts Reserve on Harbison Rd, Rhyll, another excellent birding location.

Common Starling - Bevan Hood
Common Starling. Photo by Bevan Hood

We didn’t need to leave the car park to record Musk and Rainbow Lorikeets, Laughing Kookaburra, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Eastern Rosella and Fairy Martin.

Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike - Katmun Loh
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Katmun Loh
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike - Bevan Hood
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo by Bevan Hood
Eastern Rosella - Bevan Hood
Eastern Rosella. Photo by Bevan Hood

Walking around the short circuit by the car park we had the good fortune to locate and then actually see a calling Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, to watch brilliantly coloured Striated Pardalotes and to encounter a couple of feeding Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos.

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo - Katmun Loh
Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. Photo by Katmun Loh
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo - Katmun Loh
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. Photo by Katmun Loh
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo - Bevan Hood
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. Photo by Bevan Hood

Fan-tailed Cuckoo proved challenging to locate but most of us were finally able to view the birds. A fortunate group actually observed not one but three Fantail Cuckoos in the same binocular view.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo - Bevan Hood
Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Photo by Bevan Hood
Fan-tailed Cuckoo 2 - Katmun Loh
Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Photo by Katmun Loh
Fan-tailed Cuckoo 1 - Katmun Loh
Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Photo by Katmun Loh

Along the track we encountered a couple of Swamp Wallabies while checking the understorey. Then it was time to drive to the Nobbies for seabirds. Here the raptor count increased as we recorded Peregrine Falcon, Nankeen Kestrel and Whistling Kite.

Peregrine Falcon - Katmun Loh
Peregrine Falcon. Photo by Katmun Loh

Many smiles resulted from the glimpses of Little Penguins in their nesting boxes on the side of the hillside as we traversed the board walk. Crowds of tourists and families were taking advantage of the school holidays and beautiful weather. The calm settled conditions for the previous couple of days were not likely to have driven any albatrosses inshore so we were not surprised when none were seen.

It was not a far drive to Swan Lake from the Nobbies and most of us were soon smiling as pairs of Black Swans led their fluffy grey cygnets and a pair of Chestnut Teal boasted seven ducklings.

Black Swan - Bevan Hood
Black Swan. Photo by Bevan Hood
Chestnut Teal - Bevan Hood
Chestnut Teal. Photo by Bevan Hood

There were raptors, Swamp Harriers and Whistling Kites, as we walked the board walk and some of us wondered how many cygnets, ducklings and goslings would make it to adulthood. We decided to have the bird call here and made ourselves comfortable but the usual “bird call calls” rang out with White-browed Scrubwren and Silvereye joining the list at the last minute. The morning’s list totalled 66 species and the cumulative total for the two days was 90 species. It goes almost without saying that we thanked both Sally and Derek whole-heartedly for all their preparation which had gone into such a successful session.

Diane Tweeddale Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

 

Weekdays Outing to Yarra Bend Park, Fairfield

12 August 2019
Photographs by Kat Mun Loh

The group numbered 20, of whom two were international visitors, from the UK and Canada, and another couple were visitors from the support group Regenerate. Elsmaree Baxter led and all were grateful that the weather, though very cold, was dry. The ground was still wet and muddy with plenty of large puddles after several days of rain so care was needed when walking. Early arrivals were treated to a flock of 20 Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos flying overhead and some later arrivals counted the last bird while it perched in a bare tree. Other car park species included the inevitable Noisy Miners plus a few Australian Wood Ducks, Eastern Rosellas, Red-rumped Parrots and Rainbow Lorikeets plus a pair of Magpie-larks. Overhead flew a Great Cormorant and then, to the alarm calls from many species, a slender-winged Australian Hobby.

Superb Fairy-wren - male - Kat Mun Loh
Superb Fairy-wren, male

We walked past the golf course, noting a White-faced Heron patrolling near a green, apparently unfazed by the driving practice going on at the far end of the range. The grass was covered with yellow golf balls which must presumably be collected mechanically. Turning back into the bush section we noted the calls of Pied Currawong and Little Raven and watched Corellas flying near exercising dogs, presumably Long-billed Corellas as only this species had been seen from the start.

the group - Kat Mun Loh
The group walking

We headed back towards the Yarra which was flowing strong and high. A highlight here was a female Australasian Darter perched on a snag near a couple of Pacific Black Ducks. Some in the front of the group saw a robin which was another highlight – it was a female Scarlet Robin. The visitors were smiling and listing more and more.

Australasian Darter -female - Kat Mun Loh
Australasian Darter

A Dusky Moorhen swam near but did not try to fight the very strong river current. An Eastern Spinebill called but was only seen by one or two while Red Wattlebirds were heard at intervals. Superb Fairy-wrens’ calls were identified to the visitors but sightings were few and a “little brown job” was initially misidentified as a thornbill but on closer inspection was a White-browed Scrubwren being unexpectedly obvious on a low bare branch. Another good sighting, though often brief, was a calling Spotted Pardalote, much admired. One observer’s wish was granted when a clear close view of a Laughing Kookaburra was obtained as up till then she had only heard or briefly glimpsed this iconic Australian.

Laughing Kookaburra - Kat Mun Loh
Laughing Kookaburra

We were heading toward the boathouse when a sharp pair of eyes penetrated the great camouflage of a pair of Tawny Frogmouths huddled closely together against the cold. A great sighting for everyone.

Tawny Frogmouths - Kat Mun Loh
First glimpse of a pair of Tawny Frogmouths
Tawny Frogmouth - Kat Mun Loh
Tawny Frogmouth

Back to the shelter near the car park for lunch where we were checked out by Noisy Miners which made the most of every slight food spill. Wood ducks were still foraging on the near grass and were joined peaceably by a lone Crested Pigeon. At intervals some heard a distant call of an Olive-backed Oriole which was then picked up by all during a quiet pause in our chatter. However no sighting was obtained despite careful peering upwards. Unfortunately Elsmaree had to terminate her walk at lunchtime so she joined those finishing then because of fatigue or prior engagement. We thanked her wholeheartedly for all her preparation and wished her well.

Pat Bingham led the smaller remaining group around the Macfarlane Burnet circuit where the only addition to the species list was an overhead V of Straw-necked Ibis which brought the total of species to 48. We thanked Pat for the additional walk with its terrain and information boards.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekdays outing to Pipemakers Park, Maribyrnong

10 June 2019
Photographer: Katmun Loh
Little Pied Cormorant
Little Pied Cormorant

The overnight weather was not reassuring as wind and rain had been widespread and our first arrivals needed to shelter during a brief fall. However the rain radar showed the band of showers passing and we drew reassurance from that, especially when the clouds occasionally broke and bright sunshine resulted. When all had assembled we numbered 17 with Pat Bingham leading the group. Some had visited Pipemakers in the past and some were quite new to birding so we were a happily mixed group.

The group - Katmun Loh
The group

The car park area was the domain of White-plumed Honeyeaters and Red Wattlebirds but there were also several Willie Wagtails, Australian Magpies and Common Blackbirds.

White-plumed Honeyeater - Katmun Loh
White-plumed Honeyeater

Little Ravens called overhead and the honeyeaters were augmented by New Holland Honeyeaters and those purveyors of ‘false news’, the frequently alarm-calling Noisy Miners. Not far from the car park a few House Sparrows interested those whose local birds had disappeared. This commensal species seems to be in worldwide decline without a single definitive cause.

New Holland Honeyeater - Katmun Loh
New Holland Honeyeater

Superb Fairy-wrens were common, flying low, foraging in the understory and dashing across the paths. Many were males in eclipse plumage. The well-grown lignin plantings provide such smaller birds with shelter. We set off toward the river which is vastly improved from its past as an industrial dump. Now fish have returned and Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebes, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants and Eurasian Coots plus an Australasian Darter were joined by Silver Gulls and a few humans with rods taking advantage of the piscine possibilities.

Superb Fairy-wren adult F - Katmun Loh
Superb Fairy-wren, adult female

The flock of gulls was an indicator of the weather along the coast today and this was confirmed by a Crested Tern using the river rather than the coast. Musk Lorikeets in a tree beside the path delighted us and at least one watcher was very happy to have clear, close and prolonged views showing the birds’ markings.

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Red-rumped Parrots foraging in the grass beside the path also gave good, close views but also challenged photographers to clearly record the differences between the brilliant male and the drabber female.

F and M Red-rumped Parrot
Female and male Red-rumped Parrots

 

Our path took us beside the golf course, where a magpie’s nest had been made with the usual sticks plus bright green plastic string (human refuse recycled in a good avian cause). Across to the Sanctuary Walk where the ponds supported Pacific Black Ducks (swimming in tandem as if mating season was starting) plus Dusky Moorhen and a lone Hardhead which was considered the best bird today.

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The riverbank Australasian Darter was a young female, perching inconspicuously on a ‘whitewashed’ rock not far away from a White-faced Heron. Fallen boughs must not be allowed to menace the public and the maintenance tractor drivers were working despite the holiday when we visited. They expressed interest in our sightings in their area.

Chestnut Teal M - Katmun Loh
Chestnut Teal, male

We lunched and after walked further along the riverside but added only a few species to the morning’s tally. By day’s end our bird list totalled 40 species and we thanked Pat wholeheartedly for her preparation which resulted in such a satisfactory day’s birding.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Beginners outing to The Briars

25 May 2019
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Photography: Eleanor Dilley
Species Count 34
Eastern Yellow Robin - Eleanor Dilley
Eastern Yellow Robin

Despite a forecast for wet weather, 22 members attended the Briars outing and were fortunate to enjoy fine and sunny conditions. Noisy Miners were the dominant species in the carpark, interrupted by several Rainbow Lorikeets and Eastern Rosellas flying overhead.

Eastern Rosella - Eleanor Dilley
Eastern Rosella

This set the tone for the day with all three species being seen many times during the walk.

Rainbow Lorikeets - Eleanor Dilley
Rainbow Lorikeets

The effect of the prolonged dry spell was immediately apparent as we entered the wetland area. There was very little water in the ponds; no ducks, swans or cormorants and very few small bush-birds. Purple Swamphens, a Grey Shrike-thrush and a Laughing Kookaburra were observed from the boardwalk.

Black-fronted Dotterel - Eleanor Dilley
Black-fronted Dotterel

Eurasian Coots could be seen from the Chechingurk Hide, as could two Black-fronted Dotterels foraging in the mud at the water’s edge.

Superb Fairy-wren - Eleanor Dilley
Superb Fairy-wren

A Willie Wagtail and some Superb Fairy-wrens were also seen from the hide. Taking the Kur-Bur- Rer track into the Eucalypt-dominated woodland area, it was disappointing that only two more honeyeater species were added to the ever present Noisy Miners, namely Red Wattlebirds and  White-eared Honeyeaters.

Laughing Kookaburra - Eleanor Dilley
Laughing Kookaburra

Later, Grey Butcherbirds were heard and seen and eventually a “hotspot” was reached where good views of a Grey Fantail, an Eastern Yellow Robin and a pair of Golden Whistlers were enjoyed. Turning eastwards near the fence line a Brown Goshawk flew overhead, but otherwise there was little bird activity.

Brown Goshawk - Eleanor Dilley
Brown Goshawk

When nearly back at the Visitor Centre another mixed feeding flock was seen, this time comprised of an Eastern Yellow Robin, a Grey Shrike-thrush, several Spotted Pardalotes and more Superb Fairy-wrens.

Spotted Pardalote - Eleanor Dilley
Spotted Pardalote

Lunch was eaten near the carpark overlooking the vineyard, above which a Black-shouldered Kite was seen hovering before it perched in a nearby dead tree. Several plump Crested Pigeons were feeding on the grass near the members and a pair of Masked Plovers were seen further uphill.

Crested Pigeon - Elenaor Dilley
Crested Pigeon

After lunch a short walk was taken towards the Homestead where a number of Eastern Rosellas were seen, some perched and others feeding on the ground.  Their plumage looked beautiful with the sun shining on it. Two ducks, one a Chestnut Teal and the other an Australian Wood Duck, surprised us by flying overhead before landing on a small pond near the Shire Nursery. The usual noisy throng of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, much reduced in number, was present near the Homestead. A flock of Welcome Swallows, the first and only sighting for the day, was seen in a valley some distance away.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos - Eleanor Dilley
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos

The total species recorded was a modest 34 which was well down on counts at this site in previous years. It was thought that the very dry weather had affected not only the wetland environment but had reduced the number of insects needed to sustain small birds. Despite this, most of the members felt they had enjoyed their time in this lovely park and vowed to return when there had been some good rains.

Many thanks to Eleanor Dilley who took all the photographs appearing in this month’s Report.

See full bird list for the day: BM May 2019 Bird List The Briars

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
White-faced Heron - Graeme Dean.jpg
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.