11 July 2016
Leader: Pat Bingham
On a very cold morning, in a howling gale but bright sunshine, 15 members and three visitors from Asia met on the banks of the Maribyrnong River to go birdwatching. Quite mad in those weather conditions!
Before we left the car park, we had THE BIRD OF THE DAY – a lone Swift Parrot, heavily disguising itself in dense foliage but popping its unmistakeable red face out from time to time and, turning upside down, showing us it’s pinky vent and long tail.
It was a new bird for many of the group and we had some difficulty in persuading our visitors what a rare sighting it was. It was hard to turn our backs on the rarity, watch the Whistling Kite flying upriver and, then ourselves, go downstream into the wind.
We followed the Maribyrnong Trail past Frogs Hollow Wetland (well named – there were many Common Froglets calling) and found Red-browed Finches on the fence and Superb Fairy-wrens on the grass. Jack’s Canal yielded Dusky Moorhens and Purple Swamphens, Australasian Grebe and we heard, above the gale, the plaintiff call of the Little Grassbird from the reed bed.
The waves were pretty choppy on the lake in Burndap Park but we had good views of both Grey and Chestnut Teal, and Hoary-headed Grebe.
In the most sheltered corner of the lake we found White-faced Heron, Great Egret and Pacific Black Duck roosting.
On a floating platform on the adjacent river we were able to distinguish the characteristics differentiating Little Black from Little Pied Cormorants and from a young Darter sharing the same platform. We had Wood Ducks and Eurasian Coots grazing on the grass of the riverbank and Crested Pigeons & Red-rumped Parrots picking up seeds from the path.
We went back to the car park for lunch where a Black-shouldered Kite hunted overhead, 30 Galahs flew by and Yellow-rumped Thornbills tinkled from the adjacent grassland. After lunch we crossed the river and explored the city side parkland.
In flowering Ironbarks on the golf course we had good views of Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets and were able to compare their markings and calls. We found a pair of Long-billed Corellas exploring a tree hollow and saw an old Mudlark nest. Heading further east towards the Walter Street Reserve we recorded Eastern Rosellas and both White-plumed and New Holland Honeyeaters. A newly-planted wetland area adjacent to a housing development had already been discovered by ducks and a cormorant but the only new species for the day that we found there were House Sparrows and Common Starlings. Revisiting that area in the future, when the plantings were better established would probably prove more fruitful. Buff-banded Rail has been recorded in the past from the creek that drains the area (sadly now only a concrete drain).
At Bird Call, we listed 48 species which, given the persistent cold wind, increasingly dull day and exposed site was a good total and all participants agreed they had enjoyed themselves in an area few had visited before.