The day promised fine weather, calm and clear for birdwatching, and it didn’t disappoint. Seventeen started the walk under the leadership of Rosemaree Mclean and Malcolm Brown of The Friends of Braeside Park.
Our interest was high as the morning’s walk was to be through the heathland area which is as yet not publicly accessible. The heathland has formed on low-nutrient sands and our track passed along white sand where tiny insectivorous sundews grew. At the start, Rosemaree’s favourite Tawny Frogmouth, was beautifully cooperative as it sat patiently and photogenically on its tree fork nest.
After the aggressive Noisy Miners in the car park a Tawny was a great sighting. Trees are more spaced and fewer on the heaths so birds are restricted, though we still noted Little Raven and Rainbow Lorikeet while the calls of Grey Butcherbird, Red Wattlebird and Spotted Pardalote reached us as we walked.
A skein of Straw-necked Ibis flew over and a couple of birders were briefly able to glimpse a Brown Goshawk pass above.
The call of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo reached us and a small pond contained a Chestnut Teal – birds took advantage of any resource.
After lunch back at the cars we farewelled Rosemaree and Malcolm with many thanks. A couple of people with afternoon appointments also departed and the remainder arranged to visit the wetlands and bush, walking in 3 groups according to walking ability. This covered a variety of habitats and so the afternoon species list added a range of species.
Waterbirds were present in numbers – Black Swans with fluffy cygnets, male and female Musk Ducks, Pink-eared Ducks in a tree, both Chestnut and Hoary-headed Grebes and Great, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants while Cattle Egrets foraged around the small herd of cattle in the adjacent paddock.
A Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike was first heard then finally seen as it exited the tree canopy.
The walk finished with the separate groups comparing lists and noting the variation with habitat. We recorded 34 species in the heathland and 27 in the bush and wetlands later in the day.
The cumulative total was 50 species, a very pleasing result.
The alarm clock went off to the sound of heavy rain on the roof and that meant the weather bureau was right and birdwatching might not be the best occupation for the day. Unsurprisingly the drive from Melbourne needed your whole attention and it was probably this combination which kept attendance down to four people. Sue Brabender led us and most ably as she frequently birds The Briars and had worked there for some years.
The weather sent a large mixed flock of Australian Wood Ducks, Pacific Black Ducks and Purple Swamphens onto the grass near the car park entrance. The bird list had started early.
These species were joined by Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Noisy Miners, Eastern Rosellas, Australian Magpies and Crested Pigeons in and around the car park. The highlight here was a Buff-banded Rail in the grounds of the café. Skittish but briefly visible.
Also appreciated was a break in approaching dark clouds and accompanying rain. We set off to the Boonoorong bird hide, pausing on the way to find and admire two Tawny Frogmouths cuddled together in a tree fork.
At the hide we added Australasian Grebe, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants.
Superb Fairy-wrens were noted in the closer reed bed but there were few small birds, probably because a Swamp Harrier was quartering the area. A Grey Teal was noted at our stop at the Chechingurk hide and then we concentrated on woodland birds as we followed the Woodland Walk track.
Cute companions throughout the walk were many Black (Swamp) Wallabies and a few Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Several Grey Shrike-thrushes were noted though there was little calling. Contrast in the greyness meant mostly flying silhouettes were seen and this made the distinction between Spotted and Striated Pardalotes difficult in the absence of calls.
This also applied to a couple of thornbills foraging silently low in a medium tree so there was neither Brown nor Striated Thornbill on our final list though subsequent photo development showed Brown Thornbill was more likely. As the weather had been favourable for the whole time we decided to finish with bird call.
The final list numbered 32 species which was very pleasing in the conditions and we warmly thanked Sue for sharing with us her considerable knowledge of the area.
The 23 members gathered near the Visitor Centre were pleased to see a variety of birds before starting the Sanctuary walk. These included Eastern Rosella, Grey Butcherbird, Masked Lapwing, Purple Swamphen and King Parrot.
Soon after starting off along the boardwalk a Great Egret was spotted preening in a nearby dead tree, thus providing a good opportunity for photographers. From the first hide a pair of Black Swans and a Yellow-billed Spoonbill were found on the water.
Continuing along the boardwalk a number of bushbirds showed themselves, including Superb Fairy-wrens, Silvereyes, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and two Golden Whistlers. From the large hide there were great views of another Yellow-billed Spoonbill as it foraged for food close to the window. A White-faced Heron flew in, landing nearby, and a pair of Pacific Black Ducks swam nonchalantly across the field of view.
On leaving the hide some of the first group were fortunate to see a male Mistletoebird fly overhead, while those who lingered in the hide saw a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels fly in. Continuing along the boardwalk a Swamp Wallaby was seen feeding beside the track whilst more Superb Fairy-wrens busied themselves finding food. A White-eared Honeyeater showed itself as it foraged in the outer foliage of a flowering eucalyptus tree.
A flock of Little Corellas was seen, and heard, flying past the lookout overlooking the wetlands. As we walked along the high part of the track, Noisy Miners and Rainbow Lorikeets were the dominant species, though a pair of Long-billed Corellas and some Galahs were seen in a distant tree. A pair of Australian Pelicans flying gracefully in formation overhead were a delight to see. On the descent towards the creek New Holland Honeyeaters, Grey Fantails and Dusky Moorhens were sighted.
At lunch, back in the picnic area, the sun appeared and highlighted the colourful plumage of the many Crested Pigeons that foraged underfoot. Most of the members stayed for the afternoon walk up the hill towards the old homestead. Species seen here included Australian Wood Ducks, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Spotted Doves and lots more Crested Pigeons. The heritage chickens and pigs were admired along with the vast plantings of heritage fruit and vegetable species. A distant raptor created a lot of interest and, after examining photographs, it was positively identified as a Brown Goshawk.
On returning to the carpark a few members decided to revisit the first section of the wetlands walk and, following a tip-off from a Ranger, found 3 Tawny Frogmouths high up in a tree near the first hide.
A total of 47 species were recorded for the day which was deemed to be excellent for the time of year.
Thanks once again to Eleanor Dilley who provided all but two of the above photos and also for those used to verify the Brown Goshawk sighting.
Thirty one birders arrived at Lysterfield Park for the Beginners’ outing on a sunny, calm day, perfect for birding. While in the carpark, we were assailed by numerous Rainbow Lorikeets and Little Ravens, and then the familiar call of Gang Gangs announced their presence. This was followed by fleeting views of Crimson and Eastern Rosellas.
At the start of the walk around the lake it was very quiet with nothing flying or calling apart from a lone Red Wattlebird. Fortunately things improved further along the track and while stopped to see an Eastern Rosella, we added Superb Fairy Wrens, a small flock of Red-browed Finches, a Brown Thornbill and a lovely Eastern Spinebill which came in very close giving good views. Just a short distance ahead we luckily found a pair of well camouflaged Tawny Frogmouths, one of which was in the classical Tawny pose.
A diversion off the established track led us to a jetty on the lake where we saw Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants. Both male and female Musk Ducks were also seen here together with a flotilla of Eurasian Coots.
The lack of flowering trees and shrubs contributed to the dearth of Honeyeaters but we managed to obtain good looks at a White-eared Honeyeater. Another diversion down to the water’s edge added Silver Gulls and very good views of a Spotted Pardalote.
This was followed by one of the highlights of the walk – seeing a Brush Bronzewing drinking from a puddle in the middle of the track. With the sun behind them it gave all the photographers an excellent shot. Despite the bush looking in fine condition birds were still scarce and apart from a couple of Eastern Spinebills and a Grey Fantail there was little to see.
Reaching the dam wall we saw Welcome Swallows over the water, more Musk Ducks and Cormorants, Masked Lapwings, Magpie Larks, Wood Ducks on the grassland and a Common Bronzewing.
This was followed by another highlight when a Little Eagle was spotted being harassed by two Magpies. This pale morph Little Eagle provided us all with excellent views sit circled overhead, continuously chased by the Magpies. Walking along the lake’s edge saw us pick up a pair of Pacific Black Ducks, Purple Swamphens, more Cormorants and Silver Gulls.
After lunch, a short walk along Logans Track resulted in a Crested Pigeon and at least three Eastern Yellow Robins being added to the list. Returning to the carpark we found another pair of Tawny Frogmouths in a tree very close to where we had lunch.
A total of forty species for the day was a fair result considering the time of year and because it was such a lovely day there were large numbers of bike riders and walkers all along the track, ensuring the birds were staying further into the bush, making birding that much more difficult.
Thirty members assembled at the Southern Carpark in perfect weather conditions: sunny, light winds and not too hot. Soon after commencing the walk towards the wetlands, a very well camouflaged Tawny Frogmouth was spotted in one of the gum trees. It gave everyone a good view and posed for many photographs before we moved on.
On the first pond a pair of Pink-eared Ducks was seen carefully shepherding their eight newly-hatched ducklings from one safe place to another. On the shore were a pair of Masked Plovers which dwarfed a nearby Black-fronted Dotterel, as did three Royal Spoonbills which were feeding in the background. The Dotterel was the first of many to be seen during the morning walk.
Continuing clockwise around the ponds some Australian White Ibis and many more waterbirds were seen. These included several more of the common Duck species, Australian Pelicans, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants and Australasian Darters.
At the far end of the wetlands a Black-shouldered Kite perched on top of a dead tree, leaving it several times for short hunting trips before returning to the roost. On one such occasion it became involved in a fracas with a much larger Brown Goshawk, effectively chasing it away.
Several bushbirds were also seen in this area, as well as on the return track, including Grey Butcherbird, European Goldfinch, Superb Fairy-wren and Grey Fantail.
After lunch most of the members drove to the northern end of Braeside and parked in the Pelican Carpark. A brief visit to the Visitor Centre was made so that the group could see more of the park’s raptors, albeit stuffed, before setting off on the Heathland Trail. A female Common Bronzewing feeding on the path did not seem threatened by our presence and walked across into the sunshine so that her wonderful feathers shone brightly. On reaching the ponds a few more Ducks were seen, along with Purple Swamphens and Long-necked Turtles. An Echidna was rescued from some children who were poking it with a stick, and then more small bushbirds were spotted. Another new species for the afternoon was a Pied Currawong which was heard calling in the distance.
The beautiful weather and abundant birdlife made this a most enjoyable excursion with 56 species recorded on the day.
Thanks to Eleanor Dilley, Steve Hoptroff and Bevan Hood for providing the photographs.
The weather was fine with a good breeze while we assembled at the car park. After the now-obligatory complaints about the state of the traffic and the freeway roadworks we numbered 17 including a few on their first birding walk.
The car park started the list with the reliable Noisy Miners and Rainbow Lorikeets but an Australian Pelican gliding past was less usual and the Eastern Rosellas and Grey Butcherbirds were welcome additions.
Initially we headed to the nearest pond where Australian Wood Duck outnumbered the Pacific Black Ducks.
The pair of Australasian Grebes appeared fleetingly between dives and a solo Little Black Cormorant dived repeatedly before perching to dry and presumably, digest.
Royal Spoonbills foraged at the next water’s edge and one had presumably “bitten off more than it could chew” as it repeatedly shook its head and showed a distended gullet. Eventually avian greed was rewarded and the distension and shaking stopped.
We were now in bush and waterbirds gave way to bird calls from the scrub and trees. Spotted Pardalotes called but sightings were few and most of us recorded very active Grey Fantails plus somewhat fewer Yellow-faced Honeyeaters.
The highlight for many people was the discovery of a roost of Tawny Frogmouths – two adults and a youngster (somewhat harder to see) – quite low (2-3 m from the ground) in a tree.
A large nest box was also observed. About a meter long, it may have been intended for Powerful Owls but perhaps was not ideally long enough compared with some hollows, natural or artificial. A small nondescript brown bird puzzled everyone till sharp eyes spotted a red bill. It was a juvenile Mistletoebird.
This was a new sighting for everyone. Another puzzle was slightly less difficult when the definite breast spots of an Olive-backed Oriole were seen. This bird was also a juvenile and lacked colour.
Back to the car park for lunch where all public seating was already occupied, demonstrating how popular this park is, including on weekdays. Some people needed to leave at this stage and a quick bird call gave 42 species recorded in the morning’s walk.
Post-lunch the few remaining drove a few kilometers to Tirhatuan Wetland. This is only a very short distance as the bird flies from our morning area so the bird species were mostly the same and the 10 of us only added 3 more species to the cumulative total, Chestnut Teal, Laughing Kookaburra and Australian Reed-Warbler.
However, we also saw 2 Tawny Frogmouth roosts and a couple of us were delighted to be accepted enough for a duck (Australian Wood Duck) to lead her ducklings to water within a meter of our feet.
Plus, the non-avian interest was provided by a paper wasp nest where the new adults seemed to be emerging from their cells. We recorded 20 species in this area and the cumulative total was 44. John received our enthusiastic thanks for his preparation which gave such good results for a small suburban area.
On the morning of 28 October 2021, I was driving down our court when I noticed a small fluff-ball on the footpath below a neighbour’s large Eucalyptus nicholii nature strip tree. I stopped to check it out and found a very young Tawny Frogmouth which I assumed had fallen out of a nest. A parent bird was in the tree, on the lowest branch about 4m up, looking down and keeping watch as there was a Pied Currawong showing a lot of interest.
I rang my wife Shirley who was quickly on the scene. We decided that Shirley would ring the Wildlife Emergency Response to seek instructions on what to do while I kept guard. Shirley was advised that we should make a nest in a container, make some drainage holes, nail the container in a tree, and place the chick in the new nest. The advice was that hopefully the parent would watch us transfer the chick and attend the nest to look after it. If this didn’t happen after a few hours, we were to ring them back.
I made the nest according to instructions, using an ice-cream container and drilled the drainage holes. I placed broken twigs in the bottom, with a layer of native grasses cut to length as an upper layer. I can modestly say that it was a more comfortable nest than the parents would have made. The height of the lowest branch on the E nicholii was far too high for me, so as advised, I fixed it to a lower tree branch in our front garden. I picked up the chick and transported it to its new home. Unfortunately during the whole process, the parent bird was very aware of the Pied Currawong and tried to see it off. Because of this it may not have seen the relocation.
By this stage Shirley had decided that the chick needed a name, and it was named Thursday, because that was the day we found it.
By mid-afternoon, after several checks, there was no sign of the parent bird, so Shirley rang the Wildlife Emergency Response again. We were asked to email a photo of the chick so that they had a good idea of the age of the rescued bird. We were then advised to place the chick in its nest in a dark place, and they would arrange for a Wildlife Rescue Service Volunteer (WRSV) to collect the bird.
The WRSV arrived late afternoon to take Thursday into care. She told us that Thursday looked healthy and was probably a female. She expected to release her near the rescue site, in about 2 months, and she would keep us informed. We felt quite confident that Thursday was in good hands.
Over the next 2 months we received texts from the WRSV, with attached photos showing Thursday’s development.
Thursday with friends in the enclosure Photos by the Wildlife Rescue Service Volunteer
During care the rescued Tawny Frogmouths lived in meshed enclosure, of sufficient size for the birds to take short flights. The enclosure had many guests, a normal season being a temporary home to a total of about 20 rescued Tawny Frogmouth chicks. They were fed chicken hearts, meal worms and mice. The enclosure had lighting to attract moths to supplement their diet and introduce them to becoming self sufficient.
In early Jan we received a text from the WRSV advising that Thursday, with a friend, would be released as soon as the weather was suitable. The release site was to be the treed corridor along the creek that runs between Waverley Road & Crosby Drive, Glen Waverley, about 200m from the rescue site. At dusk, on 10 Jan 2022, Thursday and friend were released, both with full stomachs. Thursday took off and quickly flew to some low vegetation about 30m distant. The friend flew higher and perched on a horizontal branch about 4m above the ground, 15m distant. We watched and waited for a while but the birds seemed settled for the night. The WRSV assured us that they would be OK, and she would check on them the next day. Sexing the birds is difficult, but because of the greyer plumage, the WRSV thought Thursday was probably female, and because the friend was browner, she thought it was probably male.
On our walk home, Shirley and I wondered if they would be OK and if we would ever see them again. We decided that the friend deserved a name, so he was named Novak, as the bird’s release date was on the same day as Novak Djokovic’s release from detention.
Next morning at 8:30 we checked out the release site but at first could not find either bird. After a closer look in the immediate area where Thursday was last seen, Thursday and Novak were there, back from the track, in classic stick posture, with eyes narrowed to slits, on a near vertical fallen branch only about 1m above the ground. I had concerns about their safety as they were so close to the ground. Checking HANZAB, one study reported that of roosting birds flushed, 50% were flushed from the ground, so perhaps there was no need for my concern.
On a return visit to the site mid-afternoon, I found both birds at the same roosting site, but Novak was much more animated than for the morning visit.
On a visit to the site on the morning of 12 Jan, neither bird could be found, but encouragingly there was no heap of feathers on the ground at the previous day’s roosting site. Another visit on the same afternoon, and again no bird could be found. Further visits on the morning and afternoon of 13 Jan also produced no sightings. The corridor is a well timbered stretch with many suitable roosting sites, both at low level and higher level. The WRSV advised that released birds are rarely seen at the release site, so no sightings could be a good sign.
I chose to believe that they are hunkered down somewhere in the corridor. I was resigned to the fact that maybe I would never see either of the birds again, but just maybe one day, on a walk along the creek I will discover one or both Tawny Frogmouths.
But there is a sequel to this story. Late afternoon on 18 Jan I spotted a juvenile Tawny Frogmouth only about 50m from the release site. I was very excited with my find and hoped it was Thursday or Novak, so I took several photos to try and confirm which one it was. The bird appeared to be smaller than either of the two, and on close examination of the photos, the tail was shorter and markings on the back, wings and tail didn’t agree with those of either Thursday or Novak. I can only conclude that it was a third juvenile bird in this small patch of bush. Of course, I will keep looking.
Bill Ramsay, Jan 2022 All photos by Bill Ramsay unless noted otherwise
A group of 22 assembled in calm, mild sunshine – a perfect day for birding. Our leader was Lyn Easton, bravely on crutches after hip surgery not improved by the pandemic lockdowns. This reserve is ‘her backyard’ and she has been watching the wildlife there for at least 20 years. This was our first weekdays outing since the last lockdown had finally ended and our expectation was palpable. Screeches of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos over the car park were everyday but the advice of ‘Tawny Frogmouth’ was an ‘eyes up’ directive. Soon everyone had found the adult in the tree fork. With a well grown youngster peering from beneath the parent and definitely looking like Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street. Cute.
The recent rains had filled the river and overflowed into the billabongs. Billabongs with water! Most of us couldn’t remember when we had last seen this, must have been at least 20 years. Against the delight of returned frog calls there was the counter of no muddy banks around the lake. So few or no waders e. g. plovers. However, there are reports of snipe at the grotty pond though today we concentrated on the river.
The recent windstorm had felled trees and a large eucalypt had come down along the path. All was not lost as movement caught our eyes and resolved into at least two Spotted Pardalotes investigating the muddy root ball. Nesting sites, anyone? They were concentrating on the roots and allowed us to stand quietly and delight in the tiny birds so close and well lit.
Much further along the walk we noted a Brown Thornbill carrying nesting material into a dense bush. The recent rains may have inspired a good breeding season. Standing quietly on the river bank we watched the water surface and were rewarded with short sightings of a Platypus swimming and diving. It was probably a female foraging during the day to avoid the unwanted attentions of males.
In addition to birds there were frogs calling, rabbits and their traces seen (bother) and a Long-necked Tortoise sunning. It was a great outing and deservedly described as “one out of the box”.
Lyn received our heartfelt thanks and good wishes. Oh, by the way, we recorded 54 bird species.
Twenty-three members gathered at the Southern Carpark in light rain and observed a small flock of Red-rumped Parrots at the top of a dead tree. Noisy Miners were evident throughout the park making it challenging to find any smaller bushbirds. Walking clockwise around the wetlands, we were delighted to find a lot of bird life on the water. This despite the noise from major roadworks along the perimeter of the park. A lone Dusky Moorhen, hiding in the reeds, watched as three Purple Swamphens marched imperiously by.
Nine different duck species were seen, with several (male) Blue-billed ducks being the highlight.
Numerous Australasian Darters, Australian Pelicans, a Great Egret and a Royal Spoonbill were among the other waterbirds seen.
There was great excitement when a Grey Goshawk in the White Morph was found, perched on a stump further along the track. Members approached cautiously and were rewarded with great views of this magnificent raptor.
Soon afterwards a Swamp Harrier flew across the area causing a great commotion amongst the other birds. A few people saw an unusual parrot flying fast yet gracefully over the Park, first one way then back again in the opposite direction. Photographic evidence enabled it to be identified as a Superb Parrot (most likely an aviary escapee?).
By this time, the rain had eased and gradually the sun appeared. It was good to see that the glass in the bird-hide had been cleaned, enabling members to get great views of a pair of Pink-eared Ducks with several fluffy youngsters just outside the window.
A further highlight from the hide occurred when a Brown Goshawk landed on a nearby branch. The next stop was at a smaller pond where more than a dozen cormorants were perched on a fallen log and a large vertical stag provided a resting place for yet more Australasian Darters.
Lunch was eaten back near the cars after which most of the members drove to the northern end of the park and took a short walk along the Heathland Trail. Near the children’s playground two well camouflaged Tawny Frogmouths were located perched in a track-side tree not far above head height. Very few other bushbirds were seen, presumably due to the ever-present bullying Noisy Miners.
Two Crested Pigeons were found sunning themselves on the grass beside the path back towards the cars. The Tawny Frogmouths were again much admired as we passed by them again. One of them gave us a large yawn, as if to bid us goodbye, revealing the bright yellow inside of its beak.
This concluded a most rewarding and enjoyable day with a total of 57 species recorded.
A huge thankyou to Eleanor Dilley who, in rain or shine, captured all the images in the Report.
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers; Species count: 39
Photographs by Eleanor Dilley
Perfect weather conditions for birdwatching – sunny, little wind and temperatures in the low 20s – greatly added to the enjoyment for the 38 members who attended the outing to Pound Bend.
From the carpark several parrot species were heard calling loudly, at times drowning out the efforts of the leaders to explain things, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were the major culprits! Rainbow Lorikeets were also plentiful, with the bright sun showing up their brilliant colours.
Walking along the river track it was pleasing to see several Eastern Yellow Robins and a pair of White-throated Treecreepers as well as numerous Grey Fantails and Superb Fairy-wrens.
Several ducks were on the river, including a pair of Chestnut Teal which is a very unusual sighting in this location. There were also three Little Pied Cormorants, one perched and others feeding in the river.
A Tawny Frogmouth perched close to the track with its beak thrust in the air in camouflage pose was a delight to all, especially the photographers. There were fewer birds to be found after the track left the riverside, heading for the higher, drier ground. Laughing Kookaburra and Magpie Lark were amongst the few species seen there. As the return track approached the river the pleasing sound of small birds could again be heard and Grey Shrike-thrush was added to the list.
Lunch was eaten near the carpark and surprisingly no birds arrived to steal the sandwiches! After birdcall about half the group walked along the river track towards the tunnel and they were delighted to see a magnificent Australasian Darter perched on a log in the river with its deep chestnut breast shining in the sun. Members also enjoyed watching numerous Welcome Swallows flying in and out of the tunnel. A total of 39 species was recorded for the day which was a reasonable tally for this time of year.
Many thanks, once again, to Eleanor Dilley, who provided all the above photographs.