U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk on Friday 15th November was at Wilson Reserve in Ivanhoe. Twenty one people attended, and 35 species were seen, on a lovely sunny morning with lots of water in the billabongs and yellow irises making a great display. Species showing themselves well for photography (by Jim Sharpe) were an Australian White Ibis with lots of neck plumes showing his/her breeding status and several Red-browed Finches feeding in the grass. Noisy Miner, Mudlark and Chestnut Teal all had nests and/or young, and the Bell Miner calls were deafening at close range. This group was again led by Pat Bingham and I thank Jim for his photographs.
On Tuesday 19 November 2019Sally Heeps gave a presentation to the Salvation Army Companion club at Waverley. There were about 30 people and she spoke about encouraging birds to their gardens and the species of the area. I am told they were a friendly group and happy to share their bird stories.
A very successful Birds in Schools Program has continued this month. Both Sally Heeps and Bill Ramsay have been to both Cornish College on 10 October and Wooranna Park Primary School on 17 October. I thank them for their contributions to these programs.
On Sunday 13 October, Graeme Hosken led another successful bird walk around Wilson Botanic Park in Berwick organised by The Friends of Wilson Botanic Park. The day was fine, cool and with no wind. Fourteen people attended the two hour walk with 21 species recorded. Species numbers now average 25 over the 18 visits since 2004. The records now show 87 species found there over that period – not bad for a park now in a suburban environment. Thank you Graeme.
The U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk, led by Pat Bingham, was around Banyule Wetlands on Friday, 18 October. Thirteen participants recorded 35 species. Lots of breeding – including three frogmouth nests (one with one young), Eastern Swamphen with one young, Buff-banded Rail with three young, and countless Noisy Miner families. On the swamp they also had a pair of Pink-eared Ducks (sadly driven out of the nest boxes this year by aggressive Silver Gulls) and a couple of Cattle Egret in partial breeding plumage.
The Blackburn Creeklands Spring Bird Survey was held early on Saturday morning, 19 October. 31 people (a mixture of adults and a good number of eagle-eyed children) split into two groups led by Ian Moodie and Pat Bingham. They headed off in opposite directions, returned for morning tea and combined their bird lists into one, with a total of 29 species. Highlights were four Frogmouth nests (but no young seen), Mudlarks incubating, Grey Butcherbirds and Kookaburras feeding young, and both Chestnut Teal and Pacific Black Duck with broods of small ducklings on the creek. We also recorded Gang-Gang Cockatoos, Little and Long-billed Corellas, Galahs, King Parrots and both Eastern and Crimson Rosellas – a good number of which may compete for breeding in the many excellent tree hollows along the creek.
On Sunday 27 October 2019 we held our 21st Breakfast with the Birds at Banyule in partnership with the Banyule City Council. This year we made a small charge to attend after more than half of the people booked in 2018 failed to turn up. We had 80 people present out of the 96 who booked. These were split up into ten walking groups who walked the Banyule Flats and Warringal areas for two hours. Upon their return the Council supplied a beautiful sit-down breakfast. A bird call totalled 67 species with two new ones being added this year. Gang-gang Cockatoos and a Leaden Flycatcher. This makes a total of 126 species in Banyule on this day since records began in 2001 and 68 in the Warringal area since we started recording there in 2011. I must thank the Banyule City Council for the wonderful spread of food, Jim Mead, their Environmental Sustainability Education Officer and his helpers (Alice, Micky and Rob in the kitchen) and John and Meg who helped with telescopes at the wetlands. I must also thank my helpers Susan and Kevin Bailey, Peter Bennet, Pat Bingham, Alan Crawford, Pete Dynes, Lyn and Geoff Easton, Meg Houghton, Margaret Lo, Bill Ramsay and Sonja Ross. Also thank you Daphne Hards who assisted with a telescope at the wetlands and Anthea Fleming for her information on the Warringal Conservation Group. Another very successful day. Thank you everyone.
On Saturday 15 June 2019, the City of Boroondara Backyard Biodiversity Program held their final gathering with refreshments and an evaluation of the program. Janet Hand attended and considered this was a very positive program for plants, gardens and birds. The residents involved in the program landscaped parts of their gardens with input from a landscape gardener and plants from an indigenous nursery after a nature walk by a plant expert. A bird talk and bird walk by our members preceded this. A win for all.
On Friday, 21 Junet, 18 members of U3A Hawthorn and one American visitor visited East Kew and braved the cold air, the heavy showers and then enjoyed the fabulous rainbows in the sunny breaks in between. Walking down to Kew Billabong was soggy but there was, finally, not only water but even a Dusky Moorhen visiting the area that has been so dry for so long. They also walked along the newish Darebin Creek Trail finding Gang-Gang Cockatoos, hearing a King Parrot, and watching a pair of Wood Ducks exploring a big tree hollow while fighting off noisy Rainbow Lorikeets. Highlights for two members of the group were spotting two different Tawny Frogmouths high in two different gums in an area where Pat hasn’t seen frogmouths before, so hopefully, they will stay around and breed later in the year. 24 species were recorded in total in an area few members of the group had ever visited before and were keen to visit again. Thank you Pat Bingham for leading the walk.
On Friday 28June, Sally Heeps and Bill Ramsay attended the Birds in Schools program with the Grade 5 at Wooranna Park Primary School in Dandenong North. They are part of a program run by Alexandra Johnson from BirdLife Australia. She has provided the following information about the program and how you can become part of it too. Thank you Sally and Bill for being part of this program.
Birds in Schools in Melbourne is well and truly underway! The program is designed to teach students to identify and survey birds, investigate their habitat requirements, and ultimately, take action to make their school more bird-friendly. It’s an enjoyable and rewarding program to be part of for the students, teachers and BirdLife staff and volunteers involved.
During Term 2 BirdLife staff and volunteers (including Bill Ramsay and Sally Heeps) supported teachers with the program, through delivering lessons to students from Grade 1-6 in three schools. At one participating school, eighty Grade 1/2 students have completed the program. They celebrated their learning with an action day planting of native species. The students were so engaged and excited, and are now very keen bird-watchers!
Term 3 is almost booked out with BirdLife and volunteers set to visit seven schools to assist teachers in delivering the program. Thank you to the volunteers that have signed up to help! We still have the following upcoming Birds in Schools lessons, which we require volunteers for:
July 17, Coburg Primary School
July 31, Coburg Primary School
Aug 30, Action Day Coburg Primary School
Aug 26, Oak Park Primary School
Aug 28, Oak Park Primary School
Aug 29, Oak Park Primary School
Sept 2, Oak Park Primary School
We will also have new dates to be confirmed for Term 4.
If you are interested in volunteering for Birds in Schools (on the above dates or Term 4 dates TBC), or if you are a teacher who is interested in participating in the program, please get in touch with Alex at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Blackburn Creeklands Survey was held on Saturday, 13 April. The regular Autumn Survey started from a new venue, Kalang Park Pavilion, at 0730 am and brought 29 people out on a rather cool, dull, morning to look for the local birds. Good start – Long-billed Corellas (two adults and a noisily-begging youngster), a small flock of Crested Pigeons, ubiquitous Noisy Miners and a couple of Welcome Swallows greeted the two parties as they set off, westwards led by Ian Moodie and eastwards by Pat Bingham. A couple of hours later on returning for morning tea, they had a total of 29 species including good looks at Gang-gang Cockatoos, King Parrots, White-faced Heron and a new record for the Creeklands, an Australasian Darter. The unusualness of this species for this location was recognised by the numerous alarm calls and harassment it induced in the local Noisy Miner population, some fifteen members of which vigorously chased the bird away upstream (towards Blackburn Lake itself, some 2 kms away). As usual, several pairs of Tawny Frogmouths were spotted along the Creeklands and many people were amazed at their ubiquity – saying -“I walk along here every day/week/….. and haven’t ever seen them”!
Saturday, 4May 2019 was the start of City of Boroondara Backyard Biodiversity Program in Ashburton. An introductory workshop was held by the Coordinator Amy Shaw and involved approximately 45 people spread over two sessions. Each session outlined the program for the next seven weeks before a Powerpoint was given on the birds found in 2018 and 2019 in Boroondara as per Birdata records. The second half of each session was all about entering Birdata and how you can search Birdata. Both these presentations were given by Janet Hand.
Saturday 11 May 2019 was the second part of the City of Boroondara Backyard Biodiversity Program. This was a ramble and birdwalk held at the Willsmere Billabong in East Kew. Week two saw Sally Heeps and Pat Bingham take the participants for a very successful bird walk on avery dull day which meant finding birds was quite difficult in the gloom. Some 40 lovely local people (7 – 80 years and a babe in a backpack), attended; half went off to look at plants and Sally and Pat split the rest into two groups and headed off in opposite directions around the billabong. The groups swapped over after about 45 mins and repeated the activity. Some of the birds identified were Brown Thornbills, Superb Fairy Wrens, a Common Bronzewing, White-faced Heron, several Crested Pigeons, a Willie Wagtail, Magpie lark and many Rainbow Lorikeets. They also heard Common froglets after the rains on the Friday before the walk. There were some excellent questions from young and old alike and though they probably only saw 20 species, everyone seemed to have enjoyed the session and are interested in planting habitat in their own gardens.
On Wednesday 15 May 2019 ten ladies and their carers from Mercy Place Boronia joined us at the Blackburn Lake Education Centre for a short Powerpoint about the 15 most common birds found around Boronia before doing a craft activity of making bookmarks using stickers and textas. Morning tea was enjoyed before some went for a short walk near the lake. Janet Hand was assisted by Gay Gallagher, Jenny Frohlich and Peter Dempsey.
The U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk, Friday 17 May was again led by Pat Bingham. Sixteen members of U3A Hawthorn gathered at Rickett’s Point, Beaumaris for a walk along the foreshore and through the adjacent bush. First highlight for the day were ‘Scaly-breasted’ Lorikeets at the Tea House. They found a mixed pair (Rainbow & ‘Scaly-breasted’) jointly excavating a hole in a Coast Banksia and then a pair of ‘Scaly-breasted’, doing likewise less than 10 feet away. The ‘Scaly-breasteds’ were probably all, themselves, hybrids, as they had rather blue heads and are well-known to hybridise with Rainbows. Second highlight was a sighting of over 300 Little Black Cormorants lining the shore on all the rocky outcrops exposed at low tide. There must have been some good breeding locally, and/or rich feeding for such a number to be roosting together. They saw 26 other species during the morning including close views of a Spotted Pardalote at eye-level, a small flock of Hoary-headed Grebe in the shallows off-shore and a Red Wattlebird at 3 feet stealing crumbs from an adjacent table as they coffeed at the Tea House after our walk. Photographs by Jim Sharpe.
Birds in Schools Program held a professional development session for teachers and volunteers on Wednesday 29 May. The program was run by Alexandra Johnson from BirdLife and is to be implemented in some schools in the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne. The training session was held at the Moreland City Council Offices in Hadfield. The plan is to teach children about birds and their habitat and finally plan and execute an improved habitat at their schools. Bill Ramsay attended this first session.
Thank you to all the above people who have helped and those who have supplied information and photographs.
On Wednesday 13 February, Pat Bingham gave a talk entitled “Early Birds” to the Deepdene U3A. Twenty-two people attended. The talk was all about early European explorers’ records (c. 1600-1800) of their encounters with Australian birds. Some of these were apparently similar to those they were familiar with and so they were called robins, wrens, magpies and the like (but, in reality, were from biologically quite different families). Others were confusingly ‘mixtures’ like the Anomalous Hornbill, the New Holland Bird of Paradise and the Slender-billed Merops.
On Friday 15 February, U3A Hawthorn began their 2019 monthly bird walks with Pat Bingham. There were 19 attendees including 8 newcomers this year. The bird walk was around the Sinclair Street Wetlands in Glen Iris. Twenty one species were seen including Crested Pigeon, Little Black Cormorant, Masked Lapwing and a feather from an adult Nankeen Night-heron, though sadly, this year we didn’t actually see the bird itself.
On Friday 15 March, bird walk for U3A Hawthorn members was with Pat Bingham to Karkarook Park. It was a dull, cool morning and because of our poor summer rain, the water level in the wetlands was very low.
Fourteen members attended, with 33 species seen, of which the best were an Eastern Great Egret with lovely breeding plumes, a single Black-winged Stilt, a Hoary-headed Grebe carrying a stripy youngster on its back, and several noisy White-plumed Honeyeaters. Sue Wilson has kindly supplied the photographs in this article.
The Doncaster Valley Probus Club, which meets in Doncaster East Invited Janet Hand to talk about the local birds found around Manningham. This is a new club and about 45 members were present on Thursday 21 March. Questions were raised about the large numbers of corellas (Long-billed) in the area at the moment. 80 were seen in one flock earlier in the month.
On Friday 7 September, Bill Ramsay and Ron Hand assisted Janet Hand set up the display for the Yarra Yarra Plant Expo in the Eltham Community Centre.
During the following weekend on Saturday and Sunday 8 and 9 September, hundreds of people visited the Yarra Yarra Australian Plant Expo at Eltham. Five hundred and fifty people came through the doors on Saturday and a few less on Sunday. Over the weekend Janet Hand was assisted by Daphne Hards, Scot Sharman, Pat Bingham, Sally Heeps, Susan Bailey and Peter Bennet. Many interesting discussions were held and their bird questions answered. Thanks to everyone who helped.
On Monday 10 September, Janet Hand gave a PowerPoint presentation to the East Doncaster Women’s Group in Donvale. The topic was “Backyard birds of Manningham”. With this being a smaller group it was a very interactive presentation with questions being answered as it progressed.
The U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk was held on Friday 21 September at the Banyule Flats Reserve in Viewbank. Fourteen people attended and 37 species were seen and/or heard. Two Pink-eared Ducks were on the swamp, taking particular interest in one of the nest boxes so maybe they’ll breed there. Two Tawny Frogmouths on nests were also found. Other enjoyable sightings were of Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Grey Shrike-thrush and pairs of Red-rumped Parrots. Pat Bingham led this outing. Thanks Pat.
On Wednesday 26September, Janet Hand made her annual visit to Mercy Place in Boronia. Mercy Place is a member group of BirdLife Australia. Janet gave her PowerPoint presentation on her trip across Arnhem Land last year and her follow on journey to Alice Springs and Ayres Rock. The ladies were fascinated by the Field of Lights photographs and how they worked.
The Nunawading Library is holding a display for the month of October with four display cases being used to showcase BirdLife Australia and various aspects of its work.
The largest case is promoting the upcoming Bird Week and the Aussie Bird Count which runs from 22 to 28 October. Please get involved this year and submit a minimum of one 20 minute count. BirdLife Melbourne’s October activities are also listed to show what a wide range of activities we run. Janet Hand set up this display on 29 September and it will be there until late October, so pop in for a look.
Many thanks to Pat Bingham for running our two walks this month.
She firstly ran a short birdwalk for 15 members of U3A Deepdene in Wattle Park on Wednesday, 15 August. Not many birds were seen although they had good views of Eastern Rosella, Pied Currawong and a pair of Tawny Frogmouths (at their camouflaged best!). They made up for the shortage of birds with seven species of wattle in flower and agreed the park was well-named.
The U3A Hawthorn Birdwalk on Friday, 17 August was at Dandenong Creek Wetlands on a cool, breezy morning with lots of sunshine. Eighteen participants enjoyed 35 species. The southern-most pondage was almost dry with mud exposed and adjacent shallow water. Lovely close views of both Red-necked Avocet and Black-winged Stilt feeding, each with its own method: Avocets side-swiping and Stilts poking vertically. Nearby were Red-kneed Dotterel standing in shallow water and Black-fronted Dotterel running around, like clockwork mice, on the mud. Other highlights included Red-browed Finches, pairs of Australasian Shoveler, and listening to the mournful calls of Little Grassbirds, but never actually seeing one!
Sue Wilson was back from her travels and has provided the photographs below to illustrate the morning’s walk. Thanks Sue.