Tag Archives: Weekday Outing

Weekdays outing to Cranbourne Royal Botanic Gardens

8  November 2016

Our group numbered 18 with Pat Bingham as leader. The weather was bird-watching perfect – fine, mild with blue skies and little wind, a welcome change from the previous blustery week. The car park, as they do, yielded numerous species, both calling and visible. Unfortunately one species was the introduced Common Myna but others included the Red Wattlebird (almost always seen or heard throughout the park) and the smaller Brown Thornbill. Lucky observers had brief views of the Southern Brown Bandicoot but most could simply hope for future success. Both Australian and Little Ravens called, and Spotted Dove was heard at the same time as Crested Pigeon. Other calls were White-eared Honeyeater (later sighted many times) and Shining Bronze-Cuckoo which confused with its unexpected variety of calls and was only seen briefly. Spotted Pardalotes called and then delighted many with brief glimpses while Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes announced their presence with calls and then lived up to their old name of ‘Shuffle-wing’ as they landed on a perch.

We headed off on the Wetlands Walk and Lake Track 2, adding Superb Fairy-wren among the bracken and Grey Fantail in the middle storey. A Swamp Harrier attempted to upstage our main interest in a pair of Pallid Cuckoos who appeared to briefly try to mate before separating. We walked beside grassland between housing and the park where we observed the Swamp Harrier using a thermal to gain altitude and where a Brown Goshawk later quartered the tree tops. Golden Whistlers had been vocal but it was during watching the Pallid Cuckoos that we added the first Rufous Whistler to our list.

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Rainbow Lorikeets. Photo by Dennis Hill

Reaching the first lake there was considerable discussion when teal were observed – was the first seen a Grey Teal with young? Certainly the second family contained a male, female and young Chestnut Teal. After consideration the consensus was we had observed two Chestnut Teal families. Waterbirds were not common but included a solitary Little Pied Cormorant on a dead branch and a Purple Swamphen with three fluffy black young – the numbers were probably down as the season’s rains had provided many alternative locations. Parrots were uncommon; there were only a couple each of Rainbow Lorikeets and Eastern Rosellas. Fan-tailed Cuckoos called but were seldom seen and Eastern Yellow Robins were heard only. We were pleased to record only one Noisy Miner on the periphery of the park. Where they invade, the species count always seems to plummet, especially White-plumed Honeyeaters. Black Wallabies delighted all who saw them and the sightings of a Copperhead and an Eastern Bearded Dragon were a bonus. Eastern Common Froglets produced a continual chorus beside any water, a contrast to the drought years, and a colony of onion orchids was reported. By day’s end we had recorded 52 species of birds and we thanked Pat for sharing her knowledge and experience with us.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekdays outing to Phillip Island

10-11 October 2016

Two youngsters joined 23 adults at the information centre on Phillip Island Road. The previous day’s storm winds had closed some areas but our leaders, Sally and Derek Whitehead, adjusted their itinerary to accommodate the changing weather. The cold wind and intermittent rain were challenging but all had dressed for the weather. The birds showed less enthusiasm for the wintry conditions and there were few species around the car park – Masked Lapwing, Welcome Swallow and Little Raven dominated though both a Shining Bronze-cuckoo and a Fan-tailed Cuckoo called. We drove to the Newhaven jetty and the bird list grew as Silver Gulls and Crested Terns sheltered near several immature Pacific Gulls, one of which was pecking determinedly at the long backbone (about 80 cm) and head of a rather large fish. Australian Pelicans and Little Pied Cormorants stood further out and in the distance a white dot resolved into a Royal Spoonbill which obligingly flew over us as we were leaving and was added to the Common Blackbird, New Holland Honeyeater and Willie Wagtail foraging in the park side bushes. It was only a short drive to Fishers wetland where the birding was very busy. Cape Barren Geese had clearly had a most successful couple of breeding seasons as they were present not only in the sanctuary but in most paddocks and also in housing estates where the vegetation was grassy. Black Swans with cygnets of varying ages swam at Fishers, to the delight of youngsters and adults. A highlight here was a lone Cattle Egret in breeding plumage. Scopes revealed more distant birds – Australasian Shoveler, White-fronted Chat and Chestnut Teal plus an unexpected Wood Sandpiper– while passing above our heads were Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and Whistling Kite. We left the wetland with regret, pausing to admire a fluffy Dusky Moorhen chick among the reeds. A bush walk added Brown Thornbill, White-naped and White-plumed Honeyeaters as well as Grey Butcherbird.

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Bar-tailed Godwit. Photo by Derek Whitehead

The next stop was at the Shearwater estate where a well-vegetated water retention/purification pond hosted numerous calling Little Grassbirds. Some were lucky enough to glimpse one, including a fortunate birder who’d only ever heard them, infrequently. Over the water Fairy Martins twisted and flew and a happy spotting was a pair of Spotted Pardalotes which flew into a low street tree beside us. The small flock of foraging Red-browed Finches delighted those who saw them. When you consider the bird list (not given comprehensively here) for this housing estate you realise how much has been learnt recently about creating an area which controls water, provides recreation, looks attractive and provides a wildlife habitat. On to the cemetery next as clouds once more built up on the horizon. The day was darkening and fewer birds were detected though a Grey Currawong obligingly perched on a dead tree and posed against grey sky long enough for most to see. As a rainstorm approached it was decided to postpone the day’s birdcall till next morning and finish the day to give everyone a chance to reach their accommodation reasonably comfortably.

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Whimbrel. Photo by Derek Whitehead

The next morning we reassembled by the info’ centre, did our best to recall what each had recorded the previous day and created the Monday bird list. A quick count indicated that the group had recorded 64 species for that afternoon. First drive was out to Kitty Miller wetlands, on private property with permission to visit. Birding from the road added Australasian Pipit as well as the usual PI suspects, geese, magpies, Common Starlings and Great Cormorant. Then we made our way through some very wet, sticky and slippery mud (who said birdwatching is for wimps?) up to the bank of a chain of ponds where young geese were shepherded by their adults and swans nested. The duck count mounted as Pink-eared, Musk and Australian Shelduck were added to Pacific Black and Australian Wood Duck.

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Musk Duck, male. Photo by Derek Whitehead

All good things must end so it was off to the Oswin Roberts sanctuary which had been reopened after being shut Sunday and Monday due to the dangerous winds. Here were bushbirds – Eastern Rosella, Laughing Kookaburra and Grey Shrike-thrush joined Superb Fairy-wren and female Golden Whistler. The short walking track was chosen as once again we were pressed for time under darkening skies. The children especially were delighted to encounter Black (Swamp) Wallabies watching us from near the path. We then drove to the Rhyll observation point above Rhyll Inlet. There were Whimbrels and Bar-tailed Godwits on the edge of the sand and Crested and Caspian Terns joined cormorants and pelicans on the sandspit. A lone Little Egret walked animatedly in the shallows while a Pied Cormorant flew over. The last birds to be added were Red-necked Stints and Red-capped Plovers bringing the bird list for the two days to 89 species. We thanked Sally and Derek most enthusiastically for all their work and preparation which so successfully overcame the obstacles created by the extreme weather. Far from disappearing, some of us stayed for ‘just a little more’ birding with afternoon tea and others were heard planning return visits now that they knew of more locations than the well-publicised Nobbies and the penguin parade.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings

Weekday outing to Pound Bend, Warrandyte

20 September 2016
Photos by Alan Veevers
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Rainbow Lorikeet

A sunny mild day saw 26 enthusiasts assemble in the car park. Our number included some new to birding and among these were two young primary students with their parents. Their enthusiasm was infectious and both birds and flowers were pointed out to them by other walkers. The car park and adjacent picnic grounds were raucous with Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Rainbow Lorikeets with Noisy Miners filling in any quiet spells.

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Long-billed Corella

They didn’t monopolise the place, though. There were Australian Wood Ducks, Australian Magpies and both Little and Long-billed Corellas. The last two gave good views which enabled all to compare and contrast their colouring and bill shape. Lorikeets and cockatoos were determinedly examining potential nest holes in the tree trunks and branches and if the breeding season is favourable return birdwatching visits may find many young birds. We followed the riverside track, heading northeast under the leadership of Alan and Hazel Veevers. Small bush birds were conspicuously absent from the open picnic area but were now encountered more frequently and we enjoyed sightings of Grey Fantail and White-browed Scrubwren while Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Grey Shrike-thrush called. Striated and Brown Thornbills were seen and Golden Whistlers, male and female, were also present. Honeyeaters appeared and we recorded Yellow-faced, White-eared and White-naped Honeyeaters as well as Red Wattlebirds. Spotted and Striated Pardalotes called loudly but were more challenging to locate among the foliage as the breeze strengthened.

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Little Corella

The river was flowing very fast and deep and there were few waterbirds noted. However their absence was more than compensated for by excellent sightings of a platypus swimming against the current and “holding station” once it had reached its preferred position. Further along a loud chorus of Banjo Frogs also indicated that the recent rains were very welcome. A brief detour to show the beginners Eastern Grey Kangaroos also added an Olive-backed Oriole to the list and several times one or two Common Bronzewings flew from us. Not all observed them but an unexpected list of raptors was achieved – Peregrine Falcon and Collared Sparrowhawk were seen as well as a Wedge-tailed Eagle which was being harassed by a Little Raven.

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Sulphur-crested Cockatoos

Back to the cars for a welcome lunch break after which some had to leave but 16 remained to drive to Longridge Camp where we had permission to enter as there were no current campers. It was interesting to see the old farm buildings and speculate on when and for what they were last used. There were few birds and we only added those unpopular introductions, Common Myna and Common Starling, but the views from the ridge were breathtaking. At walk’s end the bird list totalled 44 species and we thanked Alan and Hazel for all their preparations which had resulted in a great day’s birding.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

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

Weekdays Outing to Pipemakers Park, Maribyrnong

11 July 2016
Leader: Pat Bingham

 

Pacific Black Duck - Marilyn Ellis
Pacific Black Duck. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

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.

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Swift Parrot. Photo by Danika Sanderson

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.

Australasian Grebe - Marilyn Ellis
Australasian Grebe. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

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.

Chestnut Teal - Danika Sanderson
Chestnut Teal. Photo by Danika Sanderson

In the most sheltered corner of the lake we found White-faced Heron, Great Egret and Pacific Black Duck roosting.

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White-faced Heron. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

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.

Immature Australasian Darter - Danika Sanderson
Immature Australasian Darter. Photo by Danika Sanderson

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.

Great Egret - Marilyn Ellis
Great Egret. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

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).

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The group. Photo by Marilyn Ellis

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.

Weekday outing to Jells Park, Wheelers Hill

15 June 2016
Photographs by Margaret Bosworth

A perfect day for birding with sunshine from a clear blue sky and no wind. Twenty attendees assembled at the car park for Jells Park East, an area considerably less busy than the main car parks. Our leader John Bosworth had done his preparation thoroughly. He hadn’t prepared the ‘bee-eater on steroids’ in one of the trees – a tangled and very colourful kite – but the area did have the expected population of Noisy Miners and Australian Magpies while Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Little Ravens were calling. Rainbow Lorikeets were plentiful and Musk Lorikeets also gave good views to those less familiar with this species.

Female Freckled Duck - Margaret Bosworth
Female Freckled Duck

There were even glimpses of Australian King-Parrots and a few Crimson and Eastern Rosellas. Then we started walking beside the creek and added bushbirds – Brown Thornbills, Superb Fairy-wrens and Grey Fantails dominated and there were plenty of calls from Spotted Pardalotes. Frogs called from the wetlands but it was the ‘haul’ of duck species on the east end of the lake which surprised and delighted everyone. There were Chestnut and Grey Teal, Pacific Black, Freckled, Blue-billed, Pink-eared and Australian Wood Duck as well as Australasian Shoveler (male and female) and Hardhead. Eurasian Coots and Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebes were repeatedly diving and Little Pied Cormorants dried their wings not far from a female Australasian Darter.

Male and female Australian Shelduck - Margaret Bosworth
Male and female Australian Shelduck

It’s not every walk where we record nine species of ducks in a small area and they were possibly escaping the duck hunting season in this refuge. We retraced our steps back to the cars as continuing the lake circuit entered the busy area where few birds had been observed during preliminary walks. Birds still joined the list – Red-browed Finch and Laughing Kookaburra, Eastern Spinebill, Red Wattlebird and White-plumed Honeyeater while Australian White and Straw-necked Ibis were now present at the lake and at least one Cattle Egret.

Cattle Egret among cattle - Margaret Bosworth
Cattle Egret (among cattle)

Back for a welcome lunch break followed by a walk northward with paddocks beside the park where the border of bush and grassland might have harboured robins. Alas, that hope did not materialise despite a female Scarlet Robin having been present two days previously.

Female Scarlet Robin - Margaret Bosworth
Female Scarlet Robin (photograph taken two days earlier)

There were plenty of Noisy Miners and several pairs of Magpie-larks. Those who completed the walk added Masked Lapwing and Common Bronzewing and at the final bird call the group had recorded 55 species. We voted it a great day’s birding and thanked John for his leadership.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings

Weekdays outing to Braeside Park, Braeside

18 May 2016
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Wetland. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

The traffic was heavy, the weather was fine and 25 birders met at Braeside. Geoff Russell led a 5 km walk around the northern portion of the park and we were soon rewarded by encountering a ‘purple patch’ in the bush beside the paddocks buffering the industrial zone. At least 10 species were recorded here. The mixed feeding flock included White-browed Scrubwrens, Brown Thornbills, Red-browed Finches and Spotted Pardalotes. Superb Fairy-wrens and Grey Fantails were listed plus Grey Shrike-thrush while male and female Golden Whistlers came close. The paddock added Straw-necked Ibis, Masked Lapwing and Silver Gull with Rock Dove (or Feral Pigeon) while Australian Pelicans flew overhead. Quite a patch! Ditches were damp from recent rain and several frog species were calling. The inevitable rabbits were also present – one flushed near the ‘purple patch’. A few Cattle Egrets left the grazing cows while others stayed among the herd as the farmer’s ute approached.

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Crossing the wetland by boardwalk. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

By one of the wetlands four trilling birds rose and descended repeatedly, puzzling many until they were identified as Australian Pipits. Many of us had not previously heard their calls. The park is noted for its varied environments so we walked quietly through a reed bed searching for bitterns (a fortunate few up front briefly saw two Australasian Bitterns while the rest at the rear were content with Golden-headed Cisticolas). At one pond a Great Egret posed on the roof of a hide. The raptor list was started by a Swamp Harrier but expanded to eventually include Wedge-tailed and Little Eagle, Whistling Kite, Brown Goshawk and Brown Falcon. Most soared high or flew low and fast. Dead trees served as perches for many including Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Long-billed Corellas, Rainbow Lorikeets and Red-rumped Parrots. We hoped for robins near fences which are used as a lookout for these pouncing birds, and eventually we were rewarded with male and female Flame Robins. Soon we came to a larger lake and the number of waterbirds increased, though not the number of species. Eurasian Coots dominated one area with Pacific Black Ducks coming second. A few Chestnut and Grey Teal were present and a solo Hardhead was recorded by a few watchers.

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Pond at Braeside. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

On a smaller pond Dusky Moorhen completed the triumvirate of coot, moorhen and swamphen while an active Willie Wagtail entertained us as it swooped across the water surface. Some stragglers eventually caught up with the main group near the bird hide which had been disappointingly short of birds and then it was back to a well-deserved late lunch and an interim bird call for those who needed to leave early. We’d notched up 58 species by then and so we set off on the short afternoon walk hoping to pass 60 for the day. In this afternoon walk we added Common Bronzewing, Dusky Moorhen and Scarlet Robin with an interesting sighting of a Cockatiel. This was judged an aviary escapee as its plumage included considerable white feathers and, though it appeared to be foraging for seeds, it allowed humans to approach rather too closely for its own safety.

By day’s end we had 62 species (63 unofficially including the Cockatiel) and we thanked Geoff enthusiastically for his work in presenting this rewarding area.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekday outing to Murrindindi Reserve

12 April 2016
Murrindindi River - Diane Tweeddale
Murrindindi River. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

The middle part of the drive up from the suburbs was challenging with heavy rain but the 19 who arrived were relieved to find it much drier over the ranges. Graeme Hosken was leader and we drove in convoy to the Suspension Bridge Day Area. The walk beside the Murrindindi River added White-eared Honeyeaters and Long-billed Corellas to the Little Corellas, Red Wattlebirds, Olive-backed Oriole and Crimson Rosellas among others at the meeting car park.

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Long-billed Corella (left). Grey Fantail (right). Photos by Berenice Pearcy

Calls, as always in forests, outnumbered bird sightings and Grey Butcherbird, White-throated Treecreeper and Grey Shrike-thrush were first heard and later glimpsed or, more fortunately, clearly seen. Walking was easy beside the river on well-made tracks and the provision of camp sites with associated toilet blocks made for very comfortable birdwatching. The trees have not yet attained great height and the 2009 dead skeletons still rise high where they are not losing branches or falling. The only downside of walking beside any swiftly flowing river, of course, is the river noise which makes listening for bird calls very challenging though visible Grey Fantails compensated. Thornbill identification continued to challenge but finally Brown and Buff-rumped were confidently added to the list after some debate.

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White-browed Scrubwren (left). White-eared Honeyeater (right). Photos by Berenice Pearcy

Honeyeaters were not plentiful with Red Wattlebirds, White-eared Honeyeaters and Eastern Spinebills dominating. Some apparent spinebill calls were reassessed as probably the Eastern Smooth Frog as they lasted much longer. The other honeyeater species were not recorded by many but some of the group were able to add Yellow-faced, New Holland and White-naped Honeyeaters to the list. Next stop was the SEC picnic area where Superb Fairy-wrens finally cast off their shyness and came into view at the clearing edges.

Superb Fairy-wren eclipse male- Berenice Pearcy
Superb Fairy-wren eclips male. Photo by Berenice Pearcy

Here also was seen White-throated Treecreeper which had been recorded mostly as calls. After lunch most of the group continued their walk to the top of Wilhemina Falls but this proved quite difficult with a steep and pebble-slippery track.

At the top of Wilhemina Falls - Graeme Hosken
At the top of Wilhemina Falls. Photo by Graeme Hosken

Birds were disappointingly few with no additional species and a couple who had walked the lower river track were able to add Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos to the list. Animal traces were scratchings in dry ground, which may have been by wallabies or lyrebirds plus scats – macropods (probably wallabies), wombats, rabbits and echidna (rather flattened). The several severed claws of crayfish along one section of the track were evidence of predation. When birdcall was taken just after 3 pm we were all delighted to realise the final group tally was 41 species.

Birders on the track - Diane Tweeddale
Birders on the track. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

We thanked Graeme enthusiastically for taking us through this post-fires regenerating area. Birds and animals are present after the 2009 extreme fires and following the area’s recovery will continue to be fascinating.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekdays outing to Merri Creek

30 March 2016
Photographs by Marilyn Ellis (BirdLife Member)

Trucks and occasional drizzle challenged the drivers as 28 people assembled for the walk. The rain never really materialised as Elsmaree Baxter led us near the site of the former Pentridge prison (now a residential development). Initial expectations were low as a couple of hundred feral pigeons and a crowd of Silver Gulls filled the ground by the car park. Clearly people were ignoring the signs exhorting them not to feed birds. Things improved as we watched and recorded Pacific Black and Australian Wood Ducks, Chestnut Teal and a lone Hardhead. Other waterbirds included Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants.

Little Pied Cormorant - Marilyn Ellis
Little Pied Cormorant

Then on the weir we found a female Australasian Darter not far from a Black Swan on a nest which had incorporated lots of plastic litter.

Female Australasian Darter
Australasian Darter (female)

The swan was tagged and later we watched at least one untagged swan (the mate?) grazing on the clipped grass beside the creek.

Banded Black Swan (female) on nest of litter - Marilyn Ellis
Banded Black Swan (female) on nest of litter

The usual triumvirate of Purple Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen and Eurasian Coot were common and at least one individual each of Australasian and Hoary–headed Grebe was diving near the banks.

Dusky Moorhen - Marilyn Ellis
Dusky Moorhen

Today registered no egrets but both Australian White and Straw-necked Ibis were present and at least one White-faced Heron kept a wary eye on our group.

Australian White Ibis - Marilyn Ellis
Australian White Ibis

Walking on added bush birds to the list of waterbirds. Red Wattlebirds were common and Welcome Swallows dipped over the lake surface and soared above the canopy. White-plumed Honeyeaters were the most common of the smaller honeyeaters but later sightings added Eastern Spinebill, New Holland Honeyeater and, unwantedly, Noisy Miner.

Musk Lorikeet - Marilyn Ellis
Musk Lorikeet

Parrots were dominated by Rainbow Lorikeets, with a few Little Corellas, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Musk Lorikeets and Red-rumped Parrots.

Male Red-rumped Parrot - Marilyn Ellis
Red-rumped Parrot (male)

Some flowering eucalypts lined the nearby streets and the parrots and miners foraged in them enthusiastically. Further along the track we encountered a “purple patch” where a mixed feeding flock of Silvereyes, Brown Thornbills, Grey Fantails and Spotted Pardalotes kept everyone on their toes. A single female Golden Whistler proved elusive for many.

Female Golden Whistler - Marilyn Ellis
Golden Whistler

Turning back for lunch was a relief as a seat looked like a very good idea. An interim birdcall brought the species total first to 48 and then to 50 with a couple of late additions. Hmm, what would we see in the post-lunch walk? Not many more as it turned out but it was quality, not quantity when three Tawny Frogmouths were detected in a eucalypt.

two Tawny Frogmouths - Marilyn Ellis
Two Tawny Frogmouths

The final bird list totalled 53 species. There were visitors among us and we hope that today will have whetted the appetites of those from Melbourne for bird watching. Certainly we all thanked Elsmaree whole-heartedly for introducing us to a part of Melbourne few of us suspected existed.

Tawny Frogmouth - Marilyn Ellis
Tawny Frogmouth

 

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne Weekdays Outings