Tag Archives: Whiskered Tern

Weekdays outing to Hawkestowe, Plenty Gorge Park and Mill Park Lakes

14 November 2018

Australian Pelican. Photo by Bevan Hood

Heavy overnight rain had been a concern but the weather system travelled east and we birded under grey skies with only occasional light drizzle to cause us to cover binoculars. Twelve commenced the walk, led by Diane, and initial car park birds included Striated and Spotted Pardalotes, numerous Australian Wood Ducks and a few Little Ravens. 

Australian Reed-Warbler in reeds. Photo by Bevan Hood
Australian Reed-Warbler in bush. Photo by Bevan Hood

The calls of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters followed us to the nearest pond where Australian Reed Warblers called loudly and perched on the reeds while Australasian Grebes in breeding plumage delighted with their well-grown fluffy young. 

Australasian Grebe. Photo by Bevan Hood

Superb Fairy-wrens also displayed, perched on the reeds. Leaving the ponds we walked along the gorge track beside the river. Here was “Rainbow Lorikeet Central” with pairs of birds investigating any crevice in tree trunks or branches for its potential as a nest hollow. 

Galahs. Photo by Bevan Hood

Other parrots included Australian King-parrot, Long-billed Corella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Crimson Rosella. Before we had exited the gorge sharp eyes had added White-browed Scrubwren, White-throated Treecreeper and Brown Thornbill to the sightings while Pied and Grey Currawongs, Laughing Kookaburra and Common Bronzewing were heard. 

Long-billed Corella. Photo by Bevan Hood

Back to the car park and lunch to check on the morning species count. A gratifying 44 was the total.

Crested Pigeon. Photo by Bevan Hood

Some people had to depart after lunch but ten remained to make their way to Mill Park Lakes, a drive that has become a little less familiar and more challenging since the extensive road and rail works in the area. Initial birds on the nearest lake were uninspiring as they were dominated by ‘Dinner Ducks’ and Eurasian Coots, clearly used to being fed by humans despite (or beside) the signs requesting “Do Not Feed the Birds” and giving reasons. 

Pacific Black Duck. Photo by Bevan Hood

We walked initially along the west bank which had little shelter or close vegetation so returned to the northern section where the native plantings were beside the water. Here we added New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters as well as Little Wattlebird. 

Dusky Moorhen. Photo by Bevan Hood

Waterbirds included the “usual suspects” of Purple Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen and Eurasian Coot but there were also Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants, the latter distinctly stained on its white front.

Little Pied Cormorant. Photo by Diane Tweeddale

A lone Australian Pelican paddled about and a White-faced Heron roosted near the bridge. A tern caused considerable confusion as its plumage could be interpreted as Common or Whiskered so the rule of ‘if in doubt, consider the most common to be the most likely’ was applied and Whiskered Tern declared. The existence of a subspecies of Common Tern which is reminiscent of the Whiskered Tern is a complication. 

Whiskered Tern. Photo by Bevan Hood

As we finished our walk we smiled at a pair of Red-rumped Parrots in the grass near the exit.

Red-rumped Parrot. Photo by Bevan Hood

There is frequently a ‘mystery bird’ on walks and a distant bird could have been a finch obscured by vegetation.

Common Greenfinch. Photo by Loh Kat Mun

The identification of Common Greenfinch was finally achieved by examining a photograph with more detail than eyes and binoculars could achieve.

White-faced Heron. Photo by Bevan Hood
White-faced heron. Photo by Bevan Hood

A quick species count showed 32 species had been recorded at the lakes and a total of 58 species was recorded for the entire day.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Weekdays outing to Bellarine Peninsula

20 November 2017
All photographs by Bevan Hood, member

Whiskered Tern - Bevan Hood.jpg
Whiskered Tern

Blues skies and a light breeze combined with heat. Leaders were Leonie Robbins and Diane Tweeddale and at Balyang initially there were 12 people which swelled to 13 at our second stop, Jerringot. The sanctuary deserves to be more widely known.

Rainbow Lorikeet - Bevan Hood.jpg
Rainbow Lorikeet

High water levels from recent rains meant no mud was visible around any ponds making seeing crakes and rails unlikely. Australasian Darters were rearing pairs of well-grown young in nests overhanging the Barwon River and Little Pied Cormorants were nesting in the trees around and in the large pond. Not bad for a constructed wetland. Australian Pelicans sat on the tops of duck nesting boxes.

Purple Swamphen - Bevan Hood
Purple Swamphen

Rainbow Lorikeets and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos investigated nesting holes while a few Red-rumped Parrots and a lone Long-billed Corella foraged on the grass. This was the only location of the outing where we recorded parrots and cockatoos.

Grey Teal - Bevan Hood
Grey Teal

The ducks showed plenty of cross-breeding but a couple seemed purebred enough to call Northern Mallard and Pacific Black Duck. Chestnut Teal swam aloof from the riffraff and a very few of Grey Teal were also observed.

Chestnut Teale male - Bevan Hood
Chestnut Teal

Welcome Swallows swooped near the bridge and House Sparrows favoured the picnic area. Far above a Brown Goshawk circled and soared. The sanctuary recorded 34 species.

White-faced Heron - Bevan Hood
White-faced Heron

Next was the Barwon Heads golf club with adjacent Jerringot. Little Grassbird and Australian Reed-Warbler were calling among the reeds. A couple of Crested Pigeons bobbed near our shady lunch spot but flushed when we began assembling.

Australasian Grebe - Bevan Hood
Australasian Grebe

A highlight was the presence of several White-necked Herons flying around with one obliging bird foraging, apparently unconcerned by us eating our lunches about 4 m away.

White-necked Heron - Bevan Hood
White-necked Heron

It foraged delicately but no prey appeared to be taken despite more than one frog species calling. There were two fluffy Purple Swamphen chicks in the company of two protective adults. Time spent here, including lunch, allowed us to record 23 species.

The Hospital Swamp drive features two left turns with minimum warning and the group straggled in to the meeting area but we all made it. Again, no visible mud for crakes, rails or waders. Whiskered Terns quartered the water while our sole sighting of a Great Egret was here, across the lake on the top of a nesting box. A Swamp Harrier gave good views.

Swamp Harrier - Bevan Hood
Swamp Harrier

Less obliging was a Double-fronted Dotterel which flew rapidly in from the lake, calling, and then as quickly flew out again. Time was passing so we left this area, recording 11 species during our brief visit.

Our last stop was Tait’s Point, high above Lake Connewarre where we’d hoped for Caspian Tern. Never go hoping, it doesn’t work. Scopes came in useful here and confirmed Australian Shelduck and Wedge-tailed Eagle far away. A distant “branch-lump” resolved into an Australian Magpie which was less exciting than we’d hoped. Cormorants perched on a jetty and Great, Little Pied, Little Black and Pied were noted.

Little Pied Cormorant - Little Black Cormorant - Great Cormorant - Bevan Hood
Little Pied Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Great Cormorant

A New Holland Honeyeater lifted our “bag” of honeyeaters which had been only White-plumed Honeyeaters and numerous Red Wattlebirds till then. The sun was hot enough at 3pm to lead to a group decision to stop the outing here and tot up the list. Tait’s Pt yielded 22 species and the overall count was 54 species. Not bad considering the weather. The only birds recorded at all locations were Australian Magpie and Masked Lapwing which reflects the adaptability of these species.

Diane Tweeddale, co-leader and Co-ordinator Weekdays Outings