Tag Archives: White-winged Chough

Beginners Outing to the You Yangs

25 November 2017
Leaders: Roger and Inta Needham
Photographs by Alan Veevers

Twenty-eight members met near the Rangers’ Office in hot and dry conditions hoping to see some of the less common birds which have historically visited the You Yangs for the summer months. Sadly this was not to be the case and very few birds were seen for most of the day.

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Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Near the car park Galahs and Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes were spotted and Superb Fairy-wrens were seen foraging by the path. A circuit walk was taken on which Common Bronzewing, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Laughing Kookaburra and Brown Falcon were clearly seen. Large numbers of Common Brown butterflies fluttering in the treetops increased the challenge of spotting bird movement.

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Laughing Kookaburra

Flying majestically overhead were four Australian Pelicans and a small flock of Woodswallows which were identified as White-browed by the reddish-brown colour of their breasts. A vociferous group of White-winged Choughs foraged near the murky Duck Pond, providing some enjoyment when there were few other species to see.

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White-winged Coughs

After lunch most of the members car-pooled to drive to the Eastern Flats which, although dry, had healthier looking vegetation. There were rather more birds to be seen here, including Red-browed Finch, Grey Shrike-thrush and a pair of Willie Wagtails. Over the fence a Nankeen Kestrel was seen in the far distance while a small flock of Tree Martins circled above the nearby eucalypts. A colourful Jewel Spider provided an interesting sight, capturing the imagination of some of the group.

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Jewel Spider

Roger and Inta Needham kindly led this walk as we had only returned from overseas the previous day. They were warmly thanked by everyone for their efforts. A total of 39 species was recorded for the day, but not many of these were seen by the majority of the participants. It was thought that the very dry conditions combined with the lack of clean fresh water contributed to the low bird count.

Alan and Hazel Veevers

See the complete bird list: BM Nov 2017 Bird List You Yangs

Weekdays outing to the You Yangs

29 November 2016
Photographs by Merrilyn Serong
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Tau Emerald Dragonfly

The day was fine, if overcast, as 19 enthusiasts met in the main car park. A hundred school children had a bicycle day booked but fortunately their route did not overlap with ours. Merrilyn Serong led us and we were soon smiling as the clouds dissipated and a blue sky set in for the day. The car park had those frequently met species, Red Wattlebird and Superb Fairy-wren. Then a very dark Grey Currawong created a long discussion about its identity then definitely confirmed by showing us its nest. This was not the only nest seen. A Willie Wagtail on its diminutive low nest was admired while a Red Wattlebird watched over the rim of its large twiggy nest.

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White-winged Chough

An even more solid nest was the mud bowl of a White-winged Chough. Despite the recent rains the dam near the park entrance continues to be dry and waterbirds are no longer recorded. Plants had responded to the wet, however, and groundcovers included rock ferns, mosses and succulents while the trees and shrubs displayed new leaves and some flowers.

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Australian Painted Lady

Insects had responded to the plant growth and dragonflies and butterflies were frequently seen. The bush sounded to the calls of Grey Shrike-thrush, Olive-backed Oriole and Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Horsefield’s and Shining Bronze-Cuckoos were also present.

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Yellow-faced Honeyeater

Honeyeaters included White-plumed and Yellow-faced plus Black-chinned (the last seen and heard by some only). Cockatoos were represented by Galahs and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and parrots by Purple-crowned Lorikeets, Crimson and Eastern Rosellas and Red-rumped Parrots.

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Black-chinned Honeyeater

Not far from the nesting wagtail a pair of Jacky Winters foraged actively. The only other robin was an Eastern Yellow Robin. Both Spotted and Striated Pardalotes were vocal. The Laughing Kookaburra and the Sacred Kingfisher called and some heard the call of the Mistletoebird which only gave a very brief glimpse as it flew off.

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White-plumed Honeyeater

We had walked around the entrance area before driving on to Gravel Pit Tor and from there to our shaded lunch spot at the small picnic ground where the ephemeral dam was holding water well but only a few honeyeaters were drinking and bathing. We birded in the East Flat in the afternoon but the sun was still high and birds were few. Then it was time for birdcall and we were very pleased to record 47 species for the day.

We thanked Merrilyn heartily for all her preparation which had given us such a satisfactory day.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

You Yangs Birding and Boneseeding

4 June 2016
Text and photos by Merrilyn Serong
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View from Valley Picnic Ground

An unexpected weather event in eastern Australia turned what otherwise might have been a fine, but cloudy day into one of intermittent drizzle. It’s not often that we see the ground wet at the You Yangs or water in the gutters beside the Great Circle Drive. The level of the dam near the park entrance was lower than I can remember it, but there was some water in other dams that were quite dry on our last visit. We heard frogs in a few places. Mosses, lichens, fungi and rock ferns were looking marvellous. The wet was not enough to deter the keen cyclists who frequent the park and it did not hamper the six of us on our quest to find birds and pull out boneseed. In these conditions the number of bird species recorded was lower than usual at a mere 24, but the damp ground made it easier to remove the weeds. The day remained pleasantly calm, and with coats on, we were not too cold.

We spent some time, as usual, in the area near the entrance and Park Office. Still no sign of the Tawny Frogmouths, which used to be so reliable here. Weebills were calling and foraging in the eucalypt canopy. An Eastern Yellow Robin posed close by for a moment. Lorikeets were heard briefly, but not seen. I think they were Musk. There seem to be fewer White-plumed Honeyeaters in this area than there were in the past, but more New Hollands. The latter were particularly abundant around the profusely flowering Hakea laurina bushes to the east of the dam. These plants from the south-west of Australia thrive in this area of the You Yangs.

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Eastern Yellow Robin

Morning tea was at the Valley Picnic Ground where we hoped for Boobooks, which are said to be there at times, and Tawny Frogmouths. We saw neither, but we did see numbers of Brown-headed Honeyeaters at the flowering eucalypts. Weebills were plentiful. Some of us saw a koala run across the road and disappear.

Amongst the bird species at Gravel Pit Tor were Crimson Rosella, White-throated Treecreeper, Eastern Yellow Robin, and Yellow and Brown Thornbills. A female Scarlet Robin was seen. There were two pairs of Scarlet Robins near here a couple of weeks ago on a finer day.

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Scarlet Robin, Gravel Pit Tor

At lunch time we shared Fawcett’s Gully with a man who was using water colours to paint a scene of the area. The light rain was not helpful. Here there were also White-plumed and New Holland Honeyeaters, Crimson Rosellas, a White-throated Treecreeper and some frogs.

In mid to late afternoon we tackled a patch of medium-sized boneseed plants to the north of our official site. There were also several newly emerged boneseed plants still at the two-leaf stage. These were much easier to pull out. I found a bird’s leg-ring. It’s the type used on racing pigeons, so its wearer possibly provided a meal for a raptor.

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New Holland Honeyeater in Hakea laurina

Towards the end of the day, when the last of us were preparing to leave our boneseeding site, a small flock of Varied Sittellas appeared together with a few Silvereyes. Soon after, we saw a Buff-rumped Thornbill. These added another three species to the day’s total. It was too dark by then for photos, so we’ll just have to remember them. One of the last bird sounds for the day was the mournful cry of White-winged Choughs. This nicely complemented the approaching night and continuing drizzle.

Many thanks to all participants and others who maintain an interest in the project.

The bird list for the day will be available at http://www.birdlifemelbourne.org.au/outings/site-lists/YouYangs%202016.html

More photos are on my website: http://www.timeinthebush.com/you-yangs-2016.html

Thank you

A special thank you to David McCarthy for his dedicated work in our YY boneseeding project. He has made a fantastic contribution over many years. David is no longer able to continue his involvement in boneseed removal, but will keep track of our progress by continuing to add our bird sightings to the data base.

You Yangs birding and boneseeding

5 December 2015
Report by Merrilyn Serong
Photographs by Arthur Carew
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Echidna

On our last birding and boneseeding day for the year, the weather was warm, but not too hot for the seven participants. The cloud-cover remained for much of the day, providing us with shelter from the hot sun. The whole place is very, very dry. Some trees that had more or less recovered after the last drought are now clearly suffering again. In places eucalypts are flowering and attracting many butterflies, but we saw no lorikeets at all. It was eerily quiet without their shrieking calls.

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Galah

Notable birds that were present in reasonable numbers almost everywhere were Rufous Whistler, Grey Fantail, Weebill and Brown-headed Honeyeater. No surprise with the first two of these species, but the large numbers of the other two were unexpected. There was evidence of breeding in various species, either with active nests or young birds. Good to see, especially in the dry conditions.

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Weebill

We recorded a total of 40 bird species, without visiting the Eastern Flat / Seed garden, where we usually find a few more species. The best place for a wide variety of species is generally the area where we start, around the Park Office and dam near the entrance. Here we found 27 species. We made a brief stop at the Valley Picnic Ground to look for Tawny Frogmouths that had been seen there recently, but we did not find them. Our next stop was at the Sand Mine area beside the western section of the Great Circle Drive, where there is still a little water. We didn’t stay long. Further on at the Gravel Pit Tor we found the usually reliable robins and other species before driving on for lunch and a short walk at Fawcett’s Gully. Lastly we spent over an hour at and near our boneseeding site. Some of us concentrated on a number of large plants to the north of the site. They took some effort to remove, but we cleared quite an area. Our plan is to resume where we left off next time.

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White-winged Chough

Most of the boneseed plants have finished flowering now, though some blooms still persist. The fruits with their internal hard seeds are developing. It is interesting to note that Drooping Cassinia (Cassinia arcuata) plants are increasing rapidly in number in some areas of our site, particularly at the start of the main path and also along an old disused vehicle track. This native plant is known as a coloniser of disturbed areas and here it no longer has to compete with boneseed.

A list of the bird species recorded on the day will soon be on the BirdLife Melbourne website http://www.birdlifemelbourne.org.au/outings/site-lists/YouYangs%202015.html

There are reports of all the YY visits for the year on my website http://www.timeinthebush.com/you-yangs-2015.html

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Willie Wagtail

Our next YY visit will be on Sat 5 March 2016. All BirdLife members are welcome to join us for an enjoyable and useful day. If you would like your email address to be added to my contact list for reminders and lists of birds observed, please email me at Merrilyn@wirejunkie.com