Tag Archives: You Yangs Regional Park

BirdLife Melbourne You Yangs Birding and Boneseeding

6 June 2015

After a cool and wet week, we were very fortunate to have a mild, sunny, blue-sky morning and some lingering sunshine later in the day for our June You Yangs visit. Seventeen people participated in the day.

With many eucalypts in flower, birds were abundant. I had visited one week earlier to check on conditions, and, of course, to look for the Tawny Frogmouths near the office. Not having seen them for some months, I was very glad to find three Tawnys in a likely-looking tree some distance away. Sadly, they were no longer there on the 6th.

Tawny Frogmouths. Photo by Merrilyn Serong
Tawny Frogmouths. Photo by Merrilyn Serong

However, we saw many other bird species, including Fuscous Honeyeater. This species was a first for our YY visits. We recorded nine honeyeater species in all. Surprisingly there were large numbers of White-naped and relatively few White-plumed. It is usually the other way around.

White-naped Honeyeater. Photo by Ken Haines
White-naped Honeyeater. Photo by Ken Haines

Other observations included ten species of cockatoo or parrot, four thornbill species, and five robins including Jacky Winter. We were disappointed not to see any Diamond Firetails, but we did see Red-browed Finches. Welcome Swallows afforded a spectacular sight late in the day as huge numbers of them flew low over grass in a paddock to the east of the park. The total species count of 55 for the day was rather good for this time of year. The full list will be accessible on the BirdLife Melbourne website via this page http://www.birdlifemelbourne.org.au/outings/.

Some mystery birds were not included in the total list. One distant bird looked to some people like an out-of-season Olive-backed Oriole, but to others it looked more like a Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater. We might have been looking at different birds, but didn’t count either. Unidentified Corellas flew over the Office area. There was also a Brown Goshawk or Collared Sparrowhawk at Gravel Pit Tor, but we couldn’t decide between the two possibilities. However, a definite Sparrowhawk flew close overhead at the Eastern Flat / Seed Garden area.

Galah at You Yangs. Photo by Arthur Carew
Galah at You Yangs. Photo by Arthur Carew

During the day we followed the usual plan of starting near the Park Office, driving to Gravel Pit Tor then to our lunch spot at Fawcett’s Gully and to our boneseeding site. After pulling out lots of weeds near a dry creek bed at the border of our site, we spent some time birding in the nearby Eastern Flat / Seed Garden area. This is nothing like as open an area as it used to be, largely due to the numerous Golden Wattle Acacia pycnantha plants that are increasing there in both size and number.

Purple-crowned Lorikeet. Photo by Arthur Carew
Purple-crowned Lorikeet. Photo by Arthur Carew

Thanks to everyone who participated in the day for your convivial company, lots of interesting bird sightings and plenty of boneseeding. Our next visit is planned for Saturday 3 October. Please note that there will be no officially-planned YY birding and boneseeding visit in September this year. That being said, anyone is free to go there any time and watch birds and remove boneseed, of course.

I have included words and pictures from the day on my website, http://www.timeinthebush.com/you-yangs-2015.html, where there are also photos from earlier visits.

Contributor: Merrilyn Serong

BirdLife You Yangs Birding and Boneseeding

7 March 2015

Jacky Winter
Jacky Winter

As soon as we arrived at the You Yangs for our early-autumn birding and boneseeding visit, we heard Rainbow Bee-Eaters; they were flying directly overhead. This time last year lorikeets were everywhere, but this year we saw none. However, we were pleased to record a number of small bird species.

Rainbow Bee-Eater
Rainbow Bee-Eater

These included Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Buff-rumped and Brown Thornbills, Weebill, Spotted and Striated Pardalotes, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Jacky Winter, Scarlet and Eastern Yellow Robins, Silvereye, Mistletoebird, and Diamond Firetail. We recorded 40 species in all, a bit down on the 50 species we found last March. The full list will be accessible on the BirdLife Melbourne website via this page http://www.birdlifemelbourne.org.au/outings/.

Buff-rumped Thornbill
Buff-rumped Thornbill

Despite the outing occurring on a long weekend this year, which meant it clashed with other activities, 11 people participated. The weather was mild and calm, pleasant for both birding and boneseeding. The area at Branding Yard Road, where we pulled out boneseed last March and the one before, has a new sign saying Echidna Walkabout Boneseed Control Program, so we will leave it to that organisation now. Some small boneseed plants are growing there, so Echidna Walkabout will have a little work to do. In the early afternoon we proceeded to our own official site and walked through to the bike-path that is under construction to the east. Near the path we tackled an expanse of boneseed plants that formed almost the whole of the understorey. Closer to the edges of the path where the soil has been disturbed recently, we pulled out numerous tiny new weeds. We had worked nearby on our last visit in December 2014, so we are really starting to make an impact on this area.

Garden Skink
Garden Skink

Thanks to all those who attended for their good company, interesting bird sightings and successful weeding. Our next visit is planned for Saturday 6 June, on another long weekend.

I have included words and pictures from the day on my website, http://www.timeinthebush.com/you-yangs-2015.html, where there are also photos from earlier visits.

Contributor and photographer: Merrilyn Serong

BirdLife You Yangs Birding and Boneseeding

6 December 2014, species count 55

It’s fortunate that mobile phones work at the You Yangs. Otherwise some of us might have missed seeing the Diamond Firetails in the Seed Garden (Eastern Flat) near the end of the day … when we had almost given up. We tend to spread out in in that part of the park. When a couple of people found the Firetails, one of them phoned someone else, who let the rest of us know. We converged on the spot as quickly and quietly as keen birders can move and they (Firetails and people) were still there. The immature birds amongst the Firetails were a welcome sign of successful breeding. Nearby were two White-browed Woodswallows. A little later we also had good views of an Olive-backed Oriole. We had heard the Orioles, but until then had not seen one.

Water running in BL site
Water running in BL site

Earlier we had visited the usual places, beginning in light morning rain near the Park Office. The rain soon stopped, but the day remained cloudy and cool with water lying on the ground and even running in the usually-dry creek beds. The cool, damp day was good for boneseeding; hot dry weather can slow us down. We removed a few patches of the weeds deep in our allocated site, which already looked good and is now even better. When I checked the site two days earlier to locate the areas that most needed weeding, I was pleased to find not only the usual family of White-winged Choughs, but also a Black (Swamp) Wallaby and an obliging Echidna.

Echidna
Echidna

On that day elsewhere in the park, I found a bird that puzzled me. The pattern of blotches on its front made it look young, but I couldn’t think of what it was until I saw its tail. The white shafts each side of the dark centre showed it to be a young Jackie Winter.

Jackie Winter: front

4 You Yangs Jackie Winter tail 2014 12 04 8163 800x800 M Serong

Altogether, the 12 participants on our Boneseeding day recorded 55 bird species. This included regular birds, such as the ever-present Superb Fairy-wren, and summer visitors, such as a Rainbow Bee-eater that was heard, but not seen. I have sent the list to BirdLife Melbourne and it should appear on the website before long. Thank you, Bill. http://www.birdlifemelbourne.org.au/outings/site-lists/YouYangs%202014.html

I have also added a report and photos to my website: http://www.timeinthebush.com/

Thanks to all involved and best wishes for the celebratory season. Photos from this year’s YY outings are on my website at http://www.timeinthebush.com/you-yangs-2014.html

Contributor and photographer: Merrilyn Serong

Beginners outing to You Yangs Regional Park

22 November 2014; leaders: Geoff Deason, with Hazel and Alan Veevers

Species count: 50

Geoff Deason once again led the Beginners Outing to the You Yangs, though in much better weather conditions than in recent years. To start with, he led the 25 participants on a short walk near the Ranger’s Office and located the two local species of Bronze Cuckoo: Horsefield’s and Shining.

The group then travelled in convoy the short distance to Hovell’s Creek where the local landowner had kindly given us permission to enter his property. The creek was dry but there was plenty of water in the large dam on which several species, including Yellow-billed Spoonbill and Great Cormorant, were seen. An Australian Hobby flew swiftly through, whilst a Whistling Kite circled low overhead. Along the creek Rainbow Bee-eaters (our main target species) were much admired and Sacred Kingfishers provided another colourful highlight.

After lunch at the You Yangs Valley Picnic Area, members drove the circuit route to the Eastern Flats. By now the sun had broken through, and the associated temperature rise may account for the lack of birds at this location. A pair of Dusky Woodswallows feeding a speckled young and a small flock of Yellow-rumped Thornbills provided some interest as the walk neared completion.

A total of 50 species were recorded for the day and Geoff was thanked for his expert leadership.

See attached bird list for this outing: BM Nov 2014 Bird List You Yangs

BirdLife You Yangs Birding and Boneseeding

6 September 2014, species count 64

After a week of variable weather in Melbourne, we very much enjoyed a calm, blue-sky sunny Saturday at the You Yangs. Perfect for birding and boneseeding. Some of us, including me, planned to leave early due to other commitments, so we curtailed some of our usual morning activities. After an hour or so of successful birding near the Park Office and dam, close to the entrance, we drove around the Great Circle Drive, straight past Gravel Pit Tor and Fawcett’s Gully, and on to our boneseeding site.

Boneseed for removal
Boneseed for removal

We arrived by 11.30am instead of the usual 2 or even 3pm at this time of year. Again, we had to walk some distance into our site before finding any substantial boneseed plants.

Area previously cleared of boneseed
Area previously cleared of boneseed

There is little re-growth of the weed through the main part of our area, but there is certainly an abundance of plants near the dry creek at the back (east) of our site.

Part of site with new understorey
Part of site with new understorey

There is an even larger growth of the plants on the other side of the creek to the south of the Seed Garden (East Flat). Flowers are open on many boneseed plants and there are plenty more ready to bloom.

Flowering boneseed
Flowering boneseed

After an hour and more of weeding, we began to go our various ways, though several of us had lunch at the edge of our site, within view of a White-winged Chough on its nest, high in a eucalypt. Some participants left for the Western Treatment Plant and others for pre-planned afternoon activities. Even those who stayed at the You Yangs chose different places to bird for the next hour or two. In all, the 16 participants recorded a total of 64 bird species and pulled out an uncountable number of boneseed plants. Our site is looking very good.

Boneseed pulled out
Boneseed pulled out

Special birds found during the day included Wedge-tailed Eagle (always a spectacular sight), three Lorikeet species, Fan-tailed Cuckoo (continuously calling), Brown Treecreeper (becoming regular), Black-chinned Honeyeater (also more common, it seems), Speckled Warbler (the first for a boneseeding day, and seen after I had left!), Olive-backed Oriole, a number of Dusky Woodswallows, and both Jacky Winter and Diamond Firetail. Wonderful.

Photos from this year’s YY outings are on my website at http://www.timeinthebush.com/you-yangs-2014.html

Contributor and photographer: Merrilyn Serong

BirdLife You Yangs Birding and Boneseeding

7 June 2014, species count 43

Despite the long weekend and the forecast that did not sound ideal for birding and boneseeding, 20 of us met to begin our YY visit in cool-to-mild sunshine. This was the first attendance for a number of people, including a visitor from Germany. It was an auspicious occasion because, as Bill Ramsay pointed out, this was the 400th outing listed on the BirdLife Melbourne website http://www.birdlifemelbourne.org.au/outings/

Hakea laurina. Photographer: Merrilyn Serong
Hakea laurina. Photographer: Merrilyn Serong

Birding around the Park Office was fantastic, particularly for winter. Many of us had excellent views of Black-chinned Honeyeaters and Golden Whistlers foraging in eucalypts. A Brown Treecreeper and a White-throated appeared nearby and the resident Tawny Frogmouths were perched exactly where we saw them on our March visit. Crested Shrike-tits and Varied Sittellas showed themselves as well as Scarlet and Eastern Yellow Robins. The small birds included Weebill, Silvereye, Striated Thornbill and Spotted Pardalote.

New Holland Honeyeater. Photographer: Merrilyn Serong
New Holland Honeyeater. Photographer: Merrilyn Serong

At our next stop, Gravel Pit Tor, Wedge-tailed Eagles soared overhead.

After lunch at Fawcett’s Gully, we decided to go straight to our boneseeding site instead of going for a walk where we were. Being winter, we would lose the light too soon if we delayed any longer.

Far to the back of our boneseeding site and not far from the dry creek bed there, a new bike path is being constructed. This is where we did most of our work, using cutters, spades and strong arms and backs to remove numerous large weeds. With great effort and effect some keen people cut and dug out stubborn boxthorn plants as well. The boxthorn here is not as invasive as the boneseed, but tends to fight back. Some people on their first outing with us were very happy that we did so much birding and didn’t spend the whole day pulling out boneseed. An hour or so is plenty of time to remove an enormous number of weeds with so many good workers.

The only rain for the day fell on us while we were boneseeding, so we did become a bit damp. When we stopped weeding, the sky cleared somewhat and we walked to the Seed Garden (Eastern Flat) for more birding. Towards the end of the day, on the far eastern side of the park, where it borders with farmland, we found several Flame Robins as well as a pair of Jacky Winters.

Jacky Winter. Photographer: Merrilyn Serong
Jacky Winter. Photographer: Merrilyn Serong

As we walked back to the cars through our site, a Restless Flycatcher appeared. It showed itself near the cars a little later and I think nearly everyone who was still there saw and heard it.

A total of 43 bird species for the day was certainly good for winter. We hoped for perhaps a Swift Parrot or a Diamond Firetail, but found none. For a full list of our recorded bird species, see the Melbourne website: http://www.birdlifemelbourne.org.au/outings/outings-381-400.html in the ‘400’ column.

Anyone who is not on my YY Birding and Boneseeding contact list and would like to join us on one of our outings will be very welcome. Email me at Merrilyn@wirejunkie.com and I’ll send you a reminder before the next outing.

Photos from this year’s YY outings are on my website at http://www.timeinthebush.com/you-yangs-2014.html

Contributor: Merrilyn Serong

BirdLife You Yangs Birding and Boneseeding

1 March 2014, species count 50

The cloudy, calm, mild day of 1 March 2014 made for pleasant You Yangs birding and boneseeding. On arrival at the park, the 10 participants in our group were met by constant bird calls. This was promise of a good day’s birding. Flocks of lorikeets screeched and buzzed as they darted from one patch of eucalypt flowers to another. We had been surprised at the lack of lorikeets on our last visit in December 2013, but now there were three or four species. We had good views of Musk, Rainbow and Purple-crowned. Some of the small flying rockets were probably Little Lorikeets, but the grey sky eliminated their colour and we saw none perched. The Tawny Frogmouths were back in their usual place; good to see.

Tawny Frogmouth. Photograph: Merrilyn Serong
Tawny Frogmouth. Photograph: Merrilyn Serong

We recorded 36 bird species in this area in only an hour and a half, which was rather exceptional. Also, a large, bold, co-operative Koala appeared on the ground providing an excellent opportunity for Ken, who took some lovely photos.

You Yangs Koala. Photograph: Ken Haines
You Yangs Koala. Photograph: Ken Haines
You Yangs Koala. Photograph: Ken Haines
You Yangs Koala. Photograph: Ken Haines

As usual, our second stop was Gravel Pit Tor. It was much quieter here and extremely dry. Many of the boneseed plants were brown, as were most of the native mint bushes Prostanthera nivea. We recorded our first White-throated Treecreeper, Rufous Whistler and Scarlet Robin for the day, but only managed a total of 12 bird species compared with 17 last December.

Our lunch area was also quite brown and dry. It now has an official sign: Fawcett’s Gully, complete with the possessive apostrophe. There was a time when these were dropped for place names.

In March 2013, due to closure of the Great Circle Drive, we were unable to visit some of the usual places, including our boneseeding site.                        Instead we chose a more accessible spot further north beside Branding Yard Road near the end of Toynes Road and pulled out many large boneseed plants. On revisiting the area now after a year had elapsed, the strewn grey skeletons of last year’s plants were still evident. Fortunately no new seedlings had grown. With such success, we decided to tackle another stand of large old boneseed plants a little further west along Branding Yard Road. An hour of hard work here earned us more birding time so, leaving our cars by the Great Circle Drive, we enjoyed a long walk through the Eastern Flat area. We found 21 bird species, including Diamond Firetail and Rainbow Bee-eater, both of which we had missed last December. When we were ready to leave, we discovered a newly-made track at the edge of the Eastern Flat and followed it, hoping it might lead us back to the Great Circle Drive and our cars. Sadly, after meandering through a boneseed woodland, it veered off in the wrong direction. We doubled back and followed a dry creek bed that we knew led to our boneseeding site, where we left the creek and took a path to the Great Circle Drive. Our site is still looking good. No regrets that we pulled out boneseed elsewhere.

Some areas of the park are thick with boneseed, yet with a good group of volunteers, it is possible to keep a fairly large area virtually weed free by visiting only a few times each year.

As we drove out of the park in the late afternoon, we occasionally caught sight of the new winding path that we had abandoned. It tended to hug the perimeter, had some nicely constructed low bridges and is probably intended for bicycles. It would have taken us well out of our way.

Our next scheduled You Yangs visit is Saturday 7th June when daylight will be minimal. We will need to keep an eye on the time. Everyone is welcome to join us.

Further information and photos from the day are on my website http://www.timeinthebush.com/you-yangs-2014.html

Contributor: Merrilyn Serong

BirdLife You Yangs Birding and Boneseeding

7 December 2013, species count 48

The 19 participants at the December You Yangs outing were treated with a perfect blue-sky sunny day. This day was wedged between others with storm, wind and rain. We were very lucky.

Bird species were fewer than expected: 48 compared with 53 at the same time last year, and 60 a few months ago in September. We did not record any lorikeets, even though a number of eucalypts were in full, beautiful blossom and covered with butterflies, bees, beetles and other insects. The Tawny Frogmouths that are usually seen near the Park Office were presumably still nesting somewhere else. Sadly we have not seen a Diamond Firetail for some time. Despite this, some other bird species were quite abundant. Those that we saw in at least three different locations included Eastern Rosella, Superb
Fairy-wren, Brown Thornbill, White-plumed and New Holland Honeyeater, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Rufous Whistler, Australian Magpie, Grey Fantail, Willie Wagtail,
Little Raven, White-winged Chough, and Eastern Yellow Robin. These species are generally widespread and typical of the You Yangs, at least at this time of year.

Of the less common species, many of us had good views of Weebill, Black-chinned and Brown-headed Honeyeater, Varied Sittella and Jacky Winter near the dam not far from the entrance to the park. This has been a very good area for finding small birds on recent visits. Other species that we were pleased to see on the day were Olive-backed Oriole, Scarlet Robin, and Mistletoebird. One fortunate person saw a Silvereye feeding a young Horsefield’s Bronze-Cuckoo. Another observer saw our first recorded Satin Flycatcher.

Some of the participants were so keen to pull out boneseed that they drove around to our designated area ahead of the rest of us. Those left behind enjoyed a leisurely lunch before tackling the boneseed and stayed on later for more birding in the east of the park.

At this time of year we are free to stay as long as we like without having to watch the time the way we do in winter. When the last of us left at about 6pm, the sun was still high in the sky. Summer light is very welcome.

Contributor: Merrilyn Serong

Beginners Outing to You Yangs Regional Park

23 November 2013, species count 46

Heavy rain delayed the start, with 29 participants sheltering in or near the Visitor Centre. Geoff Deason eventually led us out onto the Big Rock Track where we watched a wet Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo preening whilst a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo called from afar. A pair of Red-capped Robins unexpectedly appeared, giving everyone a good view. Close to the dam on the return loop, several Black-chinned Honeyeaters, with a few Brown-headed cousins, allowed a close inspection, with time for beginners to have the main ID features explained. These sightings were “firsts” for many of the group. Hail and heavy rain hurried us back to shelter where lunch was eaten in some discomfort.

Despite the weather, most stayed for the afternoon session which entailed a car-ride round the Great Circle Drive to the Eastern Flats where we again braved the rain as we walked through to the boundary fence and returned on a parallel track. Highlights were: Restless Flycatcher, White-browed Woodswallows and six Little Lorikeets, again being “firsts” for many amongst the delighted viewers.

Geoff was thanked for leading the walk and we left for home reflecting on the uncommon sightings we had all enjoyed.

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers