Wednesday, 7 August 2019

190807_Heyfield Wetlands and Glenmaggie FFR

With a general dearth of birds around, we finally settled on to visit the Heyfield Wetlands today; 10 attendees having a nice day with some changeable, but ultimately warmer, weather.
The wetlands are about to receive a gift of 10-16 megalitres of environmental water and Marg and John have been doing 2-3 surveys a week to get a “dry baseline” count ahead of the water going in next week. We’ll do 3-4 “wet baseline” counts to hopefully be able to tell GCMA that the water attracted birds.
With the dense plantings of scrubby trees and bushes, plus new water diversion drains in place, there is generally a good supply of birds larger and small. The water is very low though and quite dirty. Still, the waterbirds like it, especially a pair of Yellow-billed Spoonbills. We got 41 species in and around the established lagoons and paths. Lots of Superb Fairy Wrens, Red-browed Finches, Silvereyes (Tasmania variety with gorgeous buff shading) and a single Buff-banded Rail (which dashed along the path) were the highlights. I can’t see how you can get a printed list from Birdata so go to this link for the list.

Australian Wood Duck -- female
Chestnut Teal -- male
Silvereye  Zosterops lateralis lateralis (Tasmanian ssp)

Onto the newer lagoon area, the area to be filled next week. There are heaps of new bird boxes up, two with motion and sound-activated cameras. The area has been sparsely populated over the previous two counts but today we found 16 species; or maybe it was 10 pairs of eyes instead of two. Birdata list here.

After the usual leisurely morning tea, we wandered down to the Thomson River and along it to come out on Bessant St. The highlight here was a pair of Spotted Pardalotes cavorting on the opposite bank and close above our heads for quite a while. The lowlight was the dense spread of escaped Honeysuckle choking the small trees on the South bank of the river. Species count of 16 (list).

Striated Pardalotes checking a nest site
Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus ornatus (small red dot on wing)
Yellow Thornbill
Off to the Glenmaggie Flora and Fauna Reserve (map) for lunch. After lunch, we walked down the Eastern edge to Back Creek and return, for 9 species. Recent forays into the reserve had turned up exactly no birds.
Species count for the day was 51; not shabby by the current dry standards.
Next month, we will go to ….. WATCH THIS SPACE!

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

190605_Marlay Point to Sale and all avian points in between

Armed with multiple layers of clothing, beanies and gloves, nine of us gathered at Marlay Point in a biting south wind. We all enjoyed and photographed the 8-10 Little Terns resting on the pylons with dozens of Crested Terns. A few Musk Duck were also spotted plus 25+ other species. 

Apart from a Nankeen Kestrel on the fence, crawling along Frawley Rd was a bit fruitless but the view of Lake Kakydra brought forth large numbers of White-headed Stilts and Red-necked Avocets. The large dam on Hearthall Road treated us to a Swamp Harrier and a Whistling Kite working up the hundreds of Grey Teal present. Pretty soon, the Kite was enjoying lunch on a nearby fencepost.

We checked the paddocks around Talbots Lane for Blue-winged Parrots (spotted last week) and Dotterels but no luck. The Dotterel paddock has been cultivated since last year.

Onto the old, closed bridge on Freshwater Hole Road where we spotted a few White-fronted Chats and European Goldfinch in the paddocks. At the river, we were stunned by a massive tight raft of European Coots drifting along. The initial estimate was 1,000 but a bit of maths at home (JG) showed the raft to be about 40m by 20m or 800 square metres. Given the density in the photo, the count is probably at least 3000; that is only 4 per square metre and it looks denser than that.

Frozen by now, we adjourned into town for lunch to Lake Guyatt where there are hundreds of Grey Teal and Freckled Duck. We were too cold to count them! 

A personal detour on the way home along the Back Maffra Rd wetlands in Sale showed large numbers of Grey Teal, dozens of Chestnut Teal plus four Pink-Eared Ducks (it pays to scan these large mobs carefully) plus a few Red-kneed Dotterels.

All up, about 45 species for the day; worth freezing our butts off.

Report by John Gwyther.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

190501_Welshpool and Big Dog Island


An even dozen of us gathered at Welshpool to conduct a Birds on Farms
<>  survey at Gary Wallis' Hedley Farm and Big Dog Island<> ; some others of you may recall our visit there last May. Gary signed up for this program earlier this year and asked us to conduct the surveys, so we did.

A cool-ish day that threatened rain, but it stayed dry - and we became warm later in our thermal underlayers (worn in preparation for it being wet and windy) as the temperature climbed into the 20s.

We had four survey areas of two hectares each to spend 20 minutes in each observing. The first area was medium density Banksia forest (BOF survey list<> ) where the highlight was 15 Nankeen Night-herons that flew out of the area into a big dead tree nearby. Despite the cloud cover, the lighting was great. Alas, I'd left my camera in the car to concentrate on ensuring the survey ranaccording to the rules. In a show of colour solidarity, a Nankeen Kestrel flew low over the top of them.

The second area was a low grass and small bush area with a couple of drainage channels, fenced off for regeneration. The highlight here was a pair of Striated Fieldwrens (BOF list<> ).

A late morning tea at the third; more fenced off regeneration area (BOF list<> ). Not a lot of birds in the area but plenty outside of them. The BOF rules limit in-site counting to birds interacting with the area, not just flying or moving about outside of it. Nearby, we had quite a good sighting of a dozen or so Blue-winged Parrots and several Brush Bronzewings.

The last area was a hike down to the point of land for a stand of ti-tree and other medium-sized scrub. Not a lot of birds there (BOF list<> ) but we did surprise a mob of kangaroos. One got spooked and waded across a 100m, waist-deep stretch of water to a mud-bank, straight across that and another 200m swim to the other side.

Lots of water birds and waders though; of course, at 2-300m away, hard to see in detail. Never mind, we had a beautiful view of the northern hills of Wilsons Promontory. A Swamp Harrier was the last sighting as we ate a very late lunch. 


Val, Jack and Ross headed further west to the Toora Bird Hide. It had started to rain as we arrived but quickly stopped and the sun came out and the mangroves and mud flats were bathed in the light that delights a photographer. Although we saw only 13 species here, another three were added to the day list.

A big day with 52 species.

Next month's outing may well be a 500m boat trip from Sperm Whale Head for a day (or even overnight if interested) to Rotomah Island <>.

Birds in BoF Areas (20)

Nankeen Night-Heron, Nankeen Kestrel, Crimson Rosella, Grey Fantail, Eastern Yellow Robin, Grey Shrike-thrush, Superb Fairy-wren, White-eared Honeyeater, Grey Butcherbird, Australian Magpie, Little Raven, Grey Teal, Grey Shrike-thrush, Striated Fieldwren, Australian Magpie, Eurasian Skylark, Brush Bronzewing, Eastern Rosella, Blue-winged Parrot, White-browed Scrubwren, Superb Fairy-wren.

Additional birds outside BoF Areas (32)

Australian White Ibis, 
Straw-necked Ibis, Royal Spoonbill, Australian Shelduck, Pacific Black Duck, Chestnut Teal, Swamp Harrier, Brown Falcon, Eastern Rosella, Blue-winged Parrot, Welcome Swallow, Willie Wagtail, Grey Shrike-thrush, Magpie-lark, Australasian Pipit, Cattle Egret, Silver Gull, Pacific Gull, Australian Pelican, Black Swan, Australian Pied Oystercatcher, Sooty Oystercatcher, Red-necked Stint, Crested Tern, Great Egret, White-faced Heron, Little Corella, Golden Whistler, Australian Raven, Common Blackbird, Common Starling, Common Myna.

Blue-winged Parrot
Eurasian Skylark
Red-necked Stint
Sooty Oystercatcher

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

181107_Morwell NP

Nine of us had an interesting (and wet at times) visit to the Morwell NP and Billy Creek. The NP seemed alive with Striated and Spotted Pardalotes, White-throated Treecreepers and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. No Brown Gerygones down by the creek though. An idle wish for a Rose Robin produced one almost immediately, followed literally a second later with a Rufous Fantail on the other side of the track. Where to look? Which one to photograph? Well, we saw both but got no decent pictures of either. Very nice though. Shortly thereafter, a pair of Golden Whistlers entertained us close by. A young female Superb Lyrebird gave us a close view for a minute as she tried to hide behind a bush. Grey Currawongs “clinked around too. Somewhere though, our excitement at these sights offended the Gods who damped us down with a short shower.

After lunch, on to the Billy Creek walk for a kilometre or two. More showers then some hail; with the drought down here, we’d got out of the habit of wet weather gear, so gear and people got wet (well, the less well-prepared ones). Bulk excitement at the sight of THREE Rufous Fantails cavorting around in a Blackwood tree with lots of tail fanning. Same problem with pictures though; cloudy sky, dark trees, fast-moving birds, etc. A young Grey Shrike-thrush spied on us from the grass literally at our feet whilst Mum dive-bombed a couple of us.

Overall, 34 species sighted. Not high but a few goodies in there that made up for getting wet.

The December excursion will be in and around the Sale Environs on Wed 5th, followed by a Xmas picnic in the Botanical Gardens.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo  4
Wedge-tailed Eagle  2
Laughing Kookaburra  3
Sacred Kingfisher  1
Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo  1
Australian King-Parrot  2
Crimson Rosella  2
Superb Lyrebird  2
White-throated Treecreeper  5
Lewin's Honeyeater  1
Yellow-faced Honeyeater  5
Spotted Pardalote  1
Striated Pardalote  3
White-browed Scrubwren  1
Brown Thornbill  4
Yellow Thornbill  1
Eastern Whipbird  3
Pied Currawong  3
Grey Currawong  1
Grey Shrike-thrush  2
Golden Whistler  1
Rufous Whistler  1
Rufous Fantail  1
Gray Fantail  4
Rose Robin  1
Eastern Yellow Robin  2
Silver-eye  2
Common Blackbird  1

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo  2
Fan-tailed Cuckoo  1
White-faced Heron  1
Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo  2
Yellow-faced Honeyeater  2
Red Wattlebird  1
Spotted Pardalote  1
Striated Pardalote  1
White-browed Scrubwren  1
Eastern Whipbird  1
Dusky Woodswallow  1
Australian Magpie  2
Grey Shrike-thrush  2
Golden Whistler  1
Rufous Fantail  3
Restless Flycatcher  1
Common Blackbird  1

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

180905_Victoria Lagoon / Hollands Landing

Nine of us headed to Hollands Landing on a beautiful sunny day. 

First stop was the paddock a couple of km from Hollands Landing where we had, in 2017, spotted 17 Banded Lapwing. No such luck today but there were 180+ magpies spread out over 20-30 hectares.

Next onto the boat-ramp where the usual water bird suspects were present but not in great numbers. There were 4-8 Black-winged Stilts doing a fair amount of aggressive flying against each. Lots of good views of them in flight with the long legs trailing behind. Lots of calling from them too.

Morning tea at the boat-ramp threatened to extend all day until the whip was cracked. Some wading across the muddy ground to get a view of the lagoon behind the caravan park brought two Australian Shovelers plus more terns, swans, etc.
Down to Victoria Lagoon at the end of Ruckers Lane where an estimated 1,400 Grey Teal floated around with a few Pink-eared Ducks, Chestnut Teal and Shelducks amongst them.

Another short trip to the NE corner of Victoria Lagoon for some interesting birds amongst the usual suspects – Buff-banded Rail, Stubble Quail, Chestnut-rumped Heathwren, Australasian Pipit and a few Grey CurrawongsA quick trip into the Roseneath Caravan Park where we driven back by the hordes of mosquitoes by the beach. Still, a Great Egret and few more Crested Terns were there plus a couple of raptors on the access road.

We decamped to the Meerlieu oval for a leisurely lunch under the pines; no mozzies! A few of us detoured via The Knob Reserve in Stratford which was pretty quiet; a few cockies, galahs and a Striated Pardalote.

Unique species for the day was about 47.

The next outing is on Wednesday October 3rd, when Ian Wilson will be taking us birding the environs of Willung. Marg and I will be visiting our grand-daughter and checking out French Island this weekend for a possible group visit in a few weeks. Cheers. John.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

180801_Jack Smith Lake

Nine birders went to Jack Smith Lake today. Although it was a bit windy and cool (cold), we had a good walk around the northern edge of the has-been-dry-for-quite-a-while lake and, after morning tea, the area around the permanent water at the southeast corner near the beach. Despite a good search for Blue-winged and Orange-bellied Parrots which we were unable to find, we saw 42 species for the day - not a bad total for mid-winter.  I reckon a pair of Beautiful Firetails was the standout species on land and we were able to see bit of a feeding frenzy of Australasian Gannets and shearwater species a few hundred metres offshore. The Flame Robin paddock had a dozen or so White-fronted Chats and a single female Flame Robin. So we didn't get to see our target birds but it was still a nice day out.

Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii

Little Wattlebird Anthochaera chrysoptera

 White-fronted Chat Epthianura albifrons

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

180704_Blores Hill/Lanigans Bridge/Dam Wall

Six of us met at the Mountain Bike Track at Blores Hill near Heyfield and drove around to Ostberg's Road on the north side of the reserve. We parked up at the eastern interface of the reserve with the farmland and walked the track along the edge. It was calm for starters then got pretty windy then calmed down again. The features of the day were many tens of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, lots of Eastern Spinebills acting like both fairy wrens and hummingbirds, Yellow and Brown Thornbills, a Wedge-tailed Eagle and two White-bellied Sea-eagles but the star was the late arrival of a single Crested Shrike-tit. We had lunch at the dam wall then dispersed homewards after a nice, relaxed day of birding.

Image by Ross Stothers and Jack Winterbottom

Crested Shrike-tit Falcunculus frontatus

Eastern Spinebill Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris