Spring has officially arrived and there is definitely a paradigm shift (to borrow an oft-used political phrase) happening across the Greater Melbourne region; it's such a nice feeling to experience the change of seasons and to look forward to the imminent arrival of the migrants from the north. My companions, Amar & Im from Malaysia had timed their visit to Melbourne well, and although we didn't garner a huge list for the day, what we lacked in quantity we made up for in quality, and Amar was constantly and feverishly working his Digital SLR to the bone.
Reaching our first destination at dawn we stopped and listened to the forest awakening, with several Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo heard off through the mist before some floated ethereally overhead, and a confiding pair of Scarlet Robin advertising their territory as the sun rose. At a nearby creek crossing in dense forest we saw a newly arrived Rose Robin male eagerly setting up his territory and singing away for a mate. Also here were Red-browed Treecreeper, Eastern Whipbird and Superb Lyrebird, but best of all was a small group of Large-billed scrub-Wren cavorting amongst the riparian vegetation.Further up the mountain and in a little purple patch we came across another male Rose Robin, Pilotbird, Lewin's Honeyeater and an incredibly tame pair of Australian King-Parrot that, completely unconcerned about our presence, literally landed at our feet on the ground and commenced feeding on some fallen seeds. Needless to say there were several photographs taken.
A lovely morning spent in the forest, we headed across town to the Western Treatment Plant where many, many more photo opportunities were recognized and exploited!!And there was a surprising range of species across the board, from Australasian Bittern and Wood Sandpiper to Swift Parrot, Fantailed Cuckoo and Olive-backed Oriole. Late in the afternoon we wandered over toward the You Yangs area, taking in a few parrots such as Long-billed Corella, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Eastern Rosella and Red-rumped Parrot.
A nice way to end the day was finding a pair of Banded Lapwing in a stubble paddock complete with a single fluffy precocial chick.
My genuine thanks to Amar & Im for their warm and friendly nature as well as their exuberance, passion and zest for life; at the day's conclusion I felt like we were old friends, and I sincerely hope we meet again.
6th September, 2010 Bunyip State Park
An afternoon visit to this fantastic location with local Melburnian Tamara and her friends from South Africa Ed & Liz, produced a few nice birds despite the drizzle and wind that constantly threatened to ruin the day. Although Superb Lyrebirds were the most sought after of the local specialties we didn't manage to see any unfortunately and had to make do with several singing heartily from deep within the forest, as well as a lucky find in the way of a filamentous tail feather from a male that was shed very recently. Birds we did see included candy-pink Rose Robin, a pair of Southern Emu-Wren, Pilotbird, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Eastern Whipbird, a Lewin's Honeyeater which allowed some nice photographic material, and a single Buff-rumped Thornbill.
25-26th September, 2010 Cuckoo-Fest, plus others...
Richard Gordon was back in town and once again had made provisions for a couple of days birding with Yours Truly. Not wanting to disappoint I planned a rigorous and wide-ranging itinerary to take in new areas for Richard that would yield more new species for him.
We started off by heading north of the Great Dividing Range to commence birding in some drier forest around Heathcote. Richard's first lifer was a singing Shining Bronze-cuckoo that did indeed shine in the sun. Next up was a Pallid Cuckoo seen in flight plus a Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo heard in the distance. So already the cuckoos were on show. Two Speckled Warbler put in an appearance but alas the Chestnut-rumped Heathwren did not and so we moved on to the bird-rich Greater Bendigo National Park. Entering the park via the north we birded a nice section of box-ironbark forest where in quick succession we picked up Western Gerygone, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Hooded Robin, Red-capped Robin, Crested Bellbird, Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo, Rufous Songlark and Diamond Firetail. The ticks were flying thick & fast for Richard but there was more to come. We moved into some mallee habitat which correspondingly offered some of the birds found within. Yellow-plumed, Purple-gaped, White-fronted and Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters, Shy Heathwren, Inland Thornbill, White-browed Babbler, Variegated Fairy-Wren were all seen, but perhaps best of all was a cracking adult Black-eared Cuckoo, a rarely seen and very unpredictable species. We ended up seeing another toward the end of the day in a different spot and this coupled with a fine adult Fan-tailed Cuckoo also gave us five species of cuckoo for the day, an occasion that doesn't happen too often. Our last bird for the day was a Blue-faced Honeyeater just near Bendigo as we prepared for the long drive home. We were on a high though after a terrific day of birding, with more to come tomorrow.
We started the day off well with a male Scarlet Honeyeater, several Crescent Honeyeater, Rose Robin heard, two Pilotbird and a male Superb Lyrebird in dense wet forest at Bunyip State Park. There were many cuckoo present here as well to continue the theme of yesterday, with Pallid, Fan-tailed & Shining Bronze all singing gleefully. However the action wasn't as hot as I would have liked, and as we left the Bunyip area a further blow threatened to derail the whole process when the car just died and thereafter refused to start. We sat on the side of the road for over an hour with Bell Miners and nesting Spotted Pardalote thankfully keeping us company, however the situation became dire when roadside assistance was quoted as up to 2 hours away. We were rather despondent at this point as a stiff wind had picked up, the pardalotes had gone and we were faced with a cancellation of the remainder of the day. I tried to turn the engine over just one more time, and disco she exploded(not literally) into life!! We were outa there...
Whatever it was that had caused our engine trouble had miraculously disappeared and as we rumbled into the Western Treatment Plant we were on a high. We soon picked up Grey Plover, Fairy Tern, Blue-winged Parrot, Blue-billed Duck, Australasian Shoveler, Common Greenshank, and even more cuckoos in the form of Horsfield's Bronze and Pallid.
As good as these birds were we couldn't escape the overall feeling that the first day had been by far the best and most exciting, and certainly the most rewarding in terms of augmenting Richard's burgeoning Australian list. And we had amassed a total of 165 for the two days. He'll be back...