On a foggy, drizzly and miserable winter's day big Dave Richardson and myself headed out to a few locations in West Gippsland that I knew at this time of year should provide him with a few birds that he is yet to see.
First stop was a little gem of a place up in the foothills not far from Neerim Junction called Glen Nayook Nature Reserve. It's a pocket of dense wet sclerophyll forest in a deep gully, almost surrounded by farmland. It is a great spot to find birds like Brown Gerygone, Black-faced Monarch and Wonga Pigeon, and is in fact the closest spot to Melbourne that these species can be found with some consistency.
Anyway Wonga Pigeon was our quarry today and it wasn't long before we heard and then saw one of these beautiful pigeons with its soft grey and white plumage wandering around the forest floor.At one point the bird saw us seeing it and froze right on the track; well we just drank it in didn't we, magnificent.Of course we also got onto some other teriff birds including a small party of Brown Gerygone, Bassian Thrush and fly-by Little Corella. Superb Lyrebird and Pilotbird were both heard further down the gully.
We then traveled due south toward the coast, aiming for the CapeLiptrap and Shallow Inlet area.Birding en route through the fog we managed a Peregrine Falcon at Leongatha and male Flame Robin near Tarwin Lower.
At Walkerville South there was a big posse of Black-faced Cormorant preening and roosting on a rock-stack just offshore, and in a nearby clearing in the scrub we observed a sensational pair of Brush Bronzewing foraging. In the dull and leaden conditions their colors seemed to glow for some reason and the sighting is up there with one of my best experiences of the species. Of course it was another new bird for David so it was high fives all round.A bit further on we heard then saw a gang of rowdy Forest Raven in a stand of eucalypts; nearby was an Australian Raven and a few clicks up the road we had Little Raven, so all 3 species seem to co-exist well down there.
Moving on to Bear Gully which is part of CapeLiptrapCoastalPark we stopped near the picnic area in the scrub behind the beach and almost straight away heard Olive Whistler calling discretely a short distance off.A bit of persistent pishing soon attracted the bird in close, although it liked keeping a bit of vegetation between itself and us so it was a while before we had what you might call satisfactory views. An ace species though and another lifer goes on Dave's burgeoning lifelist. A brutish looking Forest Raven flew in and we observed up close the massive bill, beady white eye and thick glossy hackles on this quite magnificent corvid it has to be said.A pair of Eastern Whipbirds was heard close-by also and we got a good look at the male.
Diving headlong into some nearby windswept heathlands we searched for a little while for Beautiful Firetails, but to no avail unfortunately. As the wind had picked up in ferocity and was cutting through us like an icy knife it wasn't surprising there weren't too many birds around.We heard some Southern Emu-Wren calling feebly but they were too smart to pop their heads up given the subantarctic conditions.
We finished the day at CapeLiptrap itself, a magnificent outcrop of folded pinnacles of extruded sedimentary rock jutting out into Bass Strait.We were standing on the leeward side of the lighthouse out of the wind, looking out to sea hopefully for any seabirds that may have ventured close to the coast.Nothing except one gannet was to befall our eyes, however we were lucky to witness a Humpback Whale with calf just offshore in a bit of playful banter.
The trip home in the dark and rain was a bloody long one but it was worth it for the day we'd had.79 species.