The day dawned okay but it was soon apparent as we arrived at the park that a nasty easterly wind had visited with a vengeance. However not deterred Larry from Texas and yours truly dove headlong into the forest and commenced birding. There seemed to be a lot of Scarlet Honeyeater about with birds seen or heard in four locations, as well as Shining Bronze, Fan-tailed and Pallid Cuckoo, Sacred Kingfisher, Satin Flycatcher, Olive-backed Oriole, Rose Robin, Eastern Whipbird and Mistletoebird. However the wind played havoc and kept the birds down in the scrub, and we only had brief glimpses of skulkers like Southern Emu-wren and Olive Whistler, and only heard Pilotbird, Rufous Fantail and Superb Lyrebird. It has to be said though that Larry was an affable fellow and I enjoyed his company immensely. Hope to see you again sometime Larry.
11th December, 2010 Sojourn to the North-east.
Picking up my clients Graham & Lauren at 6am and not even five minutes into the trip we were already in the laughs, so I knew it was going to be a good morning. Graham is a budding birder and Lauren had been thoughtful enough to give the half day tour as a gift to him. So off we went to the hills north-east of town, first stop Toolangi State Forest. Here we languished in the fresh crisp mountain air, finding Olive Whistler, Satin Flycatcher, Brush Cuckoo, Large-billed Scrubwren, Rufous Fantail, Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo and Pilotbird as the highlights. A Mistletoebird called from high above as it passed over, and the ubiquitous Superb Lyrebird sang from far off. After smoko we headed out of the forest and across to the Goulburn Valley, where we birded at a few roadside locations on the way. This paid dividends as we found a cracking male Leaden Flycatcher at King Parrot Creek and heard another, a pair of Little Corella flew through and a Whistling Kite was seen off smartly by Little Ravens. Further on near the Goulburn River we found a nice flock consisting of Weebill, Yellow Thornbill, Rufous Whistler and Striated Pardalote. Thanks guys for a terrif morning!
Leaden Flycatcher, Myiagra rubecula. Photography by Chris Tzaros
12th December, 2010 Sherbrooke Forest
Florence is another beginner birder whose zest and thirst for knowledge is infectious. Living in the Dandenongs she was keen for an introduction to the birds in her area, so we strolled on down to Grants Picnic Ground and immersed ourselves in a wet, dripping but sunny forest. Bird activity was high and we started seeing good stuff straight off the bat. A party of Large-billed Scrubwren was vociferous as usual and a male Rose Robin flew in to check us. Further along we had a Sacred Kingfisher singing away, a pair of Eastern Whipbird allowed close approach and a Blue-winged Parrot made a brief fly-by. We managed reasonable views of two Red-browed Treecreeper down quite low on a tree trunk; normally they are just able to be made out 100 ft up a Mountain Ash. Finally a beautiful Rufous Fantail dazzled in the sun to cap off a smart morning's birding.
After this we headed over to reserve in an area of more open forest at lower altitude called Glenfern Valley Bushland where we found Satin Flycatcher, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Crested Shrike-tit and a surprise in the form of a Lewin's Honeyeater, a bird I've never recorded in this spot in over 25 years of visits. Persistent rain forced us back to the car, but the morning had finished anyway and Florence was cock-a-hoop. 16th December, 2010
A half day visit to Toolangi State Forest with Val and Marion from Melbourne produced many highlights including Brush Cuckoo, Olive Whistler, Gang-gang Cockatoo, Rufous Fantail, Flame Robin and Bassian Thrush, as well as the privelege of being there on such a beautiful summer's morning. Great to have such a secluded location so close to Melbourne.
17th December, 2010
A morning's visit to the Western Treatment Plant with Dave from Altona produced the hoped-for and recently reported Grey-tailed Tattler at Kirk Point. This was a new bird for Dave and also bird number 199 for my WTP list, a list I've been compiling since Dec 1985, a lazy 25 years give or take a day or two. Wonder what number 200 will be...
19th December, 2010
A Stilt Sandpiper, only the 4th or 5th record for Australia, has turned up at the Western Treatment Plant!! This funky long-legged little yank was already being lapped up by he Melbourne faithful and today was the turn of yours truly and Dave from Altona who'd been good enough to hire me to get him there. Forewarned is forearmed, and guided by the latest gen we headed for the hotspot within the hotspot (WTP) where it soon became apparent that many other punters had as well. Soon enough the throng of eyes and at least fifty grand worth of optics had found the blighter and we all enjoyed sustained views of a bird that normally "should" be wintering in Argentina, or somewhere in South America anyway. Interestingly the first record for Aus was exactly 20 years (to the month) ago not far down the road from WTP in Avalon. Even more interesting for me anyway was that this is my 200th bird for my personal WTP list. (Pats own back.) Other goodies that Dave and I saw on the day were a beautiful Ruff, the Grey-tailed Tattler again, a single Pacific Golden Plover which for David was an Oz first; well chuffed he was, and a Crested Shrike-tit & Grey Shrike-thrush both of which are unusual for the plant given it's lack of extensive woodland habitats.
23rd December, 2010
With Wayne and Louise over on holiday from Perth we headed out to find a few birds they'd not seen yet, and as they hadn't birded the eastern states at all that amounted to quite a few. So we covered wet forest, wetlands and some dry forest to broaden the net so to speak. For the day we garnered 124 species, several of which were lifers for the couple and the highlights were many, including Ruff, Scarlet, Crescent & Lewin's Honeyeaters, Eastern Spinebill, Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo, Australian King-Parrot, Red-rumped Parrot, Musk Lorikeet, Superb Lyrebird, Pilotbird, Rufous Fantail, Satin Flycatcher and Rose Robin. Thanks for some lovely company Wayne & Louise it'll be nice to meet up again some day.
29th December, 2010 Trevor and Shelagh are from New Zealand, a place called Kerikeri on the far northern tip almost of the North Island, which, from all accounts sounds like a heavenly place to live... Anyway back to the birds. The couple were here on holiday and wanted some Aussie birds so went spent the day looking at several of them. Absolute highlights were a demure little Beautiful Firetail, two Brush Cuckoo singing their hearts out, a pair of Blue-winged Parrot , nesting Tawny Frogmouth, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, a gang of Gang-gang Cockatoo, a cracking male Superb Lyrebird, Scarlet Honeyeater, a furtive but ultimately gorgeously co-operative male Southern Emu-wren and finally a pair of Rainbow Bee-eater sallying forth in the late afternoon sunlight which was a glorious end to a grand day. Thanks heaps Trevor & Shelagh it was ace.