With Noelene as my guest from New Zealand today I decided to show her a variety of some of Melbourne's best birds, and so we started off in the wet forests and heathy woodland of Bunyip State Park. Although a lot of the summer migrants had moved back north we nonetheless tallied a reasonable list of species including a relatively tame juvenile Beautiful Firetail, Bassian Thrush, a pair of Gang-gang Cockatoo, Red-browed Treecreeper, Large-billed Scrub-wren, Rose Robin, Southern Emu-wren and Pilotbird heard way off in a gully. Moving across to the west of town we hit the wetlands and saw a terrific flock of 30 White-winged Black Tern, Little & Fairy Tern, Sooty Oystercatcher, some recently arrived Hardhead which had been absent for some time due to the floods inland, Striated Fieldwren and Bar-tailed Godwit. To round out the day we visited some dry woodland renmants which held Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Scarlet Robin, Weebill, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Brown Quail and Wedge-tailed Eagle. 120 species for the day.
3rd April, 2011
After yesterday's adventures Noelene from NZ wanted more birds, so today we took a short trip to the Heathcote area for a half day of real bush-birding in the box-ironbark conservation reserves that straddle that picturesque central Victorian town. Our first stop found us amongst the action straight away with Blue-winged Parrot, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Yellow-tufted, Black-chinned, Fuscous, White-eared, Yellow-faced and White-plumed Honeyeaters, Eastern Spinebill, White-browed Babbler, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike and a slightly wayward young male Rose Robin. Just to the north of Heathcote we searched without success for Chestnut-rumped Heathwren, but did pick up Speckled Warbler, Brown Thornbill, Noisy Friarbird, Australian Owlet-Nightjar calling during the day, Varied Sitella and last but by no means least a gorgeous group of Diamond Firetail with four juveniles present indicating a good breeding season.
6th April, 2011
Phil & Ruth are from Canada and as part of an Australia-wide whistle-stop tour they had chosen to include the services of none other than yours truly to help introduce them to some of the birding delights in this part of the world. Today we were headed for the drier box-ironbark and mallee woodlands of central Victoria in the Bendigo region. On a beautiful autumn day we were privy to the high energy antics of a wide assemblage of the honeyeater tribe, with no fewer than 15 representatives seen, including the elusive Purple-gaped, beautiful Blue-faced, the reliable old Yellow-plumed and a couple of cracking Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters. But honeyeaters weren't all that was about and we managed good views of several of the typical denizens of the above-mentioned habitats. Variegated Fairy-wren, Inland Thornbill, Shy Heathwren, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Red-capped Robin and White-browed Babbler all fell under our gaze. Other beauties seen included 3 Rufous Songlark, Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo and Fan-tailed Cuckoo, all three a bit late in the season, Peaceful Dove, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Olive-backed Oriole and Diamond Firetail. Intense birding like this had to end sometime and it was kind of disappointing when the end of the day drew nigh and we headed home.
8th April, 2011
Back to the Bendigo area again today but this time with different guests, Ron & Judy from just outside Sydney. We also had a slightly different suite of birds today with the main standouts being an Australian Owlet-nightjar heard calling mid-morning, Brush Bronzewing, 3 White-fronted Honeyeater which had declined to reveal their whereabouts two days prior, a young male Gilbert's Whistler, a pair of Hooded Robin and a female Flame Robin. Great stuff. And to top it off at Mt Ida near Heathcote we also managed a nice pair of Speckled Warbler and a very furtive Chestnut-rumped Heathwren.
10th April, 2011 WTP
I caught up with Ruth & Phil from Canada again today and this time we were to do a half day whip around down at the Western Treatment Plant. As always the place didn't disappoint and we were lucky enough to witness a bit of a return of some of the birds that had departed southern Victoria for some time since the advent of the big rains inland. Good numbers of Hardhead, Australasian Shoveler, Hoary-headed Grebe, a flock of Sharp-tailed Sandpiper which has been decidedly scarce here this austral summer, and one each of Australian Spotted Crake and Red-necked Avocet. Also present were nice smatterings of Fairy, Little and Common Tern, Double-banded Plover, a White-bellied Sea-eagle and a female Flame Robin. 76 species for the morning. 12th April, 2011. Wet Forest Excursion
Well today was the last installment in Canadian couple Ruth & Phil's triumvirate of birding adventures with The Melbourne Birder, and so we decided to take in the wetter forest habitats found to the east of Melbourne. It was a fairly cold and drizzly day but the forest really shines in this wet weather with the many green hues coming through as well as the almost glowing colors that come out on the trunks of the massive Mountain Ash eucalypts. The birds were a little reluctant to come out at our first location but we eventually had good views of a male Rose Robin, Lewin's Honeyeaters, Brown Gerygones, Large-billed Scrubwrens, a pair of soaring Collared Sparrowhawk, and a fine if somewhat muddy Wonga Pigeon grazing in a rather bovine manner on a paddock adjacent to the forest. From here we meandered along a river valley through tall wet forest with small patches of temperate rainforest, and we added singing Superb Lyrebirds, Satin Bowerbird heard calling nearby, a nice adult Fan-tailed Cuckoo, and more Rose Robin & Brown Gerygone to the list. Reaching Bunyip State Park we slowly worked our way through its myriad microhabitats for the remainder of the day, picking up good looks at Southern Emu-wren, a frustratingly fleeting and flippant Pilotbird, Red-browed Treecreeper, Bell Miner, Eastern Whipbird, Bassian Thrush, Scarlet Robin, Jacky Winter and Crested Shrike-tit. Thanks so much to Phil & Ruth for some great and entertaining company, I thoroughly enjoyed showing you some groovy birds and funky scenery!!
19th April, 2011.
Amanda & Geoff, from North Carolina USA were here in Oz for a month of work and some holiday time as well, and had hoped to do a bit of birding whilst here. Happy to oblige as always, and given that they were staying in Mt Macedon I suggested we head to few different habitats that can be found around Central Victoria. So first stop was the Heathcote area, where amongst some great bird action we had Leaden Flycatcher, Rose Robin, Flame Robin, a brilliant group of White-browed Babbler that surrounded us and had us wondering who was watching who, a gorgeous male Spotted Pardalote who came to within a metre of our faces, and a cracking Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Moving on we picked up Blue-faced Honeyeater just outside Heathcote, as well as Noisy Friarbird, Diamond Firetail and Brown Treecreeper. We missed Speckled Warbler unfortunately. The wind had really started to strengthen, but at Toolleen we had lovely views of Musk & Purple-crowned Lorikeet, and near Elmore we lucked on a demure and dainty Peaceful Dove, and at our final stop for the day Lake Cooper, we saw many Australasian Shoveler, Hardhead, Musk Duck, Grey Teal, Pacific Black Duck and a Black-fronted Dotterel. On the way home we were treated to fly-bys of Peregrine Falcon, Wedge-tailed Eagle and Nankeen Kestrel. A top day where we found ourselves one shy of the century; stuck on 99 species!!
23rd April, 2011
By far the best day in the Bendigo area I think I've ever had, today was an explosive and action-packed bird bonanza!! I had young bloke James with me who is an ultra-keen birder and photographer, and by the end of the day his trigger finger had gone into melt-down. An amazing 19 species of honeyeater including Little Friarbird, Singing Honeyeater (unusual here), Tawny-crowned, Purple-gaped, Black-chinned & White-fronted. Hundreds and hundreds of Noisy Friarbird and Red Wattlebird flocked all through the mallee sections alongside waves of Yellow-faced and White-naped Honeyeaters, scads of Purple-crowned, Little and Musk Lorikeets and a first class ensemble of local specialties. These included my first ever Chestnut-rumped Heathwren in the Bendigo area, Shy Heathwren, Gilbert's Whistler, Brush Bronzewing, Inland & Chestnut-rumped Thornbills, Rufous Songlark, Hooded Robin and a rather odd record of a Brown Quail flushed from a forest track.
It was a fantastic outing and quite memorable. As always go to www.eremaea.com for further details and more trip lists such as this.
29th April, 2011. God bless the WTP
What a way to end a fantastic month, and there can be no better way than spending a morning at the fabulous Western Treatment Plant!! With compadre Dave from Altona accompanying me we smashed it at the plant today, picking up an awesome 96 species for the morning. Best of the lot was a very brief but definite sighting of two Orange-bellied Parrot that were seen flying east and very fast over the Borrow Pits area, but other dignitaries included Black Falcon, Spotless Crake, Black-faced Cormorant, White-necked Heron, 50 Cattle Egret, a late 8 White-winged Black Tern, Arctic Jaeger offshore, 5 Blue-winged Parrot, Fan-tailed Cuckoo singing at first light, Singing Honeyeater, up to 1000 Hardhead throughout the plant, 11 Pink-eared Duck which were first returns from a temporary exodus, and last but not least, a seriously cute pair of Flame Robin. The awesomeness of the morning was matched only by the awesomeness of the birds.