News & Updates
Trip Reports Winter 2012
Birding Diary Winter 2012

Trip Reports May 2012
Birding Diary May 2012

Trip reports April 2012
Birding Diary April 2012

Trip Reports February-March 2012
Birding Diary February-March 2012

Trip Reports October 2011
Birding Diary October 2011

Trip Reports September 2011
Birding Diary September 2011

Trip Reports August 2011
Birding Diary August 2011

Trip Reports April 2011
Birding Diary April 2011


  Guided birding tours in the Greater Melbourne region

  Trip Reports Winter 2012

Birding Diary Winter 2012

Well winter in 2012 has been one out of the vault - cold, wet, windy and horrible, just like they used to be when we were kids. We haven't had such a consistently miserable wet winter for many, many years since well before the ten-year dry spell, and the birding has been at times difficult but overall still exciting with some star birds showing up when all seemed lost...

The undoubted highlights of the period can again be contributed to that most holy of wetlands, the Western Treatment Plant. And it was from within that mire of mud and effluent that there rose a winged beauty of such epic proportions that appeared to the tired, cold and weary bones of the Melbourne faithful as but an angel of the tropics, a sickle-winged bedazzler that was wont to please many a birder on those cold and bleak July days and was indeed a lifer for this happy author. The bird was of course an Oriental Pratincole, an adult in breeding plumage, truly a beautiful bird to behold, the first seen there since 2005 and apparently still there as I write.  It looks like a case of reverse migration, and for some reason it had decided our poo ponds were as good a spot to stop as any, instead of mixing it up with the ladies in a Cambodian rice paddy.  Needless to say we're happy it did.
A wonderful supporting cast to this magnificent beast consisted of a Broad-billed Sandpiper who seems to have hung around all autumn and attained breeding plumage, looking a treat with its rusty brown tones and split supercilium. Also enjoying some attention were a gaggle of Freckled Duck that posed for many, good numbers of Black-shouldered Kite, Nankeen Kestrel and Little Eagle, some over-wintering Black-tailed Native-hen that snuck around very sneakily and more Flame Robin than I can remember seeing here in a winter period. Also of interest was a wintering Arctic Jaeger seen in June and another jaeger seen by our party in mid-July that looked large, thickset and displayed some pointers suggesting it may have been a Pomarine Jaeger, which would be an exceptional occurrence for Port Phillip Bay.  A Barn Owl was flushed in the daytime from a copse of trees affording several photo ops, and a beautiful pair of Fantailed Cuckoo was seen several times, same as last year, plus lots of Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo singing away the lonely winter days...

Of course the WTP hasn't been the only site visited over winter, we've also made forays inland on a few occasions over the Great Dividing Range to the drier woodland communities of central Victoria, the hills and plains south of the Wangaratta area, as well as lots of visits to the ever-reliable Pt Addis for Rufous Bristlebird, which hasn't failed to appear for us yet. On one morning here I was lucky enough to observe two White-chinned Petrel just offshore from the cliffs on an unusually calm and clear morning which allowed me to observe the birds well. One in particular came close enough for me to see the white chin patch and bill pattern.
In mid-June there was a day-trip to the hills and woodlands around the Wangaratta-Benalla area with our main target being the Turquoise Parrot. we found a party of three exquisite males in the Warby Ranges and man did they allow us some speccy views. They are truly amazing birds.  This was a productive little stretch of track we were on and we also had a lot of fun with about 30 Diamond Firetails feeding on fallen grass seed alongside fifty odd Red-rumped Parrots and the Turquoise Parrots. So there was a riot of color. Here also was a confiding Fan-tailed Cuckoo, several Peaceful Dove and a cute pair of Jacky Winter.
In the Lurg Hills nearer to Benalla where we had enjoyed a Regent Honeyeater in 2011 was a rambunctious party of Grey-crowned Babbler, several Purple-crowned Lorikeet, adult and juvenile Pied Butcherbird and a small party of Black-chinned Honeyeater. A very inquisitive but hardly photogenic Yellow-footed Antechinus also put in an appearance; it preferred to keep a tree trunk between itself and the camera.
At Reef Hill State Park we had great views of Speckled Warbler, Red-capped Robin, White-browed Babbler (on the edge of their range in this part of the state), Crested Shrike-tit and Yellow-tufted Honeyeater.
A number of trips into the box-ironbark forests and mallee woodlands in the greater Bendigo area of central Victoria have all yielded the requisite regional specialties over this winter period; although the summer migrants have been absent we've still been able to get onto lots of birds including Variegated Fairy-wren, Shy Heathwren, Inland & Chestnut-rumped Thornbills, Crested Bellbird, White-fronted, Purple-gaped,
Black-chinned, Yellow-plumed, Blue-faced & Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters, Gilbert's Whistler, Speckled Warbler and Brush Bronzewing.
The tall wet forests of the Great Dividing Range have also provided some great birds over the cooler period as well.  These forests can be fairly quiet in winter but a number of residents nonetheless provide plenty of entertainment. None more so than the amazing Superb Lyrebird, and we were privy on one cold day to the sheer and unadulterated brilliance of a male lyrebird in full display on his mound.  He uttered what I'm sure was his full repertoire of mimicry interspersed with his own language for a good half an hour whilst we watched discretely from not too far away.  So loud was he that we'd had to stalk him for some time through the scrub before we found him, so far did his voice carry!  It was worth it and made even better by the absence of any leeches on us..
In late July we had our personal space invaded by a Pilotbird as it hopped about our feet in Toolangi State Forest, brilliant scope views across a gully of Gang-gang Cockatoos sitting in the sun high in a Mountain Ash and watched a magnificent Wedge-tailed Eagle on the deck feeding on carrion not fifty metres away. Bassian Thrush put on a good show as they are usually more visible in winter and close views were had of them. Olive Whistler, Red-browed Treecreeper and Large-billed Scrubwren also put in guest appearances, as did Southern Emu-wren, Crescent Honeyeater, Australian King-parrot and Eastern Whipbird.

Finally in early August a trip to the mallee of far north-western Victoria kind of pushed the boundaries of what can be considered within the realms of "The Melbourne Birder", but hey, if the work's there you gotta take it right?!
It was a brilliant three days where we snared a bag of lifers for Dave from Altona who'd never been to the region before. We visited Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, Murray-Sunset National Park and a short stop on the way at Lake Tyrrell Wildlife Reserve.
Birds witnessed included some real specials of the north-west, with superb views of foraging Striated Grasswren, a pair of Mallee Emu-wren, Major Mitchell's Cockatoo, Regent Parrot, Australian Ringneck, Mulga Parrot, Blue Bonnet, Splendid Fairy-wren, Striped Honeyeater, Apostlebird, White-backed Swallow, White-fronted Honeyeater, Gilbert's Whistler, Hooded Robin and Rufous Fieldwren.  We found several tracks of Malleefowl and even some feathers; alas the actual bird eluded us. Next time Dave...