Dandenong Police Paddocks and Tirhatuan Park – 14 May 2022

By John Van Doorn

When you’re out birding, there is nothing like a beautiful sunny day where all the birds are chirping away and making themselves known and posing for you.

Golden Whistler – Greg Wallace

Today wasn’t quite like that at Police Paddocks.  It was overcast with a breeze and the birds kept very quiet.

Eastern Rosella – John Van Doorn

The Dandenong Police Paddocks Reserve gets its name from its use as the headquarters of the Native Police force between 1842 to 1852 and then as the Horse Stud Depot for the Police Force from 1853 to 1931. It covers 499 hectares of varying habitats from wetland to forest.

Grey Butcherbird – Greg Wallace

Our walking loop first visited the Wetland walk where a Peregrine Falcon flew over.

Pacific Black Duck and Hoary-headed Grebe – Steve Hoptroff

Then we walked Northwards up Baden Powell Drive and then we walked back to our starting point gaining an impressive view overlooking Dandenong Creek while Kangaroos looked on.

Grey Kangaroo – John Van Doorn

Other interesting birds seen were Australian King Parrot, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Eastern Spinebill and Golden Whistler.

Eastern Spinebill- Greg Wallace

By now it wasn’t just overcast but light rain was falling. It was time for lunch so it was off to Tirhatuan Park where lucky for us there was a roofed shelter. It rained steadily for the whole lunch period and most decided they’d have enough for the day and departed. 

Australasian Swamphen – Steve Hoptroff

After that the rain eased off and the five that were left had a quick look around.  Some Common Bronzewings lingered and the King Parrots might have flown over from the Police Paddocks to visit.

Dusky Moorhen – John Van Doorn

The conditions were not easy but it was a new site for many in the group.

Tahbilk Wetlands and Mangalore NCR – 16 April 2022

By Phil Marley

This must be a first – asking our group to meet at a winery at 9.30am. But we’ve always said the group is up for a challenge and this was one they eagerly embraced.

Our location was the Tahbilk Wetlands near Nagambie, 90 mins from the city. The wetlands eco trail area has been a 28-year effort by Tahbilk Winery, planting understory vegetation, developing nature paths and building boardwalks along their 8km of permanent billabong adjacent to the Goulburn River. The result is a magnificent habitat for native birds and animals – and stunningly beautiful. It’s been open to the public since 2005.

Billabong at Tahbilk Wetlands – Anthea Fleming

Our group of 25 started at the restaurant carpark in glorious sunshine. Even in the carpark, we heard Fan-Tailed Cuckoos, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos , Pied Currawongs and Corellas and saw Crimson Rosellas and New Holland Honeyeaters. This boded well.

Welcome Swallow – Rodger Scott

We headed off to the Long Bridge over the billabong. Originally built in 1889 with timber hewn on the estate, it was rebuilt in 1966 again with estate-grown timber. The bridge provided good sightings of Welcome Swallows, Dusky Moorhens and Australasian Swamphens (and some odd grey freckled ducks that we couldn’t find in the bird guide – perhaps because they were made of plastic). Just before the bridge, a Tawny Frogmouth kept a watchful eye on passersby, while Red-browed Finches roved in packs along the path edges.

Red-browed Finch – Ben Adler

Once in the bush on the far side, we followed the well-signposted trails past the four boat landings and two bird hides along the shore of the billabong. The bush offered many good views of White-plumed Honeyeaters, Eastern Rosellas, Brown Treecreepers, Brown and Yellow-rumped Thornbills, White-browed Scrubwrens and an Australian King-parrot.

Yellow-rumped Thornbill – Phil Marley

Many other species were clearly seen and heard – including a large flock of noisy Pied Currawongs, many Silvereyes and Striated Pardalotes and a couple of Laughing Kookaburras, while a Peaceful Dove was heard but not seen. The water presented other photo opportunities, including White-faced Herons, Masked Lapwings and an Australasian Darter.

Olive-backed Oriole – John Van Doorn

The morning highlights were Crested Shrike Tits and Olive-backed Orioles – and the sheer beauty of the lily-fringed billabong.

Crested Shrike-tit – Steve Hoptroff

The two-and-a-bit hour morning stroll was not nearly enough to do it full justice. But we eventually dragged ourselves back to the winery and set up chairs for a picnic lunch in the orchard, immersed in the enticing aroma of fermenting grapes and overseen by Crimson Rosellas and Red-browed Finches. The midday bird list was an impressive 53 species.

Little Pied Cormorant – Ross Chapman

After lunch we motored 7km down the Goulburn Valley Highway to the Mangalore Nature Conservation Reserve, a flora and fauna reserve near Seymour. Compared with the 1200-hectare Tahbilk estate, the 78-hectare Mangalore NCR is small but boasts a slightly larger bird list.

Grey Shrike-thrush – Ray St James

But the afternoon birding was challenging. After 30 mins, almost none in the group had seen a single bird. Then, a male Flame Robin popped into view. Everyone became excited. With two females also flittering around, hundreds of photos were taken in a matter of minutes.

Jacky Winter – Scott Williams

And then other species put in appearances – Varied Sittella, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Black-faced Cuckooshrike, White-winged Cough, Golden and Rufous Whistler, female Scarlet Robin, Jacky Winter and Fan-tailed Cuckoo. And, the icing on the cake, a Restless Flycatcher.

Restless Flycatcher – Scott Williams

But wait, there’s more. A Singing Honeyeater was spotted and photographed by two in the group – the first ever reported sighting of the species at this location according to eBird. Well done Anthea and Scott!

Brown Treecreeper – Steve Hoptroff

Not as plentiful as the morning, but Mangalore gave us 27 species, bringing the day’s tally to 64.

Flame Robin – Phil Marley

What a wonderful day! Our sincere thanks to Suzy and the team at Tahbilk for making us so welcome at the Tahbilk Wetlands, to Peter for scoping the outings and to John for leading the group on the day (while Peter swans around Queensland bagging lifers – over 60 at last count!).

Greens Bush and Flinders Ocean Beach – 19 March 2022

Steve Waller

The early morning autumn chill in the Baldry Creek carpark was just beginning to retreat in the face of a brilliantly fine day as the photography group gathered together. It was still cool though and many welcomed the opportunity to stay warm and chat whilst waiting for a few stragglers to arrive. When assembled this was a largish outing for the group with some 30 people starting the day. Nevertheless, the attendance list and other formalities were quickly despatched with, and the group eagerly moved across the road to begin.

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