Pound Bend and Jumping Creek Reserve, Warrandyte – 17 Sept 2022

Phil Marley

After our south-west adventures down the Bellarine in August, our September outing took us north-east to Warrandyte State Park.

Australian King Parrot – John Bosworth

The Park, established in 1973, comprises 586 hectares of remnant bushland. It includes Anderson’s Creek, located between the two reserves we visited and the site of one of Victoria’s earliest gold discoveries in 1851.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo – Peter Bennet

Pound Bend Aboriginal Reserve was created in 1850 to set aside land next to the Yarra River for the Wurundjeri people. But after gold was discovered nearby in 1851, traditional life became impossible.

Early Nancy (Wurmbea dioica) – Anthea Fleming

In 1852 the Wurundjeri were formally relocated from their land, eventually securing a permanent home at Coranderrk, Healesville in 1854. Land in the reserve was then sold and became a cattle pound in the 1860s, the origin of the site’s current name.

White-naped Honeyeater – Peter Bennet

From the Pound Bend carpark, we headed upstream along the banks of the river under cloudy but bright conditions. The tall gums around the picnic ground and Yarra’s edge were alive with bird song. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Long-billed Corellas competed with Galahs and Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets in the aerial soundscape, while lower down White-naped, White-eared and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters vied for acoustic dominance.

Pacific Black Duck – John Bosworth

The trees provided perches for Pacific Black Ducks and Grey Teals, while grassy areas also had Australian Wood Ducks grazing.

In the foliage along the river bank, Eastern Yellow Robins, Brown Thornbills, Golden Whistlers and Silvereyes provided plenty of interest.

Golden Whistler – Phil Marley

Eastern and Crimson Rosellas and Australian King Parrots provided streaks of colour flying through the trees and Laughing Kookaburras, Australian Magpies, Grey Butcherbirds, Fan-tailed Cuckoos and both Pardalotes added their voices to the morning soundtrack.

Australian Magpie – Anthea Fleming

After about an hour, we came to a large open paddock where Australian Magpies, Magpie Larks and grey kangaroos were feeding. They were joined by a remarkably approachable flock of White-winged Choughs picking through leaf-litter.

White-winged Chough – Mick Connolly

We turned away from the river and headed uphill to re-enter the bush on the ridgeline, heading back towards the picnic ground along Tank Track. The day’s highlight was seen along this track – some Striated Thornbills patiently posing for lots of photos.

Striated Thornbill – John Van Doorn

Not much else was seen on the return leg, perhaps because the wind had picked up and the ridgeline was fairly exposed.

Grey Fantail – Michiko Iida

Nearing the carpark, we descended steps leading down to Pound Bend Tunnel – with two Pied Currawongs and a very tame Kookaburra for company. The tunnel was built in 1870 at the point where the Yarra River forms such a large bend that it almost winds back to itself. The aim of the tunnel was to divert the Yarra River, leaving a 5km stretch of the original riverbed exposed to be mined for gold. The tunnel itself is 196 metres long, six metres wide and four metres high and was opened July 1870.

Yarra River – Anthea Fleming

Regrouping after two hours, we then motored the ten minutes to Jumping Creek Reserve, where Jumping Creek flows into the Yarra. The picnic shelter there was perfectly sized for an early lunch for our group of 25 – though, fortunately, shelter was not needed from the weather.

Laughing Kookaburra – Mick Conolly

Our post-prandial stroll took us along the Blue Tongue Trail next to the Yarra, then inland to return along the Nature Trail. Sadly, both were fairly quiet – although Laughing Kookaburras, Eastern Yellow Robins and Eastern Spinebills put in appearances.

Long-billed Corella – Steve Hoptroff

With 47 species for the day and the weather holding for the time we were out, the group went home very happy. Considerately, the clouds only opened with a hail-and-rain deluge an hour after we left.

Thanks as usual to Peter for keeping the group moving to avoid the storm and to John and Peter for an advance recce to encourage feathered attendance on the day.

Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne – 16 July 2022

By Phil Marley

The forecast was not encouraging – overcast and windy, with showers developing. Even so, 25 optimistic birders met up at the Stringybark Picnic Area at the Cranbourne Gardens, hopeful of good things.

But it was hard going. After half an hour we spotted our first bird. Perched on the top of a dead tree limb, the New Holland Honeyeater allowed everyone to take photos, seemingly too afraid to let go and be at the mercy of the wind.

New Holland Honeyeater – John Van Doorn

The next birds, half an hour later, were two Eastern Yellow Robins. They put on a merry dance around us – but by then we were 30 minutes into light rain and all cameras were safely stowed under cover.

Uphill in Rain – Anthea Fleming

So it went on. The group followed the Possum Gully Track up to Trig Track, then down Wetlands Walk to the Wylies Creek Wetlands. When the rain finally eased off and the sun momentarily broke through, birds started appearing. White-eared and White-plumed Honeyeaters, Superb Fairy-wrens, Brown Thornbills, calls from more Yellow Robins – things looked a little better.

Australasian Grebe – John Bosworth

Out by the lakes, Australasian Swamphens and Masked Lapwings were grazing in the paddocks. Eurasian Coots, Australian Wood Ducks, Pacific Black Ducks, Australasian Grebes and a couple of Hardheads paddled on the water. And Pacific and Silver Gulls circled overhead – seeking inland refuge from the exposed nearby coasts.

Sundews – Anthea Fleming

Overhead and far, far away, solitary raptors were doing their best to soar while being battered this way and that – a Whistling Kite, a Black-shouldered Kite and a Little Eagle. A few Rainbow Lorikeets and Crimson and Eastern Rosellas sliced through the wind while a Grey Butcherbird stayed low down in sheltering trees.

Grey Butcherbird – Phil Marley

The wind made things tough. The bustles in the hedgerows weren’t the birds we sought, just breeze.

After two hours, we adjourned for an early lunch in the covered picnic area to lick our wounds and thaw hands on mugs of hot drinks.

A Little Eagle with a Little Raven escort – Phil Marley

Fortified and refreshed, we drove round to the Australian Garden. But by now the wind had also fortified and refreshed itself. At 40-45kph, it chilled hands, shook cameras and moved foliage creating big challenges to capturing good bird photos.

In brief episodes of sunlight, New Holland Honeyeaters and Little and Red Wattlebirds played chase through the flowering gums and banksias, and some ducks, coots and a solitary Little Pied Cormorant found refuge on the ponds protected by surrounding the bushes.

Little Wattlebird – Phil Marley

Enough was enough. After 40 minutes, our gang sought its own refuge in the coffee shop, happy to swap wind-chill for coffee and cake. Good decision.

This was a day for the dedicated birder. The tally of 40 species recorded for the day is a testament to sharp eyes and steady binoculars, and some true grit in the wind.

Superb Fairywren – Phil Marley

Thanks as always to Peter for coordinating things and maintaining morale in the group while guiding us through the testing times.