Adams Creek and Stockyard Point – November 2017

By Phil Marley

For the last outing of the year we headed south-east of the city to two contrasting spots – woodland reserve and foreshore. Both offered interesting sightings.

Insect – Kathy Zonneville

A pair of Spotted Pardalotes provided an up-close-and-personal experience three metres from our parked cars at Adams Creek Nature Conservation Reserve. Oblivious to the excited shutters clicking away, they provided welcome entertainment for the early starters as they waited for others to arrive.  A Superb Fairy-wren found great issue with that other Fairy-wren it could see in the car mirror, just as big as itself.

Superb Fairy-wren – Margaret Bosworth

The reserve offered a gentle stroll along a wide track through native bush. Predictably Honeyeaters featured large – White-eared, White-naped, Brown-headed, New Holland, Yellow-faced. But another early sighting was a Mistletoebird, feeding in flowering mistletoe overhead. Small flocks of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and Straw-necked Ibis flew over while the group searched for Shining-bronze, Brush and Fan-tailed Cuckoos, whose calls had been heard. Eastern Whipbirds added to the soundscape and, not to be outdone, a Laughing Kookaburra cackled away.

Mistletoebird – John Bosworth

The wide track was slow going due to soft sand and a few dips and turns, but the varied bush rewarded us with encounters with Olive, Golden and Rufous Whistlers, Rainbow Bee-eater and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. A pair of Grey Currawongs kept pace with us for a large part of the walk.

Flying Duck Orchid – John Van Doorn

Regrouping back at the cars, we adjourned to the skate park in Lang Lang for an early lunch. The local bakery was well patronised and more than made up for skate park, which needed a bit of TLC.

Shorebirds – Phil Marley

The afternoon saw us cross the South Gippsland Highway/Bass Highway to the coast at Jam Jerrup. A 1.5 km beach walk brought us to Stockyard Point. The walk was a little challenging with more soft sand and an unforgiving midday sun, but the whole setting was truly beautiful. Turning west, we faced French Island across Western Port Bay, turning south-east encompassed Pioneer Bay further along the coast. Vistas in all directions were sensational.

Birders on the beach – Anthea Fleming

Stockyard Point offered large colonies of terns standing at the water’s edge – mostly Whiskered and Gull-billed, but a couple of Caspian and Crested hidden in the mix. In turn, the terns shared the beach real-estate with several hundred waders – mostly Sharp-tailed and Curlew Sandpipers. A Grey Plover was by itself  but with more discovered by one intrepid birder risking his shoes in the mud further down the shore. A couple of Red Knots, Red-necked Stints, Red-necked Avocets and Red-capped Plovers added some red to the foreshore crush and provided activity as they sifting the waterlogged sand for lunch.

Grey Plovers – Peter Bennet

Occasionally the whole multitude took to the air – either because some of our group ventured too far down the beach or, more likely, because an overhead sea eagle ventured too close (clearly the greater threat).

Caspian Tern – Erica Gage

The flock of a thousand mixed birds circling around and resettling on the water’s edge provided some fabulous sights, and perhaps a tantalising glimpse of another un-identified species in their midst.

Whiskered Terns – Mike Gage

The plan had been to sit on the beach and let the rising tide push the birds up the sand towards our lenses. Nice plan, but after two hours in 30 degree heat and unrelenting sun, and no gelati van in sight (a serious omission by the management), the group decided to retreat to the car park. Wise decision as it turned out, since the beach was being cut off by the rising tide. A later return would have involved swimming with our camera gear.

White-bellied Sea-eagle – Stephen Garth

An excellent day with almost 70 species recorded across the two habitats – and a good top-up to our vitamin D levels. A big thank-you to John for scouting the spots and being our guide for the day.

Birdlister & counter LangLang

 

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Anglesea Campout – October 2017

Saturday 21/10 by Peter Bennet

Due to a slight misunderstanding in the editing of the instructions for Saturday morning, the day’s birdwatching began somewhat earlier than we’re accustomed to: 6.30AM outside the caravan park in Anglesea. Unfortunately the edit didn’t make it to the local birds who were a little on the tardy side in arising for the day, and in fact although the sun was due at pretty much that time the low cloud cover prevented very much of the photographer’s stock-in-trade reaching the vicinity.

Superb Fairy-wren – Peter Bennet

But no matter! A band of hardy souls set off down the riverbank, entertained by a bevy of blue Superb Fairy-wrens. There were a few Honeyeaters about, fantailed and Horsfield’s bronze cuckoos, various small scrub birds and a dignified overflight by a white-necked heron. A kangaroo bounded across the beach, paused to consider the situation but decided against a swim and continued up the dunes.

Skippy on the beach – Catherine Noone

Next stop (with a visit to the bakery for a caffeine update by the usual suspects) was O’Donohue Road, a hillside heath with great views across to Aireys Inlet. Within a few minutes the group (now up to about 25 people) was scattered across the landscape – would anyone find the Emu-wrens? The answer is yes – mostly glimpses but a couple of photos were managed. One particularly blessed bush contained in short order three different wrens – Superb Fairy, Striated Field and Southern Emu.

Southern Emu-wren – Catherine Noone

Both shining and Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoos, as well as Fan-tailed Cuckoo, were calling and occasionally appearing, along with several Honeyeaters – notably brown-headed and white-eared – blue-winged parrots and pipits. The Emu-wrens were a first for some and not common in anyone’s book so a lot of rather pleased birders (and a relieved Marg Lacey) headed off for Point Roadknight.

Blue-winged Parrot – Ruth Ault

PR is a lovely bay with an eroded rocky point. It’s often the haunt of roosting terns and gulls but the fishing must have been better elsewhere – just a couple of Pacific Gulls, a dozen crested terns and a couple of great cormorants. A moment of excitement erupted when a tern came in with 20-odd centimetres of eel hanging out of its beak – it rapidly thought better of hanging out with its best mates and flew off again, pursued by several of them anxious to have a chat. But an inspection of the ocean (plenty of it about) showed a very large flock of possible Shearwaters well offshore (just dots, no chance of ID) and a lone Shy Albatross gliding gracefully past about 400m offshore.

Crested Tern – Stephen Garth

Next stop was Coalmine Rd. This location is notable chiefly for its giant mosquitoes, so big and so close that binoculars were not required. But there were also lots of bush birds, from the nest-building Rufous Whistler to a pair of orioles to the interleaved calling of four cuckoos – the species seen earlier plus the pallid.

Greencomb Spider-orchid – Ruth Ault

Lunch at Coogarah Park and a leisurely (the polite word for extremely slow) exploration of the paths through the wetlands yielded some new species. A Buff-banded Rail was glimpsed, a Sacred Kingfisher was active in the entrance swamp, a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels fossicked along the shore. The cuckoos were busier than ever so the bush birds should have been a little more discreet, we felt, rather than carrying on their various lives energetically and publicly.

Royal Spoonbill – Mike Gage

We had intended visiting Gherang Gherang Bushland Reserve before lunch but Marg had checked it the day before and found little of interest and it was dropped. So naturally Ruth and Mike appeared at lunch having visited GGBR reporting, amongst other interesting species, scarlet honeyeaters! Back on the list for tomorrow.

Australasian Pipit – John Bosworth

By mid-afternoon the energy levels were starting to flag and by common consent we pulled up stumps about 4, having had a very successful and extended day of birding. And besides, we needed to conserve some strength for dinner at the Aireys pub!

White-browed Scrubwren – Margaret Bosworth

Early Sunday at the Lighthouse by John Van Doorn

After the relative sleep-in compared to the previous day most assembled at the Airey’s Inlet Lighthouse at 7:30 AM. This location has a reputation as a very good place to see Rufous Bristlebirds  and it did not disappoint with several being seen, usually a brief view as they dashed from one bush to the next. The best location for the Bristlebirds was effectively a suburban street running from the lighthouse. They didn’t stay in the open very long as they ran from one bush to the next.

Rufous Bristlebird – John Van Doorn

The Bristlebirds were not the only interesting sightings with Singing Honeyeaters singing as well a Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo showing itself along with the usual Crimson Rosellas, Wattlebirds competing with some interesting sculptures for our attention.

Singing Honeyeater – John Bosworth

Sunday Proper By Phil Marley

The lazy folk who only joined the outing for the Sunday arrived at Distillery Creek picnic ground after the weekend gang had already done an early shift around Aireys Inlet lighthouse. The newcomers had to put up with excited stories of Shy Albatross, Emuwren and Bristlebirds seen earlier. But the day was young and many more species were to be bagged.

Tawny-crowned Honeyeater – Stephen Garth

Mostly sunny conditions with no breeze, Distillery Creek offered great birding territory. Several cuckoos – Horsefield’s, Pallid and Fantailed – were seen or heard. The woodlands also accommodated nesting White-throated Treecreepers, songful Golden Whistlers and several Sacred Kingfishers, together with a range of the common honeyeaters – White-naped, White-eared, New Holland.

Rufous Whistler Male – Phil Marley

Rufous Whistler Female – Stephen Garth

Most folk followed the gentle track only a couple of hundred meters, but were rewarded with constant bird song and a good range of sightings. A Satin Flycatcher distracted some, others followed a flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and a solitary Wedge-tailed Eagle high up above. Calls of Olive-backed Oriole and Black-faced cuckoo-shrikes echoed everywhere.

Lunch at Distillery Creek – Ruth Ault

Mid-morning we de-camped to the nearby Aireys Inlet Water Reclamation Plant 5km down the road. The change in setting offered Blue-billed Ducks, Musk Duck and many Hoary-headed Grebes and a range of other water fowl. A nearby flock of Pied Currawongs offered a continuous chorus, interspersed by raucous Sulphur-crested Cockatoos spooked by a wedgie overhead.

Great Cormorant – Stephen Garth

Lunch back at the Distillery Creek picnic ground offered the chance to re-group and for Peter to take a bird list. But he was upstaged by White-winged Trillers and Rufous Whistlers demanding photographic attention at close quarters. Half-eaten sandwiches were abandoned and the bird-list forgotten as the group diffused into the bush following birds making a tactical withdrawal.

White-winged Triller – Phil Marley

After lunch a small group reconvened at Gherang Gherang Woodland Reserve, about 10km inland in the Anglesea Health. They were rewarded with some excellent sightings of spectacular Scarlet Honeyeaters and some Mistletoebirds feeding in flowering mistletoe.

Scarlet Honeyeater – Margaret Lacey

With a total of over 100 species for the weekend, this was a terrific outing in a wonderful location offering a variety of habitats in close proximity. Many thanks to Marg Lacey for the scouting and organisation and for scheduling all the birds to be in attendance and to Peter for organising the rest of us to show up too. Great job both!

Anglesea birdlists

Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve and Newstead – September 2017

By Phil Marley

Spring was in the air for our Sept outing and the birds were hopping. Birdsong was everywhere and aerial tag-and-chase routines were in full swing. And, once more, the weather-gods smiled – heavy rain of the previous 24 hours moved away in the early morning leaving a totally dry day with mostly blue skies and sun. Continue reading