The promise of Antarctic Petrels was sufficient to entice folk to join the May outing. But with hail and heavy showers before dawn and the threat of more rain during the day, things did not look good. Fortunately the dozen or so who met in Mitcham were rewarded with benign conditions and some special sightings and photo ops.
The locations were two of the many reserves along the Mullum Mullum Creek, which flows for 22km from Croydon in the east to join the Yarra at Templestowe in the north. Wikipedia notes that “Mullum Mullum is adapted from Woiwurrung language and is thought to mean “place of many big birds”. Indeed.
Just 20 metres into Yarran Dheran Reserve, the group was welcomed by two Laughing Kookaburras posing together on a low branch. As we explored the many boardwalks, tracks and paths, we heard lots of Rainbow Lorikeets and a Grey Butcherbird. And more Kookaburras.
A flock of Gang-gang Cockatoos flew over, as did a few Australian King Parrots, while Pied Currawongs and Australian Magpies showed themselves and added their voices to the chorus. Smaller birds did eventually wake up and put in appearances – Golden Whistlers, Silvereyes, Spotted Pardalotes, Brown Thornbills, White-browed Scrubwrens and Superb Fairy Wrens. A Common Bronzewing and a couple of Spotted Doves were also seen, as were Crimson and Eastern Rosellas.
The morning highlight however was a couple of Tawny Frogmouths trying to sleep in neighbouring trees – in easy range of our horde of happy snappers. We left them in peace – after a few dozen photos.
Lunch at the picnic tables was closely observed by three hopeful magpies, then on to Currawong Bush Park 6km further north.
The more open woodland and prevalence of Manna Gums marked a change in habitat and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos dominated the soundscape. Some Australian Wood Ducks posed quietly on a fallen log over the creek and two Galahs demonstrated how to hollow out a nest hole in a tree. Another couple of Tawny Frogmouths posed higher up in upright trees, competing with the morning pair for photogenicity.
But all the day’s frogmouths were outdone by a pair of Powerful Owls sitting three metres apart directly over the track in plain sight high in the canopy. Well spotted Michiko!
Mullum Mullum certainly lived up to its name of “place of many big birds”.
The locations were new to most in the group and gave us 34 species for the day, in spite of cold and damp conditions. Our thanks to Tony for suggesting the sites based on his 5km radius outings during lockdown last year and for helping guide our visit and to Peter for efficiently chaperoning the group to finish just before the real rain set in.