End of Year Social – 2021

Phil Marley
Good timing is everything. And so it was with our End of Year Social for 2021. After last year’s social had to be held online and five outings this year had to be cancelled due to restrictions, we met up in person on 9 Dec to celebrate our photography once again. Just before omicron exploded. Good timing indeed.

Once more, the Terminus Hotel in North Fitzroy was our pre-picture-show venue for dinner. Once more, their excellent food and drinks provided good sustenance. And once more it was terrific to see familiar and new faces and share experiences of the year. Another difficult year.

With the number of free pints of beer arriving at our table (an unexpected bonus with some meals), it was a marvel that some made it to Fitzroy High School at all, for the show-and-tell afterwards. But make it we all did, eager to be transported into the world each of us experienced in 2021.

True to form, we were taken on jaunts to far-flung places, as well as local. Some managed to escape lockdowns and border closures to get interstate, sometimes for months. Others recalled lucky trips to loved Victorian haunts during the rare periods they allowed visitors. Many had photos from the backyard, a common location for restricted lives.

And we heard the stories behind this year’s favourite pictures. About the opal miners who knew exactly where to find an extremely rare wren. About raptors crashing through tree canopies in pursuit of prey. About a competition-winning photo. About impressionist bird photography. About unusual congregations of common birds. About the uncommon lifers. About birds often heard but not seen. About the joy we all get from our common pursuit.

Perhaps Shakespeare was paraphrasing the difficulties posed by a pandemic when he wrote: When shall we meet again? In thunder, lightning or in rain? When the hurlyburly’s done, when the battle’s lost and won. Let’s hope the battle is won soon.

After a second challenging 12 months, it was good for the soul to celebrate the year with our fellow bird snappers. Looking forward to more opportunities for us to get together in 2022.

Thanks as always to Peter for organizing the social night, collecting and sorting the photos and hosting us and running the picture show at Fitzroy High School.

Tawny Frogmouth – John Bosworth
Latham’s Snipe – Bevan Hood
Australian Owlet-nightjar – Catherine Noone
Peregrine Falcon – Danika Sanderson
Peaceful Dove – Glenda Wilson
Golden-shouldered Parrot – John Barkla
Australian (Mallee) Ringneck – John Van Doorn
Brown Falcon – Michiko Iida
Spotted Pardalote – Mick Connolly
Buff-banded Rail – Peter Bennet
Eastern Whipbird – Phil Marley
Royal Spoonbill – Gaynor Robson
Tawny Frogmouth – Ruth Ault

Brown Quail – Steve Hoptroff
Pacific Baza – Steve Waller

At Point Cook – Phil Marley
At Reef Island – Phil Marley
At Wonthaggi Heathlands – Phil Marley
At Yarran Dheran – Phil Marley

You Yangs and Serindip Sanctuary – November 2021

Phil Marley

The group’s previous outing was in the dim and distant past. Back in May. Six months ago. Late autumn.

But it takes more than lockdowns, curfews, 5km limits and winter doldrums to wipe our collective memory. Reconvening for its Nov outing, the group successfully recalled what birds are, how to find them, what they sound like and which one’s which. And perhaps, even, how to photograph them.

Red-rumped Parrot – Stephen Garth

It was great to be back in business!

New Holland Honeyeater -Michiko Iida

With delightful spring weather, no wind and clearing skies, 31 happy-snappers descended on the You Yangs Regional Park. The park’s name probably comes from the Aboriginal word ‘Wurdi Youang’ or ‘Ude Youang’ meaning big mountain in the middle of the plain. Covering over 12 square kilometers and containing over 50km of tracks, the park is vast, but we were ready for a challenge.

Yellow-faced Honeyeater – Stephen Garth

Heading off along Big Rock Track from the visitor centre, an early find was a Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo. Perched high in a dead tree, it called repeatedly to ensure everyone found it and took its portrait. Less noisy was a male Scarlet Robin in low bushes that only a few were lucky enough to see.

Shining-bronze Cuckoo – Steve Hoptroff

Then onward to see a local celebrity – a koala. But surrounding trees housed Yellow-faced, Brown-headed, New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters, as well as many Red Wattlebirds and some vocal Rufous Whistlers and Superb Fairy-wrens. Several White-throated Treecreepers put on a long display of why they are so-named.

Brown-headed Honeyeater with Friend – Phil Marley

Circling back towards the visitor centre, a pair of Spotted Pardalotes took their time to pose for every camera, offering their best angles. Buff-rumped and Yellow Thornbills were also seen.

Spotted Pardalote – Peter Bennet

Crossing the main entry road, we headed east along the shared track just south of Great Circle Drive. Here we found more New Holland Honeyeaters, a pair of Common Bronzewings sitting obliging on a branch and a noisy flock of White-winged Choughs that serenaded (chased?) us through the bush.

Whistling Kite – John Bosworth

Having travelled maybe 3km and covering less than 2% of the park, we decided the rest could await another outing (or ten). We regrouped at the car park and motored on to the terrific picnic area at Serendip Sanctuary for lunch.

Common Bronzewing – Steve Hoptroff

The afternoon saw us spread out through the 250 hectare site. Some took in the enclosures showing Australian Bustards, Bush Stone-curlews and Brolgas. Many went to the north arm of the lake and saw Yellow-billed Spoonbills, Black-fronted Dotterels, Pied Stilts and other water birds, as well as some Emu in the dry southern part.

Most trekked over the causeway to the wader observation bird hide and tracked down a Shining Bronze-cuckoo that was making a lot of noise nearby.

Galah – Peter Bennet

The bush offered up an Eastern Yellow Robin, Red-rumped Parrots, Willie Wagtails, Dusky Woodswallows, Eastern Rosellas and a Restless Flycatcher. And the skies presented a smorgasbord of raptors – Whistling Kite, Nankeen Kestrel, Black Kite and Brown Goshawk. Oh, and some Cape Barren Geese and Magpie Geese.

Pied Stilt – Ross and Sue Chapman

Six months off but the group still has its mojo – 70 species for the day. And it was great to welcome a good number of new people joining our group for the first time. We really hope you enjoyed yourselves and will join us again.

Bush Stone-curlew – Michiko Iida

Thanks as always to Peter for coordinating the outing with the ever-changing challenges of covid and for herding the gaggle on the day. Fingers crossed for a totally uninterrupted program of outings in 2022!

Yarran Dheran Reserve and Currawong Bush Park  – May 2021

Phil Marley

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.

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