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.

Galah – Phil Marley

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.

Golden Whistler – Michiko Iida

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.

Rainbow Lorikeet -Steve Waller

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.

Spotted Dove - John Van Doorn
Spotted Dove – John Van Doorn

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.

Tawny Frogmouth - Steve Waller
Tawny Frogmouth – Steve Waller

Lunch at the picnic tables was closely observed by three hopeful magpies, then on to Currawong Bush Park 6km further north.

Pied Currawong – Peter Bennet

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.

Laughing Kookaburra - Phil Marley
Laughing Kookaburra – Phil Marley

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!

Powerful Owl – Michiko Iida

Mullum Mullum certainly lived up to its name of “place of many big birds”.

Australian Wood Duck – Steve Waller

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.

Craigieburn Grasslands (Galgi Ngarrk) and Yan Yean – March 2021

By Steve Waller

It promised to be the most perfect morning. At the end of Ohern’s Road Cragieburn, the crowd of excited long lenses and digital cameras swirled excitedly around their chattering owners. Beyond this group Craigieburn Nature Reserve itself stretched toward the horizon. Its rich autumn tones of ripe native grasses, exotic woody weeds and plentiful birdlife awaited under a blue-vaulted sky.  The group eagerly anticipated a rich photographic harvest of scintillating Cisticolas, titillating Thornbills, even a Quail or two, and raptors without end. All of this and more, if only we could finally get everyone to the right meeting spot!

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Point Cook and Skeleton Creek Boardwalk – February 2021

Phil Marley

It was a relief just to be able to go on our first outing for the year – we had been in a ‘short, sharp circuit-breaker’ COVID-19 lockdown only three days before. Somehow it felt like we had earned this outing. And, being the responsible folk we are, the group self-regulated so that 19 turned up, under the new 20 person limit for outdoor gatherings.

Satin Flycatcher - Stephen Garth

Satin Flycatcher – Stephen Garth

We met at the carpark close to the Tower – and headed off into rain. Light rain admittedly, but it lasted about half an hour, just enough to ensure we were properly wet. Unfortunately our group coordinator Peter, with his direct line to the rain gods, was unable to be with us this time and his absence had immediate impact. The birds were not too impressed by the rain either – we saw almost none for the first hour or so, just Little Ravens, Magpies and Larks.

Little Raven and Australian Magpie - Phil Marley

Australian Magpie, Magpie Lark  and Little Raven – Phil Marley

On reaching the Tower (a monument to migration and aspiration), we headed south down the coastal track. And then we started getting excited. First up Striated Fieldwrens hopped onto bushtops and started singing. Not to be outdone, Golden-headed Cisticolas did the same. And on the coast, a Brolga was also stirred into action – mainly flying away from us, but a good sighting nonetheless.

Silvereye - Stephen Garth

Silvereye – Stephen Garth

Out on the bay, an Australasian Gannet put in some diving practice, while a flock of 13 White-faced Herons flew past nonchalantly. A pair of Pacific Gulls thought flying and diving were too much like hard work, so just floated on the water, but a couple of Crested Terns and Pied and Little Pied Cormorants were up for a fly-over.

Pied Cormorant-Stephen Garth

Pied Cormorant-Stephen Garth

Rounding Point Cook and heading for the Homestead, the weather improved to sunny and our bird fortunes picked up too. We encountered New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters, lots of Superb Fairy-wrens and some White-browed Scrubwrens and Grey Fantails.

Australian Magpie - Stephen Garth

Australian Magpie – Stephen Garth

But the star attraction was a female Satin Flycatcher that lingered for 30 minutes in the treetops in front of our whole paparazzi pack. Based on sightings of the female, we first thought it was a Leaden Flycatcher, but a return visit by one of the group later in the day found a male that was clearly a Satin, together with the female.

White-faced Heron - Michiko Iida

White-faced Heron – Michiko Iida

The excitement carried us through to lunch at the beach picnic area, following by an hour’s stroll in the coastal scrub. Singing Honeyeaters, Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Crested Pigeons, European Goldfinches and another Satin Flycatcher were good additions. And a Whistling Kite – the only raptor firmly identified on the day.

Australasian Grebe - Phil Marley

Australasian Grebe – Phil Marley

Next stop was the lake north of the RAAF Lookout Carpark on Main Drive. This was a new location for many – and offered lots of Little Grassbird calls and good views of Cisticolas, Australian Reed Warblers and a family of Australasian Grebes (two adults with four chicks). And also a thirsty flock of Zebra Finch, which came in for a drink just five meters from our group and stayed long enough for everyone to get some shots.

Zebra Finch - John Van Doorn

Zebra Finch – John Van Doorn

Three of the group ventured on to the Skeleton Creek Boardwalk for a late afternoon stop on the way home. The most notable finds were some Little Black Cormorants sitting in a row on overhead powerlines and a solitary Common Sandpiper walking along the edge of the creek, bobbing its tail.

Tiger Moth - Michiko Iida

Tiger Moth – Michiko Iida

With 54 species for Point Cook and 27 at the Boardwalk, the day was a great success and an excellent start to what we hope will be a full year of activities. COVID-permitting.

Bird List Point Cook Feb2021