By Merrilyn Serong
An enthusiastic group of bird photographers gathered in the car park at Serendip in pleasant weather at 10am. After checking the large map near the entrance, we crossed the bridge, passed the information centre, stopped briefly at the nearby pond and began the Wildlife Walk. Cape Barren Geese sat patiently for photos while several Black Kites circled overhead.
Further on at the Marshland Bird Hide numerous water birds sat, swam or preened as we watched. Notable among these were the Magpie Geese. This species was once widespread across Victoria, but suffered a dramatic decline due largely to hunting and habitat loss. More recently the species has been successfully reintroduced to Victoria from northern Australia. Magpie Geese are doing very well at Serendip.
Other species visible from the bird hide included Chestnut and Grey Teal, Dusky Moorhen, Welcome Swallow, and a couple of determined Superb Fairy-wrens that repeatedly flew at the windows, presumably at their reflections. After a stop at another bird hide we proceeded past Black Wallabies and Tiger Quolls into a well populated aviary with its captive Freckled Ducks, White Faced Herons, Tawny Frogmouths, Blue-faced Honeyeaters, Red-browed Finches, Bush Stone-curlews, Buff-banded Rails and other species.
These birds were very easy to photograph. We recorded free species along our way, but not those that we saw only in captivity. Both House and Eurasian Tree Sparrows were free to enter the aviary and leave at will.
Out of the aviary and through the Black Wallaby enclosure, we turned left towards the tower and the north arm of Lake Serendip. Here we found Cape Barren Geese, Black Swans, Red-kneed and Black-fronted Dotterels, Masked Lapwings, White-faced Herons, a Restless Flycatcher, Spotted Pardalotes, Black-tailed Native-hens and more. By now, our group had spread out as individuals or in small groups over a large part of the park. This produced a number of observations of various interesting species not seen by all, but it was good to know they were there. They included Little Eagle, Crested Shrike-tit, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater and Yellow Thornbill.
By 1pm, we returned to our cars and drove to the Yellow Gums Picnic Ground at the nearby You Yangs. Some of those present had not been to the You Yangs before. They had a good view of the area after lunch when we drove around the Great Circle Drive as far as the east end of Branding Yard Road where it meets the west end of Toynes Road. We parked here and walked along the perimeter track to the East Flat / Seed Garden.
Again we spread out over a large area and recorded numerous bird species, though not all were seen by everyone. Most people probably saw Flame and Scarlet Robins, Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Eastern Rosellas, Red-rumped Parrots and others. A little north of the open green-grass area, a Southern Boobook flew out of a thick-canopied tree where it was being harassed by White-plumed Honeyeaters. It perched in a eucalypt for a time, posed for lots of photos, then flew back to its original dark-shaded perch.
We returned to our cars at about 4pm and drove to the Park Office area for bird call and to see if we could locate the resident Tawny Frogmouths. As they were not where we expected to find them, we assumed they had gone elsewhere to nest.
Over the day, the 33 participants recorded a total of 75 bird species, which we thought was quite satisfactory for a winter’s day out.