Friday, 18 September
A preliminary stop for some before getting to Chiltern was Wenhams Camp in the Warby Ranges. This location did not disappoint those who made the early trek there. There were Speckled Warblers, Turquoise Parrots and Jacky Winters active in the area. A raptor, maybe a Collared Sparrowhawk flew close by causing the local White-browed Babblers to freeze in bushes like statues for a few minutes .
For participants who arrived on Friday, a leisurely stroll around Lake Anderson, which is adjacent to the Caravan Park, was the start of a splendid long weekend of birding and early Springweather. An assortment of the regular water birds were seen on the Lake, including Hardhead and Little-black Cormorant. The Australian Reed-warblers had returned from the northern latitudes and were constantly calling from the reeds along with several Little Grassbirds.
On the grass around the nearby oval Red-rumped Parrots and Red-browed Finch were foraging while in the bordering trees Black-faced Cuckoo-skrike, Eastern Yellow Robin and Crimson Rosellas (Yellow Variety) were among the species sighted. Honeyeaters were represented by the Blue-faced and White-plumed varieties.
Saturday, 19 September
All participants were now present for the Saturday excursion. First stop was at Cyanide road near the corner with Lancashire Gap Road which is an area where the Department of Environment had advised us that the Regent Honeyeater was located. This site is very close to the release point for the 2015 birds which were released in late April. The group was almost immediately rewarded with excellent viewing of several Regent Honeyeaters many of which were interacting with the dominant Noisy Friarbirds which were also in the area. It was difficult to ascertain how many Honeyeaters were being seen but examination of photographs after the event suggested four birds were present. Perhaps it was the same four birds that were photographically co-operative and the group missed capturing any additional birds but there seemed to be more than four birds in the area. A subsequent email from the Department of Environment confirmed that their surveys were showing only four birds at this site. Other Honeyeaters in this area were Yellow-tufted, White-naped and Fuscous. Little Lorikeets were foraging high in the Ironbark canopies.
After lunch the group headed for Bartley’s Block the site of a gold rush era brewery which is bounded by Box Ironbark. The group scattered in all directions around the block with some of the sightings including White-throated and Western Gerygone, Mistletoebird, Speckled Warbler and a Shining-bronze Cuckoo nicely framed in a wattle bush.
Sunday, 20 September
First stop was the No 2 dam, a large expanse of water west of Chiltern. It has the best of both worlds with a water habitat and adjacent forest surrounded by paddocks. On arrival Diamond Firetails were seen on the car park fence wire while the walk through the trees to the bird hide produced sightings of Restless Flycatchers, Black-faced and White-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes, Grey Shrike-thrush and Eastern Rosellas. In the paddocks a White-necked Heron and Straw-necked Ibis were seen while on the water of the dam were Hardheads, a Great Cormorant and a Pelican. Roosting on the dead trees in the water were Red-rumped Parrots. Peaceful Doves were constantly calling around the dam site but none were actually sighted. A Jacky Winter was frolicking on fence wire on our return to the car park.
A stop at the No 1 dam on the return trip added Black-winged Stilts, an Australasian Shoveler and Hoary-headed Grebe.
Some of the group headed up to Donchi Hill for a picnic lunch and in the lunch break we sighted a Fan-tailed Cuckoo as well as a Red-capped Robin.
After lunch a short trip north of Chiltern had the group parked at the corner of Ryans Road and Teal Track near the decommissioned Barnawatha Sewerage Ponds. Bird life on the ponds was limited with the main interest being in the adjacent forest. Sightings of White-browed Babblers, Western Gerygone, Restless Flycatcher, Striated Pardalote were made. A small water hole in the area produced excellent viewing of Superb Fairy-wrens, Brown-headed, Painted, Black-chinned and Fuscous Honeyeaters and a Speckled Warbler.
As this juncture several of the group had to leave and return home.
Monday, 21 September
It was decided to vary the planned programme and return to Cyanide Road for a second look at the Regent Honeyeaters particularly as this was the first sighting of this species by many in the group. We were rewarded with a similar display to that seen two days earlier.
A few more members of the group decided it was time to head home while the small number who remained went on to visit Ironbark Track and the Magenta mine. Species seen at these sites included Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters, Striated Pardalotes, Mistletoebirds and White-browed Babblers. This brought us up to lunch where the official outing concluded.
A total of 28 participants attended during some part of the long weekend with several of newer members logging up to twelve ‘lifers’ to their bird list.