We don’t often do big forest sites, I suppose because they can be difficult for photography – small birds very distantly silhouetted at the top of tall trees, or alternatively small birds moving quickly in dim light underneath tall trees. But this trip showed there is a range of birds that don’t often make it into our lists and although a great deal of patience and skill are required, good results are still obtainable.
The carpark at Wirrawilla, just out of Toolangi, is famously where you see birds that you just walked four hours through the forest in search of. It’s a great spot to sit and listen, and we were rewarded on this superb sunny morning with not only such familiar songsters as Golden Whistler and Grey Shrike-Thrush, but also less common species such as Rose Robin and Brush Cuckoo. The short boardwalk circuit along the creek nearby is always worthwhile for its peace and ferny beauty, which is fortunate because on this occasion there were few birds there!
We then headed up the lower arm of the Myrtle Gully Circuit, again a lovely trail through mountain ash forest. More birds were heard than seen – including two more cuckoos (Fan-Tailed and Shining Bronze) and the Superb Lyrebird, whose scratchings were evident along the track. The lucky few at the front of the group spotted a Rufous Fantail, but the best photographic opportunities were of a placid and curious tiger snake enjoying the warm sun on the track.
Returning to the carpark, the main group walked a short distance up Quarry Rd where there were some elusive sightings (and even a couple of photos) of Pink Robin and then, a particular highlight, a solitary Black-faced Monarch, a species seen here a number of times last year but apparently just arrived for 2016.
Following lunch in the carpark we moved a short way to Mt St Leonard, where again the lucky vanguard spotted the resident male Flame Robin checking out car mirrors for potential competitors. A short distance further on we parked at Monda carpark where the bulk of the group walked some distance down the south end of Quarry Rd. A Satin Flycatcher was patrolling a small dam near the road. Again, more species were heard than seen, notably Eastern Whipbird and Rose Robin again.
And so 2016’s outings program ended under brilliant blue skies with a small but interesting birdlist and (hopefully) a good photo or two!