By Phil Marley
A glorious sunny morning greeted the 25 folk who motored up to Seymour for our May outing. The 5ºC chill soon melted away to provide perfect, still, warm conditions at our first stop – Mangalore Nature Conservation Reserve.
The 79 hectare flora and fauna reserve is well known for its orchids but at this time of year the hunt was on for other pretty things, such as Painted Buttonquail. The group spread out in all directions on the large network of good tracks through open woodland. Large, ancient gums and the light understorey, along with some cleared avenues for powerlines, provided an excellent range of habitats in a compact area. The background hum from the Goulburn Valley Highway didn’t spook the feathered inhabitants.
Early excitement was generated by Swift Parrots flying over the carpark, repeated later by much closer sightings. White-browed Babblers, Crested Shrike-tits, White-bellied Cuckooshrikes and Brown Treecreepers were seen by many, while a few saw Dusky Woodswallows and Jacky Winters. Gang-gang Cockatoo also put in a guest appearance, as did some raptors casually floating overhead. No Buttonquail, painted or otherwise, but with a bunch of people chatting and trampling around, perhaps this was not so surprising.
Late morning we adjourned ten minutes south to Lions Park in Seymour for lunch. The riverside park was extensive and in a beautiful setting. The wide, shallow section of the Goulburn River and majestic eucalypts provided a lovely space to share sightings and the species we had dipped out on. A large, dying gum directly above our picnic provided a focus for debate and perhaps a little anxiety.
Onwards after lunch took us ten minutes east to the Seymour Bushland Park. The 62 hectare site has been regenerating into parkland since 1978. Prior to this it was the Kitchener Military Camp and then a staging ground for armed forces in the two World Wars. Decommissioned in the 1960s, it was then used for grazing before reverting to natural woodland.
The good, level tracks offered a choice of short 1.3km or long 2.8km loops. The longer option took in a lake, rifle range and grenade pits – luckily only the first was still in use. As the afternoon clouded over, photos became more challenging but many added Scarlet Robins to their morning sightings of Eastern Yellow and Flame. Varied Sitella, a small flock of White-winged Chough and a very shy Speckled Warbler added some excitement and a Golden Whistler put in an appearance, making up for the absence of Gilbert’s Whistlers during the morning.
The day was a lovely outing in excellent locations offering some interesting and unusual birds for our group amongst the 54 species recorded. Thanks to John Van Doorn for being our expert guide and to Peter Bennet for the usual excellent logistics.