Well, we’re not into bragging in our blog, but sometimes you’ve got to crow.
On our June 2019 outing, almost everyone in the group helped record the first ever sighting of a Pink Robin at the Doug Grant Reserve, on the Altona side of the Laverton Creek opposite Truganina Park. This time, our July 2019 outing reported only the second ever sighting of a Brush Bronzewing at Shepherds Bush, from 1165 checklists – well done Stephen Garth! Interestingly, the only previous sighting nine years ago was in almost exactly the same location. Same bird? Could be – they live up to 25 years.
Both our rare sightings were backed up with quality photos unequivocally establishing the IDs.
Our Shepherds Bush outing was a glorious day – sunny, warm and beautiful. Thirty two folk, with a similar number of cameras and binoculars, spread out in multiple directions to explore the dense vegetation along Dandenong Creek.
For many, the highlight was a Powerful Owl trying to sleep on a branch high above the track inside the reserve. It held on as occasional wind gusts threatened to spill it into the paparazzi below.
The combination of dense bush and increasing breeze as the morning progressed offered challenging photo conditions.But the group was up for the challenge. Australian Wood Ducks precariously balanced in trees, various honeyeaters high in the canopy hanging on for dear life, Grey Shrikethrush, Golden Whistler and a Red-browed Finch sheltering lower down and Rainbow Lorikeets screaming across the sky ignoring the swaying treetops – all provided good camera-fodder.
More difficult sightings included flocks of Silvereye, solitary Brown Thornbills and the odd Eastern Spinebill. All are constantly on the move even on a still day, but by late morning this day they were in involuntary forced progression through the foliage. We needed sharp eyes, instant frame-and-focus coordination and hair trigger fingers to capture images.
A lot of cameras tried to capture some Striated Thornbills flitting about 10 meters above the path: had we still been working with film, we’d have kept Kodak in business for at least another year.
After three hours, we reconvened at the East carpark at Jells Park for lunch, rest-break and bird count, notching up 50 species for Shepherds Bush – a great result with the developing wind. The tally included a Common Bronzewing, to offset the Brush one.
After lunch, the group broke for clockwise or counter-clockwise circuits of Jells Park lake. There was no scientific birding rationale for this: the sleep-deprived simply took the latter route to pick up coffee at Madeline’s cafe before progressing.
The lake offered ducks – Pink-eared, Blue-billed, Freckled, Pacific Black – along with plenty of Eurasian Coots. And around 300 Australian White Ibis trying to sink the two islands through sheer weight. A few Straw-necked Ibis flew over, but decided there was no room at the inn and kept flying. A solitary Wedge-tailed Eagle patrolled high up.
The trees around the lake provided plenty of other species, including Musk Lorikeets, Spotted Pardalotes, Brown Thornbills, White-browed Scrubwrens and Grey Butcherbirds.
Overall 59 species were seen – an excellent result for a day that forecast gales developing on Port Philip Bay by mid-afternoon. The sunny conditions were marginally different to the recce a week earlier which experienced several hours of rain and sub-5° conditions. Thanks to John for guiding the troops on the day and to Peter for the usual coordination and logistics.