Even though quite distant for a weekend, a good group of about 26 (hard to tell, bird photographers never stand still) descended upon the picturesque township of Marlo, mostly based in the excellently-situated Marlo Caravan Park and Motel.
A. MOTS (Mouth of the Snowy) walk
On Friday afternoon the early arrivals explored the lovely walking track leading along the lagoon and across a small bridge to the ocean beach east of the river mouth. Although there was not time to actually reach the mouth, there was a reasonable range of species including four raptors (Wedge-tailed Eagle, Collared Sparrowhawk, Whistling Kite and Nankeen Kestrel). On the steps back up to the carpark a Grey Butcherbird flaunted its unfortunate prey, a large skink. Some of the mossies were big enough to make the birdlist.
B. Marlo Aerodrome
In hopes of emu-wrens and ground parrots, we next checked out the airfield. Although all out of luck on those counts a highlight was a distant Square-tailed Kite, vainly awaiting clearance for landing from the deserted control tower.
C. Marlo township
In between everything else there were numerous explorations around the town. The displaying Lyrebirds in the patch of bush along the lagoon were very accessible and popular. There were numerous waterbirds, and the flowering trees throughout the streets supported various Honeyeaters including Wattlebirds, Crescent, New Holland and Yellow-faced. A hobby enjoyed a morning meal in a sugar gum while Magpies disputed a desirable patch of damp roadside grass with a White-faced Heron.
D. Cape Conran
Here we visited 2 sites: West Cape, where despite bleak and windy conditions a family of four Ruddy Turnstones gave us good views and photo opps, and the Heathland Walk, a very pleasant circuit through heath and stringybark/banksia forest near the campground.
The most acclaimed species here was Scarlet Honeyeater but there were numerous other Honeyeaters along with Thornbills, Pardalotes and a White-winged Triller (oiseau de jour this season). A late list entry was a Red-browed Treecreeper identified from a photo. The camping ground provided a sheltered spot for lunch.
E. Yerrung River Estuary Walk
Again, a very pleasant short walk leading through heath, forest and swamp to the ocean beach. Windy conditions precluded Emu-wren sightings in the heath. In compensation we thought ourselves fortunate to get excellent close views of a male rose robin, then beat a discreet retreat when the explanation was discovered – Mrs Rose seated elegantly on a camouflaged nest in a nearby tree.
F. Cabbage Tree Palms Creek
Continuing a full day we dropped in briefly to this interesting spot. The special bird here was Brown Gerygone which gave us excellent views (and hopefully photos) in the picnic area; more persistence was rewarded with both Pink and Rose Robins, and Lewin’s honeyeater and Lyrebird heard in the thick undergrowth. The mossies here not only ranked amongst the smaller bush birds in size, but attempted to carry off the smallest and tastiest member of the party. Stern intervention with extended monopods saved the day.
Saturday evening saw a concerted effort to establish (with the help of the local hostelry) the anti-mosquito properties of wine and parma. Regrettably, results were inconclusive and further research is anticipated.
G. Wibenduck, Orbost
This private property up the Snowy River from Orbost was an absolute delight. Our host, Vik, was happy to show us around and although the Sooty Owls were on holiday elsewhere there were so many interesting species it was feared some members’ heads would fall off from the size of their grins. Around the house were numerous Satin Bowerbirds, with a bower (complete with lots of small blue treasures) just outside the back door.
Topknot, White-headed and Wonga pigeons gave good views, the latter on a precarious nest. Orioles called continuously and the full set of Eagles (Little, Wedge-tailed and Sea) were spotted.
The garden next door featured great close views of Spinebills, Fairy wrens and Red-browed Finches and the river produced Sacred Kingfishers and White-necked heron. There were many other species also recorded. A rare dangling orchid was an unexpected bonus.
Special mentions for effort go to Grey Fantail and Yellow-faced Honeyeater – recorded in every location, despite their considerable variety. An extremely pleasant weekend with lots of members recording new species and snagging that nice sharp shot; excellent company, nobody lost (not for long, anyway) and many swearing to come back soon for further exploration.