What a difference a year makes. In Sept 2018 we ‘enjoyed’ an outing to Cranbourne which included five hours of rain (at no extra cost). This year – sunshine. All day. And little wind. And lots and lots of birds.
Starting at Stringybark Picnic Area, we first undertook a slow circuit along Manna Walk, Possum Gully Track, Trig Track, down to the Wylies Creek Wetlands and back on Wylies Creek Walk and Wetlands Walk.
The bush offered some terrific sightings – including a White-winged Triller, seven species of honeyeater and both Golden and Rufous Whistlers. A swag of cuckoos were also seen or heard – Pallid, Shining Bronze, Horsfield’s Bronze and Fantail.
Breaks in the trees allowing a full range of raptors to be spotted hunting overhead – Wedge-tailed and Little Eagle, Brown Falcon and Goshawk, Nankeen Kestrel and Swamp Harrier.
The Perched Swamp lacked water but emitted a plaintiff siren’s call from a tree through the shrubbery – a lone Brush Bronzewing cooing for company. Its Common version was spotted elsewhere in the forest
Our arrival at the Wylies Creek Wetlands was greeted with a flyover of five Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and by two Yellow-billed Spoonbills landing to forage. Clearly, yellow was in vogue.
We regrouped back at the picnic grounds, for a picnic (what else) and to compare notes on a very good stroll. But wait, there’s more.
After lunch we motored round to the formal Australian Garden for an afternoon amongst the native flowers. Opened in 2006, the exhibition garden was a riot of colour (as it always is) and a magnet for nectar- and insect-eating birds.
With the large number of visitors (humans, that is), the birds were well accustomed to having people nearby, enabling excellent close up shots – birds on flowers, birds in flight, birds on the lakes, birds ripping bark off trees for nests, birds eating things.
Spotted Pardalotes, Red and Little Wattlebirds, New Holland Honeyeaters, Welcome Swallows and Dusky Woodswallows all received a lot of attention, as did the Southern Brown Bandicoots that strolled out from under many bushes. A Little Pied Cormorant put on a display of how to eat a yabby whole without getting it stuck in your throat: the take-home message – don’t try this at home.
The Red Sand Garden of the central area to the garden provided a wonderful contrast to the flowers and birds and a great background for photos.
After several hours clicking away, we adjourned to the visitor centre café for coffee (and cake) and to compare some wonderful photos. In all 70 species were recorded for the day by our happy band of 20 folk – and not a drop of rain.
Thanks to Peter for coordinating the outing and for arranging the much-improved conditions – a job well done.