The group’s previous outing was in the dim and distant past. Back in May. Six months ago. Late autumn.
But it takes more than lockdowns, curfews, 5km limits and winter doldrums to wipe our collective memory. Reconvening for its Nov outing, the group successfully recalled what birds are, how to find them, what they sound like and which one’s which. And perhaps, even, how to photograph them.
It was great to be back in business!
With delightful spring weather, no wind and clearing skies, 31 happy-snappers descended on the You Yangs Regional Park. The park’s name probably comes from the Aboriginal word ‘Wurdi Youang’ or ‘Ude Youang’ meaning big mountain in the middle of the plain. Covering over 12 square kilometers and containing over 50km of tracks, the park is vast, but we were ready for a challenge.
Heading off along Big Rock Track from the visitor centre, an early find was a Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo. Perched high in a dead tree, it called repeatedly to ensure everyone found it and took its portrait. Less noisy was a male Scarlet Robin in low bushes that only a few were lucky enough to see.
Then onward to see a local celebrity – a koala. But surrounding trees housed Yellow-faced, Brown-headed, New Holland and White-plumed Honeyeaters, as well as many Red Wattlebirds and some vocal Rufous Whistlers and Superb Fairy-wrens. Several White-throated Treecreepers put on a long display of why they are so-named.
Circling back towards the visitor centre, a pair of Spotted Pardalotes took their time to pose for every camera, offering their best angles. Buff-rumped and Yellow Thornbills were also seen.
Crossing the main entry road, we headed east along the shared track just south of Great Circle Drive. Here we found more New Holland Honeyeaters, a pair of Common Bronzewings sitting obliging on a branch and a noisy flock of White-winged Choughs that serenaded (chased?) us through the bush.
Having travelled maybe 3km and covering less than 2% of the park, we decided the rest could await another outing (or ten). We regrouped at the car park and motored on to the terrific picnic area at Serendip Sanctuary for lunch.
The afternoon saw us spread out through the 250 hectare site. Some took in the enclosures showing Australian Bustards, Bush Stone-curlews and Brolgas. Many went to the north arm of the lake and saw Yellow-billed Spoonbills, Black-fronted Dotterels, Pied Stilts and other water birds, as well as some Emu in the dry southern part.
Most trekked over the causeway to the wader observation bird hide and tracked down a Shining Bronze-cuckoo that was making a lot of noise nearby.
The bush offered up an Eastern Yellow Robin, Red-rumped Parrots, Willie Wagtails, Dusky Woodswallows, Eastern Rosellas and a Restless Flycatcher. And the skies presented a smorgasbord of raptors – Whistling Kite, Nankeen Kestrel, Black Kite and Brown Goshawk. Oh, and some Cape Barren Geese and Magpie Geese.
Six months off but the group still has its mojo – 70 species for the day. And it was great to welcome a good number of new people joining our group for the first time. We really hope you enjoyed yourselves and will join us again.
Thanks as always to Peter for coordinating the outing with the ever-changing challenges of covid and for herding the gaggle on the day. Fingers crossed for a totally uninterrupted program of outings in 2022!