Author Archives: blmelbphoto

Eynesbury and Toolern Creek – September 2019

By Phil Marley

Well, this was an outing for the true believers. Six hardy souls ignored the dire forecast of rain, more rain and 45 km/hr winds and turned up for our Sept outing to Eynesbury. And they were rewarded with a true gem of a location and brilliant birding conditions.

Brown Treecreeper – Phil Marley

Just south of Melton and 45 mins west of the city, the 288 hectare Eynesbury Forest is one of Victoria’s largest remaining stands of grey box and the largest one south of the Dividing Range. It is a reminder of the grey box woodlands that once covered much of this region.

From the Eynesbury Golf Club car park, the group first visited the lake – which was well populated with Freckled Ducks, Chestnut and Grey Teal, Coots and a couple of Hardheads. Overhead, Welcome Swallows and Tree Martins were busy keeping the air clear of flying insects.

Hardhead – Phil Marley

Moving further north into the forest still west of the main road, we first encountered European Goldfinch, Brown Treecreepers, a pair of Australian Ringnecks and a solitary Diamond Firetail foraging on the track. Further on, we were surrounded by a raucous flock of Eastern Rosella arguing over something important and buzzed from above by a Black Kite and a Little Eagle.

Grey Fantail – Sonja Frei

Something spooky was going on in the forest. Whatever it was, the ducks knew about it since they were all sitting in trees – Australian Wood Duck, Chestnut Teal, Pacific Black Ducks and an Australian Shelduck were all perched aloft watching our passage. Maybe they had heard the forecast and were well prepared for the floods to follow the promised deluge.

Chestnut Teal – John Van Doorn

The forest also offered up many Red-rumped Parrots, a Crested Shrike-tit and a flock of Straw-necked Ibis flying over. Large numbers of Tree Martins flew everywhere, with some coming down to puddles or to grassy areas to collect mud and stuff for their nesting hollows.

After two and half hours, we had covered just over half of the west forest, but some threatening clouds encouraged a return to the old Eynesbury Homestead Café at the golf club for lunch and a well-earned barista coffee indoors – luxury! And the break encouraged the weather to back off and the sun to come out – and the sun then stayed with us for the rest of the day.

Hardy Birders – Phil Marley

After lunch, we visited the east side of the forest. The warmth from the sun had set up some nice thermals and we were treated to an aerial raptor display – Black Kites, a Whistling Kite, a Little Eagle and a Wedge-tailed Eagle all overhead all at the same time. Spectacular.

Tree Martin – Sonja Frei

We then moved on the nearby Toolern Creek Park, to the bit where the creek path meets Strathtulloh Circuit. This was a dramatically different setting, with rocky cliffs overlooking a gorge. The weather also turned windy, but the sunshine prevailed.

Toolern Creek – Phil Marley

We first headed south, descending to the grasslands next to the creek. Overhead a Brown Falcon flew over and a pair of Wedge-tailed eagles were given a run for their money by a very persistent Magpie. The light bushland next to the creek housed Weebills, Grey Fantails, Silvereyes, Goldfinches and – perhaps the find of the day – a Rufous Songlark in amongst the foliage.

Back along the cliff edge overlooking the creek,heading north, we found European Greenfinch, Black-faced Cuckooshrike and lots of Dusky Woodswallows. A Nankeen Kestrel graced us with a fly-over.

Dusky Woodswallows – Phil Marley

In all over 55 species seen, a rewarding day for the six brave souls who ventured out – our numbers depleted perhaps by the BirdLife Photography Biennial Convention over in Perth or school holidays (surely not fear of the weather). Thanks to John for leading the outing on the day, with Peter not able to join us at short notice, and to the Eynesbury Homestead Café for their warm hospitality – greatly appreciated.

September 2019 birdlists Eynesbury area

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Woodlands – August 2019

By Phil Marley

What a difference a day makes. With the Friday beset with showers and the Sunday with rainy squalls, the weather gods were kind to us on the Saturday – sunny, 16 degrees and no wind. Luxury.

Weebill – Michiko Iida

But Woodlands Historic Park presented a non-weather challenge for our group – where to go?

Long-billed Corella – John Bosworth

At 704 hectares, it is just so big – five time the size of Jells Park or Royal Park. It covers vast tracts of remnant native woodland, open grassland and wetlands along the Moonee Ponds Creek. It includes a fenced area, the Back Paddock, where rabbit, fox and feral cat populations are being controlled to protect the endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoots.

Spotted Pardalote – Catherine Noone

It also includes the historic Woodlands Homestead – an early prefabricated building from the 1840s – and a sugar gum plantation planted around 1940 to supply firewood to the former Greenvale Tuberculosis Sanatorium (now demolished).

Varied Sittella – Michiko Iida

So, with habitats for all sorts of birds, where to go?

Silvereye – Phil Marley

We started at the Providence Road carpark and headed west towards the lake. The open forest offered bush birds including Brown Thornbills, Brown-headed Honeyeaters, Spotted Pardalotes and Weebills. For some reason, the Australian Wood and Pacific Black Ducks preferred the lake.

Spider Web – Catherine Noone

We then headed across grasslands of the site of the former Sanatorium buildings. The open spaces provided good hunting grounds for raptors, with Whistling Kites, Little Eagles, Collared Sparrowhawks and Brown Goshawks seen overhead. Flocks of Rainbow Lorikeets chirped away in the flowering gums while Sulphur-crested Cockatoos sat in trees eating pine cones.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo – Phil Marley

Continuing west past the water towers, we followed the edge of the gum plantation north. Word had got out that a bunch of people were in the area and flocks of birds came to see us – half a dozen Crimson Rosellas tagged us in the trees, three Brown Goshawks eyed us from overhead, a large family of Tawny Frogmouths watched from a single branch and dozens of Honeyeaters – White-naped, White-plumed and Yellow-faced – flitted around supervising our progress.

Tawny Frogmouth – Linda Waters

Most of our group then returned to their cars to head for lunch at the Somerton Road carpark – others detoured through the Back Paddock, spotting Flame Robins, Red-rumped Parrots and Black-faced Cuckooshrikes.

Red-rumped Parrot – John Van Doorn

Over sandwiches and caffeine, we were buzzed by half a dozen White-winged Choughs and many dozens of Tree Martins – obviously jealous.

Flame Robin – John Bosworth

In the afternoon the party split. Some headed off to explore Moonee Ponds Creek close to Oaklands Rd, adding Red-browed Finches, a Wedge-tailed Eagle and a diving Collared Sparrowhawk to their lists. Others followed the creek around the picnic area for close encounters with Spotted Pardalotes, Tree Martins and Silvereyes. Others returned to the Back Paddock and saw very few birds – but many, many rabbits. Still work to be done in controlling the rabbits.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo – John Van Doorn

All in all, a great outing in perfect conditions – we certainly reached our step targets for the day, with most covering 10km. The 54 species sighted was a good haul for a location badly affected by drought over many years. Thanks once again to Peter and John for marshalling our meanderings.

[The following site may be of interest: http://whp.altervista.org/index.php ]

Woodlands Birdlist