Thursday, February 25, 2010

Heyfield Birdwatchers - February

G'day All,
Uhm, just realized this morning I haven't blogged the last Heyfield Birdwatchers trip from a couple of Sundays ago - oops.

We went in to Wollangarra. Wollangarra is a youth camp on the Macalister River just north of town. The Wollangarra concept is marvellous. I urge you to use the link and click on About Us on their homepage.

Part of the deal of getting there is a short walk from Hickeys Creek along the Macalister river flats and then across the river on a flying fox.

(My pictures are not too good. I didn't take in my glasses and didn't realize I had a couple of settings wrong and the images were a bit soft).

The camp is in a beautiful setting right on the river. The normally beautiful Macalister is running a little discoloured at present. Recent rain has washed down some silt and most likely some left over fire retardant too, (bit of an issue around here).

As you may read on their website, Wollangarra is built from second hand materials. All pretty solid though - cop those sleepers, (not the one in the chair!). Can you imagine getting them across the river?

When we arrived, Josie gave the group a run down on the camp. We didn't pick the best of days to visit, as the crew were getting ready for their first group of kids for the year. They were arriving the next day.

Beaut day, beaut people, beaut spot. Oh, the birds? They were a bit quiet actually. I checked out the area several times before we went and the day before I got some nice birds at the Hickey's Creek 'carpark'.

Scarlet Honeyeater - Hickey's Creek

A very special thanks goes to the Wollangarra staff for putting up with a bunch of birdos for the day. Thanks Josie, Simon and crew, we had a wonderful day.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"The Eagles Have Landed"

G'day Blog Readers,
How would you like this view from your front verandah?

Barry rang me to say the eagles were feeding on a Wombat carcass on the opposite bank of the river, did I want to have a look? Silly question! He took me around to the front of the house and after I got over the panorama in front of me, I spotted the birds opposite.

Powerful, majestic, - well, you know all the adjectives. They were some distance off and the light wasn't great, so the camera struggled a bit, but they were a wonderful sight through the bins.

Three in all, Barry says there's more sometimes, and they flew in and out at various intervals.

I snuck around the garden for a bit, trying for some different angles. All the while they were watching me between tearing meat from the carcass. The best view though was probably from the verandah where there was a bit of elevation. Fancy having a scene like that while you're having a cuppa. And, fancy having White-browed Scrubwrens buzzing about your head while trying to take pictures - blimey!

I was about to leave and Barry said, "You'd better have a look up in the shed".

The resident Boobook sits on top of a light and watches Barry go about his work - starting tractors, welding, etc - without flinching. What a delight?

All that wonderful bird watching without leaving home. I made an offer for the place but they weren't interested.

Thanks Barry and Sue for a beautiful interlude in a day of mowing. Speaking of which, I can hear the grass growing, I'd better be off.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Hut Somewhere

(Heading: Apologies to Working Dog Productions, Rob Sitch and Tom Gleisner)

G'day All,
A close friend is a member of the Bairnsdale Fly Fishers who have a hut on the Mitta Mitta River in the Omeo Valley. Rob invited me up there for a couple of days last week. Rob fished, I birded.

The Mitta is a beautiful river with wonderful scenery around every corner. However, Rob was a little disappointed as the water was low and pretty warm, not the best conditions for trout apparently. The birds were great, but!

Upstream from the hut. I think the river is just entering the lower open country at this point.

Rainbow Bee-eater. A small group roosted in the trees on the bank opposite the hut.

Immature Dusky Woodswallow - had me tossed for a bit.

On day one, we walked some distance just below the historic Hinnomunjie bridge. Here, the Mitta is flowing through the pastoral country of Hinnomunjie Station. At one point we were 'accosted' by a local resident.

Hog Deer(?). Obviously a pet.

The birds were a little quiet at this point, except for a tree full of Starlings.

A Starling tree sp.

Rob didn't do too well with the fishing, but I was slowly 'ticking' a few birds. A nice colony of Yellow-rumped Thornbills was a delight to see.

It was back home to the very comfortable hut and to plan the next day's excursion. I rose early and got some nice sunrise shots around the hut.

Sunrise behind the hut.

After breakfast we drove up the Omeo Highway, (try it if you like your roads with corners!), past Anglers Rest to a 'deep hole with a big fish in it!' And they say birdwatchers can tell tales. It was a beautiful bit of the river though.

Heading up to the deep hole.

We wound our way back to Omeo for a cuppa, then back to the hut for lunch. Greens and fairways were starting to occupy my mind a little and an approaching storm helped me decide to head home. Rob stayed on for another go at the fish.

I arrived home about 2 hours later, checked the greens, had some dinner and an email came through with an attachment....

Rob's dinner!

Reckons he got them just below the hut the moment I drive off. I reckon they look frozen! Notice how he's included the paper for the date! Trusting soul. Anyway, it was birds 30, fish 2.

Wonderful couple of days away from work, thanks RW.

Friday, February 5, 2010

'Casual Water'

Definition: A temporary accumulation of water on the golf course. In other words, a lake is not casual water, but a puddle of rainwater (that will disappear once the sun comes out) is.

At last, some rain! 30mm in a storm last night. Alright, alright you NQ'ers, if there was another zero on that you might be impressed. I'll take 30mm any day.

Here's a piece of course infrastructure that hasn't been used in a while ...

Gotta go, the mowers will need sharpening now.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


G'day Readers,
Yesterday was the start of the ladies Wednesday golf day program for
'twenty ten'. This gave me an opportunity to leave the place for half a day, so Glen and I headed to Traralgon for the morning - Glen to the fruit and veg market and me to the Traralgon Res.

A young Blue Wren entertained me for a short while. I was off the beaten track a little, (as I often am), and the bird seemed to be saying, "Who are you? Shouldn't you be over there on the footpath with those other people with wires hanging out their ears?"

Suddenly a flash of red and yellow flew in. I haven't seen European Goldfinches for some time. I recall seeing them a lot across the dairy plains, years ago, but they do seem to be down in number a bit these days.

Of course it was back to the watering after lunch. The ladies had finished and yet again it was hot and windy, so it was out with the sprinklers once more. I was still going at 10pm last night, but guess what, an old favourite turned up in a tree near the pump shed.

I ducked home for the camera and spotlight and he let me get off a few shots.

At one stage he started getting sick of my presence, and although I didn't stick around too long or get too close, he decided to try his disappearing trick and turn himself into a branch.

After a bit he realized there wasn't much point. It wasn't daytime and he'd already been spotted anyway.

I'm still hanging out for a shot of that wide mouth open - one day, or night! Still, it was just the way to finish off a long day.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

... crackle, pop, squawk ...

… "I think it’s an Eclectus Parrot." … crackle, squawk .. I said Eclectus. Did ya get that?" … pop, squawk… "Hang on, sorry, I just got a better look, it’s a Grey Fantail!"

DF and I did the Swallow Lagoon woodland bird survey yesterday – by two way radio. With Duncan’s incapacity, he hit on the idea of me doing the leg work, carrying a transmitter and him sitting back at the vehicle with a receiver, doing the recording. Yeah, great deal!

Worked really well actually and we got some good birds. I think a flock of Yellow-rumped Thornbills in a patch of grassy plain was a first. Despite the very dry conditions there were a few honeyeaters working the upper foliage along with the usual collection of Thornbills, Sitellas, Treecreepers etc making life miserable for the insects. The last couple of surveys at this reserve have produced a notable decline in the Noisy Miner population. We might see the little birds increase as a result.

However, you can’t keep a good naturalist down. When I mentioned back at the vehicle at one point that I’d seen an attractive spider, he wanted me to find it again so he could get some pictures. I suspected this might happen and had marked the spot in the middle of the survey plot with a horizontal stick on a stump. Off we set with cameras and crutches in hand and proceeded to stumble across logs, (just kidding Coral), and eventually, after checking out several other ‘natural’ horizontal sticks on stumps, found the spot and he got to work.

It was a Golden Orb Weaver and we don’t see them too often down here. I’ve not seen one before and DF says it was a first for him too. Now that brought a smile to the faces. Not sure if he’ll blog it, he’s a bit busy hosting the next edition of I and the Bird.

Incidentally, the size of the web can be seen in this next picture. It stretches from the tree where Duncan is standing to the one in the far left of the frame.

I know it was a BIRD survey, but we so often become distracted by other stuff. Just love the natural world.