Friday, December 31, 2010


G’day All,
I guess everyone has a bird they take for granted - one that is so common it barely gets a second glance. Around these parts, the glorious Eastern Rosella nearly has to be kicked out of the way when we go bird watching, and yet its stunning plumage deserves much more attention.

The common Pacific Black Duck is another bird in this category, perhaps not for its colour, but it does have lots of other attributes. Black Ducks have the classic ‘duck shape’ and the buff margins to the chocolate brown back feathers highlight a beautiful pattern. The identifying head markings seem to add ‘go fast stripes’ to the bird.

The common old ‘blackie’ always catches my eye at the wetlands, whether just cruising with mates …

or the family …

or giving the feathers a bit of a splash.

And, there’s always the chance we’ll get a glimpse of those iridescent speculum feathers, sometimes green, sometimes teal blue or even purple, or even the white to powder blue underwing coverts.

Gotta go into the ‘Beaut Bird’ folder.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


G’day Blog Followers,
The Wonga Pigeon is a bird that I hear more often than see. It spends most of the day on the ground or perching quietly in relatively dense bushland gullies. I hear its monotonous cooing or the clatter of its wings as it dashes off to a distant perch where it keeps a close eye on any stalker, seldom allowing close viewing.

I believe that in some places, the Wonga has become accustomed to humans and will use garden feeders, visit parkland, etc. I have only ever encountered the bird in quiet bushland, generally early in the mornings.

Recently I was camping overnight in the Colquhoun Forest near Lakes Entrance and on an early morning walk, in the distance, came across a small party of Wongas feeding on the track. Unusually, I spotted them before they saw me, so I grabbed the advantage and squatted down in some nearby shrubbery while they worked their way toward me.

As they drew closer, they became aware of my minimal movement and probably the clicking of the camera, but they must have decided I was pretty harmless. The light was very low and I even managed to get off a couple of shots using the flash before they took wing.


I’d probably interrupted their breakfast and it was time to get back to the tent for my own, so I let them be.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Spot of Babysitting

G'day Readers,
I took Glen to the train station in Traralgon yesterday. She’s off to Frankston for a spot of babysitting for a night or two. As I just happened to have the camera in the car, I detoured home via Morwell National Park again. (Locals will realize that’s a ‘completely in the opposite direction’ detour!).

The Yellow Robins were charming me in their usual accommodating manner.

Keeping my eyes on one for a bit, it gave away its nest site by zooming into the same Prickly Currant Bush several times in succession. Closer inspection through the binoculars revealed a mere smudge of a nest.

After a short while, the bird disregarded the camera and settled in for a spot of babysitting also.

How well do they camouflage their nest? Just wonderful!

 After a BIT of a walk, (that’s a big bit- perhaps more of that another time), I found myself in a patch of magnificent Stringybarks. The ground was awash with Fringe Lilies, Xanthorrhoae sp in flower, and more. I spent some time swapping lenses and at one point was sitting on the ground screwing the long lens back in the camera, just as a treecreeper zapped down to the base of a nearby stringy and started working its way up the trunk. “Always worth a check through the binoculars”, I thought, “Haven’t seen, much less got a usable picture of a red-brow for some time”.

Lo and behold …

Uhm, quite a few hours had passed by now, so it was back to the car, back home and on to the mower. If I can stay awake, I'll upload the pics later.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Heyfield Birdwatchers - December 2010

G’day Birdophiles,
The crew set off for Morwell last Sunday and began our day at the Crinigan Rd Reserve. We missed the Spider Orchids – a classic case of, “You shoulda been here last week”, and the birds were rather quiet too. Dierdre managed to snap a Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo.

I was keen to see if there was a Swamp Greenhood in flower, but we drew a blank there too. There was the odd Sickle amongst the Woolly Tea Trees, but they were in very low light and I didn’t try hard enough for a shot. Just have to go back.

Next we convoyed south to the Morwell National Park and after a cuppa, set off down the track, the first part of which was lined with the beautiful Victorian Christmas Bush. Eastern Yellow Robins kept zipping around and a Lewin’s Honeyeater showed uncharacteristic interest in our presence. Quite a few other birds could be heard or seen briefly, but the trees are so tall and the understory so dense, it was hard to get a bead on them at times.

It didn’t take long to find our first Butterfly Orchid. This beautiful epiphyte is relatively uncommon for Victoria and was once quite plentiful in the park, but the colony seems to be diminishing. The plants seem to prefer the Prickly Currant-bush and the Sweet Pittosporum as their host tree.

We were heading to a part of the park where I’d seen some interesting birds recently and it wasn’t long before the cry went up. First sighting was a beautiful suspended nest under a canopy of large leaves. 

After a few moments, the owners showed up with beaks full of insects for the babies inside. It was the gorgeous little Brown Gerygone, a bird right on its southern limit here in Gippsland. A great sight. And an even greater sight was a second active nest right nearby with another pair of busy parents in attendance – just delightful.

Then it began to rain, so we headed back to the cars for a wet lunch session but with some wonderful images in our heads, (and cameras luckily, for the light was now pretty lousy).

Beaut day, see you all next month.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Crowded House

On a brief trip into town yesterday, I ducked into the wetlands for a while. As I quietly walked along some tracks I would stop briefly and scan the reed beds and tree tops. During one of these brief stops, a pair of Willie Wagtails began scolding me.

"Could only mean one thing", thinks I, and looking around I found the nest, quite low down and very near the track.

This particular track is well used by walkers, joggers etc, but I expect they don't pause very often and present an implied threat to the nest.

After a couple of quick snaps, I left them in peace. At least it wasn't a Cuckoo they were trying to raise - there were some calls nearby.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Short Walk

G'day Readers,
There is a little creek and gully just north of home that DF and I refer to as 'Owl Creek' because of the Powerful Owl sightings that we have made in there. With little to do as the course was full of players on Friday morning, I dashed up for a quick stroll.

The Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were in their lookout trees and they alerted all and sundry  for miles around that I was in the area. It doesn't seem to matter which way I choose to enter or how slow I move, they are on to me.

As I crested the cliff top and peered down, I could see and hear that the recent, (and beautiful), rain had swollen the creek to a level I hadn't seen in there for some time.

One of the first things I do on such 'expeditions' is listen for the various bird calls and try to determine if the number and variety of species is going to be rewarding. The noise of the water cascading over the rocks put paid  to hearing any birds, save for the piercing call of a nearby White-throated Treecreeper. Actually the bird count was low and yet I felt the conditions were ideal. Blue Wren, Grey Thrush, Golden Whistler, a very distant Lyrebird and that was about it.

It was still very pleasant - the sight and sound of the rushing water and the smell of the bush was reward enough.

Eventually I gave up a bit on the birds and began scanning the ground. The moss beds were greener than I'd seen them in ages and I can attest to the fact that the Stinging Nettles were enjoying the conditions. Here and there a few of the beautiful little Rock Isotomes were in flower.

Conditions too were good for fungi. This Volvariella sp, (I think), was a standout.

All in all a very pleasant interlude, then it was back to the mowing and spraying.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Beautiful Clunes

G'day All,
Clunes is 'an historic gold mining town located in the heart of Victoria's Central Goldfields region, just north of Ballarat and about an hour and 20 minutes drive west of Melbourne CBD.' The town is 'dotted with dusty antique and collectable stores, vineyards and wineries,...'

I journeyed to Clunes earlier this week with Martin and John, for a Bug Blitz exercise with the Clunes Primary School and was struck by the beauty of the place. A wonderful effort has been made to try and maintain the historic streetscape.

The wonderfully restored Federation style school building contributes stunningly to the historic precinct while providing a motivational atmosphere for staff and students.

The spacious grounds and gardens were in tip top condition.

We were not there for very long and had to leave for the 5+ hour trip home as soon as the Bug Blitz program concluded. I only hope the kids got as much from the day as I did.