Monday, February 28, 2011

Out of Range

Mornin' All,
Thought I'd better stop reading the news, playing Freecell, forwarding funny emails, and chuck a blog together.

There have been some interesting sightings around the place recently. Whilst Needletail Swifts and Chestnut-rumped Heathwrens are not common for us, they are a bit unexpected. What I want to report though is the sighting of some not uncommon species in uncommon locales.

These Caspian Terns were ...

... on a farmers dam here next to the golf course. Pizzey and Knight says, "Habitat: coastal, offshore waters; beaches, mudflats, eastuaries, larger rivers, reservoirs, lakes; some inland." The italics are theirs. I've only ever seen this bird sitting on a sandy beach or a peir on the Gippsland Lakes. 
Referring to Pizzey and Knight again, they say the range and status of the Crested Pigeon, "... originally a dweller of inland and w. Aust. Has expanded coastwards... but still mostly absent from s. Victoria." They could now add, "Heyfield Golf Course."

Another species we are beginning to see in increasing numbers down south here, is the Little Corella. I was alerted to their presence in nearby Rosedale the other day. While waiting for Duncan to arrive and lead me on an Odonatta expedition, I overheard a lady say to her daughter, "Listen to those noisy cockies." They disappeared into the school ground - the lady and the daughter that is - before I could enlighten them.

Well, I'd better have a quick scan of the headlines before I start sharpening mowers etc.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Heyfield Birdwatchers - February 2011.

G’day Birdos and Others,
Yesterday the HBWs stayed close to home and had a wonderful day at the Sale Common and in the Wet Trust’s section of The Heart Morass.

White-faced Heron
 Our numbers were well up as were the Darters and Cormorants in their rookeries.

I find it particularly pleasing that the Darters have continued to breed in their usual locations despite some major roadworks – including tree removal – only metres away.

Young Darter in nest
Lunch time.

 (For the above image, try opening in a separate tab and toggling up - use ctrl+ - I think both chicks have their heads in mum's throat together)

The walk through the common is always pleasant. The track meanders through some magnificent Red Gums and is lined with well placed and informative interpretive signs. All the while we get splendid views of the water birds on the lagoon and Whistling Kites on their nests high in the canopy, and the small scrub birds in the understory.  I think many of the locals would be stunned to learn that this very small section of track took us 2 hours to negotiate yesterday!

We ‘car shuffled’ back to the Powder Magazine for lunch. I always enjoy this quiet little spot. It has a bit of a reputation for surprising me with the birds that will suddenly appear and yesterday was no exception. While everyone’s hands, (and mouths), were full, a pair of Mistletoe Birds suddenly alighted on a nearby tree. There was a scramble for binoculars and cameras – mine were still in the ute – sorry!

Red-browed Finch family.

Alwyn very thoughtfully had brought the key to the gate of The Heart Morass, so we tootled back along the bank of The Latrobe River and into the Wet Trusts section. As Alwyn pointed out, this location will soon be inundated with …. duck shooters. Yes, I’m afraid one of the partners in this property is The Field and Game Association and next month, here in backward Victoria, duck season commences and has been EXTENDED to 12 weeks. Duck numbers are up this season and we can’t have that, let’s blast some more out of the sky!

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly appreciate the sponsorship contributed by Field and Game to help acquire the property and the tremendous amount of work they do to help maintain the place. I just feel so dismayed as the season rolls around each year. I normally try to steer clear of political issues in the blog, but there you go. Hope I haven’t offended any of my readers, some of who I know are regular duck hunters. I think they probably understood where I stood on this issue anyway.

Back to bird watching.

At the morass we got some glimpses of the skulking Little Grassbird and some beaut looks at a splendid Golden-headed Cisticola as he posed on top of some reeds. All the while the sky was punctuated with soaring Whistling Kites, Sea Eagles and Swamp Harriers. Still, there were some whose attention was drawn much closer to the ground!

To each their own.
 Tired and replete, (but not replete enough that we couldn’t  fit in an iced coffee), we turned our heads for home. Our statistician reported 50 species for the day. That’ll do me, see you next month.


Friday, February 4, 2011


G’day All,
I spent half a day yesterday with Duncan and Martin helping with a bird survey on a nearby piece of bush. There’s not many bits of bush around home here that I’ve discovered has less variety and number of birds present than here on the golf course. (The golf course is well populated with Noisy Miners and they tend to drive off many other species). However, the patch we were looking at yesterday was VERY quiet.

The dominant eucs – box and stringy – were absent of blossom which may have a bearing. The property was well grazed and consequently there was little understory. We have just had three or four days of near 40 degree temperatures. Who knows?

Plenty of insects and spiders though, in particular Dragonflies and Butterflies, which begs the question, where were the insect eaters?  We ticked a couple, but we didn’t see a Whistler or a Thornbill, or even a Grey Fantail!

Oh well, just keep remembering that a low result is as important as one with high numbers when it comes to surveys.

When Martin and Duncan weren’t watching I spent a little time chasing some Common Brown Butterflies. I only had the ‘bird’ lens on the camera, but managed a couple of shots that demonstrate the wonderful camouflage they exhibit with wings closed.

The Common Bronzewing Pigeon too is well camouflaged among the leaf litter on the ground as well as the grey trunks and branches of the trees.

Just as we were leaving home, Duncan’s keen eye spotted a Chequered Swallowtail, a butterfly we don’t see too often in these parts, but there has been a sighting or two this season.

It was a low survey result, but hey, I wasn’t watering or mowing, I was in the bush and with wonderful company – not a bad result in my book.