I think the cold and dull day kept a lot of the Heyfield Birdwatchers at home by their fires which, as it turned out might have been just what most of the birds were doing too – if they had some sense. The colours of the autumn trees at our kick off point seemed to lift the spirits if only for a short while.
The Knob Reserve in Stratford was our first port of call and after the screeching of the Sulphur-crested Cockatoos died away we struggled to see or hear anything much at all. A nearby Grey Butcherbird was giving off that beautiful rich yet mellow call that so identifies them. In the distance we watched the aerial antics of four raptors for some time – Wedge-tailed Eagle, Whistling Kite, Black-shouldered Kite and a Peregrine Falcon – all too far off for a picture, but fascinating through the binoculars.
At the Swallow Lagoon Reserve we managed to tick a few familiar friends – Scarlet and Eastern-yellow Robins, Grey Shrike-thrush, Golden Whistler, Brown Thornbills, Grey Fantails, White-throated Treecreepers, etc and JG got a decent look at a Stubble Quail.
All was not lost but! With Val with us it wasn’t too long before she found us our first winter orchids – Mosquito Orchids and one lonely Trim Greenhood.
Ross then guided us around to the small reserve at Munro where I’d foolishly said there was a good chance to tick the not so often seen Buff-rumped Thornbill, a relatively sedentary bird I’d spotted in there on several previous occasions. The local shire had beaten us to it – the reserve had been recently burnt. We only got out of the cars long enough to decide to move back out onto the highway and head back to the Stratford Highway Park.
Any day in the field is a good day, even if the wind would seem to be coming straight from the Antarctic, and especially so when with good friends.