Meeting the train in Traralgon yesterday involved a few spare hours spent at the Wirilda Environment Park at Tyers. I caught up with an old mate who likes to fish. We chatted for a bit then went our separate ways for a while. The birding was a little more profitable than the fishing.
After kicking the blue wrens out of the way, I sat quietly for a bit next to the barbecue shelter and was quickly rewarded with New Holland Honeyeaters, Eastern Spinebills, White-browed Scrubwrens and that little charmer, the Eastern Yellow Robin.
Many of the eucs were festooned with flowering mistletoe and this was providing a great food source for the honeyeaters. Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters were in good number and would dash into a mistletoe in a group and feed in a frenzy for a few minutes before speeding off again. It was only a matter of waiting a short while for them to return.
I caught up with the fisherman again for a bit and skited with some of the bird pics I’d managed thus far. As we talked old times for a short while, I was hearing a Lewins Honeyeater rattling away up the gully and I couldn’t resist trying to tick this well hidden bird.
Upstream from the fishing spot the vegetation is dense and damp with loads of leaf litter on the ground. The Lewins continued calling and I slowly closed in on the source of the sound. I sat for awhile and used the ‘I’ll wait for you to come to me’ technique that sometimes works – and it did. The bird suddenly appeared on a branch almost right beside me.
I moved on a little and sat again but nothing much was happening. As I scanned the track ahead I detected some movement amongst the leaf litter. Whatever it was, it would run and stop, run again and stop. Each time it stopped the bird would virtually disappear into its background. Eventually it showed itself on the edge of the track with green foliage and light behind it – a Bassian Thrush.
These secretive ‘ground thrushes’ are thought to be relatively common and they have a large range – the dense wet forests down the east coast from about central Queensland to the Victoria/South Australia border – but their quiet nature and stunning camouflage means they are often missed.
A wonderful couple of hours. After conferring about a suitable location for the next piscatorial/avian adventure I headed for the station with my camera card a little fuller than DP’s creel.