Sunday, August 31, 2014

Corinella Correlations

I tootled down to Corinella on Friday to spend some very pleasant time with the Bass Coast Birdlife colony. Their outing was at the Corinella Cemetery Bushland Reserve, a small 6.6ha remnant bush block beside the Bass Highway.

I arrived an hour early and couldn’t resist doing a reccy. Birds were very active with LBJ’s dashing across the track, whistlers, wrens and cuckoos calling from the scrub and trees. I spent a bit of time getting my eye in on the ground plants and soon found some old favourites amongst the bracken – some greenhood orchids.
Nodding Greenhood

Tall Greenhood

While I was snapping the orchids, a female Golden Whistler flew down onto some nearby low branches.
Charming female Golden Whistler
I’ve often noticed that the female Golden Whistler is much more co-operative for the camera than her male partner ever seems to be. She mostly gathers her dietary requirements at a lower level in the canopy for a start. Charming birds.

On the way back to the entrance to meet the others I was delayed a little by a Fantail Cuckoo busily calling from a trackside tree.
Fantail Cuckoo - 'Seen any nests?'
There were other cuckoos calling in the vicinity too – I think spring is just around the corner.
Eastern Yellow Robin with nesting material
As we headed around the track outside the cemetery, shooing Eastern Yellow Robins out of the way so we could see some other birds, we began hearing the distinct whipcrack and answer call of a pair of Eastern Whipbirds. Pleasingly the birds didn’t seem to be moving about very much and there was some chance of a sighting. Eventually we got some views as they briefly popped up above the bracken. As soon as we tried moving closer however they would go to ground and remain hidden, so I could only manage a distant photograph.
Eastern Whipbird - always elusive
White-naped, White-plumed and new Holland Honeyeaters, White-browed Scrubwrens, Striated Pardalotes, Dusky Woodswallows, Little Ravens, Grey Shrike-thrush, and Brown Thornbills were a few of the nearly 30 species ticked in a couple of very pleasant hours.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Wren Wrestling

I was in Corinella yesterday to eventually catch up once more with the Bass Coast Birdlife mob. There was a timetabled outing at the Corinella Cemetery Bushland reserve – more of that in another posting shortly.

I arrived early and spent some time walking the cliff top trail from Settlers Point. I’d just got started and came across a Superb Fairy Wren family busily sorting out some kind of pecking order. I stood quietly in some bushes and several members checked me out occasionally but by and large they were not too bothered with my presence.

There seemed to be a few scores to settle. Two males were trying to dominate one another at first.

One male took a shine to his favourite lady, (I presume), and followed her constantly with others in tow.

Suddenly it was on in earnest, watched by the males, (and me).

This went on for ages. Nearly filled my camera card.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Brown Gerygone

There is a spot on the boardwalk within the Uralla Reserve at Trafalgar where I have seen and heard the Brown Gerygone on several occasions.

On Friday, returning from a trip east, I took the camera in to see if the birds would co-operate. It was one of those times you dream about – I walked straight to the end of the boardwalk sat around for 5 minutes listening to the calls of Lewin’s Honeyeaters, Eastern Whipbirds, Brown Thornbills and Eastern Yellow Robins and then the gerygones appeared on cue. 

The Birdlife website has a nice rundown of this species. Confusingly though, under ‘Distribution’ it records … found south from Cooktown, Queensland to Sale, Victoria. In Victoria there has been a westward expansion of this species, with confirmed sightings in the Dandenong Ranges, east of Melbourne. And then under ‘Conservation Status’ it is listed in Victoria as not present.

The Brown Gerygone is a classic ‘little brown bird’, the term often referred to for small brown birds that are glimpsed briefly as they dart about in the foliage. Gerygone apparently is Greek for born of sound, referring to the bird’s call and like cisticola and chough there is constant debate on the correct or preferred pronunciation. Just nice to see them I reckon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

McNeilly Park Wetlands ...

… are located in Jacksons View estate on the northern outskirts of Drouin, between the town and the freeway.

This award winning wetland landscape design is beginning to come of age. I’ve only just discovered this delightful spot only 2km from home. For my second walk around the tracks and trails today, I took the camera.

Like most wetlands the usual suite of waterbirds were in residence – Wood Ducks, Chestnut Teal, Purple Swamphens, Eurasian Coots, Australasian Grebes, etc.

The pathways and boardwalks are well constructed and wide. Plenty of room for passing and overtaking. At the northern end a well set up playground will, I feel certain, be much appreciated by the grandchildren on their next visit to pop and nans!

Thinking the locality a bit too closely settled, I was a bit surprised to come across a pair of Richard’s Pipits.

A small flock of Tree Martins were collecting nest material from the side of the pathways and disappearing into the distance. I didn’t quite have time to track down their favoured tree, suffice to say there are several remnant large old eucs with ideal hollows. The half dozen mature trees remaining are I believe the endangered Strzelecki Gum.

I spotted a Black-shouldered Kite fly into one of the gums in the distance and was surprised to see it disappear into the foliage rather than sit on an exposed branch to better scan the ground for prey. I worked my way closer and eventually found the reason.

All good stuff except … perhaps the dominant bird species was the Common/Indian Mynah. I wonder would Baw Baw Shire be amenable to a trapping program?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Some More 'Top End' Finches ...

… this time from Jack.

Jack is a ‘Heyfield Birdo’ who at present is somewhere in the Northern Territory. Early today he had the temerity to send me a few shots of some finches he’d seen, “… knowing your fascination with finches …”.

His report …
"I took all of these within 20 minutes yesterday morning, just north of
Katherine by a pool in a tiny, nameless creek about 20 metres from the
car. Other species seen included ...

Crimson Finch, Double-barred Finch, Gouldian Finch black and red morph and
tens of juveniles, probably 100 in total, Long-tailed Finch red-billed
form (hecki), Banded Honeyeater, White-throated Honeyeater, Restless
Flycatcher, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Hooded Parrot, Silver-crowned
Friarbird, Red-rumped Parrot, Little Friarbird, Peaceful Dove, Masked
Finch, Rainbow Bee-eater. Yesterday we saw Striated Pardalote,
Yellow-tinted Honeyeater, White-winged Triller, Brown Honeyeater.

We got there about 7am and the birds came in about 7.30 and stayed for at
least 45 minutes. Just magic."
Crimson Finch - like to nest in the pandanus and cane grass.

Masked Finch - builds a grass nest at ground level.

Double-barred Finch or 'Owl Face' - nomadic but nearly always near water.

Gouldian Finch, (Red Headed) - 75% blacks, 25% reds, some rare yellows.

Long-tailed Finch - very sociable species.

Gouldian, (Black Head) - hollow nester.

Just magic indeed Jack, BTW, what’s the temperature like – NO, don’t tell me!