Bird Watching Group

28 January 2019

10 December 2019

28 January 2019
16 June 2019


Session 10: Tuesday 10th December

Warburton Bridge The final bird watching outing for 2019 was to one of most reliable birding sites in our area. The popular campsite along the Loddon River is surrounded by trees, with cleared paddocks across the road – an excellent mix of habitats for a range of species. Many birds were seen near the parking spot by the river. A total of 32 species was the highest total for the year! An extended morning tea completed an excellent outing. We were away in smoky Sydney that day – our thanks to Ron and Cheryl for leading the session, and to Lou for the photos. We look forward to welcoming you back for another good year for U3A bird watchers in 2020.



Session 9: Tuesday 12th November

Coliban Channel – Mt Barker This was a new bird walk for our group, described on p66 of Damian Kelly’s “Castlemaine Bird Walks”, and it was a great choice, especially since we were somewhat protected from the cold SW wind by Mt Barker high above the channel. The walk along the channel is lined on both sides by splendid eucalypts and some thick wattles, with fine views to the east across paddocks. There were many Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, flying rapidly and calling loudly but rarely perching in sight. Rufous Whistlers were heard all morning; eventually two settled in a tree where we could all get a clear view. Other highlights were Grey Shrike-thrushes, a male Mistletoe Bird, and a group of Brown-headed Honeyeaters.



Session 8: Tuesday 8th October

Newstead Cemetery Another cold morning, and a chilling wind was blowing across the cemetery as we started our walk, hoping to see Rainbow Bee-eaters along the creek – no luck. Persistent calls from the trees on the hill above led us to an amazing sight – hundreds of Woodswallows flying in a swirling group, high in the sky, with others feeding on blossom in the eucalypts or perching for a rest on the branches of a dead tree - an enthralling experience. Other highlights were a Wedge-tailed Eagle, two Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes and a Brown Songlark. But it was too cold, so we left the cemetery early; most of us enjoyed an early morning tea at Rotunda Park before heading home. Three of us diverted to Muckleford Station to check on the Striated Pardalotes, which were present as usual, and were rewarded by another flock of Woodswallows.

click each Woodswallows picture to see full size
click each Pardalotes picture to see full size


Session 7: Tuesday 10th September

Railway Dam On a cold morning, 23 members enjoyed a successful morning at this favourite birding site. A Little Eagle soared above as the last cars arrived. The dam itself had just 5 Wood Duck, although a Little Pied Cormorant flew over. A good list of 26 species sighted over an hour and a half, including both local Cuckoo-Shrikes, Olive-Backed Oriole, Bronze-cuckoos and Pallid Cuckoos calling, Varied Sittellas and Dusky Woodswallows tending a nest site. The highlight was a group of 3 Shining Bronze Cuckoos calling rapidly and flying around each other amongst the branches – two males courting a female? The bird list as recorded on Birdata can be viewed at Thanks to Helle and Mikael Hirsch for hosting a relaxed and comfortable morning tea at their nearby property.



Session 6: Tuesday 9th July

Quince Trees – Muckleford Nature Reserve As we set off from the Octopus, a fine mist started. Not promising for birding – but it stopped as we arrived at the Quince Trees site in the Muckleford Nature Reserve, off Pullans Rd. There were many small birds, high in the trees, hard to identify against a grey sky. And lots of unmistakable calls – Fuscous Honeyeaters, Grey Shrike Thrush, Red Wattlebird. Wandering carefully between the old mining shafts, over bright green moss and grass, we checked out the paddock where Magpies were calling. Back along the track, more birds seen and heard – and then the fine rain returned, so we returned to town early, some for a cuppa at Rosemary and Peter’s home. No photos this time! The total of 18 species was very pleasing given the conditions – the Quince Trees is a good birding site.



Session 5: Tuesday 11th June

Newstead Rotunda Park area Our June outing, on a fine sunny morning, was based on Damian Kelly’s Newstead – Rotunda Park walk (Castlemaine Bird Walks, pp 168-171). Nineteen of us set off through the tall eucalypts edging the park, almost deafened by the calls of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Galahs and Red Wattlebirds. We wandered up tree-lined MacLaren Street, then slowly back with the sun behind us, for good views of White-naped, Yellow-faced and New Holland Honeyeaters, Weebills emulating hummingbirds, and brilliant Spotted Pardalotes. Back at the junction with Cameron St, we turned west up the track, enjoying a group of Crimson Rosellas busily feasting on gum blossom. A satisfying morning – but no wrens, robins, White-browed Babblers or Grey Fantails – the number of insectivorous birds seem to be lower this year than in recent years.



Session 4: Tuesday 14th May

Along the Rail Trail from Muckleford Station Eighteen of us arrived at Muckleford Station on a good morning for a bird walk - and were immediately waylaid by Striated Pardalotes around the building, carriages and rails, and also high in the River Red Gums along the (empty) creek.
As we headed north into open country, we saw several Flame Robins, Australasian Pippets, Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Superb Blue Wrens and - BIRD OF THE DAY -a Diamond Firetail. A large group of brilliantly coloured small parrots – “red rumps” – appeared to be grazing on the farm paddocks, and we were delighted to spot three Southern Whitefaces (drab little birds similar to Thornbills) in the pines along the boardwalk section of the path.
There were fewer birds as we headed over the dry Muckleford Creek. At the dam where we turned back, Welcome Swallows were hawking for insects, and a Willie Wagtail was seen. I was disappointed that we saw no Jacky Winters, but two played on the fence along the Walmer Road as we drove off!           (RT)



Session 3: Tuesday 9th April

The Red White & Blue Mine site in the Muckleford State Forest is a well-known birding place, with water in two dams that were part of the mining infrastructure long ago. Twentytwo of us set off on a very cool morning, stopping first by the large farm dam where Bells Lane and Talbot Tracks start, at the end of Muckleford School Rd. Here we had good views of a group of Australasian Grebe, a Little Pied Cormorant, a White-faced Heron and other water birds. Moving on to the picnic area at the mine site, another White-faced Heron surveyed us calmly from a high branch, moving to a perch above the larger dam when we came too close. A few honeyeaters called, but were hard to see until we were nearly ready for morning tea – when the sun emerged along with Scarlet Robin and a stunning Golden Whistler – a new bird for several of us.



Session 2: Tuesday 12th March

Even during such dry conditions, Vaughan Springs is a reliable birding site. The Loddon River was not running, but plenty of water in the pools. On our arrival, the many resident Superb Fairy-wrens welcomed us - looking like mice running around on the bare ground. Most of us walked up the hill to head a short way along the Goldfields Track heading north, where a Swamp Wallaby watched us warily; then back along the hillside path to the Big Slide (checked out by several young-at-heart U3Aers). We joined up with the others, who had been honing their skills with binoculars with help from Rosemary and the wrens. Wandering back towards the cars and morning tea, we were rewarded with splendid views of a White-faced Heron, watching us quietly from a tree above the river. No signs of the Wedge-tailed Eagles we saw here last year, but 27 species observed, with excellent views of a Brown Treecreeper, and 25 or more Red-browed Finches.

click each heron picture to see full size


Session 1: Tuesday 12th February

On a cool morning with showers threatening we drove to the top of Honeycomb Rd, Campbells Creek – 26 of us, so we split into two groups, Rosemary leading one down the track to creek, while Peter’s group sought birds in the Honeycomb Nature Reserve. While it all seemed rather quiet at first, we gradually heard and/or sighted 27 species over 2 hours. The groups crossed over at the Friends notice board on the Campbells Creek track, where the only heavy shower stopped the bird watching briefly. Afterwards we drove to the park opposite the hardware store for morning tea and the bird call. A good start to this year’s U3A bird watching.