Bird Watching 2018

2 April 2018

11 December 2018

2 April 2018


Session 8: Tuesday 11th December

Warburton Bridge reserve, a favourite birding spot, proved a good choice for our final session for 2018. A At this time of the year the birds are up early, so we had agreed at our November gathering to start at 8 am in December. We did not have to move more than a few metres from the cars to hear and see a dozen different species in the trees along the Lodden River, which had a gentle flow after the recent rain. We moved slowly along the edge of the river, before climbing up to the ridge above the camp ground, from which three Wedge-tailed Eagles were seen. The bird of the day was the Olive-backed Oriole – a total of 10 seen during our 2 hour session. However, none of the thornbills, pardalotes and other small species were observed. Our final morning tea was suitably festive, with Christmas cake, truffles, shortbread, fruit and other goodies to mark the end of another year of enjoyable bird watching. The group decided that, following the success today’s early start, next year we will start at 8 am in February, March, November and December.



Session 7: Tuesday 13th November

Three sites in and around Newstead were visited, starting along tree-lined Plunket Rd, with well wooded land along the north side and grassed fields on the south. Sixteen species were identified – including many Brown Treecreepers, two Olive-backed Orioles, and a Pallid Cuckoo calling but not seen. We noticed two Treecreepers repeatedly visiting a small hollow in the fork of an ironbark. Back towards the Newstead Cemetery, a small flock of Masked and White-browed Woodswallows and two Masked Lapwings demanded attention before we entered the cemetery, where two Rufous Whistlers we singing enthusiastically from within a dense wattle – at least one a juvenile – and a Brown Songlark appeared briefly. No signs of Rainbow Bee-eaters or Pardalotes nesting in the creek bank, but two Bee-eaters were seen at the corner of Cemetery and Plunket roads by Wilfrid and Nicola Savage before most of us arrived. On the grassy, wooded hill above the main part of the cemetery a Restless Flycatcher was heard, and another tree hollow was being visited by Brown Treecreepers. The field guides tell us that they make a nest within a tree hollow.


Session 6: Tuesday 9th October

Our walk on a cool grey day, with showers threatening, started at the Fryerstown Community Centre. A smaller group than usual was rewarded by seeing and/or hearing 31 species. It was not a day suited to photography so we do not have any pictures to go with this report. There were birds in the trees around the Community Centre car park as we started our walk along Market St towards the Cemetery. Diverging via Saunders and Sheldon tracks we entered the eastern end of the cemetery, where we saw both White-throated and Brown Treecreepers. Having heard but not seen Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo, Pallid and Fan-tailed Cuckoos for much of the walk. A highlight was a clear view of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo fanning its tail as it called from a tree near the cemetery gate – a rare sight. Yellow-tufted, Fuscous, White-plumed, New Holland and White-naped Honeyeaters were active high in the trees. Other highlights were Masked and Dusky Woodswallows and a Jacky Winter.


Session 5: Tuesday 11th September

Thanks to Lou Citroen for contributing most of this report

Our September bird watching was to Muckleford Nature Conservation Reserve, off Pullans Rd, well known to birders as the Quince Trees. Several old quince trees near the parking area have been used by White-browed Babblers for their communal nest sites. With 24 U3A members and two visitors from Tasmania, we split up into two groups; one with Peter and Rosemary Turner and this reporter joining Ron Wescott and Cheryl Taylor’s group.

Whilst a fair list of 24-odd species was collectively compiled, the slight breeze made sightings a little difficult as some birds appeared to be swallowed up in the high, swaying foliage: both species of pardalote were heard, but not seen, and the characteristic chuckling calls of Fuscous Honeyeaters were from many more birds than we saw.

Of the other species spotted, highlights included Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters, White-browed Babblers near a dried-out Back Creek, Grey Shrike-thrush, both Pallid and Fan-tailed Cuckoos and an Eastern Yellow Robin nest with nestlings asleep. On a brief ‘reconnaissance’ mission to the site the day before, I heard the Olive-backed Oriole … not heard or sighted on the day.

The camaraderie, friendship and sharing of knowledge always makes these outings especially enjoyable, culminating in the customary ‘bird call’ over a cuppa to consolidate our survey sightings. It concluded a delightful hour-and-a-half or so of birding, whereupon the feathered creatures of The Quince Trees were once again left to their own devices.

Session 4 rescheduled: Tuesday 10th July 2018
Eleven members enjoyed a sunny, if cool, walk towards Maldon from Muckleford Station, following the Castlemaine-Maldon trail (see “Castlemaine Bird Walks” p112).
On arrival at the station, we were serenaded by a Grey Shrike-thrush, and entertained by many wrens, and a few pardalotes – see Ruth’s photo.

The trail passes paddocks, where scores of Red-rumped Parrots were feeding, before reaching the tree-lined Muckleford Creek, with the impressive trestle bridge for the rail line. Brown Treecreepers were feeding on the ground, and Jacky Winters posed on fences.

A very skittish Grey Fantail fluttered about in a wattle. On our return, a single male Flame Robin brought the total species count to 27, but declined to be photographed.
An excellent morning after the disappointment in June.


Session 4: Tuesday 12th June 2018 - Cancelled!
We had planned to walk towards Maldon from Muckleford Station, following the Castlemaine-Maldon trail (see “Castlemaine Bird Walks” p112). However, the cold, windy and wet weather forecast for the day was not compatible with watching birds, so for the first time we had to cancel one of our monthly outings.

When checking out the walk on a sunny day a week before, many of the expected birds were seen, including lots of spectacular Flame Robins like the one below.

We hope to try again for this bird walk on July 10th, weather permitting, despite not having scheduled a session of July in the program. There will not be a U3A bird watching outing in August.


Session 3: Tuesday 8th May 2018
Castlemaine Botanical Gardens 30 members enjoyed an autumnal wander in the Botanical Gardens. We divided into two groups moving in opposite directions, and gathered together again for morning refreshments and for the bird call. The total number of species was 34, including the Powerful Owl, high in its usual Stone Pine, and a Nankeen Night Heron in a large willow by Lake Johanna. Also pleasing was the Willie Wagtail – now not often seen in Castlemaine. The two groups did not see all of the same species – a group of small bush birds along the creek had gone by the time the second group looked, presumably because three Pied Currawong had moved in!



Session 2: April 10 2018
Twenty six of us gathered at Vaughan Cemetery, which was very dry. There were few birds, with both species of Treecreeper and the Grey Butcherbird the standouts. We moved on to Vaughan Springs. Some of us climbed up the path to the Goldfields Track heading north, with views of two Wedge-tailed Eagles perched on a distant dead tree, a Mistletoe bird, and a group of Dusky Wood swallows the highlights. The other group kept to level ground, where some saw a Shining Bronze-cuckoo. We all had close views of wrens while having morning tea. White-browed Scrub Wrens and Superb Fairy-wrens came seeking crumbs, so we could learn to distinguish the male “blue wrens” in eclipse (non-breeding) plumage with their blue tails from the females.



Session 1: March 13 2018
We chose Harcourt Reservoir for our first outing because birds need water and many of our favourite sites are dry, with few birds. The area offers both woodland along the eastern side of the reservoir, and extensive water for birds that like to forage along the shoreline or dive for food in the shallows. Twenty seven members enjoyed a most successful morning – 41 species identified, including two Whistling Kites feeding on a Redfin along the shoreline.