|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.