Friday, 14 December 2012


I thought I'd finished birding for the year, and was looking at my "Birds Not Yet Seen" list and wondering how much I could persuade Roger to do during 2013, when Rog announced that we were out of sherry, so must do another trip to Rutherglen.  That was welcome news.  We go to Rutherglen quite frequently, and enjoy birding in Chiltern, around Rutherglen, and often around Beechworth and at Lake Moodemere.  Our trips are usually quite short.  We drive to Rutherglen in a leisurely fashion (often lunching at Fowles on the way), stay at the Wine Village Motel, spend the next day birding, pick up our sherry from Pfeiffer's, then drive home.  A very pleasant interlude.  On this occasion, we drove up to Rutherglen on Wednesday 12 December.

Chiltern No 2 Dam, where all the action was

On Thursday, 13 December, we didn't leave the motel until after 9 a.m. and it was already hot - 30 according to our car's thermometer.  We stopped briefly at the ephemeral swamp near the Rutherglen tip.  There were lots of birds, but no crakes and nothing really special.  We drove on to Chiltern No 2 dam, and I was delighted to see that a new walking track has been constructed from the gate to the bird hide.  This bird hide is one of those stupid, noisy ones where the birds see you coming and skedaddle.  But the new walking track was most inviting.  Sacred Kingfishers scolded me, many White-browed Woodswallows and Fuscous Honeyeaters played in the trees above my head, unfazed by the heat.  I was looking for shade all the way and one Dollarbird sat in a dead tree looking at me, no doubt wondering if I were a mad dog or an Englishman.  Unfortunately, I saw many rabbits.  We sometimes see hares here, but not today.  Rog drove along Nankeen Track and met me at the hide.  Then, he read his newspaper and I went birding.  I could hear an Olive-backed Oriole calling, and decided to investigate.  I disturbed a couple of kangaroos and was distracted by the call of a Black-chinned Honeyeater, which would have been a new bird for the year, if I could see it.  I walked in the direction of the call, and was suddenly in the middle of so many birds I didn't know which way to point my binoculars.  There were lots of woodswallows, mainly White-browed, but some Dusky too.  Both had young.  There were Willie Wagtails, Restless Flycatchers and Rufous Songlarks (also with young).  There were just a few Eastern Rosellas, lots of White-plumed Honeyeaters, White-winged Trillers, Grey Shrike-thrushes, Rufous Whistlers (all female that I saw) and Sacred Kingfishers still scolding me.  I heard Striated and Spotted Pardalotes, and at least one Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo.  I gave up on the oriole and saw a Little Friarbird.  The Black-chinned Honeyeaters stopped calling and I didn't see them.  I could hardly complain.  It had been a breathtaking experience.  So many beautiful birds.

We visited No 1 Dam, and there I saw my Black-chinned Honeyeater.  And lots of Diamond Firetails.  The firetails were present last time we visited.  It would be good to know I could rely on seeing them here.  They are such pretty little birds.  At Cyanide Dam, a spot we reliably see Brown Treecreepers, today I saw a White-throated Treecreeper.  A Willie Wagtail was feeding two fledgelings near the dam.  White Ibis, a Little Pied Cormorant and Australasian Grebes were enjoying the water.  This was good to see as the dam had been quite dry during the drought.

It was still hot (40 now according to the car) so we went back to our motel for lunch.  Afterwards we drove to Lake Moodemere.  I go there for White-backed Swallows, but didn't see any today.  I spotted a Little Eagle along the way.  An Australian Reed-Warbler at Lake King at around 4 o'clock, brought my day's total to 72 species - not bad in 40 degree heat, when I didn't start birding till after 9, stopped for lunch and finished just after 4.

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