Thursday, 14 February 2013


Today, Friday 15 February, is the first day of the Great Backyard Bird Count.  The temperature in Melbourne is forecast to be 33, so I decided to get an early start and try to clock up some birds before it became too hot.

I decided to go to the Ferntree Gully section of the Dandenong Ranges National Park.  I selected this spot today because (1) I hadn't been there before this year, and I'm always hoping for some new species for the year and (2) I hoped that it wouldn't be too hot beside the creeks and amongst the ferns. 

Ferntree Gully is about 30 kilometres south-east of Melbourne, so I had the sun in my eyes as I drove out there.  I arrived at 8.05 and was shocked at the number of cars in the car park.  There must have been over a hundred.  Why weren't all these people at work?  Joggers like to train on the Kokoda Trail.  It is steep and taxing.  I walked the Nature Trail, which is 3 kilometres and is supposed to take 1.5 hours.  It took me a little over two.  I had the trail entirely to myself.  Apart from the birds and some wallabies (and a disconcerting noise from some long grass) there was no other life along the Nature Trail this morning.
Dandenong Ranges National Park (Ferntree Gully)

As soon as I got out of the car, I was bombarded with cockies squawking.  They were loud, raucous and omnipresent throughout my visit.  I'm sure they stopped me hearing twitterings from other birds.  For the Great Backyard Bird Count, participants must submit the number of each species present.  I estimated that there were 100 Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.  The next most numerous species was the Crimson Rosella.  I recorded 30 of these.  After that came Little Raven (12 - hanging around the car park), White-browed Scrubwren (8), Superb Fairy-wren (8), Grey Fantail (7) and Eastern Yellow Robin (also 7, probably more, I was seeing them and hearing them a fair bit, but I only counted the ones I saw).

I saw just one female Golden Whistler, one beautiful Rufous Fantail and just a couple of kookaburras.  I spent many minutes looking for White-throated Treecreepers, which were very common, judging by their calls.  I came home without seeing one.  In my defence, I point out that the trees are very tall here!  I saw both Striated and Spotted Pardalotes, Silvereyes (of course) and, surprisingly, one Large-billed Scrubwren.  So now I've seen two birds this year in both January and February, that I did not see for the whole of 2012:  the Rufous Fantail and the Large-billed Scrubwren.

I submitted a list of 23 birds to the Great Backyard Bird Count.  Not all that impressive, I hear you say.  Well, watch this space:  tomorrow I'm going to Werribee Sewage Farm.  This is site number two on my top 100 Australian birding sites and I have Great Expectations.

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