Thursday, 7 March 2013


I've just returned from a most enjoyable few days in Rutherglen and Wodonga.  I saw 103 species of birds, which wasn't bad as the temperature was over 30 each day.  On Tuesday I saw 71 species, and on Wednesday 74.  Not bad for autumn.

Monday was basically a travelling day.  Delicious lunch at Fowles winery at Avenel, then a quick stop at Winton Wetlands, where the highlight was about forty Nankeen Night-Herons.

On Tuesday, in Rutherglen, I started the day with a walk around Lake King before breakfast.  I notched up 30 species, including Black-tailed Native-hen and Little Friarbirds.  Rog had read about Black Swamp on Birdline Victoria and we decided to explore it.  It is south of Rutherglen, off the Murray Valley Highway.  Sadly, it was quite dry.  There has been no rain in Rutherglen since November and everything is tinder dry.  But Black Swamp looked an interesting spot and we will certainly return.  We went back into town and visited the ephemeral swamp near the tip.  There is still a little water in it, but few birds now.  Then we drove to Chiltern, first stop No 2 dam.  This lovely spot never disappoints.  Today there was a large number of pelicans on the dam and a very vocal group of colourful Crested Shrike-tits in the gum trees.  I wandered around enjoying myself, thinking how benign it was and how pleasant.  I did have to watch where I was walking, bush bashing through the tall grass.  Then, suddenly, I was under attack.  I had bumped into a wasp's nest and they were not happy.  Nor was I!  The wasps swarmed around my head.  I ran faster than I would have thought possible, trying to wave the wasps away.  Rog sat in the car, happily reading his newspaper.  When I arrived back at the car, bird watching had momentarily lost its allure.  Miraculously, I had only one sting.  It could have been so much worse.

Black Swamp - worth a return visit
 Next stop was Chiltern No 1 dam.  My wasp experience was immediately forgottern as I admired Dusky Woodswallows.  The last few times I've visited Chiltern No 1 dam I've seen Diamond Firetails and I'd hoped to see them again today.  But it was not to be.  I heard a Peaceful Dove and decided to add it to the list.  It called constantly, but I did not seem to get any nearer.  Eventually I forded a dry creekbed (with difficulty) and was rewarded with a good look at a dear little dove.  I added nothing to my list at Lake Anderson (in Chiltern).  There's always good birding at Cyanide Dam in Honeyeater Picnic Area in the Chiltern National Park.  Today I saw gorgeous Spotted Pardalotes, Red-capped Robins, Leaden Flycatchers and Chestnut-rumped Thornbills, while Eastern Spinebills took a bath in the dam.  The Australiasian Grebes looked at though they'd had a second clutch.  I added nothing to my list at Frog Hollow, but did see Brown-headed Honeyeaters and a Sacred Kingfisher at Greenhill Dam.  We drove up Fishers Road looking for Grey-crowned Babblers, but were not lucky today.  We drove up Donchi Hill Road, and on to Lappins Dam.  I knew I'd see Peaceful Doves here (I usually do) because I'd gone to so much trouble to tick them at No 1 dam.  Sure enough, about a dozen Peaceful Doves sat on the road as we drove in.  Two black wallabies drinking at the dam were not worried by our presence.  One finished his drink, then hopped away slowly.  The other stayed to munch on some green grass on the bank.  Our last stop for the day was Lake Moodemere, where I always hope for White-backed Swallows.  Today I added nothing to the list.  Still, 71 species on a hot autumn day is perfectly acceptable.

To be continued.

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