Friday, 20 December 2013


Black Swan
Yesterday I spent a pleasant hour wandering around Melbourne's Botanic Gardens.  It was warm and sunny with just a slight breeze.  If I were forced to find a complaint, it was that it was too popular.  There were too many people enjoying what I wanted to enjoy!

I used to visit the gardens to add Song Thrush and Nankeen Night-Heron to my list, but it has been many years now since I've seen a Song Thrush in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens.  Nor did I see a night-heron yesterday.  One bird that is guaranteed today is the Bell Miner.  I saw plenty of them.  And, as on last Monday when I visited the Melbourne General Cemetery, the most numerous bird was the Red Wattlebird. 

I heard, but could not see, the Eastern Koel.  Until recently, koels were not regarded as Victorian birds at all.  In his authoritative Handlist of the Birds of Victoria published in 1967, Roy Wheeler classifies the koel as an accidental summer migrant and records just one record, from Mallacoota in January 1917.  Then, ninety years later, in January 2007, one turned up in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens.  He liked it so much that he now takes his summer break there each year.  Yesterday, he called from the top of a conifer.  I hurried up the hill and, as soon as I reached the tree, he stopped calling.  He had fun with me a few other times during the morning, but always remained hidden.

My birdlist was surprisingly small.  I was missing all the little birds.  I don't know how I missed the Grey Fantail that serenaded me loudly, but simply would not show himself.  I also heard, but did not see, Brown Thornbills, Superb Fairy-wrens, White-browed Scrubwrens and an Eastern Spinebill.  No wonder my list was small!

I always hope for crakes in the gardens, but am rarely gratified.  I did not see any yesterday.  I saw all the usual suspects, the common waterbirds, blackbirds, currawongs, Little Ravens, and again, my favourite, the Willie Wagtail.

It is great to see the people of Melbourne enjoying their botanic gardens.  Perhaps if I allow a little more time on my next visit, I might see that pesky koel.  And I'll never give up on the Song Thrush.

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