|The helipad at Bunyip State Park|
Yesterday evening we went looking for White-throated Nightjars at the helipad at Bunyip State Park. Sadly, we did not see or hear a nightjar. We heard several Sooty Owls, but couldn't manage to see one. The only night birds we did see were a couple of Southern Boobooks.
Bunyip State Park (site number 50 in my book) is 65 kilometres east of Melbourne in the Dandenong Ranges. We arrived at the helipad at 7.30, in time for a restorative cup of coffee before the serious watching began. Black cockies wailed over the treetops and White-throated Needletails put on a aerobatic display over the helipad while we waited. Two carloads of birders turned up, all wanting to see nightjars. I was delighted at this, because I had feared that March was too late in the year. I think of nightjars in Melbourne as a purely summer phenomenon, and March is, after all, autumn. I feared the birds would be on their way back up north by March. And perhaps they were.
It was a very pleasant evening: balmy temperature, no wind, no pesky insects and good company. A couple of Southern Boobooks flew over the helipad and ensured that we stayed focused. I had thought that about 8.30 would be the right time, and I think that was probably right. Although, I have no right to say so as we didn't see or hear any nightjars. We did hear Sooty Owls, doing both the falling bomb call and the trill. After a while of not seeing or hearing nightjars, the Sooty Owls got the better of us, and we all walked down the road, as the owls did sound quite close. I suspect they were never as close as we had thought. They were always just a little too far away - never close enough for even a glimpse.
Thank you to those lovely birders we met at the helipad who were so generous with their time and expertise. I did enjoy chatting to you! I still suspect that March is a little late for nightjars. But it is always fun trying.