Earlier this week I spent a delightful couple of days in Rutherglen. It was such fun, I found myself questioning why it was only number 79 in my top 100 birding sites. It deserves to be higher. Highlights were a Black-tailed Native-hen at Lake King (my first sighting there), my first Australian Reed-Warbler for the season, (I think) my first White-throated Gerygone for Rutherglen and a pair of Brolga with their two teenage chicks. I heard Little Grassbirds, but I didn't manage to see them. I always enjoy wandering along the main street looking for Eurasian Tree Sparrows. Usually a Blue-faced Honeyeater flies by, even if I miss out on my sparrows. Whenever I see a kingfisher in Rutherglen, I do my best to turn it into a Red-backed Kingfisher. Others have seen them here. All I have managed is Sacred.
Of course, I visited Chiltern too (site number 5) and Beechworth (where I go to add Satin Bowerbirds to my list). At Chiltern Number 2 dam, there were several Restless Flycatchers, Little Friarbirds and Dusky Woodswallows and (best of all) some Diamond Firetails by the entrance gate. I also saw two Yellow-footed Antechinus - one playing near the water, the other unfortunately dead on the track. At Greenhill Dam, the Noisy Friarbirds predominated. At Cyanide Dam in Honeyeater Picnic Area in the Chiltern/Mt Pilot National Park, a curious Olive-backed Oriole flew to investigate me, just to make sure that he got on my list. Here there are always Yellow-tufted and Fuscous Honeyeaters, Brown Treecreepers and Eastern Yellow Robins. I also saw a very vocal, very colourful Mistletoebird. The wildflowers here were as good as the birds. There were early nancies, as far as I could see just one donkey orchid and lots of those pretty pink orchids we used to call 'five fingers.' I walked along McGuiness Road in the National Park looking for Spotted Quail-thrush. Alas, the quail-thrush did not grace me with their presence, but I was well entertained with Golden Whistlers, Black-chinned Honeyeaters, Eastern Yellow Robins and Dusky Woodswallows, not to mention black wallabies. The flowers here too were wonderful, principally beautiful blue dianella, and also egg and bacon.
At Woolshed Falls in Beechworth, there were thornbills aplenty: Little and Brown and Striated. There were also several pretty Spotted Pardalotes, drawing attention to themselves with their attractive tinkling call.
I came home with a total birdlist of 99 species, not counting those that I heard but did not see. The weather was perfect. The flowers were prolific. The birds were wonderful. Rutherglen was certainly at its best.