Saturday, 7 March 2015


Jacky Winter
Yesterday, a group of happy birders enjoyed another great day at the You Yangs Regional Park (site 31).  We gather four times a year to pull out boneseed (an invasive South African weed) and we go home feeling virtuous for having performed a civic duty, when in fact we've had a wonderful time birding. 

Beautiful bush at the You Yangs

There were about a dozen of us yesterday.  The first birds we saw flying over the car park as we arrived were a flock of Rainbow Bee-eaters, making their characteristic metallic calls.  We had very good looks at them during the day and they are really very beautiful birds.  The frogmouths were not in residence near the office and sadly, we could not find them anywhere.  We made up for this deficiency with a mixed flock feeding close by.  I counted seven species, but could not find a honeyeater amongst them.  What I saw were:  Buff-rumped, Brown and Yellow Thornbills, Weebills, Silvereyes, Grey Fantails and Superb Fairy-wrens.  Everywhere we looked, small birds were foraging.

Next we saw a female Rufous Whistler with a large caterpillar in her beak, then several very colourful Spotted Pardalotes and one self-assertive Jacky Winter.  We saw and heard Grey Shrike-thrushes and a noisy flock of White-winged Choughs, and had great views of soaring Wedge-tailed Eagles. Both New Holland and Black-chinned Honeyeaters enjoyed the flowering mistletoe and we had lovely views of one friendly female Scarlet Robin.  A flock of Varied Sittellas capped off our birdwatching.

I had a birdlist of 29 species, although others saw birds I missed out on (Golden Whistler, Willie Wagtail, Yellow-faced Honeyeater).

The picnic table where we routinely have lunch was covered in soldier beetles, as was the surrounding ground, branches and posts.  I believe it would be no exaggeration to say there were hundreds of thousands of them, most of them locked in a tender embrace.  Unfortunately they are not tasty, and no birds benefited from this plague of insects.

The You Yangs Regional Park is 55 kilometres south-west of Melbourne, off the Geelong Road via the township of Little River.  All members of Birdlife Australia are welcome to come and help us pull out boneseed, and to enjoy a spot of birding with like-minded companions.  You too can get a virtuous glow after spending a day in the bush.

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