Sunday, 30 August 2015


Powerful Owl, Banyule, photo by James Mustafa
At last, winter is over and I can look forward to some warmer weather.  It has been a cold winter this year.  The birds are already anticipating better things to come.  Pied Currawongs have arrived and are making their presence felt.  Yesterday I found a Little Raven's nest and last week I discovered that Noisy Miners are nesting in a hedge at the end of my street.  Really it is amazing how few nests I find when I am out looking every day.

I think I know my local birds, and yet I do not.  Before yesterday, had I been asked, I'd have said with confidence that Brown Thornbills occur in small flocks.  Yesterday I read that they occur singly or in pairs.  My records show that I see or hear Brown Thornbills just about every other day.  I was sure that they were in small parties, foraging through the trees at about eye height.  However, when I think about it, what happens is, I hear Brown Thornbills, I go looking, I see one bird, so I can write it down as 'seen' then I move on.  I never stop to see how many birds there are, and as these tiny birds have very loud voices they could well be tricking me into thinking that there are more of them than there really are.  I heard them on my walk today, so I decided to check them out.  The call was loud, but there was in fact just a single bird.  You can be sure that I will be making a note of thornbill numbers in future.

Magpie Goose at Werribee, photo by James Mustafa
My birding highlight during August was a visit from a birding friend from WA.  He came with a wish list of east coast birds he wanted to see.  Now, Steve is a special man.  He celebrated with me on Cocos Island last November when I saw my 750th Australian bird. That was the Javan Pond-Heron. Then, a couple of days later, he ushered me through waist-deep shark infested waters to see a Chinese Pond-Heron.  I would never have seen that bird without Steve, and I will be forever grateful.  Therefore, when Steve arrived with a list of 'must see' birds, I wanted to help as much as possible.  So I enlisted help.  I called on James Mustafa and the three of us had a wonderful couple of days, crossing birds off Steve's list.  Of course we started at Werribee, where there were a few new birds for Steve, but the highlight for both me and James was a pair of Magpie Geese.

Tawny Frogmouth, Bunyip SP, photo by James Mustafa

We went owling at Bunyip State Park, and James very cleverly showed us a Sooty Owl as well as a few frogmouths, one greater glider and some very sadly mangey wombats.  We went to lots of birdy spots and did a fair bit of crossing off on Steve's list.  I'm not sure who enjoyed it most, but it was probably me.  I added lots of birds to my August list, learnt some new birding places and altogether had a great time.  Thank you to Steve for coming and providing the excuse to go birding, and especially thank you to James, who was most generous with his time and his expertise.