Because my annual total is quite good this year (452) there weren't many new birds I could realistically hope to add in Chiltern. I compiled a list nevertheless (naturally) and we started the day on McGuiness Road in the Mt Pilot section of the national park, hoping for a Spotted Quail-thrush. The rain was intermittent but the cold was constant, as was the unfriendly grey sky. Birds were few, but I managed to see both Brown and White-throated Treecreepers and both Brown and Buff-rumped Thornbills. I walked along the road until the rain drove me back to the car. I removed a couple of saplings that had fallen across the road and wondered how often rangers visited the park. When we encountered an enormous tree across the road, we were forced back. Rog did a fair bit of reversing before we found a suitable spot to turn around. My list was destined to remain quail-thrush free.
|Yellow-footed Antechinus, an old photo from my archive|
We drove to Cyanide dam in Honeyeater Picnic Area. I walked around the dam. It only takes ten minutes, so I reckoned I could fit it in between showers. The resident Australasian Grebe was in superb breeding plumage, but I could find neither his mate nor his nest. The best thing I saw on my walk wasn't a bird at all. It was a Yellow-footed Antechinus. She was lining her nest in a hollow in a gum tree. She paused and looked at me. I stood statue still. She really was the cutest thing. Eventually she decided I was no threat and continued to take gum leaves into her nest hole. Reluctantly, I left her to her duties.
I looked for Diamond Firetails at No 1 dam and dreamt of Grey-headed Lapwings at No 2. Of course I saw neither.
In Rutherflen I looked for crakes at the ephemeral water near the tip. There were dotterels and darters, cormorants and stilts and one splendid male Flame Robin, but there were no crakes.
We drove to Black Swamp where there was lots of water but few birds. I was pleased to see a significant roadside area sign alerting me to the presence of Grey-crowned Babblers. Unfortunately the only babbler I saw was the one on the sign.
We stopped briefly at the entrance to Lake Moodemere. I've seen Diamond Firetails here in the past. But not today. Today I saw Jacky Winters, Grey Fantails and Little and Yellow-rumped Thornbills. (The roads were so wet and slippery I was not inclined to ask Rog to take me to the river, where I often see White-backed Swallows.)
I ended up with a birdlist of 62 for the day, which, given the awful conditions wasn't too bad. Sadly there was nothing new for the year. But I can confirm: there's no such thing as a bad day at Chiltern.