Friday, 19 October 2018


Rog and I have just returned from a few days in Rutherglen.  The weather was not good - the best day was Friday, when all we did was drive home.  We drove up on Tuesday, and it rained on and off all day.  Nevertheless, I came home with a birdlist of 93 species, not altogether bad.  However, we drove over 800 kilometres over four days to achieve this.  Compare my last trip to Werribee, when I saw the same number of species in one day.

We stayed at Tuileries, where we've stayed before.  When I wanted to book for tea at 6.30, the girl at reception said they were fully booked, and we could not eat until 7.  We arrived at 6.45, thinking we'd have a drink in the bar until our table was ready.  Imagine our surprise to see that the restaurant was more than half empty!  Not a good advertisement for Tuileries.  Perhaps they had mass cancellations at the last minute.
Barmah Forest in flood

On Wednesday, we drove to the Barmah forest, about two hours west of Rutherglen.  It had rained here too, and there was a fair bit of flooding.  I heard an oriole and decided to chase it down and get it onto my list.  After a few minutes, I saw my bird.  It was a Noisy Friarbird!  This is not the first time I've been tricked by friarbirds.  We took Kingfisher Cruises up the Murray, which was a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.  I was delighted to see an Australian Reed-Warbler, my first for the year.  On the way home, I saw five Emus, including two chicks, another first for 2018.

Kingfisher Cruises

On Thursday, we did all our usual Chiltern things.  I walked around Lake King before breakfast and saw an Oriental Dollarbird, not new for the year as we'd seen lots in the Torres Strait last March.  As usual, there were Blue-faced Honeyeaters and Eurasian Tree Sparrows in the main street of Rutherglen.  After breakfast, we visited Chiltern No 2 dam, No 1 dam, Lake Anderson, Cyanide dam, Greenhill dam, Bartley's Block, and Lapin's dam.  The birds were fantastic at No 2 dam.  At least five Rufous Songlarks were singing at the top of their lungs.  Dusky Woodswallows were prolific and the White-browed Woodswallows were in perfect breeding plumage.  Again I heard orioles and chased them down.  They were real ones today.  White-browed Woodswallows were mating at No 2 dam and Superb Fairywrens were mating at Greenhill.  Cyanide dam at Honeyeater Picnic Area was almost empty.  What water there was, was dirty red-brown and unappealing.  There were few birds here.  As we drove away from Greenhill dam, a Little Eagle was disturbed from beside the road.  It flew into an adjacent tree and sat looking at us.  It was a very regal bird, undoubtedly the Bird of the Day.
Cyanide dam was reduced to a muddy pool.

It was a shame to have to come home on Friday, the first sunny day we'd had.  I added Little Friarbird to the list, and then Brown Goshawk on the way home.  In grey un-spring like weather, I had to be content with 93 species.  There were some good birds on my list.  The woodswallows were very welcome.  The dollarbird was new for me in Rutherglen and the Little Eagle alone was worth the drive.

Friday, 12 October 2018


I've been preoccupied with my fifth book, Birding Australia's Islands, which is scheduled to be published next year.  Hence I've been neglecting my blog.

Since my last posting, I've visited Phillip Island, Trin Warren Tam-boore, Werribee's Western Treatment Plant and Cape Liptrap.  I've also continued my daily walks.  This morning I saw an Eastern Rosella - not very common around here.  I've also seen a pair of Galahs occasionally.  Once an Australian Pied Cormorant flew over and one day last week, I saw a pair of Pacific Black Ducks sitting happily on a fountain in someone's front garden.
Cape Barren Geese on Phillip Island

The purpose of my trip to Phillip Island was to get a photo of nearby French Island for my book.  This I achieved, taking the ferry from Cowes to Tankerton.  Black-faced Cormorants sat on the Cowes jetty.  The population of Cape Barren Geese on Phillip Island has increased enormously since my last visit, which makes sense as just about every goose we saw had several goslings.  The only noteworthy bird I saw on the trip was a Fan-tailed Cuckoo.  I saw (and heard) several at various places on the island.

I saw them again the next week when I visited Trin Warren Tam-boore.  I always enjoy walking around this wetland.  I see waterbirds of course, but also honeyeaters, finches and fairywrens.  On this occasion, as well as Fan-tailed Cuckoos, I heard, but could not see, Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoos too.  I watched a Peregrine stoop into a large flock of feral pigeons (or Rock Doves, if you will).  He didn't catch one while I watched, but he certainly put a falcon among the pigeons.

My friend, Graham Barwell, was visiting Victoria, so we spent a very pleasant day together at Werribee.  The weather was kind and the birds performed.  I came home with well over 90 species for the day.  We saw both Australian and Baillon's Crakes and had wonderful views of a Shining Bronze Cuckoo.  We saw Singing Honeyeaters more than once, not a rare bird, but listed as 'uncommon' on the Werribee list, and one I don't remember ever seeing there before.  We also saw a Brown Songlark, an Australian Hobby and a Horsfield's Bushlark, all birds new to my 2018 list.  As my friend Brook says, 'There's no such thing as a bad day at Werribee.'

It was because of Graham's presence, that we visited Cape Liptrap, to look for Moreporks.  Of course we asked James Mustafa to join us.  And of course we had a successful trip.  It was cold, but the owls gave us a warm inner glow.  And it can't have been all that cold, as we all enjoyed ice creams on the way home.
Morepork, photo by James Mustafa

We saw two owls.  I thought it was three, but the boys persuaded me that the last two sightings were of the same bird.  The first bird we saw had a favourite perch.  It returned to sit on this particular tree again and again, giving us ample opportunity to admire its big yellow eyes.

Now spring is half over and my book is progressing well.  And I still have an embarrassingly long list of birds I haven't seen this year.  I will do my best to rectify this when I visit Chiltern next week.