Reports of outings and camps
announced, we try to run all outings, but, in case of last minute changes, please check here (or phone
the leader) for meeting places and dates a few days beforehand and before travelling a long distance. Please try to arrive about 10 minutes prior to the advertised time, e.g. 8.50am for a 9am departure. If you are running late, try ringing the mobile phone number listed in the latest newsletter (Plains-wanderer). The latest newsletter can be downloaded by clicking the newsletter button at the top of this page.
2015 Outing Reports
Early morning in Banyula Forest, Echuca
On the second Saturday of January 2015, eight members met outside the Echuca Moama Visitor Information Centre where Michele, one of our members who grew up in the wetland, showed photos of the area and showed us a copy of a booklet that she had helped produce about an area of the wetland known as Shinbone Alley. Alas, rain, the collapse of bridges and a flowing creek prevented us from reaching Shinbone Alley but we were able to slip and slide along nearby tracks. Birds observed were 'normal suspects' such as Magpie, Magpie Lark, Noisy Miner, Galah, Long-billed Corella, Superb Fairy-wren, Kookaburra, Grey Teal, Black Duck, Wood Duck and Little Black Cormorant. After an hour or two, members retreated to a nearby bakery for coffee and cakes.
Our February 2015 outing was to Crusoe Reservoir and Number 7 Reservoir, Kangaroo Flat. Leader Ken Dredge believes that participants had a great day out despite quite a steady burst of rain for the first half hour. It cleared to alternating sunshine and cloud.
Twenty people attended the outing, including some members of the Friends of Crusoe, some BirdLife members from Melbourne and two prospective members.
The bird life was quite obliging, with a very credible 71 species recorded, even though some “regulars” failed to show themselves. For example, an Owlet Nightjar was missing from its regular hollow.
Nesting Great-crested Grebes seemed to have abandoned their nest but were seen at the other end of the reservoir.
After spending the morning at Crusoe Reservoir, after lunch the group moved on to the nearby Number 7 Reservoir.
World Wetlands Day events
On 14th and 15th February, several members attended events in the Kerang area organised by North Central Catchment Management Authority to celebrate World Wetlands Day (which was, in fact, earlier in the month). Wetland ecologist Matt Herring was guest speaker at a celebratory dinner. ”Breakfast With The Birds” was at Lake Murphy.
by Simon Starr
On Sat 7th March I and four other observers conducted surveys of Lake Murphy, Lake Elizabeth and Round Lake. The main purpose was to count any rare or threatened species, plus any breeding activity. Given the time constraints, it was only possible to get rough counts of commoner species.
Water levels in the swamp were fairly high. Bird density out on the water was not particularly high. Birds were widespread across the wetland and species diversity was high. The survey was completed within three hours. In that time there were no large-scale movements of birds from one area to another, so we are confident that numbers of threatened species counted were a minimum.
29 Freckled Duck were observed, as well as 54 Blue-billed Duck. Most of these birds were present in the middle part of the lake whilst we were there. Nearly every Victorian duck species was present, except for Plumed Whistling Duck. Grey Teal, Pacific Black Duck and Pink-eared Duck were in the highest numbers. Smaller numbers of Maned Duck, Shoveler, Hardhead, Chestnut Teal, Musk Duck and Shelduck were present. Also of note were a pair of White-bellied Sea-eagle, 30 plus Spoonbills, most of which were Royals and some large rafts of Hoary-headed Grebes.
Again water levels were fairly high, but there were shallow edges and small numbers of shorebirds present including Red-capped Plovers and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers. Bird density on the water was very high but species diversity was lower than at Lake Murphy. The scene at the lake was an incredible vista of thousands of waterbirds. Over 1,000 Black Swans were spread across the water, calling to each other. Amongst them were a few thousand Coots, probably five Coots for every Swan. The next most abundant species was Pink-eared Duck with large flocks spread widely. Grey Teal (were common). There were small numbers of Hoary-headed Grebe, Shelduck, Shoveler and Musk Duck. No Freckled Duck or Blue-billed Duck were observed.
This smaller lake was jam packed with birds as it often is. 205 Blue-billed Duck were counted as well as 14 Freckled Duck.
• Survey results were forwarded to BirdLife Victoria’s Conservation Committee, some government Ministers and appropriate public servants. Round Lake, Kow Swamp & Reedy Lake were closed to shooters. Ed.
Perricoota Road outing
On a sunny autumn day (12th April 2015), 59 bird species (60 if a robin we could not positively identify is included) were observed during an outing along Perricoota Road.
After meeting at Moama Lions Park where Blue-faced Honeyeaters were observed, our first stop was the Moama Botanic Gardens. The five members who attended were pleased with the range of species observed in the gardens, the only place where we observed White Ibis and Singing Honeyeater.
Next area to be visited was two lakes on a private housing estate between Moama and Rich River Golf Club. Birds observed here included lots of Eurasian Coot, Little Pied Cormorant, Dusky Moorhen, Purple Swamp Hen, Grey Teal, Australasian Grebe and Hoary-headed Grebe.
After a stop at the lake of a housing estate opposite the golf club, we moved on to the Five Mile. A good range of birds was observed here but some birds often observed here were not sighted. Unfortunately sealed car parks, toilet blocks and mounds of soil (for mountain bike riders) have replaced the habitat where Diamond Firetails once lived.
From the Five Mile we moved into Benarca Forest. We had lunch by the Murray River and then birded on and around a large riverside sandhill. KS
Early in May, there were outings on three consecutive days plus a pizza night in the Kanyapella-Barmah area. Kanyapella is a locality between Echuca and Barmah.
Lower Goulburn National Park (Stewarts Bridge Road section)
On Sunday 3rd May, 22 members birded in a section of Lower Goulburn National Park between the Murray River and Stewarts Bridge Road Kanyapella (Lower Moira). Highlight was observing a male Gilberts Whistler. Some observers saw an Olive-backed Oriole in River Bend caravan park.
On Monday 4th May, 21 members attended an outing into the Barmah Forest.
At the first stop ~ alongside Madowla Park, Stewarts Bridge Road ~ 27 bird species were observed.
Next stops were in Barmah Town (where Blue-faced Honeyeaters were observed), alongside Broken Creek and Baxters Pit. After looking at n array of waterbirds in Baxters Pit, a member saw a pair of Superb Parrots zoom past. Some members then located a few parrots in nearby trees. Suddenly, a flock of 25 Superb Parrots flew out of the trees and zoomed over our heads.
After this, we drove to Lyles Road for lunch. As we ate, several Superb Parrots were heard and seen in the roadside trees around us.
From Lyles Road, we drove along Trickey’s Track through Barmah Forest to the Barmah Lakes picnic ground. After birding around the picnic ground 24 of us boarded the MV Kingfisher for a birding cruise on the Murray River through a perched section called The Narrows. A highlight of the cruise was observing a pair of Azure Kingfishers fluttering about a log.
After this we drove to a nearby riverside vineyard for a pizza night. After returning to a nearby caravan park, several campers heard the calls of a pair of Powerful Owls.
Kanyapella Basin outing
On Tuesday 5th May, 21 members attended an outing that included visiting Boundary Track (near Stewarts Bridge), Kanyapella Basin and Wyuna River Reserve. Birding was difficult because of strong cold wind and showers.
Exactly 100 bird species were observed from the evening of 2nd May to the evening of 5th May. Not included in the tally were Hooded Robin (observed by one member) and Owlet Nightjar (heard by two members).
On 24th May, 14 birders attended our Deniliquin outing (plus two other Deniliquin members who greeted us at the start). Places visited included Island Sanctuary, Deniliquin sewage farm, Deniliquin tip, Warring Gardens and the Deniliquin precinct of Murray Valley Regional Park. Led by Deniliquin member Tom Wheller, the group observed 74 bird species, including Plumed Whistling Duck, Freckled Duck, Shelduck, Shoveler, Tawny Frogmouth, Little Eagle, Black Falcon, Superb Parrot, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Crested Shrike-tit, Red-capped Robin and Flame Robin. Most of the "usual suspects" (more common birds of the area) were observed. A brochure on birding spots of Deniliquin can be downloaded from this web site. Several other bird species were observed in the vicinity by some members prior to the outing or later in the day (viz. Emu, White-winged Chough and Darter).