Friday, 23 February 2018

2016 Victoria Trip - Birds Part 2

This is Part 2 of my birding adventures in Victoria that continues in the Marlo region.

As mentioned in part 1, I got to see a few more Superb Lyrebirds during my time  in the next week on the walking tracks around Marlo. This is not a great photo, but at least I have a head shot instead of a bird scurrying away.

Difficult to see in the darkened forest floor, looking for grubs in the leaf litter was this Bassian Thrush.

I explored the The Snowy River mouth area near the town of  Marlo. Along the coast near the mouth of the Snowy River there is an estuary that runs for approximately 10 kms.  There's some wonderful birding opportunities along there.

We drove along the Cape Conran Conservation Park & unfortunately it started raining which shortened our visit there. I photographed this Sooty Oystercatcher in the drizzle rain.

Australia have Gulls other than Silvergulls...or Sea Gulls as most people call them.
The Pacific Gull is a much larger bird & appears quite majestic standing on the beach.

We arrive in Mallacoota for several days to enjoy the eastern most town of Victoria.
The weather is really beautiful & there is plenty to explore in the area.

A Brisbane Birdlife Australia friend is also in town, going on his separate tour of Victoria.
We decide that we would like to try & locate the Eastern Bristlebird in some remote country.
We set off in his 4WD vehicle - requirement to access this area - drive out of Victoria into NSW  for a few kms & then take a track south-east back into Victoria to Cape Howe Wilderness Area.
The track needs a high clearance vehicle as it is rutted out in sections & there was a steep creek crossing that a conventional vehicle wouldn't cope with.

We had a great day out, but didn't find our Eastern Bristlebird....I think we were about 200m in the wrong area. Whilst walking back to his car we flushed this Ground Parrot that was feeding on the grasses along the was a "lifer" for us, so were happy anyway.

Mallacoota had many birding sites to visit. I found this Wonga Pigeon on the edge of town along the Mallacoota Heathland Walk.

At the Mallacoota Bastion Point boat ramp I found a few Black-faced Cormorants....another life specie for me.

We went on a day drive to Shipwreck Point. There's some pretty walks there including a heathland walk where I found this Yellow-faced Honeyeater.

Tawny-crowned Honeyeater was a life specie.

On the rocks was this Eastern Reef Egret - grey morph. The White morph differs to other Australian Egrets by their much shorter legs.

At a creek site near town I found this group of Mallards. A few of them were pure Mallards, but there were many Mallard - Pacific Black Duck cross ducks.

This is the more pure male Mallard

We also visited Gypsy Point that we pass through to get to Mallacoota. I took the kayak out onto the water inlet in search of a reported Black Bittern (old report). I didn't find the Bittern but I found this lovely Nankeen Night-heron sitting in the trees....these birds feed at night.

We moved camp to spend 2 nights at Point Hicks in the Croajingalong NP. (Croa jing ga long)
At Point Hicks I saw many more Black-faced Cormorants resting on a rock in the ocean.

There was a small creek feeding into the ocean near our camp ground & I found a pair of these beautiful & endangered Hooded Plovers.

There were also plenty of Crested Terns there.

Looking down form the Point Hicks Lighthouse I could see lots of Australasian Gannets fly past.
This is a young bird.

Also cruising along the coast was this young White-bellied Sea Eagle.

A better photo of a Bassian Thrush....this 1 was at Point Hicks camp ground.

Moving on from the eastern Gippsland region we now drove westwards towards Melbourne.

I birded around McLeod Morass at Bairnsdale, Golden headed Cisticola are always delightful to watch

I found my first European Goldfinch there.

A Yellow-billed Spoonbill

And Royal Spoonbill like to use high vantage points when not feeding.

Double take....same same.....twins..  :-)

For our visit to Wilson's Promontory we camped in  a caravan park at Yanakie that is just north of the National Park entry. It was so much cheaper.
I found this Brown-headed Honeyeater taking nectar from the Banksia in the caravan park we stayed at.

Walking through the back of the campground in Wilson's Promontory I found this Olive Whistler amongst some thick bushes....another life bird.

Laughing Kookaburra being very photogenic for us tourists :-)

Another photo of a Pacific Gull

Double banded Plovers migrate to Ausstralian shores from NZ. I found this bird at Shallow Inlet at Wilson's Promontory.

Cape Barron Geese were loving the green vegetation growing in the local farmers paddocks

Another Bassian photos of them are getting better :-) I saw this 1 at Wilson's Promontory too.

Our next stop over was at Wonthaggi, not far from Phillip Island. I had a great afternoon of birding when we arrived & again the next morning. I found a breeding pair of Hooded Plovers with their youngster that was now as big as it's parents.

A pair of New Holland Honeyeaters.

Our next stay was to spend a week at a caravan park on the northern suburbs of Melbourne.
We had family to visit in Melbourne & I made a bee line to the Royal Botanical Gardens to locate my 1st Victorian Powerful Owl. There are 2 resident birds there.
I've seen these beautiful owls before around my home in Brisbane, but it's always great to see them in other states as well. Powerful Owls are Australia's largest Owl.

I spent a day at Werribee Waste Water Treatment Plant (WTP as it is commonly known by the birding community) . A friend took me around this massive area.
Access to WTP is by permit only as you will need a key to get access through many of the gates.

There are dozens of ponds of treated water at various stages of it's recycling. The ponds are loved by thousands of birds - 284 bird species have been recorded at WTP
WTP a is an internationally known site of a must visit place when in Victoria.

I had close views of Banded Stilts.

A Banded Lapwing in 1 of the paddocks near 1 of the ponds of water.

My one & only photo of a Blue winged Parrot ....We had grey skies for our visit to WTP & this bird sat on the fence for just seconds before flying off again. Lifer tick.

There were several Musk Ducks on another pond. These 2 are female.

That's the male Musk Duck.....I'm not sure of the reason for the thick jowl.

Hundreds of White-winged Black-terns were flying over several of the ponds. All the birds were at different stages of breeding plumage or were immature birds.

Full breeding plumage of the White-winged Black Tern.

A Brown Falcon waiting to catch his next meal.

A young Whistling Kite also waiting for it's next meal.

Wedge-tailed Eagle... a young bird.

I nearly missed the take was zoomed in for another perched photo.

A Black-shouldered Kite.

In the "Crake Pond" as it's known as the pond has reeds, low water levels & lots of muddy margins that is perfect habitat for 1st sighting of a Australian Spotted Crake.

Also sneaking in & out of the reeds was this very elusive Lewin's Rail....these birds are mostly heard & rarely seen.

We then moved south towards the Mornington Peninsula & stayed at Braeside area.
A European Goldfinch

House Sparrow

There was more wetlands at Braeside that I wanted to visit as I'd heard there was an Australasian Bittern in residence. Alas, 2 visits & no Bittern was seen :-(

But I found many birds including these Freckled Ducks.

I've not seen these Quail before....they're not native to Australia & this bird along with others was in a large cage at the Chelsea Caravan park we were staying at....Japanese Quail.

Driving further south into the Mornington Peninsula we stopped at Coolart Wetlands & Historical House. I was rather interested in this monument as I own a bird watching Field Guide for Bird of Australia written by Graham Pizzey.

Further south was this Grey Shrikethrush at Cape Schanck.

We crossed Port Phillip Bay by car ferry (including our caravan) leaving Mornington Peninsula at Portsea & arriving at Queenscliff to explore the western side around Geelong & eventually further west.

I enjoyed a visit to Lake Connewarre & Reedy Lake.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo at near by Leopold.

Also at Leopold was Australasian Shoveler.

We drove a little north through Geelong & based ourselves at Werribee South for a few days.
I wanted to visit Western Treatment Plant again & also the popular place called Serendip Sanctuary which is not far north of Geelong.

Serendip has birds in enclosures & I have included some of these birds in my photos, but of course I didn't mark these enclosed birds on my eBird list.

Magpie Geese could come & go as they pleased in open water ponds.

A beautiful Masked Owl snoozing in its enclosure.

Freckled Duck

Musk duck
Buff-banded Rail

The Sparrows weren't confined in the enclosures & came & went as they pleased through the cage wire.....Serendip is one of the popular places for birders to visit to find Eurasian Tree Sparrow mixed in with House Sparrows.......Eurasian Tree Sparrow

These are the  beautiful Scarlet-chested Parrots.   In the wild according to Birdlife Australia Website these birds aren't present in Victoria, Qld, NT or Tasmania & are rare in SA.
They are considered "secure" in WA. I've yet to see 1 of these birds in the wild.

Allowed to come & go as they please onto the open wetland area were these Aust Shoveler.

Female Aust Shelduck.

Male Shelduck & Black fronted Dotterel at the front left.

Cape Barron Geese could come & go too.

The Aust Bustard or Plains Turkey as some people call them were in an enclosure

We travelled westwards through Anglesea, the Great Otways NP  & The Great Ocean Road.
I found many birds, but several species have already been shown previously.

I finally got to photograph a Striated Fieldwren.....this was a bogey bird for me during all of the Eastern Gippsland area spending several hours looking for them. They were present, but just not for me. I got to see my 1st Striated Fieldwren at Western Treatment Plant, but no photo there.
This bird was seen at Anglesea.

I found another Bassian Thrush in the Great Otways photo of these birds thus far :-O

It also took me ages to see my 1st European Greenfinch...this 1 was at Warnambool.

Also at Warnambool were Feral Pigeons.

Travelling further west towards the Victorian / SA border is Kilarney Beach.
Once I got to see my 1st Striated Fieldwren, I kept seeing them......that's birding.

Also on Kilarney Beach were Kelp Gulls. This is an juvenile bird.

Adult Kelp me these bird look identical to Pacific Gull, except the upper bill has no red for the Kelp Gull.

Also along Kilarney Beach were these endangered Hooded Plovers. Since visiting this area in mid 2016, the Victorian govt has decided to allow horse training on this's an insane decision as these birds are struggling to breed every year due to predation from humans, wandering dogs, foxes & now horses :-( .
As you can see these 2 bird have leg bands on them  ZZ & YY.....a group of birders are monitoring their movements along this part of the coastline.

Further west is Portland. I found this Swamp Harrier on the ground

Nankeen Kestrel.

We drove into SA for me to visit Port MacDonnell to go on a booked boat trip looking for pelagic birds (ocean birds).

Eurasian Skylark....introduced to Australia in 1850's, found through out Victoria, SE NSW, & SE of SA. I found this bird when visiting Cape Bridgewater.

The coastline at Port MacDonnel is quite rocky with several shelves for birds to roost on.
Black-faced Cormorants were sitting on nests.

Port Macdonnell used to have a small Little Penguin colony. I saw the last Little Penguin there....sadly a deceased bird in the area where they used to come into roost at daylight. I'm told a fox was responsible for their demise.

I visited a swampy wetland called Pick Swamp. It is part of the Piccaninnie Conservation Park in SE of SA....south of Mt Gambier.
I was here for a single purpose. Donned with my gum boots I went in search of the bird I have been chasing for the past several weeks with several reports of a bird at a wetland in the Mornington Penisnula, but I couldn't locate it. I even went out for a day with a Portland local birder to all his local patch swamps without any sightings.
I could hear some "booming" calls coming from my target bird.....the Australasian Bittern.
So I moved closer & eventually a bird flushed from it's reedy environment. I had a short view only, so I moved over to the general area where it landed & eventually it flushed again....this time it flew across the large swamp to more reeds on the other side. I had great views in my binoculars then to capture the moment on my camera as the bird was in the air for approximately 20 secs. High 5 for success.
This is a highly cropped photo of the bird in flight. Another life bird ticked off my target list :-)

Unfortunately my pelagic trip was cancelled the evening before we were to depart due to unsafe swell on the ocean.  With so much disappointment we headed north-east for home. My Victorian & short SA trip was now over though we were only in SA for me to go on the pelagic trip.
I had a fabulous time birding throughout the 4 states - Qld, NSW, crossing most of Victoria & the small area east of Port MacDonnell in SA.

During this trip I must have spent hundreds of hours looking for birds & walking several dozens of kms.
I was to see 45 bird species to add to my "life" list, tick off many more subspecies of birds I had seen in Qld & see a few hundred species of birds for the entire trip.

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