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Mid-week Bird Group excursion to Bannockburn. 27th November 2014

Leader: Kay Campbell

Lynne Clarke.

An overcast sky and cool southerly breeze had most of the fifteen who came on Thursday 15th November wish we had been less optimistic about the weather, but the birds didn’t care. As soon as we drew up on the edge of the Bannockburn Bush where a swathe of Sugar Gums had been recently felled there were Brown-headed Honeyeaters to greet us, among others, and a Little Eagle drifting up from the south east being harassed by what looked like a Dusky Woodswallow.

Kay Campbell organised us to car-pool for the short drive up Stephens Road where the gate into the Barwon Water property was open for us. We walked up to the area where the Bannockburn sewage is treated.  This is where about twenty years ago there was a huge controversy between Barwon Water and many conservationists, particularly including the Geelong Field Naturalists Club, when a beautiful stand of ancient Yellow Gums, in the centre of a large area of virgin bush never touched by its previous farming owner, was felled.  Two settling ponds have been constructed which now provide habitat for the many species of waterbirds on the accompanying list. Because the ponds are not very large we had good views of them, particularly of the Pink-eared Ducks, Blue-billed Ducks and Australasian Shovelers. Because of the growth of Bannockburn, our Barwon Water guide told us, two more settling ponds had been recently constructed, this time on some of the open grassland previously used for crops. We wondered why they had not been built there twenty years ago?

As we strolled back past the woodland which still contains lovely Yellow Gums we were delighted to be watching a young Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike not long out of the nest and rather wobbly on its feet, begging for and being rewarded with delicious food by its parent. The bright orange gape was most distinctive against its soft grey plumage.

Soon after we surprised a wallaby which had come down to the little steam. It tore off at top speed. We also saw a number of well-worn tracks where obviously numerous wallabies and kangaroos traverse.

As we came out to the road a Spotted Pardalote burst out from a hole in the little bank, and proceeded to explore the eucalypt above it.

We then took a track just near the end of the golf course, and found the forest alive with little birds, including Jacky Winters and a Restless Flycatcher. Craig drew our attention to the call of a White-winged Triller, and though we searched and Kay played the call on her app it proved elusive. It was only after we gave up and turned to go that a high movement in a tree ahead of us betrayed its presence. It floated, calling, from perch to perch across the forest.

We returned to our vehicles and drove back around the Bush, down an unmade road (Old Base Road) to a gateway where we took our lunch to a shady spot beside a waterhole, where Pobblebonks were relentlessly calling. It was not only popular with them: as we ate many birds came down to drink, including Brown-headed Honeyeaters and a small flock of Red-browed Finches. Altogether there were seven honeyeater species in the vicinity.

As we were doing our bird list an Australian Hobby sailed across the now clear blue sky above us. We thanked Kay for a great day out and departed. Ken and Merrilyn’s was the second last car to leave and as they headed south were saw a raptor flying up from a nearby tree. They checked and there was indeed a large nest from which it had come, where there were three well-grown young. Craig’s carload, the last to go, could not neglect this sighting, so stood around for some time waiting, for the adult to return to confirm its identification. The bird stayed out of sight; so one of our number returned later that afternoon and confirmed that it was a large female Brown Goshawk at the nest.

A gorgeous, varied day was had by all, thanks to Kay’s careful planning and management, and the lovely birds of Bannockburn.

The bird list for the excursion (separate eBird lists were completed for the main sites visited ie Bannockburn Bush Reserve and Stephens Rd Bush and water treatment ponds.

Australian Shelduck 1
Pacific Black Duck 4
Australasian Shoveler 2
Grey Teal 30
Chestnut Teal 30
Pink-eared Duck 100
Hardhead 50
Blue-billed Duck 6
Hoary-headed Grebe 10
White-necked Heron 1
Little Eagle 1
Brown Goshawk 4
Whistling Kite 1
Eurasian Coot 30
Masked Lapwing 4
Common Bronzewing 1
Fan-tailed Cuckoo 3
Shining Bronze-Cuckoo 1
Laughing Kookaburra 1
Sacred Kingfisher 1
Australian Hobby 1
Galah 3
Long-billed Corella 2
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo 4
Eastern Rosella 3
Red-rumped Parrot 4
Superb Fairy-wren 16
Yellow-faced Honeyeater 6
White-plumed Honeyeater 8
Red Wattlebird 6
New Holland Honeyeater 2
White-naped Honeyeater 4
Black-chinned Honeyeater 1
Brown-headed Honeyeater 2
Spotted Pardalote 5
Striated Pardalote 4
White-browed Scrubwren 2
Brown Thornbill 2
Yellow-rumped Thornbill 8
Yellow Thornbill 4
Weebill 2
Dusky Woodswallow 2
Australian Magpie 2
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike 3
White-winged Triller 2
Grey Shrike-Thrush 4
Rufous Whistler 8
Willie Wagtail 4
Grey Fantail 6
Magpie-lark 3
Restless Flycatcher 2
Little Raven 2
White-winged Chough 8
Jacky Winter 2
Eastern Yellow Robin 1
Welcome Swallow 6
Common Blackbird 4
Mistletoebird 1
European Goldfinch 1
House Sparrow 2
Red-browed Finch 4