…John Newman and Craig Morley
As late spring (October-November) comes to a close it is interesting to again consider the records of birdlife submitted over recent weeks of unusual weather – with many cold days and even colder winds visiting us we have also had some extreme heat and wind all of which has influenced the tremendous array of birds recorded.
October saw a celebration of migratory birds drifting south from the dry Australian interior to our wetter coastal strip. This month more have arrived and if one bird characterises this October-November time-frame it would be the White-winged Triller. Whilst in most years we have some records from our drier northern woodland fringe, this year the triller has been seen in many suburban and rural zones and has been a ‘new bird’ for numerous back garden lists. Hopefully with so many skilful and sharp-eyed observers we will have breeding records in coming weeks.
The recent very hot strong winds followed by blustery cool changes saw several much anticipated Pacific Swift records over Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove and White-browed Woodswallows were seen in the strong winds over Highton and Geelong City. This endearing species was also seen at Inverleigh investigating the dry woodland. It is likely that there would have been, at least, low numbers of Masked Woodswallows in some of the high flying flocks. Sacred Kingfishers have been seen in the Otways, along the Barwon River and at Meredith and Brown Songlarks have also been seen in several open areas around Geelong, given away by their memorable ‘rusty cart wheel’ call.
The evocative yet monotonous calls of the Pacific Koel continue to drift across Highton and there are almost certainly several birds present. Highton and surrounding areas have become the reliable home for this species over several years now. A Little Lorikeet in Ocean Grove was an interesting record and the cryptic Chestnut-rumped Heathwren is more obvious in spring when they are calling, as one was on a calm sunny morning at Moggs Creek. Blue-winged Parrots were probably breeding in a low hollow near the Heathwren and another Blue-winged Parrot was seen in Beeac.
Wetlands are still holding water early in the summer season and it was great to see many Spotless Crake records from Balyang and Jerringot. A Baillon’s Crake at a farm dam was a thrill. Lake Modewarre is home to numerous shorebirds and a lone Double-banded Plover and a small group of Bar-tailed Godwits was noteworthy. Black- tailed Nativehen only tend to be seen in any numbers after a good breeding season and so several records from different wetland locations was pleasing. Glossy Ibis continue to roam the district with up to 23 birds seen along the various Barwon River wetlands, swelling to a group of 100 at Hospital Swamp late in November. Low numbers of Latham’s Snipe at several locations have been recorded and the often sought Sanderling has been seen at Blue Rocks. And at least a low number of Pink-eared Ducks flying over Newtown, on a still moonless night, uttering their evocative chuckling and chortling calls indicates that things in the world of nature are always changing!
With many thanks to the bird watchers who take the time to observe and then submit their fascinating records to the GFNC web-site and/or eBird Australia so we can all enjoy what is happening around us as the seasons change, building the picture of changes over time in our local avifauna. Long may this continue.