… John Newman and Craig Morley

The Geelong Botanic Gardens https://ebird.org/australia/hotspot/L3637443 is a birding gem right on the doorstop of the Geelong CBD. Situated in Eastern Park, though sometimes overlooked, it is well recognised for its regular list of seasonal visitors  https://ebird.org/australia/hotspot/L2549826

Late summer, autumn and winter are especially good times to enjoy the ‘passing parade’ as birds leave their spring-summer breeding grounds in the Otway Ranges and foothills. It is a joy to hear of the first Rufous Fantail arriving at this very site and this year, as expected, it was late February when the first birds of the season appeared. Numerous observers enjoyed the gorgeous rufous, black and white plumage of these endearing birds. Not long after, the next sought after species appeared in the form of Rose Robins. Several birds including a beautifully plumaged male, sporting its deep rosy- pink chest, have been seen and photographed over recent few weeks.

Grey Fantails and several Golden Whistlers have also appeared in recent weeks. Fluctuating numbers of Grey Fantails recorded on consecutive visits would strongly indicate that the fortunate observers are bearing witness to a passage migration. A few of these migratory birds may remain in the Gardens over winter – so it’s worth keeping an eye on this area over coming weeks and months. The Bassian Thrush, though a moderately common species in the Otway Ranges, is always a treat to see on seasonal dispersion, and this was certainly the case with an individual foraging in the leaf litter, freezing and blending into the background in the Geelong Botanic Gardens.

A sub-adult Black-faced Monarch at Avalon was an amazing local record. A vagrant to the Geelong region the species is usually a spring-summer migrant to the wetter forests east of Melbourne rarely coming this far west.

It was a delight to see a single Banded Stilt recently at Lake Victoria. We are still waiting on a large influx of these enigmatic Australian shorebirds after a few tantalising records earlier this year. Presumably suitable saline wetlands remain in inland Australia supporting the highly nomadic species. A few Double-banded Plovers were an unusual find at the Spring Creek Estuary and a beach-cast Sooty Shearwater, in good condition washed up at Ocean Grove, was an important find of rare species to our region.

Our much revered breeding colony of Little Egrets at Queenscliff, the only known breeding colony of this beautiful small egret in Victoria, has done well this summer with at least 23 juveniles observed and recorded. Nankeen Night Herons, on the Queenscliff mudflats, were also a welcome and unexpected sight especially with twenty-six of them counted.

Finally we love our roaming flocks of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos in the Geelong region and there have been numerous records of small flocks of up to 30 birds recorded in recent weeks. You can peruse the seasonal movement of these birds in our region, and beyond, by following this link https://ebird.org/australia/explore log-in to eBird and explore “species maps” and add Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo in the search, then limit the date range to, for example, January and then progress, one at a time, through the months. You can follow a similar process to generate maps for Rose Robin.

And before we finish for March some notes about the bird records on the GFNC web-site.

  • Bird records prior to January 2017 have now been deleted from the web-site and archived. All these records have been submitted to eBird and have been used to produce the Geelong Bird Report covering those years. And these can be downloaded as a PDF from the publications of the GFNC web-site https://www.gfnc.org.au/about-us/publications
  • All 2017-2020 records remain for viewing on the GFNC web-site.
  • All 2013-2020 observations from GFNC web-site have been submitted to eBird, as well as many tens of 1000s of observations submitted directly to eBird by GFNC members and other observers.