John Newman and Craig Morley
It has been very exciting to read through this month’s bird records submitted to the Club website, eBird and iNaturalist. Many people have been out between enforced lockdowns to make the most of early spring birding and this has revealed an amazingly diverse collection of records with some real thrills among them.
We have had numerous records from the farmland and plains west of Geelong this month and it is a reminder of some of the seasonal gems that can be found out that way. A trip to Lake Modewarre was rich in its bird diversity including three Brown Quail in wet grass and a Spotted Harrier, an uncommon species in our region whose movements are still unclear. Further west were such highlights as nine Gull-billed Terns foraging over a ploughed field in Barunah Park, several Australasian Bushlarks singing in fields, Fairy Martins gathering mud at a culvert soon after their spring return, a Restless Flycatcher also seen here was pleasing and an amazing congregation of 145 Australian Magpies scattered across a paddock. What a sight! Another Brown Quail was flushed from a roadside drain at Wingeel. Brown-headed, White-naped and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters have all been seen in small groups around Wingeel, Murgheboluc and Ceres. Whilst the exodus of migratory honeyeaters to warmer areas over winter occurs as a mass movement, the return of these birds appears to be far more subtle in small groups moving through roadside corridors and bushland and their presence at this time of the year is very interesting to document. And a Crescent Honeyeater calling from a garden at St Leonards near the Beach Rd car park for Edwards Pt Reserve was a most unexpected delight https://ebird.org/australia/checklist/S95226394
There have been plenty of interesting sightings along our coast. Jan Juc has been running hot with interesting sightings including Australian Wood Ducks on a median strip behaving oddly while resident Tawny Frogmouths are nesting there again. A small group of Blue-winged Parrots were seen feeding in the area at a community park. The Barwon estuary had a White-fronted Tern, an uncommon winter visitor, loafing with a large flock of Crested Terns. Black Rock provided interest with another flock of Gull-billed Terns flying east and four Pink-eared Ducks floating on the sea offshore – a most interesting sight. The same observers in this area also saw two Weebills there in revegetation corridor, most unexpected. A Caspian Tern fishing successfully amongst a small flock Little Black Cormorants in the Barwon River was fascinating.
Latham’s Snipe are now being seen in low numbers in many locations across Geelong having returned from their Japanese breeding grounds. An Intermediate Egret on Belmont Common documented on iNaturalist was a remarkable sighting of this very unusual wetland bird. Cattle Egrets have not been obvious this winter and so a small flock of 23 at Corio complements small groups at Bellbrae and Ocean Grove this month. Australian Wood Ducks were very intriguing on several rooftops in suburban Newtown – perhaps these hollow-nesting ducks were desperately looking for a suitable ‘site’. Similarly, a family of Australian Shelducks, a pair with nine chicks, walking along a bushland road in the Brisbane Ranges had presumably bred in a hollow in the forest. Belmont’s Princes Bridge Australasian Darter colony is back in action with nest repairs and occupancy underway. Pallid Cuckoos have returned to our region with at least 1 silent bird being buffeted about by a north wind at Swan Bay on 24 September. There were others recorded in the days that followed. And in very recent news a Magpie-lark has been observed putting the finishing touches to a nest on a power pole in Newtown. https://ebird.org/australia/checklist/S95282109
Together with the Jan Juc sighting Blue-winged Parrots have been seen in Cargerie, and Common Bronzewings are nesting again in Ocean Grove. Little Wattlebirds have been observed at Bacchus Marsh where they are rare and also at Ocean Grove. Rufous Whistlers calling at locations such as Distillery Creek and Barunah Park certainly heralds the arrival of spring and a Speckled Warbler at the You Yangs was a great sighting of this scare woodland bird.
A white morph Grey Goshawk was recorded at Teesdale calling conspicuously and a Little Eagle at Queens Park high in a pine tree may be an indication of breeding, a site they have used on occasion in the past.
A very exciting find was a Lewin’s Rail https://ebird.org/checklist/S95003567 heard at Jerringot giving repeated ‘kek’ calls – try this link to gain more of an appreciation of the call the keen observer heard over several late afternoons https://ebird.org/australia/species/lewrai1 and some keen-eyed observers remind us that Black-faced Cormorant do breed on the cliffs at Port Campbell https://ebird.org/australia/checklist/S94721200
Once more we thank the myriad observers, numbering well over 40, who diligently record our birdlife with observations on our club web-site https://www.gfnc.org.au/observations/bird-observations and directly into eBird as complete lists or incidental records https://ebird.org/australia/home and remember to log in to gain maximum benefit from looking through these resources.