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Home-grown, handmade and home-spun : honeyeaters and handsome parrots, a 10 day birding safari around Victoria, Australia.


Treepol

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Treepol

Victoria is a well-kept birding secret. It’s the smallest of the Australian mainland states (about the size of the UK) and is home to almost 490 bird species and a variety of habitats ranging from the eastern temperate rainforests to the dry mallee plains in western Victoria. The Victorian Mega-tour offered by Simon Starr of Firetail Birding begins just a 1 hour flight from Hobart to Melbourne. Having survived long-haul flights to Africa and South America it seemed too good to be true to find this gem of a tour so close to home. After 10 rewarding days there was no doubt, the Mega-tour is a prime itinerary for wildlife fans and especially birders. I was dazzled by the variety of colourful (and not so colourful) birds seen and delighted with the accommodation, food and scenery this trip delivered. 

 

We were a group of 4 - my friend Barbara and I from Hobart, Joy from Melbourne and Mark from New Zealand. Some of the 260 species seen were familiar whilst many were lifers.  Holidaying at home is pleasant and comfortable, the promise of new species and new places is a winning combination. The home-grown, hand-spun and homemade safari requires no new SIM cards, cash cards, adapters, complex currency deals and no visas! 

 

I was keen to spend 10 days in regional Victoria, visiting national parks, areas steeped in gold-mining and grazing history, the Mallee grain belt, dusty railway towns and the surf coast. We explored places with magical names – Tarra Bulga NP, Werribee, Hattah Lakes, Yarrawonga, Metung and Lake Tutchenwop. The itinerary offered opportunities for sightings of pink and rose robins, lyrebird, the Plains Wanderer, owls, colourful parrotswrens, lyrebirds and robins.  Various kangaroo species and koalas are also possible.
 

 

The final itinerary was:


Day 1. Melbourne, Tarra Bulga NP to Lakes Entrance
 

Day 2. Lakes Entrance, Colquhuon State Forest, Metung, Lake Tyers, Orbost
 

Day 3. Cape Conran Coastal Park, Orbost
 

Day 4. Orbost, Hotham heights, Chiltern, Wangaratta
 

Day 5. Wangaratta, Warby Ranges, Killawarra Forest, Boominoomamoonah, Hay Plain, Deniliquin
 

Day 6. Deniliquin, Island Sanctuary, Kerang, Lake Tutchenwop, Hattah NP,  Ouyen
 

Day 7. Nowingee State Forest, Hattah NP, Ouyen
 

Day 8. Ouyen Sandhill, Bronzewing Flora and Fauna Reserve, Lake Tyrrell, Mt Korong, Inglewood Nature Reserve, Inglewood
 

Day 9. Inglewood Nature Reserve, Maldon, Muckleford State Forest, Brisbane Ranges NP, Western Treatment Plant (Werribee), Aireys Inlet
 

Day 10. Split Point Lighthouse, Sheoak Picnic Ground, Lorne, Anglesey, Western Treatment Plant (Werribee), Melbourne
 

 

I still find it hard to believe this wildfest begins just a one hour flight from home!
 

 


019PowerfulOwl.JPG.1f9e81fe746b70b671043ba9bdedf6a5.JPGPowerful owl

 

059Crimsonros1.JPG.46b06cb1bf50ae5ed335b8821b96ed1d.JPGCrimson rosella

 

 

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Satin flycatcher (female)

 

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Spotted pardalote
 

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Plains wanderer (male)

 

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Malleefowl

 

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Blue-winged parrot (male)
 

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Eastern grey kangaroo
 

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Koala

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Galago

Wow those place names! Its amazing how close to home you can find such amazing birding territory. Looking forward to reading all about it and seeing your wonderful photos. 

I guess it's also a sad feeling, knowing how much terible damage has occurred in Victoria. Lake Tyers was mentioned in the news today as being threatened.

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Treepol

@Galago I was pleasantly surprised to see such a wide variety of birds so close to home. Over the past few weeks I have often thought back to the first night of the trip when we were sitting upstairs in the excellent Miriam's restaurant in Lakes Entrance watching the lightning and then next day we saw that at least one fire had been started as a result of this storm. This was on the 21st November and the bushfire emergency has steadily worsened in East Gippsland since then.

I hadn't heard about Lake Tyers, what a shame as this is a pretty coastal town with an inland nature reserve where we were very lucky to see some Azure Kingfisher activity. More on that coming up!
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Treepol

Day 1

 

Simon arrived at 7 a.m. and after introductions to Joy and Mark we departed for Dandenong Creek in Shepherd’s Bush. This oasis in the suburbs survives because it floods regularly and is unsuitable for development, which is a blessing to both birds and residents.

 

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The Powerful Owl was the target bird at this stop. The morning started well with a sighting of a pair of colourful Sacred Kingfishes followed quickly by the ubiquitous Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo and then my first sighting of a Red Wattle-bird.

 

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Alarm calls from a nearby tree gave away the young Powerful Owl that had flown into a shady tree to pass a day where the mercury was tipped to reach 40C.

 

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Back at the car park Tawny Frogmouths roost in the trees.

 

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The national parks close to Melbourne were closed due to fire danger so we headed into Tarra Bulga NP in the hills behind Traralgon for some cooler birding.

 

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A short walk along the Lyrebird Ridge Trail revealed specials such as Rose Robins, Pilotbird, Eastern Whipbird and an Olive Whistler. We ate lunch in the picnic area under the watchful eyes of a flock of Crimson Rosellas.

 

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Swamphens picked over the grass.

 

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A second walk down the Lyrebird Ridge Trail delivered a Grey Currawong and an echidna foraging through the leaf mould.

 

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Sadly, we had to leave this cool oasis and return to the lowlands where the temperature was up to 37C as we drove towards Lakes Entrance on the coast. A stop at Lakes Guthridge and Guyatt at Sale revealed the highly sought Freckled Duck, a juvenile Buff-banded Rail, a colony of Royal Spoonbills, Australian Pelican,

 

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a soggy Red Wattlebird,

 

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Grey Teal,

 

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Black Swan,

 

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Eurasian Coots,

 

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Common Moorhen, Great Egret and Pacific Black Duck. 

 

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We enjoyed good views of Yellow Thornbill, White-browed Scrub Wren, Grey Fantail and New Holland Honeyeaters before rain sent us hurrying back to the car and the last stretch of road to Lakes Entrance. The park was well set up with local sculptures and signage.

 

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The temperature fell to 22C before climbing to 36C at the coast where thunder rumbled and rolled and lightning flashed across the sky. Tomorrow the forecast is for a much cooler 18C and Simon has a big day’s birding planned for us.

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shazdwn

Wow @Treepol you covered some ground in 10 days - can't wait to see what else you saw.

 

My in-laws live in Ouyen and we are visiting for three nights next week.  Any tips after your trip for a good spot for a day trip to see some birds? Is the Ouyen Sandhill the one near Patchewollock?  My hubbie said he used to slide down that  on boards as a kid.  

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Treepol

@shazdwn thanks for your kind comments. The Ouyen Sandhill we visited is quite close to town, out near the lake. I think there has been a new recreational development in the immediate area and the sand hill is up behind that. We went to Lake Hattah where there were Red-necked avocets and Pelicans. The water tank behind the Hattah general store (Moss Tank??) draws many birds and when we were there the red-rumped parrots were around. There was a fantastic waterhole about 10-15 minutes drive from Ouyen where the honeyeater action was amazing. I don't think this is a permanent waterhole and may be dry already. I was captivated by the 'wheat landcape' in the Mallee and will add a section in the report about the wheat architecture and industrial heritage that I saw in the Mallee.  I was also impressed with the original buildings in the main street of Ouyen and the faded grandeur of the Victoria Hotel. I really liked northwest Victoria and am thinking of a return visit in the next couple of years.

 

Day 2

 

Today began with a delicious breakfast at the Funky Monkey in downtown Lakes Entrance. Feeling replete, we headed into the Colquhuon State Forest for a morning’s birding. A swamp wallaby bounded away from the road and a feral Sambar Deer sauntered up the road as we approached.
 

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Superb Fairy-wrens flitted around the Log Crossing picnic site and a male Rose Robin posed for photos.

 

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A Rufous Fantail and a highly sought after Gang-Gang Cockatoo appeared early in what was to be a memorable day. The Gang-gang cockatoo flew high overhead, however I did manage a quick glimpse of the trademark red head and grey body. Further along the track we had amazing views of Golden Whistler,

 

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a female Satin Flycatcher

 

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and a female Eastern Whipbird.

 

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A Brown Gerygone,

 

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Bassian Thrush and Lewin’s Honeyeater also showed well.

 

147Lewinshoneyeater.JPG.5110476e06ce0c46c1a6d1251f37ddd7.JPG

 

A Crested Shrike-tit was an excellent final sighting at Log Crossing. Driving out of the forest we stopped for Rufous Songbird, Varied Sitella, Spotted Pardalote and a Jacky Winter.

 

The seaside town of Metung was our next stop where Pied Oyster Catchers, a White-faced heron and Black Swan were easily seen. Australian Figbird hopped around in the top branches of a fig tree and a Rainbow Lorikeet fed in a callistemon.

 

164Rainbowlorikeet.JPG.2fcfe010afc6ec2ae77baf193dff9c97.JPG

 

Red Wattle-birds hugged the shade in suburban gardens

 

172RedWB2.JPG.35ca14a4c3720505213b6d220176ddbe.JPG

 

whilst overhead a Little Corella perched on power lines. After lunch in Metung we stopped at the lookout above Lakes Entrance before heading to the Lake Tyers area where a Common Bronzewing pecked across a lawn and Australian Pelicans stole the show.

 

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The final stop for the day was Lake Tyers State Park where we saw large fish, possibly Yellow Belly swimming lazily upstream. A White- browed Scrub-Wren

 

200Whitebrowedscrubwren.JPG.53f16a3473c1d3f50e79d631cb9671b9.JPG

 

checked us out along with a Leaden Fly-catcher, White-naped and Lewin’s Honeyeaters. This Azure Kingfisher posed for photos before struggling to swallow a fish almost as big as itself - a sort of fish cigar.

 

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We drove to the Orbost Motel, our accommodation for the next 2 nights, recounting today’s birding highlights before having dinner at the Marlo Hotel. Tomorrow we are birding around Cape Conran.

 

 

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Treepol

The present Australian bushfire emergency dominates the national media and as I have heard from friends in the UK and US seems to be receiving considerable attention overseas. I am very sad when I think that places such as Metung and Lake Tyers along with other parts of East Gippsland visited on this trip have suffered terribly in the devastating bushfires raging across Victoria. I am sickened at the human cost in lost lives and property and dismayed at the extent of the loss of wildlife and habitat. Orbost, Lakes Entrance, Marlo, Cape Conran and the Alpine towns of Omeo, Dinner Plain and Harrietville which featured on our itinerary are now part of the fireground in this most calamitous bushfire season. However, this good news story bought some happiness into what has been weeks of bad fire news. 

 

Day 3
 

Cape Conran Coastal Park was our destination today. Along the way we saw an Eastern Grey kangaroo loping through a grassy paddock. We spent the morning birding the Old Coast Road and this afternoon headed for the cool Cabbage Tree Trail before making our way back to Marlo via a couple of beaches and the mouth of the Snowy River.
 

First up, Simon spotted some roadside bird activity which led to a lengthy impromptu stop to check out a bird party. Trigger plants grew in a pink profusion and a juvenile Jacky Winter pestered a parent for food,

 

910189402_251Jackywinterandjuv.JPG.223cd5e061406754f018e918e1ff508f.JPG

 

all watched by a Rufous Whistler.

 

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White-winged Trillers perched, White-throated Gerygone and Golden Whistlers added to the viewing.

 

259triller1.JPG.def75e6efacec71640000d00ec724b1f.JPG

triller

Further along the road we saw a solitary Swamp Wallaby and then Simon was excited to see a pair of rare Turquoise Parrots feeding at the roadside. This bird is as shy as it is colourful and led us a merry dance, staying too far out of range for decent photos.

 

260turq1.JPG.4e7add53b9afab5814ba6873809e7b5d.JPG

 

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Back on the road we found several stands of grass trees this morning which provided a banquet for Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and Rainbow Lorikeets and a whole host of other nectar loving birds.

 

264blackcockatoo.JPG.36c9994847eedf0e848a09c3801fc9f8.JPG

 

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Grasstrees are an iconic plant of which 66 endemic species grow in Australia. The flowers were dripping with sweet, sticky nectar which passed my taste test with flying colours.

 

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A pair of King Parrots fed quietly around a shady creek, where we stopped briefly on the way to the coastal heathlands

 

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female

 

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male

which are home to the Southern Emu-Wren, a terracotta coloured bird with a brilliant blue bib.

 

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We were still exclaiming over this sighting when a Ground Parrot took off from near our feet and flew in an arc before disappearing. A Wedge-tailed Eagle soared overhead. This juvenile Satin Bowerbird appeared in the garden at our lunch spot from where we headed back to Cape Connan to walk the Cabbage Tree Trail which meandered through a tiny oasis of temperate rainforest.

 

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First up were distant views of the funky Topknot Pigeon, followed by Spotted Pardalote and Eastern Yellow Robin in deep cover.

 

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Some fortunate people had quick views of a Superb Lyrebird along Cabbage Tree Creek. The Black-faced Monarch was elusive at first but did eventually show well but didn’t wait for photos. A Bassian Thrush lurked in the leaf mould which provided excellent camouflage.

 

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Other birds seen along the edge of the Cabbage Tree Trail included Rose Robin, Large-billed Scrub-wren, Rufous Whistler and a male Satin Bowerbird. An Eastern Spinebill perched in full sunlight as we drove to the beach where we had scope views of Australian Fur Seals and an Arctic Skua.

 

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A Little Pied Cormorant had pole position on this rocky outcrop.

 

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Further around Cape Connan we saw a Common Sandpiper which Simon assured us was a rare bird in spite of its name.

The sandbars around the mouth of the Snowy River attract a wide variety of shore birds and waders that included Royal Spoonbill, Pied Oystercatchers, Australian Pelican, Chestnut Teal, Red Knot and Bar-tailed Godwits.

 

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Today had been a fabulous days birding with rarities such as Turquoise and Ground Parrots, Southern emu-Wren and Top-knot Pigeon. Beer o’clock came around quickly, so it was time to head to Marlo Hotel for drinks and dinner.

 

 

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TonyQ

What a fine collection of birds and excellent photos.

We have had quite a lot of coverage of the fires. Really tragic for people and wildlife. We have heard there are some in Tasmania- hoping it is OK where you live?

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michael-ibk

Such beautiful birds, and what a great place. Thank you for sharing Denise. Like you said, Australia is very present in our news right now, I really hope the situation will get in hand soon.

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shazdwn

Wow that's quite a list you are putting together @Treepol

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Treepol

@TonyQ thanks for your interest. The Pelham fire is about 50 km from Hobart and I saw this morning that the Fire Service allocated a status of Being Controlled, but now this is back to Going, worse luck. This fire has been burning for about 10 days, and despite the minor inconvenience of smoke haze the city is currently safe.   There are 5 fires burning around Fingal in the northeast and one is apparently headed for a dis-used coal mine which could be even more disastrous. Hopefully none of these fires will join up and create a larger firefront.

 

Its a bit cooler today which is good news for the fire crews and hopefully will allow them to build containment lines and undertake back-burning. Friday the temperatures ramp up to 30C in Hobart and upt to 40C in Victoria and New South Wales, which is very bad news.

 

@michael-ibk and @shazdwn thanks, there are plenty more birds to come!

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Treepol

Day 4

 

This morning we left Orbost at 7 a.m. for a long and interesting drive over the Great Dividing Range to Wangaratta in north central Victoria. We passed through towns with names such as Omeo, Ensay, Bright, Beechworth and Chiltern all of which were settled during gold rushes over 150 years ago. The road was elevated and wound through rugged mountains and steep hillsides of stunted snow gums which do well to survive the extremes of freezing winters and hot summers, often with bushfires.

We stopped for brief views of Musk Lorikeets in Orbost before moving on to Ensay, a pretty town surrounded by farmland.

 

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The haze in the photo is caused by smoke drifting up from the fires on the coast. A Restless Flycatcher lived up to its name, not staying still enough for either good views or photos. The High Country is excellent for both Flame and Scarlet Robins and we saw both species during the drive.

 

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Scarlet robin (female)

 

We spent the afternoon birding around Chiltern, a former gold rush town which has a heritage order on the historic streetscape. Consequently the original buildings have been preserved and give an authentic view of the town “back in the day.”

 

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The first bird walk gave views of White-winged Chough, a real gangsta bird which move mob-handed through the bush.

 

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  Choughs build high, neat cup-shaped mud nests for their eggs.

 

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Speckled warbler and Varied Sitella showed well while a single Swamp Wallaby looked on.

 

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Driving on, White-fronted Babblers sat by the roadside and Simon saw a pair of Turquoise Parrots fly up from the ground into a nearby tree.

 

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Over at Barclay’s Block we chased around White-throated Gerygone,

 

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Western Gerygone, Leaden Flycatcher and Weebill - Australia’s smallest bird. This Eastern Grey Kangaroos didn’t know what to make of our antics.

 

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Back in Chiltern the birds at Lake Anderson are resting in the late afternoon light. Pacific Black Ducks drifted, dozing across the water while a busy family of Australian Grebes fetched nesting material to expand the existing site.

 

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Reed-warblers, sparrows and Superb Fairy-wrens perched in the reeds while a flock of Wood Ducks stood in the shallows. The final stop was at a wetland on the fringe of Chiltern-Mt Pilot NP where a Sacred Kingfisher was bathing in the waterhole and a White-faced heron fished quietly.

 

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A Little Friarbird perched over the water and we had distant views of a Rainbow Bee-eater.

 

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Dinner tonight is a Thai meal in Chiltern before a short drive to our motel in Wangaratta.

 

 

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Galago

Emu Wren- yaay! Such a fabulous little bird. And I love your photos of the grass trees, fascinating. They remind me a bit of eremurus (foxtail lilies) in the Kafue, but these in your photos seem to grow in such profusion, a dramatic scene. Thanks for the link to Tinny Arse, just so sweet! 

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Treepol

@Galago the emu-wren was very co-operative and gave us a golden opportunity for a relaxed sighting and photos. Sadly, we missed Mallee Emu-wren later in the trip but that is a good reason to do the trip again in 2-3 years time. The grass tree is one of my Australian favourites and no one on the trip had seen them growing in such profusion, just a good year I guess, or at least it was until the fires. There will be more photos of these later from Brisbane Ranges NP.

 

Day 5

 

This morning began slightly later at 7.30 before a short drive to Warby-Ovens NP. The first sighting of the day was 4 Wedge-tailed Eagles with a small kill, possibly a rabbit.

 

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Further on, a beautiful Diamond Firetail was perched on a fence wire munching on natural grass seeds. The birds came thick and fast with Dusky Woodswallow,

 

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a female Hooded Robin,

 

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budgerigars,

 

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a second sighting of a female Turquoise Parrot

 

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and a pair of Red-rumped Parrots.

 

We took a scenic drive through the park where the ground was carpeted with yellow everlasting daisies and grass trees grew among the dominant ironbark trees. The view over the Killawarra Forest shows miles of undeveloped land which protects the native Ironbark stands.

 

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A male Hooded Robin perched for photos before we staked out a waterhole to see what was around.


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The first birds to turn up were White-winged Trillers an unexpected visitor to these parts which has moved from the dry inland in search of food and water.

 

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A Superb Fairywren hopped around the waterhole where Yellow-tufted, Fuscous and Brown-headed Honeyeaters had joined the trillers.

 

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An obliging Western Gerygone flew in to complete the Victorian tri-fecta of this species. We ate lunch at Yarrawonga and bought a picnic tea because we will be out late tonight spotlighting for the elusive Plains Wanderer with Deniliquin based Phil Maher of Australian Ornithological Services.

 

The drive north to Deniliquin passed through flat, golden wheat country where Grey Box trees line the roadside.

 

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A small farm dam attracted a large flock of Plumed Whistling Ducks.

 

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Along this road we passed towns and roads with true Australian names such as Boomahnnoomoonah Road, Wanganella, Yarrawonga and Yackandandah.

 

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We watched Large-billed Corellas feed and squabble at a local park in Deniliquin before driving north with Phil, our local guide in Deniliquin, towards the Plains Wanderer site, stopping for some birding along the way.

 

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This herd of about 1,000 cattle were grazing along the Temporary Stock Route which is Crown Land and used by locals for supplementary grazing.

 

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Phil works single-handedly on 3 local re-vegetation projects and we spent some time in one which is about 5 acres. The birds flock to the native vegetation and we had sightings of Spiny-cheeked and Singing Honeyeaters, Eastern Rosellas, Blue Bonnets and Red-rumped Parrots.

 

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Singing Honeyeater

 

Emus with 6 week old chicks were spotted along the road at dusk and a young female Red Kangaroo (known as a blue flyer) posed for photos.

 

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Spotlighting began after dark and we quickly found 4 male Plains wanderers but dipped on the female.

 

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Fat-tailed Dunnarts lurked among the foliage, making a dive for their holes when we appeared. This one peeked at us, showing just an ear and an eye.

 

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Inland Dotterels seemed unperturbed by the spotlight and carried on feeding from the smorgasbord of insects on offer.

 

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The final sighting of the evening was a Barn Owl perched on a fence post.

 

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elefromoz

@Treepol, a very nice report, until the last week or so I'd never heard of most of these places, how life can change so quickly in unexpected ways. Little "tinny arse" made a lucky escape, poor little fella. The Powerful Owl is impressive and what a lovely image of the Yellow Tail Cockatoos on the Grasstrees. 

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Treepol

@elefromoz thanks for your comments. The loss of life, property, livelihoods and wildlife makes me so sad. Someone sent me this link today, which I think captures the grief we are feeling for our country this summer.

 

Day 6

 

This morning thunder rolled across the sky and there was a short, heavy downpour around 6 am. This would be sure to please Phil who was hoping for rain to freshen up the habitat for the Plains Wanderer and ensure the current insect population remains robust for the Wanderers and flycatchers. The rain had cleared by 8 am and the morning was pleasantly cool, a refreshing change from temperatures in the high 30s that we had been experiencing.

 

Today began at the Island Sanctuary in Deniliquin, a reserve where fast growing River Red Gums proliferate.

 

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These trees have many knots and holes which are ideal for nesting parrots.

 

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A flock of Red-rumped Parrots was feeding quietly just inside the gate and allowed close views.

 

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A Noisy Friarbird called nearby and confiding Crimson Rosellas (Yellow type) showed well.

 

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A Crested Shrike-Thrush didn’t venture far from cover.

 

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Down at the river a Great Egret had flown into a popular perch.

 

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There was great excitement when a male Superb Parrot was located swaying backwards and forwards in the treetop due to a steady wind which made photography quite challenging.

 

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Further along the path a family of Red-browed finches flitted low in the understorey

 

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and a Brown Treecreeper hopped along the path ahead of us.

 

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This green creek bed held the last of the moisture in the sanctuary.

 

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Final sightings included Dollarbird and Dusky Woodswallows. This was a very rewarding location and I was surprised that we only met one other couple as we birded. Back in Deniliquin an Australasian Grebe was nesting in a public park.

 

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Downtown Deniliquin

 

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Today we are heading to the Mallee in north-eastern Victoria, a persistently dry region that is home to specialist and hard to see birds. The land is very flat, wheat is the primary crop and grain silos dominate the landscape. The sky grew darker the further west we drove and this dust storm appeared on the horizon.

 

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Simon commented that in a recent trip he saw birds that don’t usually occur in Victoria due to the drought ravaging inland Australia which has impacted severely on cattle and sheep graziers as well as influencing changes in bird distribution.  The drought is so severe that farmers are buying feed inter-state and transporting hay north to New South Wales and possibly as far as Queensland.  We wondered about the economics of carting hay over these vast distances.

 

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The weather cleared so we went to the Kerang sewage ponds in search of Spotless Crake. This car and armchair appeared sometime during the 3 weeks since Simon’s last visit.

 

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We missed the Crake but did see Red-kneed Dotterel, White-fronted Chat, Australian Shelduck and Red-necked Stint. Lunch today was in Kerang where gracious old buildings dominate the shopping area.

 

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Out of town White-fronted and Orange Chats scampered over water weed near Lake Tutchenwop.

 

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Nut orchards are a new industry for the Mallee and the almond crop has caught the attention of the resplendent Regent Parrot which together with the Malleefowl were our final late afternoon sightings.

 

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Tomorrow we have a 7.30 start and plan to spend the day birding around the Mallee town of Ouyen.

 

 

 

Edited by Treepol
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Thanks for posting the link to Ben Lawson reading his poem.  It's very moving.

 

You got some lovely photos here. Good parrots eh? But my favourite is the Red-browed Firefinch, just gorgeous!

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Treepol

@Galago a couple of colourful parrots coming up today.

 

Day 7

 

This morning Simon called us to see the pink Major Mitchell Cockatoos perched in the dead trees behind the motel. After breakfast we headed to Hattah Lakes NP in search of dry land specials such as Mallee Emu-Wren and Spotted Quail-Thrush which eluded us. Spinifex is typical dryland habitat.

 

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During the search we did see Striped Honeyeaters, Inland Thornbill and the Mallee sub-species of the Spotted Pardalote. Simon took us to a dis-used Mallee Fowl nest mound which has been abandoned for 3 years. The birds heap up sand, sticks and leaves and lay eggs in the mound and then regulate the temperature by opening the mound to cool the eggs and closing the mound to keep the eggs warm.

 

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A male Mulga Parrot sat quietly in the shade sheltering from the fierce mid-day heat.

 

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After this sighting we went to the Hattah Lakes Roadhouse for lunch. Whilst the old store is now closed the original heavy wooden doors and brass handles indicate the former importance of this rural hub.

 

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Over the road Moss Tank attracts many birds, including Red-rumped Parrots.

 

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The Mallee Emu-Wren and Quail-Thrush eluded us this morning but after lunch we tramped over low dunes to a clearing where we scored Splendid Fairy-Wren, Southern Scrub-Robin and Gilbert’s Whistler in quick succession.

 

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Driving back to Hattah Lake Simon flushed an Owlet Night-jar. The water level in the lake is very low, and many carp skeletons are visible from the shore. Further out Australian Pelicans glide and a large flock of Red-necked Avocets swam until a Whistling Kite flew lazily overhead, causing them to take flight.

 

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Someone spotted a well fed Lace Monitor in a tree which explained the drag marks on the lake shore where the lizard had ventured out after the carp carcasses.

 

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Tomorrow we are starting the day with a quick check for the Major Mitchell’s and then a stop at a waterhole outside Ouyen where many species congregate.

 

 

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Soukous
On 1/12/2020 at 11:39 AM, Treepol said:

We wondered about the economics of carting hay over these vast distances.

 

It is simply a matter of necessity. If raising cattle is your livelihood then you must feed them - until you can sell them.

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Soukous

Some gorgeous birds there @Treepol and I just love some of the names too. "Powerful Owl", marvellous.

I must make a point of spending more tie in Victoria; it is usually just a place to begin my travels in Aus.

 

Quite apart from enjoying your TR, I am also pleased that we can rely on you for the TR of our trip in India later this year. :)

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Soukous

And you saw a Malleefowl

Very envious, I spent 2 days in search on them without success

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Splendid Fairy-wren - to die for!!! Interesting you saw an Owlet Nightjar. I saw this in PNG after the most unbelievable tracking by a local guide and the worst ever photography conditions. But what a totally cool bird, eh?

 

@Soukous Given the extraordinarily good photographers on our India trip @Treepol @xelas (Zvezda) and you plus @ElaineAust has a great turn of phrase and, at times, I can turn the odd paragraph or two, I reckon a joint TR could turn out to be an absolute stonker :rolleyes:......

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55 minutes ago, Galago said:

a joint TR could turn out to be an absolute stonker :rolleyes:......

 

Oh my, I need to find a portable version of a Webster dictionary otherwise I will be out of the game (trip report) by first turn :blink:. Instead of counting lifers for birds I will count lifers for words. Stonker = lifer :D.

Edited by xelas
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Really mustn't take this lovely TR over @xelas but v briefly 'stonker' is something I will explain in Nov.  It needs words, examples, gestures 🤣😎 

 

Sorry @Treepol back to you....... 🦅

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