Wed. 4 Dec. - Thr 5 Dec Chiltern SP
This morning, tried to drive to Chiltern. Eventually got on the
Hume Highway and arrived at Chiltern in about 4 hours. Lots of hawks
from the road but IUm not familiar enough with them to tell what they
were without stopping (not possible).
The forest in Chiltern was beautiful in a subtle sort of way.
You can see evidence that most of the area was cleared during the period
while it was mined in the multiple-trunked regrowth of the trees.
Although the variety of birds during the heat of the afternoon was pretty
low, there were so many honeyeaters around....as someone put in an email
to me Rthe trees are just dripping with Fuscous Honeyeaters!S At Frog
Hollow and the Magenta Mine were Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters, Peaceful
Dove, Sacred Kingfisher, Fuscous Honeyeaters, Welcome Swallow, a
single Gray-crowned Babbler, Restless Flycatchers, Dusky Woodswallows,
Eastern Rosella, Turquoise Parrot, Brown Treecreeper and Yellow Robin.
The White Box trail was a long 3 hour walk, but pleasant if you ignore
thirst. I joined an Australian couple who were interested in wildflowers
as well as birds. There were quite a few wildflowers blooming which they
pointed out; bluebells, triggerplants, paper daisies, and pincushion
flowers are the only ones I can remember. We saw a number of Swamp
Wallabies, and Fuscous and Yellow-tufted honeyeaters were very common in
these woods. The birds were mostly the same as they had been on the
other side of the Highway, including the Turquoise Parrots, new ones
included Rufous Whistler, Common Bronzewing, and Brown-headed
Honeyeater. Unfortunately no Regent Honeyeaters were to be seen or heard
The pond behind the Chiltern Caravan Park had a few Coots, Wood
Ducks, Black Swans, Black Ducks, and a possible Spotless Crake. IUm not
sure of this one since when I saw it I only really saw a dark bird with a
dark bill walk into the underbrush, flicking its tail which didnUt seem
to have white underneath it. At the time I thought it was probably a
moorhen, so I didnUt look at it as closely as I probably should have.
There were Moorhens in the area as well, do they ever have a dark bill?
I spent the night in the Caravan Park. I watched the Chiltern
Bowling Club for a while before heading off to bed, and after a couple of
hours, still hadnUt figured out the rules, and was too shy to ask. In the
morning I was woken up by the Galahs and the Red Wattlebirds, and a trip
back to the White Box trail area produced new birds, White-winged
Choughs. Headed back for Melbourne before it got too hot.
Fri. 6 - Sat 7 Dec.Dandenong Ranges NP
I was supposed to go on a tour to WilsonUs Promontory today.
Unfortunately, not enough people signed up for it, so it was cancelled.
This was a bit annoying, since I had returned the car which I could have
kept to go somewhere else today instead. Oh well... Spent the morning in
the art museum in Melbourne where I was lured into the bookstore (more
heavy things to carry around!) and then got on the train and went to the
Ferntree Gully section of the Dandenong Ranges National Park. Today it
was raining, and I only saw a couple of birds. Mostly Brown Thornbills
and Yellow Robins, and the occasional Spotted Pardalote. The forest is
full of noisy Crimson Rosellas, Sulfur-crested Cockatoos, and Eastern
The next day it was sunny again, so I was more inclined to take a
longer walk through Ferntree Gully. This is as the name inclines a wet
type of forest with lots of fern trees, surrounded by tall Eucalyptus
which all the parrots nest in. Today a Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo flew
over...it seemed to be much bigger than the other cockatoos as it flew
just over my head. Birds in the lower forest included Rose Robin,
White-browed Scrubwren, Rufous Fantail, and the various parrots. Higher
up where there was dry forest, birds included Brown-headed Honeyeater,
Varied Sittella, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Eastern Spinebill, Black-chinned
Honeyeater, Gray Shrike-thrush, and Restless Flycatcher. It was a good
walk down, and I was happy about the Cuckoo which I had finally seen
after months of only hearing it. Along the trail were two little
rat-like animals confronting each other in the grass. I looked the up
later to confirm that they were Brown Antechinus, as I had tentatively
Sun. 8 Dec. Kingslake SP
I came back to Kingslake only because I had lost my camera here
on my previous visit. They didnUt have it in the lost and found, so I
walked the trails around the ranger station this time, which was overrun
with people who were there for a church picnic. One you got about a
kilometer away from the main picnic area, however, most of the people had
thinned out and I had the place to myself. Many of the same birds as
before but there were also Scarlet Robin, Bassian Thrush, Gray Currawong,
Red-Browed Firetail, and Leaden Flycatcher (sketchily IDUd by voice,
Mon. 9 Dec. Grampions, Little Desert NP
Finally, the big driving trip has begun. I started a bit late
since I had picked up a passenger who was heading towards Mt. Arapiles
and who was willing to share the cost of the car. Stephan was from
Dinseldorf (sp?), Germany and looked so much like my German flatmate it
was uncanny. We stopped in the Grampions to do a bit of a bushwalk which
somehow turned into a rock-climbing expedition. Since I was travelling
with a non-birder, I wasnUt too bad about stopping suddenly in the middle
of the road for something I saw out of the corner of my eye, although I
am sure I missed a lot by doing this. Birds we saw on the way to Hollow
Mountain from HallUs Gap included Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Long-billed
Corellas, Superb Fairy-wrens, Dusky Woodswallows and Pied Currawongs. At
the Hollow Mountain Campground was a White-throated Treecreeper,
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, and a flock of Gang-gang Cockatoos, my
first ones. These were beautiful birds, gray with red heads and lacy
crests, and also pretty noisy. We hadnUt realized the females were plain
gray but I knew what they were as soon as I spotted the first gray parrot
through the bushes, and then the bright red head of the male just above
her. Somehow the coloring of the male reminds me of the purple finch at
home...head dipped in raspberry juice.
The walk up the mountain was fun, since at the back of the cliff
face are wind blown sandstone caves which are very climbable. So I
tucked my binoculars inside my shirt and climbed up after Stephan to the
top. This would be the nightmare hike for worrisome parents with
adventurous kids since the lure of these caves is irresistible. Back in
the campground a very tame kangaroo came by looking for bread handouts.
She had a joey in her pouch that we could see moving around, but we never
saw its face. In the loose sand I examined her tracks to see what they
look like for future reference.
We drove on to Little Desert National Park, and camped that night
in the Horseshoe Bend Campground south of Dimboola. This is a beautiful
campground next to the Wimmera River. There were quite a few
Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters in the area, as well as Galahs and Eastern
Rosellas, Kookaburra, a Reed Warbler, and some Wood Ducks. The sun set
soon after we got there, and as we sat next to our fire, a brush-tailed
possum came to steal my dried fruit off the picnic table. IUd never seen
a possum as well as this since theyUve always been way up in trees, so I
happily used my flashlight to watch it munching on leaves after we chased
it off the table. No doubt there have been possums in our backyard in
Sydney and IUve just missed them completely.
Katie Bertsche .........If you're too busy to go birding, you're too busy.