Claude Austin State Forest birding

Subject: Claude Austin State Forest birding
From: Steve Clark <>
Date: Thu, 26 Dec 2002 17:36:10 +1100
G'day all and seasons greetings

It's only taken me 20 years but I've finally done some birding in the Claude Austin State Forest (near Balmoral in south-western Victoria. I've always known it was supposed to be good but for some reason I've always chosen to go to other areas up that way.

Anyway, in about 3 hours this afternoon I saw 42 species. The forest is red gum, white gum, stringybark, casuarina and black wattle with an understory of silver banksias and hedge wattle.

Although it was the middle of a warmish day the birds were active and vocal. Highlights were Hooded Robin, Speckled Warbler, Southern Whiteface, Brown Treecreeper, White-browed Babbler, White-winged Chough, Weebill, Varied Sittella, Jacky Winter and Scarlet Robin.

The absolute best bird, however, was an Owlet-Nightjar that flew into a leafy canopy. For a minute I thought it was a skulking cuckoo but then it turned to look at me with those huge eyes.... When I approached for a closer look it flew into a large hollow and stared at me exactly as in the picture in Pizzey and Knight. Then it flew out to the canopy again and then into a second hollow. Only my third Owlet-nightjar - the first was similarly seen on a hot day behind the Telegraph Station at Alice Springs and the second was flushed from a hollow in the Victorian mallee near Hattah.

To cap things off I also saw a huge goanna - at least 1m long (I reckon 4 feet).


Steve Clark
Hamilton, Vic

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