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