Birds of SE Melbourne

Subject: Birds of SE Melbourne
Date: Mon, 13 Jan 2003 11:35:14 +1100
Inspired by Shane Dooley, and a complete beginner, I decided to video as many birds as I could in SE Melb this last weekend.

The birds I both videod and could identify were, on the first day:

Starting in my front yard on the eastern side of Cheltenham:
Indian Mynah, Spotted Turtledoves including an unspotted immature, Crow, Crested Pigeon, Magpie Lark

Edithvale wetlands:
(a complete bust - not a thing)

Aspendale beach:
Silver Gull (missing three Pacific Gulls who flew overhead)

Seaford wetlands - southern edge:
3 Stilts (probably pied), Black Ducks, Chestnut Teal
I always like Stilts

- western side:
Wattlebird (probably red), Wattlebird (probably little), Willy Wagtail (i.e. Restless Flycatcher), Blackbird male & female, Starling

- northern edge:
A pair of Crakes (spotted or spotless)
This came as a surprise. I was walking through this really dried-up country and in a little pool on the left saw at first one bird which looked exactly like a miniature moorhen, even to the way it flicked its white tail upward, but it was fully grown. While filming it a second one walked across the camera view. Neither hung around.

- western edge:
Dusky Woodswallow, White-faced Heron
The dusky woodswallow was one of the few birds I filmed that didn't run away, it just sat at the top of a tall bare tree well off the path.

Patterson Lakes bridge:
Pelican, Large Black Cormorant, Small Pied Cormorant, White Ibis, White-faced Heron, Chestnut Teal & family
I always get a kick out of seeing a white-faced heron - I told you I was a beginner - two up close in one day is a thrill.

Second day in Cheltenam - east side:
Australian Miner, Magpie (white back), Blackbird (male)
I was beginning to wonder when I'd get a magpie.

Albert Park:
Black Swan, Moorhen, Coot, Swamp Hen, Small Black Cormorant, Black Duck, Large Egret
Good to see all three of these waders in the same place.

Not the easiest bird to video - much to my surprise.

Cheltenham Park:
Eastern Rosella, Grey Fantail
Does the grey fantail ever sit still?

Braeside Park:
Eastern Rosella, Royal Spoonbill, Blue Wren & mate, Straw-necked Ibis, Masked Lapwing, a pair of Chestnut Teal
Only the 2nd Royal Spoonbill that I've seen in Melbourne, the first was by the river at Mordialloc.

Basterton Park:
Black Duck, Domestic Duck & hybrid, Welcome Swallow, Wattlebird (probably red).
1. What is the parrot that spends it's time on the lawn next to the car parks at Braeside Park and pecks at the grass?
2. In Braeside Park, I got a good video of a brown bird with a striped breast that clung for about a minute to the side of a reed stem. It was at the edge of a pond only a few metres from me as it looked at me. It was perfectly happy riding the reed blowing in the wind. This bird also didn't mind tall grass. I think it was one of a large flock and had a fairly undistinguished cheep.
3. In the centre of Seaford, only a few metres above the lagoon, some four or so large birds were gliding sedately to and fro, to and fro. The occasionally dived in for a fish. I was a long way away from them but they seemed to be pale grey above and white below. I couldn't swear to it, but there may be a little black near the head. I saw a bird at the Patterson Lakes bridge doing the same thing, it was similarly grey and white but I couldn't swear that it was the same bird as it seemed smaller (more like the size of a falcon).
4. In Braeside Park at the entrance to the "self-guided" walk. In the same open bush as a family of blue wrens was a family of little brown birds. The brown bird had a body that was noticeably smaller than the wren, and had a very sharp needle-like beak. Its head was noteably paler than the body. This bird family had a distinctive - loud and fairly constant - call. It was almost as brave as the blue wrens and one went down to the ground to look at me from a distance of about 3 metres, then flew back to a branch before I could video it. Several looked at me through the branches.
5. In Edithvale, Seaford & Braeside, a family of 3 or more birds would dart out of the thick vegetation with a flash of brilliant yellow, black & some other colour. It's common but doesn't like to hang around to be videoed. In size they are more or less sparrowish, definitely larger than a pardalote.
6. I don't expect anyone to get this one. While walking on the road at Braeside inside the southern gate on a road not part of the main track, a large bird exploded from the ground on my left and made a beeline for the horizon. The grass it was in was short - about 200 mm high. The bird gave the impression of being perhaps the size of a bush-stone curlew, turkeyish in shape, mostly white (though that may have been underwing) with some black or dark banding on the wings. It flew about 100 metres in ten seconds or less.
By the way, while at Seaford Swamp, a large dust devil passed over the the centre of the swamp. I estimate the dust cloud as about 40 metres across and 70 metres high. It didn't upset the birds at all.

Dr David Paterson


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