Over the Australia Day long weekend Liz and I spent
a pleasant time birding around Stawell and the Grampians.
Travelling across on Friday we arrived in the area
mid afternoon. Not being the best time for birding we tripped around and visited
some of the local attractions. A fortuitous stop was made at Birdswing Antiques
and Art at Pomonal. We had stopped in the town to get a drink from the local
milk bar and picked up the Birdswing brochure. The business name hinted nature
and a visit was decided to be in order. This shop is a great one for anyone
looking for antiques or art, but also has its benefits when enquiring about
local birding sites and significant sightings of recent times. Local birder Neil
Macumber and his wife are the owners of the buisness.
My intention was to get to Lake Fyans on the way to
Stawell, however with the conversation had, and the sighting of Diamond Firetail
crossing the Pomonal - Halls Gap Road shortly after getting back onto the main
road our passage ended up being direct to Stawell.
After tea I headed to the Sewerage Treatment Plant.
While Liz enjoys the peace and tranquility of the environment - mention Sewerage
and the chair at home has peace and tranquility!
I was able to get about an hours worth of birding
in before the light became poor. Open the car door the chorus of calls was
encouraging and walking down to the main pond the water was covered with ducks
and grebes and at the waters edge with waders. On the water included Aust
Shelduck (34), Pink-eared Duck (70+), Musk Duck (14+), Australasion Grebe (2),
Hoary-headed Grebe (30+), Hardhead (25+), Blue-billed Duck (20+) and bucket
loads of Grey Teal and Pacific Black Duck.
On the waters edge, Banded Stilt and Red-necked
Avocet (3 of each), Black-fronted (43+), Red-kneed Dotterel (14+) and
individuals of Red-capped Plover, Curlew Sandpiper and Sharp-tailed
An early start to Saturday saw me in Illawarra
State Forest. For two hours I travelled along the main track through the forest,
stopping at intervals to birdwatch, starting from the Halls Gap end working back
towards Stawell. The weather was calm. This is a great forest block, doiminated
by Yellow Box and Yellow Gums. A grassy, sometimes swampy ground layer extends
through this western end slowly becoming shrubby towards the eastern (Stawell)
end. Birds of note included Black-chinned Honeyeater, Crested Shrike-tit and an
Australian Owlet Nightjar heard calling. The track passes up over a rise. Here I
stopped for a wander. Around me a family of White-browed Babblers busily moved
about chattering along the way, Brown Treecreeper and Diamond Firetail were also
seen. From further up the hill though I could hear the call of the Painted
Honeyeater. I hoped back in the car, moved up a short distance and went in
search of the bird. Two birds were calling from close by. Inspecting a Box
Mistletoe I was able to get good views of a female Painted, hoping around the
mistletoe, but not feeding. There was no flower and very little fruit. The
second bird was happy to keep me at length and I was unable to get a good view
of this bird. Walking back to the car I flushed up a pair of Painted
Further along the track, a small dam provided good
birding, including the observation of a male Painted Honeyeater feeding on fruit
in Box Mistletoe. The dam also provided a drink to four other species of
On Sunday I headed out to a small area of bushland,
situated off the Fyans Creek with Neil Macumber. We positioned ourselves at the
end of a dam and watched as the birds came in. In an hour we had observed 34
species of bird come down to drink including six species of honeyeater
(White-naped, White-eared, Brown-headed, Yellow-tufted, New-holland,
Yellow-faced), Eastern Spinebill also came into the dam and Black-chinned
Honeyeater was heard calling. Also at the dam included Red-browed Finch,
Diamond Firetail, Rufous Whistler, Eastern Yellow Robin, Bassian Thrush and
many others. Above this 34 species others were heard calling from around the dam
but were not observed coming down to drink.
Neil and I then
dropped briefly into Illawarra State Forest to where I had observed the
Painted Honeyeaters. The conditions were very windy, but we still
managed to hear a Painted call. At the dam Diamond Firetail were heard
calling and around the dam were White-plumed, Yellow-plumed, Fuscous and
New-holland Honeyeater. Shortly after 9:00am Neil headed off to open his shop.
Not too long after his departure a Painted Honeyeater came in to Mistletoe near
the dams edge stopping for a while defore heading off.
There was much more birding done, including good views of Grey and Rufous Fantail, Eastern Spinebill,
Golden Whistler and Cresent Honeyeater at Dellys Dell in the Grampians.
But the two sights mentioned above were absolute rippers for the weekend
and well worth a visit to anyone looking at heading to the area.
Wildlife Extension Officer
Greening Australia - Riverina
ph: 03 5881 3429 mobile: 0428 236