Victoria, Dunkeld, 30 good bush birds

Subject: Victoria, Dunkeld, 30 good bush birds
From: Keith Stockwell <>
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 2006 22:22:27 +1100
Hi all and happy new year!

New Year's Eve was a very hot day in western Victoria. It was over 40
degrees C. by 11.15 when, after a visit to Bryans Swamp Wildlife Reserve,
north of Dunkeld, in the Grampians, three of us decided to seek the shade
of some trees of the nearby golf course and do a 20 minute, 2 hectare
survey. Middle of the day, extremely hot, not the ideal time to do some
birding. We parked our vehicle in the shade of a tree alongside the 18th.

We were immediately approached by a golf club official. We expected him to
give us our marching orders!

Surprisingly, he asked if we were birders. 'Yes', we replied, whereupon he
invited us to sit at the side of the clubrooms and observe a water bowl a
few metres from us, flush alongside the trunk of a large tree. He then
retreated to the club house where a copy of the Pizzey and Knight Field
Guide sat alongside his can of drink.

A Grey Fantail was drinking and several new Holland Honeyeaters peered at
the water bowl from one side of the tree.

Then, over the course of the next 20 minutes, ignoring us completely, as
well as the Fantail and lots of New Hollands, the following birds came for
a drink:
Yellow-faced Honeyeater (lots)
Crimson Rosella (2)
a group of Superb Fairy Wrens
White-naped Honeyeater (several)
Brown-headed Honeyeater (a few)
Fuscous Honeyeater (several)
Red-browed Finch
an Eastern Yellow Robin

The official put water in a second bowl and told us that Gang Gang
Cockatoos come in to drink from it at dusk. But one was already waiting and
cautiously scrambled down to the just-filled bowl.

After a few minutes, more species were observed:
a Grey Shrike Thrush
a Rufous Whistler
a White-throated Tree-creeper
an Eastern Spinebill
some White-browed Scrubwrens
a Brown Tree-creeper
White-eared Honeyeater (several)

All the time, New Hollands guarded the bowls, sometimes chasing other birds
away. But most of the time, several species had a drink together. At times
there were three or four species and up to a dozen birds drinking together.
They seemed to tolerate one another very well.

Whilst the above birds were coming in to drink Buff-rumped Thornbills
fluttered about nearby. A Shining Bronze Cuckoo called from the foliage and
a party of White-winged Choughs ignored the blistering heat and strutted
about the fairway in search of food. Some Magpies carolled nearby. A
Mistletoe Bird put in an appearance. A single Rainbow Bee-eater landed in a
nearby tree.  Spotted and Striated Pardalotes fed in the branches of a tree
above the bowl. A few birds ignored the bowl and obtained water from a
nearby dripping tap.

All these sightings within 20 minutes whilst we sat. A couple of hardy
golfers completed the 18th and soon drove off. So the official and his
friend shut up shop and left as well.

As we had our morning tea under the verandah of the clubhouse, some
Kookaburras started to laugh nearby, a Willie Wagtail had its drink and a
male Crested Shrike-tit fed in a nearby Melaleuca bush. And all the time,
honeyeaters and other birds kept coming in for a drink. I have never before
observed so many bush birds in such a short time at such close quarters and
never in the middle of a really, really hot day.

30 species in about an hour.

Would the atlas people believe me if I complete an atlas form!?


Over the new year period, I camped with fellow BOCA and Birds SA members
alongside the Glenelg River a few km upstream of Balmoral on the western
side of the Grampians. Together, we observed around 150 species within a
radius of about 40km.

Several species were breeding or feeding young within walking distance of
our camp: Grey Teal, Crimson Rosella (prolific), Spotted Pardalote, Varied
Sittella (black-capped form), Grey Fantail, Dusky Woodswallow, Willie
Wagtail. A highlight was observing a Square-tailed Kite flying over our
camp on a couple of occasions. It was great to see some Speckled Warblers
in not far from camp. Some campers saw the Tawny-crowned Honeyeater in
nearby heathland.

It was a wonderful camping spot but the hot weather, followed by rain (and
a dodgy clutch), restricted birding opportunities.

Most of the lakes and wetlands immediately west of the Grampians are dry.
Even Tolando Reservoir is dry and Rocklands Reservoir is well below
capacity. There were lots of water birds at Bryans Swamp and at Lake
Wallace (Edenhope).

Keith Stockwell

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