VicTwitch 2009 part 2 (Longish)

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Subject: VicTwitch 2009 part 2 (Longish)
From: "Tim Dolby" <>
Date: Tue, 26 May 2009 18:03:41 +1000
Hey bird fans,

The following is a summary of my current standing in VicTwitch 2009. It reads a 
bit like a diary. This is an event I'm doing simple for the fun of it, and to 
also raise money via sponsorship for the Australian Wildlife Health Centre at 
Healesville Sanctuary. I've currently raised nearly $3000 worth of sponsorship, 
so if you would like to sponsor me please let me know. BIG thanks to my current 
sponsors. Also always glad to get feedback, suggestions, criticisms, and any 
hot tips (still looking for a Banded Stilt and many many more), so please don't 
hesitate to contact me.


Tim Dolby

VicTWITCH 2009 (Part 2)
Current 2009 Victorian Total 310 (26rd May). For full report with some (bad) 
images see My aim is to see over 330 species 
(in fact over 335 species) in Victoria during a calendar year (offshore/pelagic 
species not included) thus beating my personal 2006 record. For a full species 
list see Please note that 
Mandarin Duck and Yellow Rosella are on the Eremaea list but will not be 
counted in the final 2009 total (Or will they!? ;-)

I've just returned from a two week birding trip around northern Victoria. This 
was the first time that I'd ventured into inland Victoria during 2009. Approx. 
3000 km, great fun, fantastic habitats, a great insight into the state of birds 
in inland Victoria and, of course, completely crazy. The basic route of a 
journey followed:

.  Travelling from Melbourne (via Greater Bendigo NP) to Terrick Terrick NP as 
part of a Birds Australia survey and campout (April 9 - 11)

.  From Terricks I traversed central Victoria (via Boort, Wedderburn, St Arnaud 
and Stawell) to the Grampians for a holiday with family and friends. (April 11 
- 16)

.  Then, linking up with good friend Greg Oakley, mad dash birding to the 
Little Desert NP, Telopea Downs near the South Australian border (just south of 
the Big Desert), Wyperfeld NP (south and north), Bronzewing FFR, Timberoo Res, 
Murray Sunset NP, Hattah-Kulkyne NP, and then finally down to Lake Tyrrell and 
back to Melbourne. (April 16 - 19)

Some of the birding highlights included Swift Parrot, Purple-gaped, 
Black-chinned and Striped Honeyeater, Crested Bellbird, Plains Wanderer, Little 
Button-quail, Black Falcon, Grey-crowned and Chestnut-crowned Babbler, Spotless 
and Baillon's Crake, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Speckled Warbler, 
White-backed Swallow, Slender-billed Thornbill, Spotted Nightjar and a daytime 
Owlet Nightjar, Redthroat, White-browed Treecreeper, Chestnut Quail-thrush, 
White-winged, Splendid and Variegated Fairy-wrens, Mallee Emu-wren, Striated 
Grasswren and Rufous Fieldwren. I added 55 new species, taking my total for 
Victoria in 2009 to 304.

Greater Bendigo National Park
Birds of note included Crested Bellbird, Swift Parrot and Peaceful Dove along 
Angle Rd, Inland Thornbill, Yellow-plumed and Purple-gaped Honeyeater along 
Boundary Rd, and Fuscous and Yellow-tufted Honeyeater along Diamond Hill Rd 
(south Greater Bendigo). Despite looking long and hard I couldn't track down 
Chestnut-rumped Heathwren. (VicTwitch ticks: 8)

Terrick Terrick National Park
As part of the Birds Australia Easter Campout, some of the birds seen included 
Plains Wanderer, Little Button-quail, Stubble Quail, Singing Bushlark and 
Banded Lapwing in the grassy area north east of the park, and in the grassy 
woodlands large numbers of Southern Whiteface, White-browed Woodswallow, Hooded 
and Red-capped Robin, Tree Martin, Mallee Ringneck, 10 Swift Parrot, Crested 
Shriketit, Varied Sitella ('black capped' ssp), good numbers of Gilbert's 
Whistler, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Restless Flycatcher, Peaceful Dove, Varied 
Sittella, Chestnut-rumped and Yellow Thornbill. I also had close views of a 
glorious pair of Black Falcon along Leahys Rd, 2 happy families (numbering 6 & 
3) Grey-crowned Babbler along Bendigo Creek near Wasons Rd. (VicTwitch ticks: 

Lake Tutchewop
White-winged Fairy-wren and Black-faced Woodswallow. (VicTwitch ticks: 2)

Goschen FFR - & Lake Boga / Kerang
Expectedly fairly quiet, with no flowering Eremophila (Long-leafed Emu-bush). 
Birds seen included Blue Bonnet, Pied Butcherbird, and a Owlet Nightjar seen 
during the day, sitting nicely in it mallee tree hole. Nearby Lake Boga was 
complete dry. There were several White-breasted Woodswallow on powerlines in 
the main street of Lake Boga, and earlier I saw Blue-faced Honeyeater in 
Kerang. (VicTwitch ticks: 4)

Little Lake Boort
The Easter tennis tornament meant the town was full. I think I was the only 
person in town to notice Spotless and Baillon's Crake on the mud flats on the 
east side of Little Lake Boort ;-) (VicTwitch ticks: 1)

Grampians NP & Wartook SF
On the west side of the Grampians I recorded large numbers of Emu, Gang-gang 
Cockatoo, Rose Robin, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, possible Square-tailed Kite, 
Speckled Warbler, Red-capped and Hooded Robin. Also Red Deer several times. 
Cherrypool (part of the Glenelg River system) was just that - a swimming pool 
sized area of water. Cherrypool is a well known aboriginal swimming hole, with 
aboriginal people swimming and living there for the last 10,000+ years. It has 
probably never been dry. Waterrat was aslo seen in the last remains of the 
pool. (VicTwitch ticks: 1)

Wartook State Forest, west side of the Grampians NP. Excellent open woodland 
birding with White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Speckled Warbler, Hooded Robin, 
Diamond Firetail and Square-tailed Kite. Red Deer can also be seen here.

Little Desert
White-backed Swallow, seen south of the Little Desert, on the Nhill-Harrow Rd, 
and Slender-billed Thornbill (3), White-fronted and Tawny-crowned Honeyeater 
were seen in the heathy areas around the intersection of the Nhill-Harrow Rd 
and Dahlenburgs Tk. (VicTwitch ticks: 4)

Telopea Downs
A very brief visit to the area and nothing of note was seen. I was targeting 
Australian Bustard, which breeds in the area, however I dipped. The area around 
Telopea Downs was fascinating, with open paddock and grasslands interspersed 
with Grass Trees and Triodia. It is well worth some further investigation and 
serious time in the area. (VicTwitch ticks: 0)

Wyperfeld National Park
On the way into southern Wyperfeld (at night) Spotted Nightjar was flushed 
along Park Rd into Wyperfeld, and on the way out (during the day) there was a 
dozen or so White-backed Swallow approx. 5 km from the entrance to the park 
(near a working quarry). Inside Wyperfeld was a single Striped Honeyeater next 
to the rangers office, Redthroat and Southern Scrub-robin at the beginning of 
the Lake Brambuk walk (southern base of Mt Mattingley), and along the Dattuck 
Tk Splendid and Variegated Fairy-wren, Mulga Parrot, Mallee Ringneck and 
Red-capped Robin were seen. In northern Wyperfeld near the Cassuarina 
Campground Slendid Fairy-wren and Chestnut-rumped Thornbill were seen on the 
hillside/sand-dune immediately east of the campground (VicTwitch ticks: 10).

Walpeup Lake - Timberoo FFR (or Timberoo Flora& Pine Log Tank Reserve)
Walpeup Lake is fed from the Wimmera Stock and Domestic Supply System. Timberoo 
protects a rare example of pine-buloke woodland, which because it growa on 
fertile loamy sands has mostly been cleared elsewhere. As a consequence it is 
also one of the best sites in Victoria to see White-browed Treecreeper (the 
other being Yarrara FFR, north of the Murry-Sunset NP), which can be seen 
around the northern section of Walpeup Lake along Mclivena Rd. (VicTwitch 
ticks: 1)

Bronzewing Reserve
Chestnut Quail-thrush was seen about 2 km into the reserve from the north side 
i.e. via Merrett Rd (and 5 km west of the Sunraysia Hwy). Searched for 
Malleefowl, seeing numerous tracks, but no bird (VicTwitch ticks: 1)

Murray-Sunset NP
Targeted Red-lored Whistler along Honeymoon Hut Track and dipped. The area was 
extremely quiet birdwise, and Wymlet Tank was dry. This was the first time I 
not seen or heard Red-lored Whistker along the Honeymoon Hit Tk. It probably 
related to the time of year - rather that a restriction of the species 
territory (VicTwitch ticks: 0).

Hattah-Kulkyne NP
Camped at Lake Hattah campground - the lake was dry. At night we heard Barn Owl 
and Boobook Owl and Owlet Nightjar. In the morning there were large numbers of 
parrots around the campground including Major Mitchell's (only 2) and 
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Galah, Little Corella, Regent Parrot and Yellow 
Rosella, and, of course, we were entertained by a 20+ family of Apostlebird, 
who appeared magically second after we started breakfast. Along the Nowingi 
Track we quickly got onto both Mallee Emu-wren and Striated Grasswren (in the 
same place), with both species seeming to be having a good year. From the 
Nowingi we headed down the Konardin (which had recently suffered fires) to the 
Mournpall Track and saw Chestnut-crowned Babbler between Eagles Nest and Raak 
Tks. (VicTwitch ticks: 7)

Lake Tyrrell
Rufous Fieldwren (2) were seen in Salt Bush plantation between the lookout and 
the lake (near intersection on Baileys Rd and Lake Tyrrell Rd) - and there were 
large numbers of Blue Bonnet in the south-east corner. (VicTwitch ticks: 1)

Northern Victoria - in summary, without wanting to state the obvious, 
conditions in northern Victoria are extremely dry. There was virtually no 
natural water in the states lakes, bores, dams, streams and rivers. Literally 
the only water I encountered was through irrigation and water allocation - such 
as a few dams. Despite fantastic views of a pair of Black Falcon (at Terricks) 
there was a general lack of raptors throughout the state. For example I saw no 
Spotted Harrier and very few other birds of prey (such as Black Kite). 
Diversity of woodland birds was fairly good, however numbers were low. I also 
saw no Chestnut-rumped Fieldwren and Red-lored Whistler at my usual sites. On a 
positive note the robins appeared to be doing reasonably well, for example I 
saw more Scarlet Robin than I've seen in years, and further north Hooded and 
Red-capped were regularly encountered. White-backed Swallow were also seen in 
good numbers, and both Mallee Emu-wren and Striated Grasswren appear to be 
doing well at Hattah.

Saturday April 25
With my brother Nic - an archaeologist or palaeobotonist (as he likes to call 
himself) - I visited the little known Conglomerate Flora and Fauna Reserve 
(formally Conglomerate Gully Reserve) near Riddle's Creek. Located at the the 
south-east end of the Macedon Ranges (about 50km from Melbourne), the park 
contains a magnificent rocky gorge. He wanted to look at the plants, and I 
wanted to look for birds. Although the birds were thin on the ground (not 
surprisingly for this time of year) there were a few nice mixed flocks which 
included spp such as Scarlet and Eastern Yellow Robin, Buff-rumped Thornbill, 
Varied Sittella 'orange-winged' ssp, White-eared, White-naped, Yellow-faced and 
Brown-headed Honeyeater.

So far in May I've had a couple of trips out of Melbourne, one to Daylesford 
and in the process scored my first Flame Robin for the year. It was perhaps 
unusual to see this 'common' bird so late in the year - however May is exactly 
the time that they start dispersing into the lowland areas of Victoria, and a 
few migrating from Tasmania.

I also did another trip to the Western Treatment Plant (my 5th for the year) to 
see if I could get onto Orange-bellied Parrot and perhaps Pectoral Sandpiper. 
It was too early for the former and a couple of weeks too late for the later. 
Despite dipping on both it was really good to catch up with Mick and Steve 
Roderick (members of the hopeless Hunter Home Brewers twitchathon team, a team 
I directly compete with each year for the title of National Twitchathon 
Champion) who'd been stranded in Victoria due to the cancellation of the Port 
Fairy pelagic trip. Their compensation for not doing the pelagic was twitching 
Rufous Bristlebird at Point Addis.

On the 14th of May I followed up on two little cripplers - a male Mandarin Duck 
at Dight Falls in Collingwood. Aa stunner, behaving a bit like a New Zealand 
Blue Duck, ducking in and out of the rock just below the falls (see image); and 
a Diamond Dove at Westgate Park (in lawn area south of main lake) was shy and 
flighty. (Please note that the Diamond Dove at Westgate was one of half a dozen 
birds seen in the Greater Melbourne area, and Mike Carter suggests that they 
are wild birds! In theory, therefore, I can actually tick this for my Victorian 
total. (308 birds).

On the May 19th, with friend Fiona Parkin, I followed up on a report of a 
Powerful Owl in the Flagstaff Gardens, finding the bird in a large Elm in the 
central part of the park. In some ways it's unusual that I've not seen (or 
heard) this bird much earlier in the year. For instance I've got a number of 
excellent sites, such as in Mallacoota, however for whatever reason I've dipped 
at all my previous sites.

On Sunday 24th May I chased up a report of a Banded Stilt at the T-section at 
the WTP (6th visit for the year). I dipped on the Stilt, but did get a bonus 
rarity, a Little Stint at the Spit! After entering the gate at the Spit, it was 
seen in the first pond on the right (4:30pm). Good numbers of Red-necked Stint 
were arriving (for the evening) at these re-worked ponds - the Little Stint was 
with, but seemed not to associated with the RNS. It often feed on its own - 
moving about quickly - and an one point was the only stint on the pond. The 
Little Stint was distinctively more chestnut in colour, with orange-rufous 
coloured wing feathers including outer wing feathers, and white V line around 
the back. (310) . A nice bonus bird, and particularly pleasing that got onto 
this uncommon species first. Other birds of interest seen at the nearby 
T-Section included Black-tailed Native-hen, Great Crested Grebe and Cape Barren 

It's become harder and harder to seen new species in Victoria - and I'm now 
forced to target individual species in awkward and some distant sites. However 
my total now is a very respectable 309. Only 27 species to go in 7 months.


Tim Dolby

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