Birding between Melbourne and Canberra

To: "'Erika Roper'" <>
Subject: Birding between Melbourne and Canberra
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Fri, 24 May 2013 16:16:14 +1000
That is a big question to ask for a list so I have found and copied and crudely edited out not relevant bits of some prior messages here found on a search for "Chiltern", only the first of which is from me: I hope everyone is undisturbed about me reposting old messages. Apart from that on the west side of the highway after going through Chiltern are several areas worth visiting. The best probably though is on the east side of the highway which is marked as the road to Beechworth. It is about 5 km off the highway (accessed via an underpass) and then a turn off to the north. Good for Turquoise Parrots and other things.

I did the (easter) trip from Canberra to Melbourne as a passenger of my neighbour on Thursday and return on Monday. There were no birding stops (indeed only a short stop) and he was a rather fast driver. Probably more raptors than I have encountered in recent years (several BsK, Brown Falcons, Little Eagles, Whistling Kites, Kestrels). Notable was a collection of about 30 Black Kites within about 2 km at about 10 km south of Chiltern. I have not encountered this species (as in at least 1), more often than I have encountered them, on many trips over 3 decades but not ever seen so many in that region before. This bit copied from the Birdline Victoria is consistent.

Black Kite Tungamah

Another large flock of Black Kites (55) seen circling over a stubble fire east of Tungamah. Four Black Falcons also seen with the kites.

Michael Ramsey

Black Kite Dookie

Black Kites have been lurking around Dookie for the last week but a flock of 46 circling over burning stubble this afternoon is the most I have seen here.

Michael Ramsey

Hi all,

Highlights of yesterdayt's tour around Chiltern and Rutherglen in North East Victoria were a Sqaure-tailed Kite and 100+ White-throated Needletails drinking from a large dam.

106 species in half a day.

Michael Ramsey

Thanks to the several people who gave advice prior to our Chiltern visit. Best sightings: 2 (unbanded) Regent H/Es at Green Hill Dam (3 occasions, almost certainly same birds); Crested Shrike-tit at Green Hill Dam (2 occasions); Turquoise Parrots (several birds) at Bartleys Block and pairs at Green Hill Dam (on a couple of occasions); Striated Warbler in woodland behind Bartleys Block and on Skeleton Hill. Most prevalent species were Noisy Friars, Red Wattlebirds, Yellow-tufted, Fuscous and Yellow-faced H/Es, Magpies (major clan over 30 on Skeleton Hill); White-winged Choughs (almost everywhere we drove or walked throughout the National Park). Wildflowers are spectacular there at present, literally acres of colour plus lots of ground orchids. Thanks again to all who advised us.

Jill & Sue

Jill Rossiter & Sue Casson

PO Box 17 HORNSBY NSW 1630

02 9487 2496

Mobiles: 0409 578320(Jill); 0417 578320(Sue) ===============================

Hi Brendan (and all),

Firstly, the ironbark has budded up really well in Chiltern this year and some has started to flower already. As a result there are decent numbers of Noisy and Little Friarbirds in the park already, along with a good mix of smaller nectarivores (e.g. Black-chinned and Fuscous Honeyeaters), and at this stage I'll be surprised if Regent Honeyeaters don't turn up in the park in the next few months.

In terms of recent years Eremaea is pretty much spot on - Greenhill Dam and surrounds has been a real drawcard for the species. Hanging around the dam late in the day can turn up Regents dipping in the dam if they are around, but searching that broad area is also worthwhile. White Box walk was good last year and has been in other years too, and interestingly there appears to be patches of White Box that will flower again this year (interesting in that White Box in the park flowered for about 10 months straight last year!). Close to here, a pair bred successfully late last year near the junction of All Nations Rd and the road to Honeyeater Picnic area. Late in 2012 there was also a report of a single Regent at Lappin's Dam in the north-west of the park from an excellent observer - Lappin's Dam is to the north of Donchi Hill Rd, on Lappin's Track. The Parks Victoria map online shows most of these roads marked. Other areas to check include the broad junction of Klotz and Lang's Track (an area used lots historically, but less so recently), and the dams on the eastern side of Bartley's Block. But they really can turn up anywhere within the park so keeping eyes and ears peeled while you drive around will help! If you happen to track one down we'd love to know as soon as possible - many are colour banded and the more data we can collect the better.

Hope that helps, and good luck!

Cheers, Dean

Dean Ingwersen | Woodland birds for Biodiversity

Regent Honeyeater recovery coordinator


BirdLife Australia

Suite 2-05, 60 Leicester Street, Carlton VIC 3053

M 0409 348 553 | T 03 9347 0757 ext 247 | F 03 9347 9323 <> |<>

ABN 75 149 124 774

[BirdLife Australia logo]








Hi all



I will be down in Albury for a short trip in mid April. I am hoping to get out

to Chiltern NP to look for Regent Honeyeaters. I see from Eremaea that the most

common spots to see them are at Greenhill Dam and the Whitebox walking track. I

understand that tracking down this species will be difficult especially

considering their transient nature. I was hoping anyone would be able provide

some useful tips toward locating the species as well as navigating the area as

I have never been there before.



I will have sometime to drive around looking for flowering Iron Barks but

unfortunately not enough time to stick around for the captive release which I

hear is planned for later that same week.






Brendan Cook

Hi all,

See below Part 4 of the VicTwitch 2009, a summary of all the bird species I've seen in Victoria during 2009 (currently 320 species). The report starts on the Bellarine Peninsular, then I head inland to the central highland around Buxton, up the to the Box-Ironbark forest near Chiltern and then back home via the Warby Ranges and Heathcote-Graytown NP. For a full report with photographs and for my 2009 Vic birdlist (so far) see my trip report webpage at There are quite a few (very bad) photographs, so it may take a little time to load. Let me know if you have any thoughts, critiques or questions. Cheers, Tim Dolby

July 2009

Into Box Ironbark Country: Chiltern - Mount Pilot National Park

>From Friday July 10 to Sunday July 12 I spent three days at the

>Chiltern - Mt Pilot National Park area, with trips on the way back to

>the Warby Ranges (known locally as the Warbies), Bailieston (Rushworth

>State Park), and then to Mount Ida Lookout (the far west side of

>Heathcote-Graytown National Park). During the trip I saw 6 new species

>for the year; however I dipped on one, Regent Honeyeater, which may in

>the end may be a year's dip. It seems unlikely that the Box-Ironbark

>forests of northern Victoria will not flower this year, so the

>likelihood of seeing Regent Honeyeater also seems unlikely. Hopefully

>I'm wrong. The park consists predominantly of open eucalyptus forest of

>Red Stringybark, Blakeley's Red Gum, Grey Box and Mugga Ironbark. The

>whole area was green, with some really good rain in the area recently.

>There was flowing small bushy grevillea and the ground was covered with

>Green Rock Ferns.

My main aim for heading up to Chiltern was to see the park specialist species particularly Regent Honeyeater, endangered in Victoria but a regular winter and spring visitor to the area. So when I arrived early Friday afternoon I headed straight for some sites in the northern section of the park that I had regularly seen Regents. Disappointingly as soon as I arrived I knew things weren't good, with the forest a virtual stand still. Aside from the odd Yellow-tufted Honeyeater there was very little birdlife. I quickly checked a few other sites, and nothing. The reason it was quiet was the general lack of flowering gum. Indeed it looked as though it was unlikely to flower at all this year. So the chances of seeing Regent Honeyeater this year seem slim - which would mean that I'm potentially one species down this year. Oh well. Fortunately there was a number of other target species, several which are hard work. It was getting late, so the next species I targeted was nocturnal - Barking Owl. Fortunately I'd a good site for this near the Mount Pilot Range, so after dinner I spent a couple of hours spotlighting, eventually finding a single bird next to some roadside bush over looking a valley.

The next day I targeted some resident bush birds. The first was Painted Button-quail. I'd seen this at a number of sites at Chiltern, but by far the best was an area of bush between the White Box Walking Track and Ballarat Rd / Cyanide Rd. After walking around for what seemed like hours, and coming across a number of areas with resent platelets, I flush a single Button-Quail. Out of interest this was at least the sixth time I'd targeted this species this year (at other sites in Victoria), dipping every other time - so I was extremely glad to get it under my belt.

I'd normally seen Turquoise Parrot in this area also but they weren't about. So I concentrated in an area of bush between the Honeyeater Dam and Lancaster Gap Rd / All Nations Rd. Eventually two birds flew past, making their characteristic neophema call. This was the only time I saw Turquoise Parrot for the entire trip - in the past I've seen them with some regularity. Also seen in this section was White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike. Blue-faced Honeyeater was common near the almost dry Lake Anderson in central Chiltern. The lake is also a good place to see Little Friarbird, a year tick.

Although it was extremely quiet throughout the box-ironbark forests I did come across a few hot spots. These are areas where you get a range of species, normally small to mid-sized passerines', which form communal flocks. One such area was on along Cyanide Road just north of the entrance to the entrance to the White Box Walk. The road passes closely to a creek line and here I saw a nice collection of flocking species including seeing Golden Whistler, Red-capped Robin, Yellow Robin and Restless Flycatcher in one tree. According to my records also seen at this site were Black-chinned, Fuscous and Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Yellow Thornbill, Weebill, Little Raven, and Brown Treecreeper.

Warby Ranges National Park and Thoona

The Warby Ranges were quiet. A quick stop at Pine Gully Picnic Area, an area of granitic hills characterised by a mosaic of open forests and woodlands of Blakely's Redgum, Red Stringybark, Box species, Austral Grass-tree and and the hardy Spurwinged Wattle, produced a nice mixed flock of Eastern Yellow Robin, Varied Sittella, Little Thornbill, White-throated and Brown Treecreeper but little else. This contasted with my last stop here, albeit in spring where I recorded Western Gerygone (which I haven't seen so far this year), Turquoise Parrot, Painted Honeyeater (seen in Mugga Ironbark at "The Camp" camping ground, and another bird I haven't seen in 2009), and Speckled Warbler. Of interest Eurasian Tree Sparrow were common in downtown Wangaratta.

One of the most significant aspects of my trip to north-central Victoria has been the lack of flowing trees. There were literally no flowering gums anywhere in any of the national parks visited or anywhere in between. I did however find one town which had significant flowering trees, including on eucalypts that was flowering more that any other tree I think I've seen! This was in Thoona, a small town just west of the Warby Ranges (known locally as the "Warbies"). Here there was several flowering Grey Box as well as a few profusely flowering Spotted Gum. In Victoria the Spotted Gum is a street tree. It naturally occurs on the east-coast of Australia down to the Mimosa Rocks National Park near Bega.

In the trees at Thoona there were large numbers of Little Lorikeet, as well as White-plumed Honeyeater and Noisy Minor. (I've since noticed that there is a Thoona Bushland Reserve on the Thoona Devenish Road which may be worth checking out.) Interestingly perhaps not coincedently Spotted Gum is also flowering profusely on the south east coast of NSW at the moment (around Mimosa Rock NP), with unprecedented numbers of Swift Parrot.

Heathcote-Graytown National Park and Rushworth State Park

Again another quick stop at Rushworth State Forest, entering near Bailieston, looking for some sign of flowering box-ironbark. Unfortunately nothing, with the only species present being Noisy Friarbird and Yellow-tufted Honeyeater and very little else. Like everywhere else there was very few pardalote, with the solitary call of a Spotted Pardalote. I headed to Bailieston crossing the Kirwin Bridge (via the Kirwin Bridge-Longwood Rd and then Bailieston Road East ) - a very impressive single lane bridge with several pull points along the birdge - the wetland area on the west side were really interesting, a perfect place to see crake and rails.

Following up on a tip from a mate on a site for Chestnut-rumped Hylacola (Heathwren) I headed to Mount Ida Lookout, in the western part of Heathcote-Graytown National Park. Proclaimed a national park with the passing of the Box-Ironbark Bill in 2002, the park is located just east of Heathcote. The area I was heading, Mount Ida, accessed via the Northern Hwy approximately 8 kilometres north of Heathcote. Turn in Mount Ida Road and head up to the lookout. I instantly recognised the habitat as being perfect for Hylacola, being a mixture of a healthy understorey, mainly Daisy Bush, and trees such as Red Ironbark, Grey Box and Yellow Box. I found Chestnut-rumped Hylacola at several spots along the lookout road about half way up to the lookout. From the lookout, despite the rain I was able to see Victoria’s remaining Box-Ironbark forests disappear into the hazy horizon in all directions.

Chestnut-rumped Hylacola is such a shy species. From my experience it is much shier and more timorous than the Shy Heathwren and really the two Heathwrens should switch their common names. (I also think the Shy Heathwren has a far more prominent chestnut-rump.) In some ways the Chestnut-rumped Heathwren is one of Victoria's hardest to see species. For instance, one thing I haven't written much about in this account of the VicTwitch is the number of times I've dipped on seeing species. With regards to the Chestnut-rumped Heathwren I've actually looked for them on at least 6 previous occasions including Croajingolong, southern Bendigo (3 times), the Grampians near Mount Zero, Black Ranges (west side of the Grampians), Anglesea, and Chiltern. (I did have a back-up site at Jilpanger.)

Chestnut-rumped Heathwren was my 320th species of bird in Victoria in 2009; only 15 species to go! That being said my rate of progress has dropped significantly, with only a dosen new species seen in the last month. By going to Chiltern and the box-ironbark areas of Victoria I had used up my last remaining significant birding area in which I was likely to see a "bunch" of new species. >From now on I would be chasing single and isolated species. If you remember I was planning to head to Portland (instead of heading to Chiltern), and aside from onshore pelagic birds I was going to follow up on a few leads on Victorian Karak (Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo). This however would have to wait until another time.

Tim Dolby

 -----Original Message-----
From: wallaces [
Sent: Thursday, 25 April 2013 7:55 PM
To: Canberra birds
Subject: [canberrabirds] How hard can it be to find a Regent Honeyeater using radio tracking?

We happened to be in Chiltern on the day of the release of the Regent Honeyeaters bred by Taronga Zoo (17 April) so we joined in the event along with about 100 others.

After an instruction session, we formed a circle outside the taped area around the four tents holding the 38 birds to be released.  A small number of people slowly worked their way toward each tent, carefully opened the gauze door and then slowly retreated making sure they did not cross in front of the tent. Then we sat, and sat, and sat waiting for something to happen. Eventually about six birds emerged into the prepared foliage at the front of the first tent opened, and then flew as a group into the trees above us. Frustratingly they stayed still for a long time and this made them difficult to locate. After about 10 minutes they started to move around and flew off. More birds left the tents over the next half hour or so and one of these, colour banded red over yellow, landed near us and stayed in the same small tree for over 15 minutes giving plenty of opportunities for photographs and video. The aerial of the radio transmitter attached to the bird can be seen hanging down from near the end of the tail in the photograph.

Radio Transmitters were fitted to 25 of the birds. About 50 people spent the afternoon tracking the birds.  We joined Kate, Gianna and Dean and quickly determined that the two birds we had been given to track had not left the tents – easy.  We had been told that it is not uncommon for birds to stay in the tent and at the end of the day 15 had not left.

As our birds had been easy to locate, four of us decided to track some of the other birds. After about an hour of following signals without any success, Gianna set the receiver to the frequency for bird 3.6. We headed off up the hill above the tents, meeting up with Matthew and Isabella who had  been allocated bird 3.6, but had become frustrated at following the signal but not being able to sight the bird. We joined them in the hope that the use of two receivers and six sets of eyes might make the task easier. After following the moving signal for about 150m, it stopped and was narrowed down to a group of four trees. Despite much looking the bird could not be located. Gianna kept checking her receiver and was sure it was in only one of the trees and focussed on a fairly small, thinly vegetated box. Surely the bird should be easy to see if it was in that tree. After what seemed like a long time, Gianna finally located the bird and between all of us we were able to confirm the band colours.

So to answer the question, it is easy to radio track a Regent Honeyeater which is inside a tent, but surprisingly difficult to locate them and get a visual sighting once they leave the tent. In fact it was so difficult to locate the birds even with radio tracking that it makes you realise just how easy it is to overlook the bird even when they are in high numbers, such as at the release site, but not calling much. At least that was our experience.

We can thoroughly recommend being part one of these releases if you get a chance. Everyone involved was friendly and encouraged participation.

Steve and Kath

Hi all,

Last weekend we stretched ANZAC Day into a four-day weekend and headed for Chiltern (Vic) to look for Regent Honeyeaters and all the other local specialties. On our first morning at Bartley’s Block we bumped into Paul and Ruth and Paul gave us a few tips for Grey-crowned Babbler, Barking Owl and Double-banded Finch from his and Ruth’s 2010 Vic Big Year. We followed up his leads and found all these birds, with the Double-bars being in Wodonga, just where they are shown on the BirdLife Birdata site.


After finding the Double-bars and buying some lunch we were driving down Laurence Street, a wide street with light stanchions out over the road, when Joy hit the brakes and pulled over. We jumped out with binos and camera and stared up at a beautiful Australian Hobby on one of the stanchions. We then saw an older man with a geriatric dog watching us, and smiled at him. He looked at us, then the bird and said, "what is it?" Joy said "It’s a Hobby". The man then replied, honest he really did, "Yes, I thought it was your hobby, but what sort of bird is it?" We explained all about the Hobby and now one Wodonga man knows more about birds and we had the pleasure of participating in a real-life, un-scripted, impromptu, stand-up comedy routine. Birding is such fun.


A late afternoon visit to Greenhill Dam at Chiltern gave us wonderful views of Regent Honeyeaters coming in to bathe and drink as well as a fly-by of a White-backed Swallow. The forest is alive with Noisy and Little Friarbirds at the moment too. I have never seen or heard so many and their calls dominated wherever we went. With the many hundreds of friarbirds in full throat the dawn choruses were particularly noisy and I will remember them for many years.


On Friday night we got take-away hamburgers and fish and chips after failing to find any White-throated Nightjars at Cyanide Dam (yes, I know it’s a bit late in the year but hey, ya got to try). Chatting with the woman in the shop we said we were bird watchers and she asked if we were looking for Barking Owls, and then gave us some suggestions on where to try. It seems like the Chilternittes are very aware of their birds and the benefits of having birders in town.


Next we wanted to see some Grey-crowned Babblers so we headed down to the Killawarra Forest to look for a couple of places where Paul had said we should try. It took a while but finally, at the last spot we tried, there they were, a small family of 5 birds. We drove back to Chiltern via back farm roads checking roadside dams for water birds. We saw surprisingly few, some Grey Teal and a few Wood Duck, but we did see a hunter beside one dam with a double-barrelled shotgun over his arm. I guess the ducks have either gone to NSW or Werribee.


All up we saw just over a hundred species of birds. We decided that bird of the trip was the Barking Owl. It only just won because the Double-barred Finches and Grey-crowned Babblers came in a close second and third. Surprise bird of the trip, that we awarded a "highly commended" mention, was a Tree Sparrow that we saw feeding in front of our cabin at the caravan park. Included in our total were six species of robin; Rose, Flame, Scarlet, Eastern-yellow, Red-capped and Jackie Winter.






Spring is in the air, and how else does one celebrate spring but by going birdwatching? My cousin's 21st birthday party in Melbourne provided me with the necessary motive for a birding trip covering 3 key areas of Victoria - Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park, Melbourne, and Hattah-Kulkyne National Park. Here is a long trip report detailing the trip. If you read this on my blog, there are also photos to keep you entertained whilst you absorb this dry report ;)

At Albury, we

quickly pulled off the highway for a spot of birding. We pulled up in the Bunnings carpark and, as promised, a single Eurasian Tree Sparrow was sitting on the wall above the nursery. After a bit more driving, we arrived at Chiltern

- a lovely town with some great birds. After leaving the family at the caravan park, I headed up to Bartley's Block in search of my elusive bogey, the Painted Honeyeater. Just after pulling up at Bartley's, another car pulled up beside mine, and out hopped a pair of birders from the US, who informed me of a Painted Honeyeater they had just seen up the road. After thanking them and giving them directions to Turquoise Parrots, I headed up Mount Pleasent Road, and went 500m past the "gravelly section", before stopping. Good birds were around, including Red-capped Robin, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Brown Treecreeper, Little Lorikeet... but no Painted Honeyeater. Eventually, after just over an hour, I heard the unmistakable call of the Painted Honeyeater. It eluded me for another 30 minutes, but eventually I saw a bird on a dead stick at the top of a tree, and after raising my binoculars, sure enough, there sat a magnificent Painted Honeyeater.



After a while, I

decided to try my luck at some of the other areas around Chiltern, and did a spot of birding around the No.1 and No.2 dams (highlights: Restless Flycatcher, Pink-eared Duck) as well as Honeyeater Picnic Ground in the evening

(highlights: not a single bird). Dinner passed, and mum and I headed down to Mt Pilot National Park (on dwindling petrol) in the hope of a Barking Owl. Despite my best barking, only a single Tawny Frogmouth was spotlighted, and an Owlet Nightjar the only other bird heard. A bit further down the track, we realised we had no idea where we were, as none of the intersections matched up with my map. Luckily we made it out with enough petrol left to get us back. Just. In the morning, I headed back to the Painted Honeyeater site, and managed to locate another 4 birds, plus another 2 calling.


Thanks for reading! Cheers, Joshua Bergmark


-----Original Message-----
From: Erika Roper [
Sent: Friday, 24 May 2013 2:58 PM
To: martin butterfield
Cc: canberrabirds
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Birding between Melbourne and Canberra

Thanks Martin,

Any idea of what species I'd be likely to see? I haven't had the time to go birding for months, so I might need to brush up on my ID skills. Is there likely to be a list on Eremaea?

Also, with regards to Chiltern, I just had a look at the park map and there are a lot of different places marked. Which would be the best one to go to? 


On 24 May 2013 14:52, martin butterfield <> wrote:
In the last few days i visited Mates Gully Rd right on the southern outskirts of Tarcutta.  I had thought it got burnt last Summer but in fact the fires seem to have started just on the village side of the TSR so it is unscathed.  The start of the TSR  is, according to Google Earth (see attached screenshot), a lick over 4km from the Hume, and the gate is quite close to the start of the Reserve. 

We couldn't spend much time there but as others in this group can attest it can be great.

On 24 May 2013 14:27, Erika Roper <> wrote:
Hello all,

I will be driving from Geelong to Canberra on Monday and though it would be good to stop at some places along the way. I was thinking of stopping at Chiltern as I have seen it mentioned many times here, but does anyone have any other suggestions of good spots for birds?



Martin Butterfield

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