victoria wanderings

Subject: victoria wanderings
From: "Peregrine" <>
Date: Tue, 31 Dec 1996 14:22:02 -0500 (EST)
Happy holidays to you all...HereUs the trip report in several parts for 
my wanderings around Victoria.  Some of you may know me my alias I use on 
the internet, Peregrine.  This of course is my favorite falcon, but it 
originally meant RtravelerS or Rwanderer.S  It occurred to me several 
times during my travels that I have lived up to this name recently 
because, as you will soon see, my trip follows no particular rhyme, 
reason, or vaguely logical progression.  People with more reliable 
transportation than I had would certainly find a more efficient order to 
this excursion.  However, backpacking is an adventure and things almost 
never come out quite the way you planned them, and birding makes things 
even more interesting  (real backpackers wouldnUt carry all these heavy 
things like field guides and spotting scopes around.)
        In any case, I arrived in Melbourne from Sydney on November 29th, 
and spent the day recovering from the train ride by wandering around the 
city.  I stayed in the Nunnery hostel, which turned out to be very nice, 
centrally located near useful tram lines, and the people there were very 
friendly.  A bit more expensive then the others, but worth it.  I visited 
the zoo to see the Great Flight Aviary.  There are of course quite a lot 
of native birds in there, the best of which were the Blue-faced 
Honeyeaters.  I was reminded why I donUt really like to see animals in 
cages in zoos.  However, the nests and baby animals reminded me perhaps 
zoos do provide some benefit to wildlife through captive breeding 
programs, so I enjoyed the Butterfly House the most before returning to 
the hostel to plan my next two weeks.

Sat, 30 Nov.  Phillip Island Penguins
        I have mixed reviews of the Penguin Parade.  On one hand, since 
it is the second biggest natural tourist attraction in Australia besides 
Uluru (supposedly, what about the reef?) it is really very touristy.  On 
the other hand, think that for an American the penguins were worth seeing 
anyway.  I had been told that if I was ever planning to go to Kangaroo 
Island, I should see the penguins there instead.  Well, with no trips to 
Kangaroo Island planned for anything resembling the near future, 
curiosity won out, and I signed up with Autopia Tours for a trip out to 
see the Penguins.  It was in fact very touristy, the tour involving a 
trip to a small wildlife park  (photo opportunity with kangaroos 
basically).  Flying over the park were some interesting large birds which 
I was convinced were hawks of some sort, but on closer inspection turned 
out to be Pacific Gulls.  Much larger than the Silver Gulls which I have 
grown accustomed to seeing, and with a black band on their tail.  Also 
the usual Australian Magpies and Noisy Miners.   All of the magpies IUll 
see on this trip are the leuconta race...where geographically do these 
change to race tibicen?  But I digress...
        The tour then goes to the PI Koala Sanctuary, which I found to be 
more informative and worthwhile than the first park.  In the wooded area 
were a number of birds including my first Striated Pardalote, Superb 
Fairy-wrens, Gray Shrike-thrush, Golden Whistler,  and Eastern Rosellas.  
One of the ponds nearby held a few Pacific Black Ducks, Dusky Moorhens, 
and a White-faced Heron.   A trip out to the Nobbies to see the big surf 
on the rocks was nice, although I wished we could have had more time 
there (you never get enough time on tours, really) because I was enjoying 
the antics of the resident gulls.  I checked for seabirds, but it was so 
windy and hazy and the light so bad that we couldnUt even see the fur 
seals on the rocks just offshore as anything more than smooth shiny 
        The Penguin Parade is designed to accommodate as many people as 
possible, but the information center  is well done, and they seem adamant 
about preventing disturbance to the birds.  Fortunately we didnUt have to 
go sit on the giant concrete grandstand.  They have built a boardwalk 
which leads off to a side viewing area which can comfortably hold about 
50 people.  Most of the penguins actually  come out of the water out of 
view of the floodlights and people and walk up the beach, past the 
boardwalk and up the hill to their burrows.  So, if you go down the 
boardwalk you avoid the crowds of people,  and you can follow the 
penguins almost from the water to their nests.  You canUt help but think 
how hardy these birds must be to tolerate all these people every night.  
In addition to the Penguins,  Short-tailed Shearwaters nest in the same 
area, and these can be seen flying around in the dark.  
Sun. 1 Dec.  Great Ocean Road
        Another tour.  But this one was much better for wild mammals than 
the day before.  We had wild Koalas, 5 echidnas and gray kangaroos.  
Birds were scarce otherwise,  except for an Australian Kestrel, and a 
Singing Honeyeater near the 12 Apostles site.   Otherwise  it was pouring 
down rain all day and not much was out and about.  I wish I was with the 
geology class that was learning about the shoreline, since I was 
interested in it, but never got a satisfactory story from the plaques 
they put up in explanation.  As it turns out, the smell of the Werribee 
Sewage Farm on the way home would be as close as I would ever get to it. 

Mon. 2 Dec.  Phillip Island Peregrine Falcons?
        Went with Victor Hurley of the RAOU as a volunteer for the 
Peregrine Falcon project.  Unfortunately the nest  on Phillip Island we 
checked on had failed, he thinks because of a landslide.  So, no falcons 
about.  In the field where we visited, my first White-faced Chats and 
Skylarks, as well as a Black Kite and a Swamp Harrier.   

Tue. 3 Dec. Toolangi, Kingslake SP

        Today, rented a car.  after getting thoroughly lost in Melbourne, 
I finally made it out to Toolangi.   A walk through the woods there found 
Yellow Robins, Striated Thornbills, Golden Whistler, Gray Fantail and 
Red-browed Treecreeper.  Down the road at Kingslake State Park were 
Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Eastern Spinebill, White-browed Scrubwren, 
Superb Lyre-bird and other typical woodland birds like Yellow Robin and 
Kookaburra.  The habitat here ranges from dry forest down to rainforest 
in the gullies.  There were two echidnas rummaging around next to the 
path, nearsighted as a skunk.  I donUt know how commonly theses are seen, 
but I find them wonderful animals.  They quickly burrow into the loose 
soil when they notice I am there, but they seem to be very short sighted 
and donUt notice me if I stand still, even though I am only a few feet 
away.   The lyrebirds were not especially cooperative, and although  I 
did spot one from the scratching noises it was making, it stayed well 
concealed and never came out for a good view.  Lots of interesting plants 
in this area, including some large grasstrees.  


Katie Bertsche

Katie Bertsche .........If you're too busy to go birding, you're too busy.

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