Port Fairy - Easter trip report (longish).

To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: Port Fairy - Easter trip report (longish).
From: Eric Hocking <>
Date: Tue, 14 Apr 1998 17:38:42 +1000
Firstly I'd like to thank the list participants and especially Steve Clark,
Jack Krohn, Mark Bennett and George Appleby for their direct emails.  I
wasn't able to act on all the suggestions (due to weather, a 
non-birdwatching partner and general indolence) but nevertheless had a 
highly successful and entertaining time.

Second excuse is that I'm not a habitual lister, more of a diarist for my
photography so the content may vary in expected detail and quality from
other posters.  

Here Goes.

10/4/98 Melbourne to Port Fairy.

Brown Goshawk:          On wing, 20km east of Warnambool, Princes Hwy.
Black Shouldered Kite:  In tree.  Warnambool to PFairy, Princes Hwy.
Whistling Kite:         2 circling road killed carrion.

Half-way between Port Fairy and Melbourne near Pirron Yallock there is an
oasis called the Floating Islands.  If you're doing this trip, stop at the
roadhouse for a coffee and walk across to this reserve and spend 1/2 an

Did this on the way home - that list is at the end of the report.

10/4/98  Tower Hill reserve.
4:00 - 5:00PM, sunny, cool, slight wind.

Stupidly left binos and field guide at B&B so only definites listed - a
number of others were probably missed due to poor recall and eye-sight.
Weather was so ghastly on Sunday and Monday that we didn't do the return.

Emu:                            1 lrg male, 2 smaller m and 2 smaller f, 
White-fronted Honeyeater:       4, spread
Fantail Cuckoo:                 1, carpark.
Variegated Fairy-wren 
(lamberti):                     f and m(non-breeding), numerous groups
Superb Fairy-wren:              m(breeding) and f, numerous groups
Purple moorhen:                 m&f, 20+, swamp
Masked Plover:                  m&f(how can you tell?), 10+, swamp
Silver eye:                     numerous, spread.
Grey fantail:                   3
Australian Shelduck:            12-18, swamp

Short tailed mouse thingy (4inches): 
        Spotted running across the road.  Numerous 1-1.5inch burrows were found 
a (solid) sandy bank near the swamp.  While thinking pardalotes etc, a
closer inspection yielded a veritable highway of paw prints in front of
same.  There would have been a dozen or more burrows, prtected by
overhanging grasses.  Bank was slightly raised from the track.  Haven't
visited my folks, who have a good library of Australian beasties so couldn't
guess at a type.

Black Falcon:                   (13/4) West of reserve, driving from Koroit

Oh, and Swan Marsh nearby has neither swans, nor a marsh.  It did have a
tennis court and a rather hopeful plant stall, but no water to speak of.

10/4/98  Killarney Beach and foreshore.
5:15PM, sunny, cool, solid wind.

Again no binos.  Tide was full in and being our first day did not explore. 
No waders evident on beach near camping ground.

Silver Gulls:           Ubiquitous.
Brown Booby:            1, on wing over beach.  Did not linger.
White-browed Babbler:   1, foreshore running east
Richard Pipit:          6, foreshore running east  
        One good ID, rest ID's from tail bob as described in Simpson and Day.
Singing Bushlark:       Dubious.  
        Distinguished from R's Pipit due to lack of tail bob.  No distinct 
of Skylark, discounted the Songlarks and Little Grassbird due to the white
edged tail.  Marked as an LBJ.

11/4/98  Lake Surprise walk, Mt Eccles
(45 min walk took 2hours, birds abound - enough to keep non-birding partner
entertained too.)
2PM, sunny with scattered cloud, ~20degC, slight wind.

Kookaburra:     4, field near carpark.
        Kookas were standing on the ground and pouncing on prey.  Prey was too
small and too quickly devoured to distinguish, but guess was insects.  While
there was a prolific number of skinks in the region, the kookas didn't
display the killing mannerisms I'm used to seeing (banging prey against
something).  Also, the frequency of kill was very high.  At least 1/minute
in a sustained 1/4 hour period.

The following were observed in the lake caldera or walk in.

Eastern Yellow Robin:           6+, woodland and carpark
Black Duck:                     6 in lake
Sulpher-crested Cockatoo:       6, over flew lake caldera
Red-browed Firetail:            1, immature
Australian Shelduck:            30+, forming a very vocal raft that drifted
        away from the side of the lake that walkers were on.
Freckled Duck:                  1, non-breeding m(?), hiding in the 'raft' of   
Brown Thornbill:                numerous.  
        There are quite a large number of Thornbills at the lake.  The Brown is 
only firm ID.  Others that may not have been, but didn't stay still long
enough for an ID weren't noted.
Grey Shrike Thrush              1 at lake, 1 at carpark.
Australian Grebe:               2 pair, breeding plumage
Hoary-headed Grebe:             2 pair.  
        Appeared to be in transition between non-breeding and breeding as there 
a noticeable brown stripe down the back of the head.(1)

Little Black Cormorant:         2
Little Pied Cormorant:          1, sharing same dead tree at lake.
Restless Flycatcher:            2 (1 heard)
Singing Honeyeater:             1 adult being pursued noisily through the
        bushes and low trees by 2 (3?) fledged young.
White-eared Honeyeater:         3
White-browed Scrub Wren:        3.  
        As with the Thornbills, probably missed a number of others.
Superb Fairy-wren:              m&f, numerous
White-throated Treecreeper:     1
Grey Fantail:                   3

13/4/98  Floating Island reserve, near Pirron Yallock
1PM, sunny with scattered thunderstorms!!, ~17degC, strong wind.
A quick stop for coffee ended up being a half hour twitch.

White-throated Treecreeper:     1
Grey Fantail:                   3
Eastern Yellow Robin:           3
Golden Whistler:                1, immature
Musk Duck:                      1
Eurasian Coot:                  6+
Purple Moorhen:                 1
Swan:                           6
Brown Thornbill:                6
Crimson Rosella:                6+, immature and adult
Little Pied Cormorant:          6
Variegated Fairy-wren:          2 groups of 6
Superb Fairy-wren:              2 groups of 6
White-eared Honeyeater:         1
Whistling Kite:                 2


Drive from Port Fairy to Mt Eccles yielded Black-shouldered Kite (1),
Whistling Kite (1) and Straw-necked Ibis (100+).  
Also a Hoary-headed Grebe resident in the Moyne River and a New Holland
Honeyeater resident in our B&B's garden.
Immature Pacific Gulls on the river.  Saw no adults.

Saw many corvids in the fields while driving throughout the region.  One day
I'll sit down and sort what they are, but from call and size I went for
predominantly Ravens.  This is a passing observation only.

Notables missing are the shearwaters.  Only saw bodies while I was fishing
the river by the island and was usually into a Murphy's during any return
flights of an evening.

Weather turned foul on Sunday, so we stayed inside with some cheese,
crackers (ooh, a nice piece of Wensledale, Grommet?) and numerous beverages.

I doubt whether the foul weather will be enough though.  The country side
around (5-10km inland) was dry as a bone and most waterways are still very
low. The water in Surprise Lake at Mt Eccles was going green.

I can thoroughly recommend the B&B we stayed at, aptly named Shearwater.

Port Fairy and environs was a joyous change from Melbourne.  People in
oncoming cars still wave, even if it's just a lifting of the fore-finger off
the steering wheel.  I felt like I was at an auction in town.  Any
inadvertent raising of the arm was invariably met with a flurry of congenial
waves.  I could live there. 

That's it.  If you enjoyed reading it as half as much as I did compiling it 
. . . . . that means I had twice as much fun as you did.

Eric Hocking "A closed mouth gathers no feet."
::   Melbourne, Australia   ::
Remove "nospam." from address to email.

(1) Noticed a number of birds were in at different stages of
non-breeding/breeding plumage.  Initial confusion for me was the wrens. 
Superb always had a male in breeding plumage with the group, whereas the
Variegated males were not.  It took me some time to confirm I was indeed
looking at a male Variegated and not a female Superb.  Fortunately with the
wrens, both sexes of both variety were observed.

Alas no Emu-wrens (you can stop smirking Vicki).

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