Hi Tim et al.,
Tony Keene, Mike Honeyman and I were in Goschen yesterday on the way back from
Gluepot (Mike to send a full trip report later).
I have to say Goschen is a cracking little spot having never been there before.
First impressions are deceptive as I got there and thought "this is small,
what's the hype?". An hour later - having stumbled across Pied Honeyeater,
Black-eared Cuckoo and more Black Honeyeaters and Budgies than you could shake
a stick at I would recommend anyone who is passing that area to visit this
little gem of a place.
> Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2011 01:20:10 +0000
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Goschen Trip Report and Surrounds
> Hi all.
> Please see below a trip report for a recent trip (and retrospective
> information) for Goschen Bushland Reserve and the surrounds area. To see the
> report with images see my website at http://tim-dolby.blogspot.com.
> Goschen Bushland Reserve and Surrounds Trip Report (central-north Victoria)
> I have just spent a few days (Nov 2011) at one of my favourite birding
> location in Victoria, Goschen Bushland Reserve, a small mallee reserve just
> south between Kerang and Swam Hill. Despite it small size (approximately 25
> ha), of all the reserve in Victoria, I think it most comparable to the grassy
> woodland areas of well know birding sites such as Gluepot Reserve and Round
> Hill Nature Reserve. When visiting the areas, I usually drop visit a number
> of other sites in this part of north-central Victoria, including Tresco West
> Bushland Reserves, Lake Tutchewop, Lake Boga, Round Lake, and a small
> roadside reserve at Gama.
> Goschen Bushland Reserve
> Once a proposed site for a township, with a church and school - all that now
> stands at Goschen is a rarely used hall, two tennis courts, and a cricket
> pitch that's no longer used. In addition to the township area, some adjoining
> land has been allowed to regenerate into open grassy woodlands. In the
> south-west of the reserve there is fenced area containing a communications
> tower. To get there from the Lake Boga township, take the Ultima-Lake Boga Rd
> until you reach the Donald-Swan Hill Rd intersection. Go through the
> intersection, and on your right, there is a dirt tracks leading into the
> reserve. This loops around through the reserve (past an old hall and tennis
> court) back to the road 250 m further west. There is bush-camping only at
> Goschen, however, there is a good caravan park overlooking Lake Boga.
> The Flora
> The flora in the reserve is a mixture of mallee eucalypts and open grassy
> shrublands. The ground cover consist of native grasses such as Pink Mulla
> Mulla (Ptilotus exaltus), flowering shrubs such as the Mallee Blue Flower or
> Rough Halgania (Halgania cyanea), Native Hops (Dodonaea viscosa), Desert
> Cassia (Senna artemisioides), Inland Pigface (Carpobrotus modestus), and
> larger trees such as and White Mallee (Eucalyptus dumosa). However, the real
> specialty of the reserve is Long-leaf Emu-bush (Eremophila longifolia) - also
> known as Berrigan - a small rough barked tree (usually between two to six
> metres in height), and vital food source for some of the nomadic inland
> honeyeaters such as Black, Pied and to a lesser extent, White-fronted
> Honeyeater. In terms of the commonality of honeyeater species, at Goschen,
> there is an occasional reversals of status; common honeyeater become scarce,
> while uncommon nomadic honeyeater - such as Black and White-fronted - becomes
> common. From a birders viewpoint, it doesn't get any better than that!
> Tresco West Bushland Reserve (discussed in more detail below), known locally
> as the 'Daisy Patch', has a similar range of plant species. Interestingly, on
> this last tip I stumbled across a small patch of Spinifex (Triodia scariosa).
> I've not seen this species previously at either Goschen or Tresco West, and
> as far as I'm aware, this is the most south-eastern patch of Triodia in
> Australia (with the nearest Triodia least 100 km to the north ad west).
> The Birds
> I have visited Goschen Bushland Reserve many times, and it is the usual
> starting point for our 24-hour Twitchathon. The reason we start there is
> simple: it is the most southerly site for seeing a range of northern
> arid-land species such as Black and, occasionally, Pied Honeyeater, Crimson
> Chat, Cockatiel, Budgerigar, Blue Bonnet, Pied Butcherbird, Yellow-throated
> Miner and Chestnut-rumped Thornbill. It is most productive in late spring,
> and summer, especially when there have been some good rains in the region.
> On my way to Goschen (when driving from Lake Boga) I usually check the
> roadside vegetation along Ultima-Lake Boga Rd, where there is a likelihood of
> seeing Blue Bonnet (yellow-vented race haematogaster), Cockatiel, Pied
> Butcherbird, Rufous Songlark, Yellow-throated Miner and Spotted Harrier.
> A good spot to look for Crimson Chat, Black and Pied Honeyeater is in the
> west side of the Reserve along the track between the tennis court and the
> telecommunication tower. Here you may also see scattered flocks of Budgerigar
> and the occasional Cockatiel. Despite both species being icons of Australia,
> they are quite uncommon in Victoria, only become apparent during 'good years'
> - when there has been just the right amount of rain, and just the right
> amount of vegetation growth. This area can also be good for seeing
> White-browed and Masked Woodswallow, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Hooded Robin,
> and White-winged Triller. During good years Peregrine Falcon feast on
> Woodswallow and Budgerigar, swooping upon them from the vantage point of the
> communication tower. Little Button-quail can usually be flushed from the
> grassy area just east of the tennis court, particularly near the over-grown
> cricket pitch. Here also you can see Budgerigar, Cockatiel, and Peaceful
> Dove. Immediately east, and south-east, of this grassland area, look for
> Variegated Fairy-wren, Spiny-cheeked, White-fronted (usually in winter) and
> Yellow-plumed (uncommon) Honeyeater, Yellow-throated Miner, Red-capped and
> Hooded Robin, White-browed Babbler, Varied Sittella and Brown Treecreeper,
> while Australian Owlet-nightjar are sometimes flush from tree hollows during
> the day, particular in the south-east corner.
> The range and variety of birds at Goschen tends to fluctuate from year to
> year, depending on the amount of rain, the seeding of native grasses, and the
> availability of flowering plants such as the eucalypts and Long-leaf
> Emu-bush. Over the last few years, there has been a number of changes in the
> birdlife, changes that are reflective of the conditions right across
> south-eastern Australia.
> 2009 was a superb birding year at Goschen and across northern Victoria.
> Interestingly, this was not because of good environmental conditions in the
> state, rather it was because much of Australia was in severe drought, so many
> of the arid land species, such as Crimson Chat, and the nomadic honeyeater
> such as Black and Pied Honeyeater, moved to coastal regions in search of food
> and water. During 2009 15 Pied Honeyeater were seen at Goschen, a rare
> species in Victoria. Other birds that were regularly seen across southern
> Victoria were Rufous Songlark, White-winged Triller and Zebra Finch.
> By contrast 2010, birdwise, was very quiet in Victoria. The conditions in
> central Australia were perfect; there had been a lot of rain, so water was
> plentiful, and there was an abundance of food sources - there was no need to
> move east and south toward the coast. Parrots in arid Australia did
> particularly well - such as Budgerigar and rarer species such as Princess and
> Scarlet-chested Parrot. The inland waters were also covered in thousands of
> breeding waterbirds; and there was virtually no waterfowl on the east and
> south coast.
> 2011 is proving to be another fantastic year in northern Victoria. The reason
> for this is markedly different from 2009. Rather than Australia being in
> drought, there is an abundance of water. As the inland areas drying up, birds
> such as Banded Stilt, that had been breeding at Lake Eyre, are now heading to
> southerly sites such as Lake Tutchewop (and it won't be long until the birds
> are seen at the Western Treatment Plant and Moolap Salt Works). The same goes
> for many other species, such as such as Budgerigar, Black Honeyeater, Banded
> Stilt and Grey Teal. Due to the rains, we are also fortunate to have an
> increase in the numbers of localised species such as Little Button-quail,
> Brown Quail and Buff-banded Rail.
> Tresco West Bushland Reserve - The Daisy Patch
> Tresco West Bushland Reserve is located 3 km south-west of Lake Boga. To get
> there take the Lalbert Rd out of town, passing the golf course. The Reserve
> borders the Lake Boga Golf Course (a good spot for birds), and surrounds the
> Golf Course Lake. Somewhat similar to Goschen (in terms of birds and
> vegetation), the habitat around the edges of the golf course includes several
> stands of Long-leaf Emu-bush, where you can look for Black and Pied
> Honeyeater, while Little Button-quail occur in areas of long grass around the
> golf course. Here you may also see Blue Bonnet, Cockatiel, Budgerigar, Pied
> Butcherbird, Variegated Fairy-wren, Zebra Finch and, occasionally, Crimson
> Chat and Red-backed Kingfisher. When the water level is just right, the
> saline Golf Course Lake attracts shorebirds such as Red-necked Avocet, Banded
> and Black-winged Stilt, Greenshank and Marsh Sandpiper, and flocks of hawking
> Whiskered Tern (spring). Probably the best spot for woodland birds at Tresco
> West is the south side of the lake, particularly the south-east corner. To
> get there, from the Golf Course, continue along Lalbert Rd to the reserves
> south-west corner. Here several tracks head east – the southern-most track is
> named Winery Rd. Birdwatch along both tracks for the next kilometre. In
> spring, this is a good area for Black Honeyeater, particularly in the stands
> of Long-leaf Emu-Bush, located the grassy woodlands bordering the lakes.
> Other birds here include Pied Butcherbird, Crimson Chat, Rainbow Bee-eater,
> Singing, White-fronted and Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, White-browed Babbler,
> Blue Bonnet, Cockatiel and Budgerigar, occasionally Red-backed Kingfisher,
> and Zebra Finch.
> Other Birding Locations in the Area
> When visiting Goschen Bushland Reserve, there are a number of other excellent
> birding locations nearby (discussed below).
> Round Lake and the Eremophila Patch
> One kilometre west of the township of Lake Boga, on the Ultima-Lake Boga Rd,
> I always stop for a look at Round Lake. Here you may see Whiskered Tern
> (summer), Black-winged Stilt, Hardhead, Australasian Shoveler, Blue-billed,
> Pink-eared and Freckled (rare) Duck, Great Crested, Hoary-headed and
> Australasian Grebe, Great, Intermediate and Little Egret, and, when the water
> level is low, Australian Spotted and Spotless Crake feed on the muddy edges.
> Along the roadside here, you can see Yellow-throated Miner, Spiny-cheeked
> Honeyeater, Tree Martin, and White-breasted Woodswallow. Just north of here,
> a kilometre along Long Lake Rd, there is a nice patch of Long-leaf Emu-bush,
> which, when flowering (usually late spring), attract birds such as Black,
> Singing and Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, White-winged Triller and Rainbow
> Lake Tutchewop
> The saltbush surrounding the Ramsar-listed Lake Tutchewop supports a healthy
> population of White-winged Fairy-wren and, in late spring/summer, Orange
> Chat. The best place to see them is along a track that runs along the western
> side of the lake (between it and a small water channel). The southern
> entrance leaves the Murray Valley Hwy, beginning immediately north of the
> Lake Steggals Rd intersection. The tracks northern entrance starts on the
> Benjeroop-Tresco Rd – starting immediately after you cross a small water
> channel 3 km west of the Murray Valley Hwy. Lake Tutchewop is a hyper-saline
> lake, it is part of the Barr Creek Drainage Disposal Scheme, which divert
> 550,000 tonnes of salt each year away from the Murray River. Aside from
> White-winged Fairy-wren and Orange Chat have a look for Blue-winged Parrot,
> Blue Bonnet, Cockatiel, Black-faced Woodswallow, Brown Songlark, Fairy
> Martin, White-fronted Chat, and Zebra Finch, and raptors such as
> White-bellied and Wedge-tailed Sea-Eagle and Marsh and Spotted Harrier. Lake
> Tutchewop is also major inland site for migratory shorebirds. Some of the
> shorebirds I've recorded here include Common Greenshank, Red-necked Stint,
> Curlew, Marsh and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Double-banded (winter) and
> Red-capped Plover, Banded (4000+ in 2011) and Black-winged Stint, Red-necked
> Avocet and Banded Lapwing. Waterbirds using the lake include Pink-eared and
> Freckled (rare) Duck, Grey Teal, Australasian Shoveler, Caspian and Whiskered
> Tern, and occasionally Gull-billed and White-winged Black Tern.
> Lake Boga
> The home of the Catalina (housed in the newly built Hangar), given the right
> conditions, waterbird can be plentiful on Lake Boga. After years of
> uncertainty during the drought, in 2010 Lake Boga was reinstated as part of
> the Mid Murray Storage system (for the Murray Darling River Basin), and was
> filled with water. It covers approximately 2000 acres and holds in excess of
> 37,000 mega litres. Here I have seen Great Crested Grebe, Whiskered, Caspian
> and Gull-billed Tern, Blue-billed, Pink-eared, Musk and Freckled (rare) Duck,
> Australasian Shoveler, Black-fronted Dotterel, while Blue-faced Honeyeater
> feed in the trees around the lake. In spring and summer, White-breasted
> Woodswallow roost on the powerlines around the Lake Boga.
> Foster Swamp
> Just north of Kerang, Foster Swamp, and the adjacent to the Kerang Treatment
> Plant, at the end of Park St, are worth investigating, particularly in summer
> when species such as Greenshank, Marsh, Wood, Curlew and Sharp-tailed
> Sandpiper, and Pacific Golden Plover, start appearing in southern Australia.
> Other birds here include Whiskered and Gull-billed Tern, Australasian
> Shoveler, Pink-eared and Freckled (rare) Duck, Black-tailed Native-hen,
> Red-kneed and Black-fronted Dotterel, Australian Spotted and Baillon’s Crake,
> Black-winged and Banded Stilt, Red-necked Avocet, and White-winged Fairy-wren.
> Loddon Weir
> Just north of Kerang, it is visiting the Loddon Weir, located on Weir Rd.
> I've recorded a nice collection of interesting species here including
> Gilbert’s Whistler, Western Gerygone, Painted Honeyeater, Red-capped Robin,
> Grey-crowned Babbler, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, White-breasted Woodswallow
> and Chestnut-rumped Thornbill.
> Back Swamp
> Located in Kerang, Back Swamp is a series of wetlands between the town and
> the Loddon River, and there are usually a nice selection of birds here, such
> as Glossy Ibis, Buff-banded Rail, Nankeen Night Heron, Grey-crowned Babbler,
> White-winged and Variegated Fairy-wren, Little Friarbird and Blue-faced
> Honeyeater. Blue-faced Honeyeater is also found in Atkinson Park (in the main
> street of Kerang), and, when the gums are flowering, there can be large
> numbers of Musk and Little Lorikeet.
> Gama Roadside Reserve
> Approximately 100 km west of Goschen, another good site nearby for Black
> Honeyeater is the small roadside reserve at the locality of Gama, on the
> corner of Gama Sea Lake Rd and the Sunraysia Highway, Again, the best time to
> look is when Long-leaf Emu-bush (Eremophila longifolia) is flowering, in
> spring and summer. Despite its size (it hardly seems to be a reserve at all),
> looks can be deceptive. Aside from Black Honeyeater, other birds I've seen
> here include Brown Quail, Mulga Parrot, Blue Bonnet, Variegated Fairy-wren,
> Yellow-plumed, White-fronted, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, White-winged Triller,
> Rufous Songlark, Hooded Robin and White-backed Swallow.
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