Goschen Trip Report and Surrounds

To: Ed Williams <>, "" <>
Subject: Goschen Trip Report and Surrounds
From: Tim Dolby <>
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2011 05:14:36 +0000
Thanks Ed.

Yes, despite its size, Goschen BR (central Vic) is a pretty special place, 
quenching my thirst for an 'arid-land bird-experiences' (for want of a better 
phrase) without having to drive 2 or 300 kms further north.

Interestingly Goschen changes dramatically from season to season, and sometimes 
very quickly. For instance, it can be full of Black and, occasionally, Pied 
Honeyeater, when the Eremophila longifolia and eucalypts are flowering. These 
suddenly disappear, to be replaced by other honeyeaters such as Spiny-cheeked 
and White-fronted (mainly winter) Honeyeater.

When there 2 weeks ago, there must have been 200 plus Masked Woodswallow (along 
with 600 plus White-browed); the Twitchathon teams that visited Goschen this 
weekend failed to see any. The 400 plus Budgies currently at Goschen (by far 
highest number I have recorded in a single site anywhere in Victoria) will only 
hang around as long as the grasses are seeding.

Another thing mentioned in the report ( was the 
presence of several clumps of Triodia scariosa at Tresco West. This remnant 
patch appears to be well south or west of any other Triodia locations in 


Tim Dolby

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Ed Williams
Sent: Tuesday, 15 November 2011 12:39 PM
To: Tim Dolby; 
Subject: Goschen Trip Report and Surrounds

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.



Ed Williams
Kingsville VIC

> From: 
> To: 
> 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
> 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 b
 irders 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 eas
 t, 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 
> Bee-eater.
> 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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