Goschen Trip Report and Surrounds

To: <>, <>
Subject: Goschen Trip Report and Surrounds
From: Ed Williams <>
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2011 07:04:02 +0000
Interesting that there were no Woodswallows picked up on the Twitchathon as 
there were reasonable numbers of white-browed and a handfull still of masked 
there when we went yesterday...  (I guess that's the way it goes on a 
Twitchathon sometimes!)

> From: 
> To: ; 
> Subject: RE: [Birding-Aus] Goschen Trip Report and Surrounds
> 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 
> Australia.
> Cheers,
> Tim Dolby
> -----Original Message-----
> From:  
>  On Behalf Of Ed Williams
> Sent: Tuesday, 15 November 2011 12:39 PM
> To: Tim Dolby; 
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] 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.
> Cheers,
> Ed
> 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
  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 e
 ast, 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 th
 e 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 S
 ea-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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