Goschen Trip Report and Surrounds

To: "'Ed Williams'" <>, <>, <>
Subject: Goschen Trip Report and Surrounds
From: "Paul G Dodd" <>
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2011 19:20:33 +1100
Hi all,

There were PLENTY of Woodswallows during the Twitchathon weekend. We
recorded White-browed and Dusky DURING the Twitchathon. Unfortunately we had
White-breasted and Masked immediately before the Twitchathon, but as is
usual during this event, those two species disappeared in the minutes before

We also recorded plenty of Budgies and Cockatiels, countless Black
Honeyeaters and three Pied Honeyeaters (one male, two female).

Best regards,

Paul Dodd
Docklands, Victoria
Gang-gang Gang Twitchathon Team

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Ed Williams
Sent: Tuesday, 15 November 2011 6:04 PM
To: ; 
Subject: Goschen Trip Report and Surrounds

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
> >
> > 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
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