Last weekend we stretched ANZAC Day into a four-day weekend and headed for
Chiltern (Vic) to look for Regent Honeyeaters and all the other local
specialties. On our first morning at Bartley’s Block we bumped into Paul
and Ruth and Paul gave us a few tips for Grey-crowned Babbler, Barking Owl
and Double-banded Finch from his and Ruth’s 2010 Vic Big Year. We followed
up his leads and found all these birds, with the Double-bars being in
Wodonga, just where they are shown on the BirdLife Birdata site.
After finding the Double-bars and buying some lunch we were driving down
Laurence Street, a wide street with light stanchions out over the road,
when Joy hit the brakes and pulled over. We jumped out with binos and
camera and stared up at a beautiful Australian Hobby on one of the
stanchions. We then saw an older man with a geriatric dog watching us, and
smiled at him. He looked at us, then the bird and said, “what is it?” Joy
said “It’s a Hobby”. The man then replied, honest he really did, “Yes, I
thought it was your hobby, but what sort of bird is it?” We explained all
about the Hobby and now one Wodonga man knows more about birds and we had
the pleasure of participating in a real-life, un-scripted, impromptu,
stand-up comedy routine. Birding is such fun.
A late afternoon visit to Greenhill Dam at Chiltern gave us wonderful views
of Regent Honeyeaters coming in to bathe and drink as well as a fly-by of a
White-backed Swallow. The forest is alive with Noisy and Little Friarbirds
at the moment too. I have never seen or heard so many and their calls
dominated wherever we went. With the many hundreds of friarbirds in full
throat the dawn choruses were particularly noisy and I will remember them
for many years.
On Friday night we got take-away hamburgers and fish and chips after
failing to find any White-throated Nightjars at Cyanide Dam (yes, I know
it’s a bit late in the year but hey, ya got to try). Chatting with the
woman in the shop we said we were bird watchers and she asked if we were
looking for Barking Owls, and then gave us some suggestions on where to
try. It seems like the Chilternittes are very aware of their birds and the
benefits of having birders in town.
Next we wanted to see some Grey-crowned Babblers so we headed down to the
Killawarra Forest to look for a couple of places where Paul had said we
should try. It took a while but finally, at the last spot we tried, there
they were, a small family of 5 birds. We drove back to Chiltern via back
farm roads checking roadside dams for water birds. We saw surprisingly few,
some Grey Teal and a few Wood Duck, but we did see a hunter beside one dam
with a double-barrelled shotgun over his arm. I guess the ducks have either
gone to NSW or Werribee.
All up we saw just over a hundred species of birds. We decided that bird of
the trip was the Barking Owl. It only just won because the Double-barred
Finches and Grey-crowned Babblers came in a close second and third.
Surprise bird of the trip, that we awarded a “highly commended” mention,
was a Tree Sparrow that we saw feeding in front of our cabin at the caravan
park. Included in our total were six species of robin; Rose, Flame,
Scarlet, Eastern-yellow, Red-capped and Jackie Winter.
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