Slightly late bird report - Kew East, Victoria

To: <>
Subject: Slightly late bird report - Kew East, Victoria
From: Bill Stent <>
Date: Tue, 25 Feb 2014 18:46:15 +1100
Hi all, I was going through some old papers the other day when I found this. It was written by my grandfather in 1985 about the birds of the local place (I now live in his old house). He's referring to the period between the wars, I'd guess, although he didn't make that plain, it's just a memoir. He lived in the area between 1918 and 1992.

My question is what are these birds? I didn't start birding until after he died, so I never talked with him about them, apart from when I was a very young kid "helped" him milk his cows on what is now Hays Paddock. I think I know most of them, such as the Laughing Jackass, rather obvious really, but what is a Tomtit? We do occasionally see Black Shouldered Kites or Collared Sparrowhawks, but I have no sightings of Pallid Cuckoos.

Bill (junior - my grandfather's name was also Bill)

The Glass Creek area and Hays' farm used to be a veritable Eden of birdlife. In the Springtime at sunrise I have counted up to 30 species of birds. The Pallid Cuckoo or Brainfever Bird, so called for its plaintiff insistent call, and the Laughing Jackass were prominent, as was the Butcher Bird with its melodious rich notes. The Mudlarks had their mud nest in the gum tree near the cow shed, the Willy Wagtails nested over the creek in the willow trees, the Teal and Black Ducks were on the edge of the creek in the furze bushes. The Reed Warblers, Tomtits, Goldfinches and Silvereyes were in the shrubbery, not forgetting the restless little Blue Wrens with their dun coloured harems. The Rosellas nested in the big gum tree near Newberry St where also the Sparrow Hawk and the Blackshouldered Kite made their base. The Magpies nestled in the gum trees further down. The Diamond Sparrows had little burrows in the creek bank for their nest. Once I saw a tiny Chat feeding a young Cuckoo about four times its size.

The Skylarks during the day were a delight to the children. They would fly singing and spiralling upwards and then suddenly, closing their wings, drop silently like a stone to earth. There were also Plovers, Blue Cranes, Quail. Wattle Birds, Robin Red Breasts, Crows and the occasional flock of Ibis and of course the Blackbird and Thrush songsters. Colonies of little Fire Tails and Bell Birds still exist around the billabong at Burke Rd Bridge.

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