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North East, Victoria, Australia
Blog of Bronzewing Birding Services, which provides news and updates on birdwatching in North East Victoria. For more information go to the website at:

Friday, December 31, 2010

Wilby Bushland Reserve

Hopped out of bed very early this morning (as the predicted temperature is 40 degrees) to go to the Wilby Bushland Reserve, just 5 minutes walk from home.

The reserve was "going off" in spring with 50-60 species recorded at a time then. It seems to be a bit more quiet now with the regular resident species around and also a couple of surprises.

A big highlight for the morning was more Buff-banded Rails (above). I saw one last week and thought it was just a bit of luck, a fluke I saw it passing through. But this morning I actually saw 2, and watched one for quite some time (and took a bad picture). There is quite a lot of long grass around the reserve with water still in drains, ditches and along the Sandy Creek, as well as the small wetlands (below) near the race track so I guess there is suitable habitat around.

The Dollarbird which seems to have made this area home for the summer was also seen again. Seven Cockatiels, very scarce this year (compared to previous years during the drought) was a nice surprise too. Two Hardhead were also seen, probably flying to Dowdle Swamp to the north. This is my first record for this species in Wilby.

The usual grassland species, Stubble Quail, Brown Songlark, Australasian Pipit and Horsfield's Bushlark were also found again in the paddock behind the race track (above).

Some other resident and regularly seen species are pictured below.

Female Red-rumped Parrot. This species is in small flocks now with a few young birds joining them.

A White-winged Chough nesting in a Grey Box at the old cemetery. There are 3 groups of Choughs in the bushland reserve.

Pied Butcherbird, which has my favourite birdsong.

Grey Shrike-thrush are present all year, a pair or two remain over summer. Numbers increase in autumn and winter when birds move out from forests and woodlands to the south.

Laughing Kookaburras in the early morning light.

A female or young Eastern Rosella. This species has bred well this year with many pairs seen with young.

47 species for the morning. List of species below.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

BOCA Challenge Count

A late posting this one, but just wanted to write about the BOCA (Bird Observation and Conservation Australia) Challenge count in early December. Birding pal Matt Weeks and I clocked up 162 species in about 10 hours from Beechworth, across to Chiltern, Rutherglen, Boorhaman, Warby Ranges and Lake Mokoan. It was a real good day to get a snapshot of how local birds are doing and to check out local conditions. We had a few highlights.

Plumed Whistling-Ducks (above) were seen at 4 sites. These ones were at the old quarry swamp near Rutherglen and were actually breeding with ducklings. It has been a great year for this species locally.

The resident, though often hard to see Bush Stone-Curlews (see above, distance shot) were luckily found at the Rutherglen Research Station (DPI Victoria).

Many birds were breeding as well in wetlands such as Grey Teal, Pacific Black Duck, Black-winged Stilt and Australasian Grebe (see above).

Click on the link below to see a species list from Eremaea Birds.

Murray River

Spent the morning along the Murray River west from home towards Cobram. The river has been in flood of late, and although there was much damage, it was good to see small wetlands and billabongs filled.

Stopped first at the Bourke's Bend entrance to the Murray River at Burramine, half way between Cobram and Yarrawonga. An Azure Kingfisher along a small billabong was great to see. These little birds are always an exciting find. Small groups of Weebills and thornbills, Buff-rumped and Striated also moved about in the canopy. An Olive-backed Oriole was the first one seen in a while and 3 Noisy Friarbirds were unexpected, though I suspect there is a small population along the Murray River during summer.

Next stop Quinn's Island near Cobram. The gate to the island was closed (no doubt flood damage) but I still has an enjoyable walk along the river. Dollarbirds here are quite reliable, I saw 3 and Rainbow Lorikeets were here again. An odd sighting, well north of their usual range on the other side of the Great Divide. There is a small population at Shepparton directly south, I suspect these birds come from here. 49 species seen here.

On the way home I stopped briefly at the wetland along the Barooga-Mulwala Rd. Many ducks and Black-winged Stilts here. Two Zebra Finches as well just nearby. Last stop was Boomanoomana Wetlands (below) where of late I have had some good sightings, Magpie Goose in November just to name one.

The wetlands are still quite full. Dollarbirds here put on a good show chasing a young Brown Goshawk. Another Brown Goshawk, adult this time, was nearby as well. Perhaps they bred here. Many ducks as well (Pacific Black Duck below), Little Grassbird calling from the rushes, a Cockatiel heard and vocal Sacred Kingfishers were just some of the 44 species here.

84 species for the whole morning!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tungamah District

Tungamah is not far from home so it is often worthwhile to check out some of the local swamps and creeks, especially now as they are full with so much all the rain we have had this year.

First stop was Tungamah Swamp which is looking great (below). Many Grey Teal are breeding (below) and have lots of ducklings, or should I say tealings of various ages. A very dark teal seen was probabaly a young male Chestnut Teal as it had a hint of that colour in its plumage. Sacred Kingfishers have had a great year and they are quite vocal here at the swamp.

Next stop was just west of Tungamah at the Broken Creek. Four Plumed Whistling-Ducks (below) were a great sighting. They have been having a great year locally, probably because it has been so wet. I have also seen them near home in Wilby, at Dowlde Swamp, near Rutherglen and Lake Mokoan. A Brown Quail was also surprised on the edge of a wheat paddock. I assumed it was a Stubble Quail at first which are often heard calling, but it didn't have any obvious streaking as Stubble Quail do, and yellow legs.

I also had quick look at the Boosey Creek along the Tungamah Main Rd again, nothing exceptional here bird wise but there quite a lot of flood damage along the fencelines and creeks (below).

Last stop was in Tungamah itself along the Boosey Creek which is often a good stop. Today turned up a Purple-crowned Lorikeet feeding in a River Red Gum. These trees as flowering well after recent floods. Although common, it was nice to see some Red-rumped Parrots (below) up so close having a late afternoon drink by the creek.

55 species in two hours only 10 minutes from home!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Killawarra Forest and Scarlet Honeyeater!

pent an amazing morning at Killawarra Forest today searching for Regent Honeyeaters (unsuccessful) and Swift Parrots (successful). The forest just keeps getting better with the diversity of species and sheer numbers (hundreds of Noisy Friarbirds alone) as the flowering of Mugga Ironbark and Grey Box continues.

Started the morning at one of my favourite spots roughly at the corner of Irishtown Track and Wallaby Hill Track. Pied Currawongs have now made there way into the forest from the hills in large numbers and plenty were here this morning. Lorikeets, Purple-crowned and Little are still about, busily buzzing overhead or from tree to tree. A small group of Flame Robins was nice to see, including a male which was my first for this autumn. Hooded Robins (see below) were also about as well. I could heard Gilbert's Whistlers calling as well and finally tracked a male down in low undergrowth. A robin in the top of a Grey Box drew my attention as robins are usually lower to the ground. It turned out to be a female Rose Robin, my first ever sighting for Killawarra Forest though I have seen them along the Ovens River nearby. This species is an autumn-winter migrant here. I walked closer to Irishtown tk and heard the unmistakable call of Swift Parrots, 10 in all feeding in an Ironbark. A pair of Turquoise Parrots were also, this is the most northerly spot I have ever seen them in Killawarra/Warby Ranges. They tend to range about in autumn and winter though.

Continuing to walk about I was looking at a Mugga Ironbark flowering and a bright red little thing flitted about and flew between branches, a male SCARLET HONEYEATER! Amazing. This species has been popping up all over the state this year but still a major sighting for the north east.

Moving on I stopped along North West Lane where there were up to 26 Swift Parrots. A nice sighting was a large group of "cuddly" Dusky Woodswallows all huddle up together along a horizontal branch (pic below). They seem to do this in autumn and winter, very cute. A friendly Jacky Winter was also, enough to get a good picture with my basic photography skills.

Later in the morning I stopped at the Camp-Oval area in the middle of the forest. A male Peregrine was over the oval. More Swift Parrots were here too along with the hundreds of Noisy Friarbirds (pic below). Red Wattlebirds seem to have moved into the forest in larger numbers now as well, Little Friarbird numbers seem to have dropped off though. Crimson Rosellas, an autumn migrant were in reasonable numbers too, some birds feeding on Ironbark blossom, the flowers themselves not the nectar.

Heading out of the park I stopped along Frost Lane, Blue-faced Honeyeater was nice to see here, a late Fairy Martin overhead and more Friarbirds. Pictured below is some flowering Mugga Ironbark which is the reason for the fantastic birding in the forest at the moment.

Birdlist for Killawarra Forest (25/04/10):

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Swift Parrots at Boweya Forest

Had an excellent morning in the Boweya Forest today. I have spent most of this week out and about noticing lots of flowering in Mugga Ironbark and Grey Box trees. I have been keeping my ears and eyes out for Swift Parrots and today finally saw 2 at the north end of the forest. I first noticed them by their cheery "pip-pip-pip" calls and then observed them for a while feeding on Mugga Ironbark blossom. One bird was clearly an adult, the other maybe a young bird. It was duller, especially around the face and was missing some tail feathers, maybe it was moulting. Little and Purple-crowned Lorikeets were also about taking advantage of the flowering. Little Frairbirds were common too, more so than Noisy. The reverse is the case in Killawarra Forest to the east. This is not the first time I have noticed this as well. I wonder why?

Another bird which I have been having good luck with this week was a Painted Honeyeater. It flew over Keenan Road and landed in a large patch mistletoe on top of a Mugga Ironbark. I think it was a female or maybe even an immature as it was brown and white, rather than black and white.

Small mixed feeding flocks with Buff-rumped and Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Scarlet, Red-capped and Eastern Yellow Robins were also observed in the recently burnt areas of the forest. A minor fuel reduction burn has taken place here earlier in the week and seem not to have affected the birds at all. Two Wedge-tailed Eagles were spotted sunning themselves in a dead tree along the Wangaratta Rd. Heading home along Creamery Road in Almonds I picked up a few extra species for the morning.

Birdlist for Boweya Forest:
Birdlist for Almonds:

Warby Ranges in Autumn

Spent a lovely morning in the Warby Range State Park of the 2nd April. The park was quite active with birds, many autumn-winter migrants around such as Pied Currawong (1st record for this year), Crimson Rosella, Silvereye (Tasmanian subspecies), quite a few Scarlet Robins, Brown Thornbill and Golden Whistler. Local birds have also moved into feeding flocks with a mixture of species such as Buff-rumped and Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Grey Shrike-thrush, White-throated Treecreeper, Grey Fantail, Speckled Warbler and Superb Fairy-wren. It was also nice to see some Turquoise Parrots near Ryan's Lookout. A pair of Peregrine Falcons was also observed along Tower Road.

The real highlight of the morning though was Noisy Friarbirds (picture below). In about a half hour period over 300 birds were noticed in flocks of 10-30 birds moving along the ridge line of the park along Tower Road. I suspect most birds were heading to Killawarra Forest where there is much flowering, which I observed earlier in the week. Small numbers of Little Friarbirds were also in the flocks.

On the way home at stop along Big Hill Road in Almonds was great for some raptor watching with Brown and Black Falcons, Wedge-tailed and Little Eagle and a Brown Goshawk all seen.

Birdlist for Warby Ranges:
Birdlist for Big Hill Road:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Killawarra Forest

Killawarra Forest would have to one of my favourite places to go birding. Only 10 minutes drive from home and such a hotspot for woodland bird diversity make it a top destiniation. This mornings outing was not different with 70 species recorded in a morning. A lot of Mugga Ironbark and Grey Box trees are flowering at present which is great for honeyeaters, in particular Noisy Friarbirds. There must be hundreds in the forest at the moment. Also notable this morning was the number of autumn-winter migrants now in the forest. This is one of the most pleasant times of the year in the forest watching the migrants move in from the higher ranges to the south. Today Crimson Rosella, Yellow-faced and White-naped Honeyeater, Eastern Spinebill, Golden Whistler, Spotted Pardalote and Grey Fantail were all seen. An immature Flame Rbin was also observed as well, the first for this autumn-winter. In a few weeks there will be small flocks all over the countryside.

Some more interesting sightings today included a late White-throated Needletail (I think my
latest record is 9th April), a Painted Honeyeater which also seems to be staying rather late,
Gilbert's Whistler and some Turquoise Parrots, which move about 5-20 km into the forest from the Warby Ranges to the south during autumn.
No Swift Parrots yet, but hopefully with the good flowering occuring it will be sooner rather than later. On the way home I stopped briefly by the Ovens River at Frosts Crossing. An immature Olive-backed was an interesting sighting. It seemed to be practicing singing with it getting the "ory-ory-ole" call not quite right. A terrific morning in the North East.

Birdlist for Killawarra Forest:
Birdlist for Frosts Crossing:

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Boomanoomana and Cottadidda State Forests

I spent this morning exploring these state forests which are in southern New South Wales between Mulwala and Barooga. I stopped first at Boomanoomana State Forest which has an excellent wetland along the Mulwala-Barooga Road that has recently filled. Small numbers of ducks were seen, including some Grey Teal Ducklings. Little Grassbirds were calling from the rushes and a small flock of Red-browed Finches were observed in some long grass. A Pied Butcherbird was calling in the distance as well.

From here I made my way down Stock Route Rd to Cottadidda State Forest, which is mainly White Cypress-Pine that adjoins Red Gum forest. Along the road there was a large flock (300+) of Little Corellas with smaller numbers of Galah and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo among it (see picture right). I had a pleasant hour walk through the forest, the highlight being mixed feeding flocks of Thornbills (Buff-rumped, Yellow, Chestnut-rumped), Western Gerygones, Grey Fantails, Weebills and Rufous and Golden Whistlers. Common Bronzewings were noticed feeding on the ground as well and giving their "ooooom-ooooom" calls. At the edge of the forest was a small billabong by which as Azure Kingfisher was sitting on a log.

Heading back along the Mulwala-Barooga Road I noticed a large wetland (see picture) that had filled after recent rains. No unusual waterfowl (Chestnut Teal and Royal Spoonbill were nice though) but what surprised me were singing Horsfield's Bushlarks and Golden-headed Cisticolas. These birds are usually singing in spring. A Rufous Songlark here was also out of season, usually in spring as well. Last stop was Mt Boomanoomana. On the road to here Yellow Rosellas and Zebra Finch were nice to see. On the slopes a mixed feeding flock of Southern Whiteface, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Yellow Thornbill and Red-capped Robins were great to watch as they worked their way through the low Grey Box woodland here.

Birdlist for Boomanoomana State
Forest and Mt Boomanoomana:
Birdlist for Cottadidda State Forest:
Birdlist for Barooga-Mulwala Road wetland:

Change of Seasons

Myself and my good birding friend Matt Weeks spent yesterday morning (March 30th) around Chiltern Forest and Rutherglen. Birding was very good with White-throated Needletails, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike and late staying White-winged Triller and Olive-backed Oriole as highlights. It was also good to see the forest humming again with activity after recent rains seems to have livened up to forest. Being the end of March many altitudinal migrants from the higher ranges are making their way down to Chiltern and the surrounding plains. It was pleasing to see numbers of Grey Fantail, Golden Whistler, Yellow-faced Honyeater, Eastern Spinebill and a lone White-naped Honeyeater and Scarlet Robin as part of this movement. We looked hard for Flame Robins, none yet but I would expect to see them in a week or two.

Also good to see in the forest was the flowering of Grey Box and Mugga Ironbark in particular. We looked hard for Regent Honeyeater and Swifties (none yet) but this year is shaping up as a good one for flowering. Little and Noisy Friarbirds were common, as were other honeyeaters such as Fuscous, Black-chinned and Yellow-tufted. Little Lorikeets were also about in small numbers too. We also had a look at the Chiltern Valley Dams but they were very quiet, perhaps too much water around at the moment so birds have dispersed. Donchi Hill was a terrific spot late in the morning with Crested Shrike-tits and Jacky Winter up close while Diamond Firetails were calling in the background.

Around Rutherglen some nice sightings were White-backed Swallows and the resident pair of Brolga east of town. White-breasted Woodswallows are still hanging about at Lake King in the middle of town and Blue-faced Honeyeaters were here also. It was also interesting to see some swamps around Rutherglen have filled after recent good rains. Although not holding many species at the moment they should kick on later in the year. We finished off the morning chasing some waterbirds at the Wahgunyah and Corowa Sewage Ponds (pic below). Both were fairly quiet though a later staying Rufous Songlark near Wahgunyah was unusual and the ponds at Corowa had a good number of Blue-billed Duck and some Cattle Egrets which was a surprise.

Birdlist for Chiltern:
Birdlist for Rutherglen:
Birdlist for Corowa Sewage Ponds:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Flowering Gums

Since the large rainfall event in early March (80mm) the gums at home in Wilby have budded up and have began flowering. Most of the gums were planted 15-20 years ago before I moved here and consist of Mugga and Red Ironbark (Eucalytpus sideroxlon and tricarpa), Round-leaved Moort (a Western Australian species, E. platypus) and Yellow Gums (E.leucoxylon). The Yellow Gums are not the dwarf shrubby plant that is common in gardens but full sized trees 15 metres high. Some local Western Grey Box (E.microcarpa) are also flowering too.

With the flowering has come a small influx on nectar feeding honeyeaters. The local White-plumed Honeyeaters have certainly been taking advantage of the nectar while Noisy Miners have visited from the Wilby Bushland Reserve over the road. The other day 4 Blue-faced Honeyeaters were in the Yellow Gum right next to the house, and in the same tree today a Noisy Friarbird was calling and taking nectar from the blossoms. A few Red Wattlebirds have been around as well. Attached is a photo of the Noisy Friarbird in the tree near the house and the flowers from the Yellow Gum it was feeding on.

White-winged Choughs

Every now and then a flock of White-winged Choughs visits the home garden in Wilby. These birds were seen on Sunday 28th March. The flock comes from the Wilby Bushland Reserve, which is across the road from home along Sandy Creek. The birds always tend to feed on the western side of the garden where there is enough leaf litter from the Irobarks and Round-leaved Moorts that have been planted there. Hopefully as the trees and shrubs in the garden grow they will provide their own leaf litter for the birds to feed on. The pictures show 4 birds on the edge of Cemetery Road to the west of the house and in the other two birds flying off showing their distinctive white wing patches.

Barn Owls

For the last month or so around Wilby (where I live) I have been hearing the call of Barn Owls almost every night. During some early morning trips into Yarrawonga when it has still been dark, I have seen up to 5 birds perched along fence posts along the Yarrawonga-Wilby Road. I suspect there are many about at the moment because there are so many mice for them to prey on. After over 80mm of rain early in March mice numbers around the district have exploded, especially in the wheat stubble around the town. I have even heard to birds calling as I am lying in bed just before going to sleep. A Southern Boobook has been heard calling a couple of nights as well, probably taking advanta of the mice as well. Follow the link below to hear what a Barn Owl sounds like.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Plumed Whistling-Ducks

Late in February as I was driving to work I was surprised to find a small group of Plumed Whistling-Ducks on a farm dam on Lavis Road near home in Wilby. Over the next few days their numbers increased from 6 to about 35. I posted the sighting on Birdline Victoria and it attracted some interest from Melbourne birders Paul Dodd, Ruth Woodrow and Tim Dolby, who came up to Wilby to add the bird to their Victorian Lists. Members of the Murray-Goulburn BOCA branch also came to view the birds. What good timing. A few days later the birds, all 35 or so were gone! One wonders where they came from or where they went, but regardless it was still a great sighting, and so close to home.

The birds spent most of the time roosting on the clay coloured banks of the dam, in which they blended into quite well. I am assuming at night they may have flown into nearby paddocks to feed on lucerne and wheat which has recently greened up after rains. Plumed Whistling-Ducks have also been seen on odd occasion in the North East at Peechelba, near Rutherglen and further west at Numurkah. Here is a photo taken with some birds on the day wall in the early morning light.

Monday, February 22, 2010

First Post

Well here is the first post for my new birdwatching guiding and tour enterprise called Bronzewing Birding Services. This blog will serve as a place to report sightings, news and information about the birds of North East Victoria, and updates about Bronzewing Birding Services. The business will be up and running soon (in a few weeks) and then hopefully I will have some keen birdwatchers willing to take tours. The tours will focus on the North East area of Victoria and just into southern NSW. There are some fantastic birds to be found in North East Victoria such as the Regent Honeyeater, Swift Parrot, Grey-crowned Babbler, Turquoise Parrot and Painted Honeyeater just to name a few. All the information about Bronzewing Birding Services can be found at the website which will be published soon.

I have chose the name Bronzewing Birding Services as I am particularly fond of pigeons as a group of birds, and the Common Bronzewing can be found throughout North East Victoria in a variety of habitats. Here is a picture taken by David Kleinert of a male Common Bronzewing.

As for myself, birdwatching is, and always has been, the biggest interest in my life. I gain such joy and satisfaction of being outside in the environment searching for and watching birds. Having grown up and spending most of my life in North East Victoria I am intimately aware of where to find particular species, the changes in bird numbers and locations over and years, and the best times and habitats to find birds. I particularly enjoy watching the seasons change over the year and the variances in bird populations and numbers as this occurs. To describe some of my favourite North East Victorian birding experiences read on.

Watching a flock of Flame Robins in winter by the Murray River feeding in a verdant green paddock. The afternoon light is fading and the breast of the male birds is the colour of a burning ember as the last rays of the sun shine low across the landscape. Just brilliant. Spring in Chiltern Forest when the Ironbark and Box trees and in full flower. Ten or more species of honeyeater flitting from tree to tree, searching each one and checking, is it a Regent Honeyeater? The deafening calls of Noisy Friarbirds drowning out nearly every other call of bird in the forest.

A warm spring day in Wilby when a strong northerly wind blows. First of all I hear "chap-chap" calls and then look up and see flocks of hundreds of White-browed and Masked Woodswallows returning south to breed. In the following days and weeks every little patch of woodland or roadside with trees has a pair or more of birds nest building and starting to breed. A mild autumn day in the Warby Ranges. A flock of twenty to thirty Turquoise Parrots feeding on on the ground while a Speckled Warbler sings its pretty song from shrubs growing around lichen covered granite boulders. Overhead a Little Eagle soars past and the upward whistle of a Diamond Firetail can be heard in the background.

I could go on with this but as you may gather birdwatching in North East Victoria is sensational. Keep checking this blog regularly for updates, recent sightings and the latest news about the birds of North East Victoria and Bronzewing Birding Services.