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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:

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.