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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!