John Newman & Craig Morley
Unusually cold days through November coupled with continued wind and steady rainfall seemed to be the pattern, in this current La Niňa event, with few, if any, of our hotter early spring days with northerly winds. This weather pattern has meant some of our anticipated spring migratory birds, such as White-browed and Masked Woodswallows, have not arrived though plenty of records of other species of interest continue to be submitted by the many keen bird observers scattered right throughout our district.
A Rainbow Bee-eater on private land just north of the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve was a very interesting find, reminding us of the historical records in the area, such as December 1991, when the species at least attempted to breed just outside the western boundary. Scarlet Honeyeaters continue to be heard in Long Forest and further careful observation may present evidence of a breeding event. Olive-backed Oriole records are widespread this month from the drier woodlands of the Brisbane Ranges and Inverleigh down to Anglesea and Point Addis and onto the Bellarine Peninsula at Ocean Grove. The much anticipated Pacific Koel has returned at the ‘usual’ locations of Highton and Wandana Heights. It continues to be a source of fascination as to how many calling birds we have in this area and beyond. So it’s important for us to record when (date and time) and where the characteristic “koel” calls are heard in our region. Hopefully we will also receive documentation of breeding.
A Spotted Quail-thrush pair seen in the Brisbane Ranges was pleasing as was a Tawny-crowned Honeyeater calling in the Anglesea Heath, as was the Australian Owlet-nightjar heard calling in Long Forest.
The Bellarine Peninsula has been the scene of some other interesting and important sightings this month. Two records of Painted Buttonquail at different sites this month are most notable, coming close behind several records in October of this cryptic and infrequently reported species! Two birds moving quietly through the undergrowth at Portarlington Water Treatment plant was a great find as was a single bird at Mannerim. Two Laughing Kookaburras carrying food in Winchelsea surely indicate active breeding and Striated Pardalotes were seen to be entering a metal cross bar on a power pole, also presumably entering a nest. Hollow-nesting birds will often utilise human made structures if they are suitable for rearing a family. The record of two Common Mynas at Lake Colac was disappointing as this invasive species continues to extend its distribution.
Blue-winged Parrots have been seen in several less common locations in our district this month. Three birds in the Long Forest were noted as very rare visitors. Two at Cressy and two at Glenmore were also noteworthy. The dry plains of the west have continued to reveal great grasslands species this spring. Australasian Bushlarks have been observed in several sites with wonderful mimicry of other local species, Brown Songlarks have returned to their preferred grassland habitats and many Stubble Quails have been heard calling from the farmland across the western district. Weebills have been detected in the shelterbelts along these quiet country roads and a Rufous Songlark, at Long Forest, was a reminder that we seem to have had fewer records of this migratory species over recent years.
A large flock of Banded Lapwings continues to be utilising the same paddocks out at Barunah Plains. Other shorebird records of note include sixty Curlew Sandpipers at Avalon Saltworks and the spotting of a rare Pectoral Sandpiper at Moolap Saltworks were both excellent records. Low numbers of Pacific Golden Plovers are still finding refuge at Blue Rocks near Breamlea, a shadow of the numbers utilising this site in years gone by. Good numbers of Whiskered Terns, some 450 or so, have been counted at Lake Connewarre Delta and thankfully our wild weather does not appear to have displaced the critically important Little Egret colony at Queenscliff.
At least one whingeing juvenile Collared Sparrowhawk at Winchelsea, during the Upper Barwon Landcare Bird surveys, clearly indicated breeding at the survey site.
The behaviour of the Magpie-larks with a nest under the cross-bar of a power pole in Newtown would indicate they are feeding and tending young nestlings and the Spotted Pardalotes, reported from a drain culvert in the same suburb, have gone un-noticed in recent weeks until a recent sighting of a bird flying out from under the culvert carrying something in its bill – presumably a faecal sac.
Once more we sincerely thank and acknowledge the myriad observers across our region who consistently and diligently record their observations directly to eBird, as complete lists or incidentals, or our to club web-site as incidentals or highlights from their eBird lists. https://ebird.org/australia/home https://www.gfnc.org.au/observations/bird-observations Please visit these sites and remember to log-in to maximise your options and enjoyment e.g. to gain access to “explore Species Maps” option on eBird.
And why not follow this link for Sacred Kingfishers see the sorts of research that our records are supporting: https://ebird.org/australia/science/status-and-trends/sackin1
Or follow this and you can choose your species to view: https://ebird.org/australia/science/status-and-trends/species