In August, Treeswift Wildlife & Nature lead a guided Birdwatching for Beginners Workshop at the stunning You Yangs Regional Park, just west of Melbourne.
Despite a stormy morning, the weather cleared to beautiful blue skies and nice golden light, perfect for photography and bird spotting! Our group met just after 8.00am and after admiring a lovely collection of Little Lorikeet and Rainbow Lorikeet feeding in the car park, we set off into the woodland scrub!
First up, a cheeky pair of Maned Duck were found inspecting hollows for nesting, followed quickly by several flocks of Galah and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. In the trees, we picked out Red Wattlebird, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater, and many singing Weebill (Australia’s smallest bird!).
One of our first highlights was a brilliant male Spotted Pardalote, who sang his piping song and even perched out in the open and at eye level for our group. Our youngest participant, the eagle-eyed and extremely promising young birder Sam, captured the below image.
On through the scrub, where we saw Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Not-a-bird! We know!), many Superb Fairywren, White-plumed Honeyeater, New Holland Honeyeater, and a family of White-winged Chough. The Chough’s posed well in the morning light and allowed for our entire group to get great views of these unique family birds. We also spotted a bird on a nest in the distance but did our duty and gave it a wide birth.
Next up, a red and purple spot shot high over our heads piping as it rocketed between clumps of mistletoe. It was a male Mistletoebird! And as we followed him, we also saw our first Brown-headed Honeyeater, a solitary Silvereye (from Tasmania), and a lone Whistling Kite overhead.
Now having completed the main circuit, we crossed up the road and headed through a scrubby walk towards Rockwell Road walking tracks. Suddenly it was all about the birds of prey! Overhead a Brown Goshawk soared by showing off brilliantly in the morning sun! But before we could even stop to marvel at him, a dark morph Little Eagle flashed quickly by, chasing a menacing black cloud that threatened from a distance. Nearby, Eastern Rosella chattered and a Black-faced Cuckooshrike churred as it flew overhead. 30+ species and our group were having a wonderful morning. Lots of questions, great encounters, and trying out of equipment (as well as great photos) was the perfect way for this birdy group to spend a Saturday morning!
Not thinking it could get much better, we suddenly heard the iconic descending whistling of a Shining Bronze Cuckoo. These fabulous and handsome looking birds are spring/summer visitors to Victoria, so this was an encouraging sign that Spring was not far away! Soon, we tracked this lovely bird down – snapping photos and enjoying its wonderful song.
In the next clearing we found a lovely pair of Galah having a romantic nuzzle on a branch. This was a great opportunity for us to point out how to identify the gender of these bird – the male has a dark (browny) eye, and the female has a dull pink eye. Overhead, returning Tree Martin (another spring migrant) chased a persistent Brown Falcon over the gums. As with most of the day, all the nearby trees were filled with whistling Weebill – they were just everywhere!
As we returned, we got our first good views of Australian Golden Whistler and Common Bronzewing – both species we had heard or seen flashes of earlier.
Finally, we watched a magnificent Whistling Kite wheel over our heads, seeming to sign off on our wonderful morning. We counted up our species with a quick ‘bird call’ and tallied up a respectable 41 different species with 481 individual birds seen! Wow!
Treeswift Wildlife & Nature would like to acknowledge and thank the 16x participants who came out with us on this very successful Birdwatching Workshop – we hope to see you again in the future!