Winter 2018

The shortest day is suddenly approaching, mid winter, generally the quietest time of year, however there is much to be seen as these sightings go to show. Bird tallies will be down a little on spring and summer, but many of our endemic specialities are resident in Victoria - click on photo below to see more

Mallee rarities

Back from a very successful 6 day tour around the mallee country of west and north-west Victoria as well as the vast plains of the riverina country this week with travelling companions Karen and Darryl chasing some rare and tricky target species. We found Powerful Owl, Diamond Firetail, Slender-billed Thornbill, Rufous Fieldwren (2 different ssp), White-browed Treecreeper, Regent Parrot, Mulga Parrot, Striated Grasswren (multiple sightings), Chestnut-backed Quail-thrush (multiple sightings), Malleefowl, Mallee Emu-wren, Chestnut-crowned Babbler, Owlet Nightjar, 4 sp of Fairy-wren, Orange Chat, Plumed Whistling Duck, Pied Honeyeater, Superb Parrot, Stubble Quail, Plains-wanderer, Barn Owl, Azure Kingfisher, Spotless Crake, Shy Heathwren and Purple-gaped Honeyeater amongst others. We also saw a nice range of native mammals including Fat-tailed Dunnart, Echidna, Red Kangaroo and Grey-headed Flying Fox. All major target birds were found and in perfect weather too, happy days!

Late summer at Werribee

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The vast wetlands at Werribee’s Western Treatment Plant have been teeming with birds all summer. Recent visits have showcased the great variety and numbers with 80+ species recorded on half day visits, whilst 100 plus is normal in a full day. A triple Crake day this week, a wide range of raptors, huge numbers of shorebirds and duck, 6 species of tern, it just goes on and on. All within easy reach of downtown Melbourne. Leaving the area and getting back to the rat race on the busy highway always feels strange. Why do so few people visit this extraordinary place? And isn't it great so few people visit this extraordinary place!

January 2018 tours

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After a massive 2017, 2018 has started with a great haul of over 200 bird species on a 3 day tour of southern and central Victoria. As well as the fantastic range of expected species, our crew of three dedicated birdos connected with a bunch of highly sought after birds such as Grey Goshawk, Square-tailed Kite, Pink Robin, Pilotbird, Superb Lyrebird, Dollarbird, White-throated Needltail, Baillons Crake, Australian Spotted Crake, Emu, Brolga, Brush Cuckoo, Speckled Warbler, Blue-winged Parrot, Rufous Bristlebird, Powerful Owl and Painted Honeyeater to name a few. Summer is a great time to go birding.

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018

Late spring into early summer is a fantastic time in Victoria. Some breeding birds have fledged young out and about, whilst the later spring arrivals and some more southerly resident birds are in peak breeding mode. Plus the weather is warming, the days are longer, all conditions that make for great birding.

After the significant influx of inland birds that occurred in late September and early October many of these welcome wanderers have lingered into summer.  Intrepid birders who were prepared to venture out into the farther reaches of northern Victoria enjoyed plenty of Orange Chats and Black Honeyeaters, with continuing reports of the rarer Red-backed Kingfishers and Pied Honeyeaters.

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With a busy tour schedule, being out and about around the state almost continually was a real joy and privilege.  On the bay close to Melbourne the Little Penguin colony became more active as young are reared and birds seemed keen on a second breeding event. One recent evening visit to a colony near the city was full of calling, mating and displaying Penguins, at least 70 birds were out and about, plus the occasional Rakali (our native Water Rat).

Powerful Owls are winter breeders, and in late spring their young fledge and family groups may be seen roosting together near their nesting sites. We visited a number of these families during the course of the spring and it’s good to see a new crop of Owls venturing out into the environment.

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A wide variety of spring migrants add to our resident birds at this time of year.  Later arrivals include Rufous Fantails, Leaden and Satin Flycatchers, Brush Cuckoos, Black-faced Monarchs, White-throated Needletails, Dollarbirds and Rainbow Bee-eaters. The falling leaf songs of the both the Western and the White-throated Gerygone are some of our sweetest sounds, and this is the season when numbers of migratory shorebirds really hit their peak with birds moving between wetlands and seemingly new arrivals occurring every week. A Hudsonian Godwit was a rare find in Westernport Bay, whilst Painted Snipe and Long-toed Stint have appeared in some of the numerous wetlands in western Victoria.

Fruiting fig trees have attracted birders especially in Metung in Gippsland where flocks of Top-knot Pigeons, a pair of Channel-billed Cuckoo, Koels and Figbirds have been visiting. It can feel more like Queensland birding than the southern coast of Victoria.

A run of easterly winds brought some interesting seabird sightings, with Wedge-tailed Shearwaters seen off Cape Conran, a Brown Booby sighted in Port Phillip bay, and most remarkably a Black Noddy also in the bay near Werribee. 

When the change finally came and westerly winds returned the state received some significant rainfall especially in the north and north-east. Quite quickly Plumed Whistling Ducks spread out across the plains to take advantage of floodwaters, whilst other wetlands in the north that received environmental watering hold breeding Bitterns and Magpie Geese.

Some of the world’s rarest birds may be found in Victoria. The critically endangered Regent Honeyeater was still being seen occasionally in the Chiltern area, though most of the sightings involved recently released captive bred birds. However two wild bred birds appeared in mid December in East Gippsland, a very exciting find. 

The critically endangered Plains-wanderer remains on the northern plains in very small numbers and almost entirely on private land. Occasional sightings have been made on public reserves also, where a new focus on biomass management is slowly returning some areas to suitable habitat. On a recent trip two females were heard calling within close proximity of each other, so hopefully a new crop of youngsters will be appearing in the coming months. Recent tours have included visits into NSW to observe this interesting species.

A big shout out must go to the thriving population of Rufous Bristlebirds down on the western Victorian coastline. Bucking the trend this Bristlebird species seems to be doing well, and with young fledged by October, and plenty of territorial behaviour continuing into summer, this abundance looks like continuing

AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 

AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 

In the bird world spring starts early. Although the weather remained icy until mid-September, our birds were well and truly gearing up for spring as soon as the winter solstice was out of the way. With local species nest building and becoming territorial, the various cuckoos need to be around and watching what is going on. This year’s influx has been significantly greater than normal.

Winter 2017

Winter 2017

Despite the shorter days and colder weather, there is plenty to keep the birding interesting here in the deep south of Australia. This photo of the beautifully cryptic Bassian Thrush found near Melbourne this week proves that a winter walk can be very rewarding. Albatross numbers reach their peak off the coast in winter and may be readily seen from land. The occasional Brown Skua and Giant-Petrel can add some spice.

May 2017

May 2017

. Some wetlands in the north are still holding large numbers of waterbirds following the bumper summer. A very high count of 870 Freckled Duck was exceptional at Lake Cooper, and a report of 16 endangered Australasian Bittern at Cullens Lake was also a very high count for one site.

APRIL 2017

In the course of a number of bird tours and reconnaissance trips across southern and northern Victoria in the last few weeks a mighty range of birds have been encountered. 

January 2017 

January 2017 

Breaking news is of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Lake Murdeduke near Winchelsea, west of Melbourne.