Saturday, 16 August 2014
Area 4: Somerton Road Carpark
This is probably the least visited of all the areas of woodlands for me, partly because I love the Weeroona Cemetery area so much I seem to always end up back there but also because I prefer to bird in peace and this carpark can be very busy especially on weekends.
Very rarely is there any water in this creekbed ( Moonee Ponds Creek) and I do struggle to find reasons to go here, but on the odd occasion some very nice birds turn up. There are public toilets and picnic tables so can be a good base for a picnic lunch. I have been on a few birdlife beginners outings and they all start from here and move on later in the morning which gave me some ideas, always good to see what other people do but still always seem to end up where I feel most comfortable.
From the carpark you should get Little and Long-billed Corella and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo in the adjacent farmland and Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets in the gums as you drive in. In the carpark itself you usually get roosting Red-rumped Parrots in the large River Red Gums and pretty much regularly get both Striated and Spotted Pardalote calling from these trees. Superb Fairywrens are picnic table birds and are seen scurrying around as you eat lunch.
There are a few paths to walk on from the carpark, as you get out of your car and head south towards the airport you will firstly come across a small billboard and to the east of this there is a small boardwalk which leads to a small (very small) dam. I have a feeling that there is a possibility that this dam (which is covered in predominately reeds) to hold crakes or rails but I haven't seen one as of yet (did flush something the night I went looking for the black honeyeater but as it was too dark only got a glimpse of a bird flying away).
Birds seen around this dam have been Grey Fantail, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Pallid Cuckoo, Red-browed Finch, and this is the place I was able to find the Black Honeyeaters this year! Probably the best bird I have ever found at Woodlands and thanks to Eremaea for posting it up so quickly I was able to get out and find them before work the following day. Other rarities that have been seen here are Rainbow Bee-eater and Rufous Fantail the former used to be a summer visitor every year to breed along the riverbank, but the talk from the older birders is that the Parks Vic rangers decided they needed to reinforce the riverbanks to stop erosion so they covered the breeding areas of the bee-eaters with crushed basalt which totally destroyed the only reason these birds visited and now are only a twice a year visitor as they migrate north or south on way to and from the You Yangs.
Very disappointing really as these birds are truly beautiful and would have been an awesome summer migrant that would definitely entice more birders to the area, but for misguided information and the mismanagement many years ago, they have never returned permanently. Hopefully in a few more years there will be a possibility that those birds will stay and not just fly through and breed once again in this area.
The riverbank doesn't usually hold many birds but things like Red-browed Finches and Superb Fairywren are present. As you cross the creek over the bridge near the billboard there is a nature walk/loop track that runs towards the west, again not overly exciting but things like White-plumed, Brown-headed and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters are usually flitting around the treetops, and occasionally things like Rufous Whistler are seen along here also.
The only thing I don't like about this path is there is no creek crossings until right at the end, which is rather long and as I said the birding is not so special so it is very frustrating if it's quiet, deciding whether or not to turn back or continue.
Sometimes I do try and find my own way across the creek and there are probably 2 or 3 spots along here that I have found suitable enough to cross without too much risk, but depending on your fitness (and stupidity) on whether to chance it. The Somerton Rd( north side) of the creek really is much the same as the other so you could push yourself to the south (airport direction) along here you can get Eastern Rosella and Golden Whistler as well as Thornbills like Brown, Striated and Yellow and there are some more Drooping She-oaks on the rocky outcrop, I have always thought I should/could get Speckled Warbler here but as of yet no lucky. Birds of prey seen here are Wedge-tailed Eagle and Whistling Kite with the occasional Brown Falcon. Once you check out the rocky outcrop I head back to the carpark and on the path back down I have seen Mistletoebird, Yellow-rumped Thornbill and Crimson Rosella.
I did forget to mention that earlier this year the Sacred Kingfishers actually bred in the trees in the Carpark so there is a good chance they will return again this year. I am sure that people really love this site and I would have been one of those people a few years ago but once finding Providence Road/ Weeroona Cemetery I just believe that the quality of birding is better with a greater variety of species in a smaller area which is easier to navigate, however it is still a great place for a family picnic!
Female and Male Black Honeyeaters