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Friday, 5 December 2014

Big Weekend Birding North East Victoria Day 1

It had been a 5 month slog to get to this weekend, started out trying to organise a birding day with Michael Ramsey of Bronzewing Birding Tours and then organising a group of like minded people to share a wonderful weekend of birding. After a few email exchanges we had the 4 participants Kris, Ros and Jenn who all were keen to spend a weekend in the bush around chiltern. Jenn had organised us to stay at Lake Anderson Caravan Park in Chiltern in a self contained cabin which turned out to work a treat.
On the Friday morning Jenn was to pick me up at 6 am but due to the fact I live in the Bermuda Triangle of freeways Jenn didn't arrive until just after 7am. Our first stop was Seymour, we had planned on picking Kris up at Seymour Train Station at 10am so still meant that Jenn and myself had a few hours to spare, so had arranged after some research to try our luck at Seymour River Walk which is on the Goulburn River at Lions Park (green dot represents the river walk).

On arriving at the toilet block at the start of the park, we heard a few Brown Treecreepers, many calling Spotted and Striated Pardalotes and a few Crimson Rosellas. As we drove down the road windows down I heard a few birds calling on the left hand side of the road, we pulled up in the carpark near the river. 
The carpark was very bird friendly with Jenn and Myself not moving further than 150 metres from the car, I headed over to where I heard the birds calling on the way down, heading into the bush I first found a Olive-backed Oriole sitting low in the gums.
    Olive-backed Oriole

A pair of Satin Flycatchers were dive bombing a very pesky Laughing Kookaburra and I was able to view them through binoculars both male and female for extended views at low height which was a nice surprise. In this same area there was a few Sacred Kingfishers calling and was able to get a good look at one roosting at eye level. 
After calling Jenn over to have a look we headed back to the road where I heard a call I wasn't used too, after tracking down the bird we were able to find a nice Dollarbird sitting atop a River Red Gum.

From then on the birding got pretty crazy, wasn't sure where to put the binoculars with Sacred Kingfishers, Blue-faced Honeyeaters, Little Friarbirds all flitting around the trees on either side of the road which kept us entertained for a good 20 minutes.
    Blue-faced Honeyeater
    Little Friarbird

From there we headed back to the car for a quick coffee, flying overhead along the Goulburn River was a male Darter and upon sitting at the table I heard the call of a Shining Bronze-cuckoo which was a lifer for Jenn so after a few quick photos it was nearly time to leave.
    Shining Bronze-cuckoo

Kris had messaged to say she was pulling into the station, so we packed up our gear and was back into the car. This was the first time I had been to the Seymour River Walk and it certainly won't be the last as the birding here was very rewarding with over 34 species seen in just over an hour with many Northern Victorian birds on the most southerly range. The link attached is the bird list from the morning.

Our next destination was Yarrawonga so after picking Kris up we were off, this is where Ros is from and we thought it would be a great way to meet each other before Saturday plus a great excuse to do some birding around Ros neck of the woods. It's funny how many places you wouldn't stop if you weren't with a local and this proved the case over and over again but everything we asked to see Ros was able to provide us with locations and on finding those locations we found the birds.
We arrived at Yarrawonga just on lunch time so we decided to meet Ros at the Maccas carpark. From here we headed off to a place called Boat Rock  ( an aboriginal sacred site). Along the road in we stopped a few times, White- browed and Dusky Woodswallows, Tree Martins and Welcome Swallows were common over the open paddocks and I was pretty certain I saw a White-backed Swallow but lost it in the mass of other hawking birds so couldn't be certain it was. 
As we hit the dirt road we stopped again and after getting out I heard a new call I didn't recognise, after listening many times over the previous weeks of the lifers I could have gotten on the trip, it sort of reminded me of the Western Gerygone, so as we searched the small wattles and pines on the side of the road we finally were able to get binoculars and eventually some photos of my 1st lifer for the trip.
    Western Gerygone

The first bird ticked we were off to Boat Rock to see if we could find the Blue Bonnet that are frequently seen along the road and at the sacred site, many many Red-rumped Parrot were seen along the verge but no Blue Bonnet. 
We had a walk around the Sacred Rock but as it was the heat of the day it was pretty quiet, still many Red-rumped Parrots and Ros and Jenn found a pair of Blue Bonnet but as Kris and I were in a different area we missed them.
Getting back in the car we followed another bird road back towards Yarrawonga, but just after we turned down another road, I thought I saw a few Blue Bonnet fly into a dead tree about 100 metres away, we all stopped and looked at the birds and to our amazement they flew directly towards us, showing us it's beautiful red belly in flight. 2nd lifer ticked for the day, was certainly getting better and better as the day went on. 
A few hundred metres down the road we stopped again to have a listen, there was a large family of Grey-crowned Babbler flitting between the trees and posed nicely for us for a few minutes. 
    Grey-crowned Babbler
    Grey-crowned Babbler

As it was getting late in the day, we had one last spot to check as Ros had been telling us about Apostlebirds and Rainbow Bee-eaters at the Yarrawonga Caravan Park so we wanted to check that out so as we drove through the caravan park I found a pair of Apostlebirds feeding around a few old on site vans, getting out of the car the sprinklers were on, which also attracted a pair of Crimson Rosella (yellow). 
    Crimson Rosella (yellow)

From here it was a short drive to the Rainbow Bee-eater site, getting out of the car there was a pair, and a few trees down there was another pair and another few trees away was another pair, all nesting in the banks of the Murray River. It was beautiful light as we took many many photos. 
    Rainbow Bee-eater

It was now 4.30 pm so we thanked Ros for a wonderful afternoon, we then headed off to Chiltern and our cabin at Lake Anderson Caravan Park. We ventured to the Pub for dinner it was a beautiful Beef and Reef and then an early night to bed because it was to be a 6 am leave tomorrow with Michael.... About 80 species were seen on day 1 I couldn't wait for day 2.

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