Thursday, October 27, 2011

Terrific Terrick!

If you make a triangle out of the Victorian towns of Bendigo, Echuca & Kerang then the Terrick Terrick National Park sits in the middle. It contains an unfamiliar environment with native pines and grasslands with a few areas of rocky outcrops. Similarly the birding was unfamiliar & I'm sure that many more "ticks" could have eventuated if we had more local experience or a little homework under the belt.

The 45 minute drive down from our digs at Torrumbarry resulted in stops to view brown falcon, white-fronted chat, Australasian pipit, brolga (did I mention?) &  long-billed corella.

In the cool temperate rainforest & other bush surrounding Melbourne you can't leave a track, even if you wanted to, without a machete. It was strangely satisfying to walk in and amongst the actual bird habitat rather than view it from a track. Although I did do less of this after we saw several long reptiles.

Native pine and grasses

The Mitiamo cemetery section

Climbing Mt Terrick

The team!
The day was warm and we were there from about 10am until 3pm - not ideal for birding. Several sightings were lifers (of these a couple were suspected at the time but confirmed by photograph later on) but I feel we really dipped on a variety of honeyeaters that are often seen.

Black-faced cuckoo shrike -
the immature birds still get me thinking I might
have something new!

Rufous songlark (above & below)
AKA Noisius buggeris

Red-capped robin

Hooded robin

Mistletoebird (after a big night I think)
Southern whiteface (needs a wash)
Hannah was great company and started keeping her own list. She pays greater attention to bird counts than I can be bothered with at times!

Written while driving on gravel
Please excuse hand-writing!
To the north of the forested section of the Park are some areas of designated Park described as native grassland. We had a brief look at the grasslands (didn't get out of the car) where people try to see Plains wanderer (at night I think). We found them difficult to distinguish from the farmed paddocks - some of the locals indicate that they are farmed paddocks (or have been).

I am very grateful to Peter Allen & Keith Stockwell's birding guide for Terrick published via Echuca BOCA's website:

And thanks to Tim Bawden for suggesting the place.

We were also hoping to see Diamond firetail but that's another story....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Silverleaves vermin out of control

In my absence Kath & the girls recently drove through Silverleaves & photographed species (pests?) now wandering freely through public grasslands.

Measures may need to be taken to control these species, hitherto almost absent in the area (apparently), but which are now reaching plague proportions:

The brolga is off my back!

Yes, finally I am able to state that I have seen brolgas and name the date, place & circumstance. Having never been quite sure that childhood memories of seeing these birds in SW Victorian paddocks were real or imagined I don't have to fret any longer.

The sighting was not a 30 minute utopia of photographing courting birds in a graceful dance. Rather it was a 30 second "Shit, they might be brolgas!", car screeching to a halt (from 100kmh), camera & binocular fumbling liaison that could easily have ended in disaster!

Anyway it was still special. The birds loomed large in my mind's eye as I was taking the pictures - so I am somewhat disappointed at the distant, grey, brolga-shaped silhouettes that resulted!:

Pizzey: "Flight distinctive: neck and legs extended,
wingbeats slow, majestic..."

I agree!

Disappearing over the flat plains of north-central Victoria
Hannah knew I was looking out for them ..... we "high-fived" and drove on to Terrick Terrick National Park (report to follow!).