Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

February 24, 2010

Jack’s Beach Wetlands Boardwalk

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 11:59 pm

Warrangine Park

Warrangine Park stretches from Jack’s Beach to the end of Salmon Street in Halifax on the western side of Westernport Bay on the Mornington Peninsula. There is a track and boardwalk that goes for four kilometers. (Melway map 165 A7) Last night I started off at Jack’s Beach and walked half way just before sunset. The shame of it was that the swamp/marshes are dry because of the drought and no rain. There is absolutely no water in it and there were no waders or water birds whatsoever.

Warrangine Park
It’s a drought!

It is probably not a good idea to come here in January or February, as these are the hottest and driest months of the year in southern Australia. I would most definitely come back about from October to early December and maybe from April to early June, before all the waders fly back to the northern hemisphere. The only waders or water birds that I saw were some Australian White Ibis and a Silver Gull. The first day all I saw was an Australian White Ibis, Superb Fairy-wren, Welcome Swallows and a Red Wattlebird. This one is a baby I think because it seems to still have the white gape around the bill. Juvenile Red Wattlebirds have a red-brown iris, smaller wattles and very white wing feather edges.

Red Wattlebird
Red Wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata)

There are many different types of environment at Warrangine Park. The main part of it is Saltmarsh, and there is also lots of paperbark scrub, a strip of mangroves along the creek and bay foreshore, seagrass meadows and woodlands. This great variety of habitat should produce quite a wide array of bird life, but for me, sadly, it didn’t. Maybe another time. 🙁

Australian Raven
Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides)

Warrangine Park bird list 25/2/10

Australian White Ibis
Superb Fairy-wren
Welcome Swallow
Red Wattlebird
Willy Wagtail
Silver Gull
Spotted Turtle-dove
Australian Raven
Common Myna

Warrangine Park resources

“Where to Find Birds around Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula” Ed. Larry Wakefield. Published by Bird Observers Club of Australia, Mornington Peninsula Branch.

Balbirooroo & Coolart Wetlands

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Balbirooroo Wetlands

Balbirooroo Wetlands is just behind the school at Balnarring, on the western side of Westernport Bay in South-east Victoria. There was not much water around so it was lucky that there were a few bush birds around on the edges of the wetlands. First up, I saw a Red Wattlebird, Grey Fantail and a heap of Superb Fairy-wrens. A Little Pied Cormorant and a few Galahs flew over, and I just spotted a Black-fronted Dotterel on the dam of the adjoining property.

White-plumed Honeyeater
White-plumed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus pencillatus)

On this dam were a variety of water birds such as Chestnut Teal, Black Swan, White-faced Heron, Eurasian Coot and Australian Shelduck. Back in the trees, I spotted a White-plumed Honeyeater, New Holland Honeyeater, European Goldfinch and this Little Wattlebird.

Little Wattlebird
Little Wattlebird (Anthochaera chysoptera)

Then I headed across to the Pun Pun Wetlands, which were epemeral wetlands. Not all wetlands are permanent. Many wetlands only contain water after heavy rain and may dry out after some time. I saw a Swamp Rat at the side of the road but he scurried into the grass before I had time to get a photograph of him. I did however manage to get a photograph of this Spotted Turtle-dove.

Spotted Turtle-dove
Spotted Turtle-dove (Streptopelia chinensis)

Balbirooroo Wetlands bird list 24/2/10

Red Wattlebird
Little Pied Cormorant
Superb Fairy-wren
Grey Fantail
Galah
Welcome Swallow
Black-fronted Dotterel
Chestnut Teal
Eurasian Coot
Black Swan
White-faced Heron
Australian White Ibis
Little Wattlebird
White-plumed Honeyeater
Australian Shelduck
Australian Wood Duck
Pacific Black Duck
Australian Magpie
White-browed Scrubwren
Magpie-lark
New Holland Honeyeater
Spotted Turtle-dove
Purple Swamphen
Spotted Turtle-dove
European Goldfinch

Coolart Wetlands

The Coolart Wetlands is just around the corner from Balnarring at Somers. It is located 80 kilometers south east of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula on Lord Somers Road, Melways map reference 193 J9. There are a series of walking tracks throughout the park where you can explore the coastal woodlands, wetland areas, artificial lagoons and the formal gardens that surround the old homestead.

There was no water in the swamps but there were plenty of bush birds in the woodland areas. I spotted both Red and Little Wattlebirds and in one spot there were Superb Fairy-wrens, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Fantailed Cuckoo, and this Brown Thornbill chomping down on an insect. It may be a little grasshopper, it is hard to tell.

Brown Thornbill
Brown Thornbill (Acanthiza pusilla)

There were also a number of Silvereye as well as quite a few Spotted Pardalote, who came quite near to me, allowing me to get this lovely shot of one. This one is a male because of the white spots on the top of the head. The female Spotted Pardalote has yellow spots on the top of the head.

Spotted Pardalote
male Spotted Pardalote (Pardalotus punctatus)

Coolart Wetlands bird list 24/2/10

Common Myna
Australian Raven
Australian Magpie
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
White-eared Honeyeater
Brown Thornbill
Fantailed Cuckoo
Grey Fantail
Silvereye
Superb Fairy-wren
Spotted Pardalote
Little Wattlebird
Red Wattlebird
Eastern Yellow Robin

February 23, 2010

Greens Bush

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Two Bays Track, Greens Bush

22nd February, 2010, 6:30pm

Greens Bush is a tract of land in Mornington Peninsula National Park. You can get to the Two Bays Walking Track along the road to Rosebud coming from Flinders township. The car park is about 7 kilometers from Flinders. Here is a link to a map This afternoon I went north along the track towards Long Point. The weather was overcast with intermittent rain squalls, so it was not very conducive to photography, but I charged along anyhow.

The country is black sand covered mainly in Banksia trees with a few other shrubs and trees. A lot of Greens Bush is reclaimed grazing land and seemed to me to be in pretty poor condition. There were lots of kangaroos around and they had made lots of trails through the bush, causing lots of damage. I personally think that there are too many of them and are becoming a problem.

The birds I encountered were the usual suspects for this kind of country – mainly Little Wattlebirds and Superb Fairy-wrens. The Little Wattlebirds dominated this area and were pretty aggressive, chasing off other birds who came into the banksia branches. I assume that they chase off other honeyeaters who may be competition for their food. I did happen to spot a Grey Fantail, who had an unusually buff chest.

Grey Fantail
Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa)

I did also spot some Silvereyes and a mob of magpies. My best find was a blackberry bush that had some ripe blackberries on them, so I had a luscious feast of fresh berries. Yum yum. The only other bird of note was a flock of Crimson Rosellas.

23rd February, 2010, 7:30am

The next morning I went south along the Two Bays track towards Bushrangers Bay, which is about 2.5 kilometers away. It goes through more black sandy country with mainly banksias and coastal heath. When I got to the ocean, there were a big flock of Silver Gulls, about a dozen Pacific Gulls and a couple of Little Black Cormorant.

Cape Schank
Looking towards Cape Schank from Bushrangers Bay

On the way back I spotted a few Grey Fantails, Silvereyes and some magpies which I noticed were different to the ones in New South Wales. Their backs are more white and from reading the book, it seems that they are race tyrannica, so their actual scientific name would by Gymnorhina tibicen tyrannica.

Australian Magpie
Australian Magpie, race tyrannica (Gymnorhina tibicen tyrannica)

Greens Bush Bird List 22-23/2/10

Superb Fairy-wren
Little Wattlebird
Grey Fantail
Silvereye
Australian Magpie
Crimson Rosella
Silver Gull
Pacific Gull
Little Black Cormorant

February 22, 2010

Flinders – Mornington Peninsular

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Flinders Birdwatching

Flinders is a small town on the eastern end of the Mornington Peninsula, nearly a hundred kilometers south-east from Melbourne. I went over to the ocean side of the town and stopped at the Mushroom Reef Marine Reserve. There were quite a few birds on the beach, mainly gulls and Sooty Oystercatchers. Strangely, there were some Australian White Ibis who were foraging on the beach as well. I had not seen them do that before. There must have been more than a dozen Sooty Oystercatchers, so that is a good sign that they are breeding well.

Pacific Gull
immature Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus)

I also get to photograph some Pacific Gulls and I was very pleased about that because they are a tick for me. They seem to be in mainly the souther coastal regions of the Australian mainland. The immature Pacific Gulls are very dark and I was thinking they might be a different species when I first saw them. They only get their mature plumage after about 5-8 years. The adults have a huge yellow bill, with both mandibles tipped red. They are much larger than the Silver Gull and the wings are much darker as well, almost black.

Pacific Gull
mature Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus), Starting flight take-off procedure

Pacific Gull
Ready for take-off

Pacific Gull
And taking flight

There were also quite a few Crested Terns roosting on some rocks and when the tide went out, I was able to walk out there to have a look. I also spotted a mob of what I think are Red-necked Stints. Edit: Yes, they were Red-necked Stints, thanks Ricki. 🙂

ID needed please
Red-necked Stints

There was a Red-capped Plover running around all on his lonesome and a Double-banded Plover was also on his own. I am not so sure about the identifications for the Red-necked Stints and Double-banded Plover, so I will get back to you on those. Edit: Confirmed by Ricki.

Id Needed please
immature Double-banded Plover

Flinders Bird List 22/2/10

Silver Gull
Pacific Gull
Australian White Ibis
Sooty Oystercatcher
Red-necked Stint
Red-capped Plover
Double-banded Plover
White-faced Heron
Crested Tern
Little Black Cormorant
Little Pied Cormorant
Welcome Swallow
Common Starling
Australian Raven
Australian Wood Duck
Australian Magpie
Superb Fairy-wren
Little Wattlebird

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