With a month still to go of winter, I am already seeing signs of the coming spring and breeding season at Green’s Bush on the Mornington Peninsula. Each time I stay down the coast I visit one of my favourite spots and see what has changed or who is stopping by. This morning I saw good signs of an early spring – Australian Wood ducks flying around inside the forest with several landing on branches and looking into tree hollows for suitable nest-sites. These strange ducks nest in hollows in trees near water very early in the breeding season. I also found a Fan-tailed cuckoo exploring for potential nesting targets along a ridge line above a rainforest creek. It seemed to be following a mixed feeding flock of thornbills and fantails. I usually find the Fan-tailed cuckoo buy its very distinctive call but this one was very quiet and stayed above the foraging thornbills. I saw it several times as I moved along the trail. (another thought is that it is last season’s chick and it is still following its adopted parents hoping for a free feed – I will have to do some research).
Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic
This winter I have been spending quite a few weekends staying down the Mornington Peninsula helping to rebuild a large and overgrown back garden. Each morning I go for an early walk to Greens Bush and see what is around. It is a large beautiful reserve with a few different loop walks. On this particular morning I did not find too many birds but focussed on a few other points of interest.
Usually a shy bird, the Grey Shrikethrush is a woodlands and forest skulker, feeding in the low to medium forest canopy. It is often heard and fleetingly seen. I do see and hear it quite often in the various reserves along the Peninsula but never long enough to get many images. At Cape Schanck several seem to have become semi-tame due to the picnic table leftovers.
Grey Shrikethrush, Cape Schanck, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic
I have been spending a bit time down in Rosebud over the last few months and have started exploring different sections of the Mornington Peninsula National Park. Cape Schanck is the most southern point of the Peninsula and juts out as the meeting place of the wild Bass Strait and Western Port Bay. One of my favourite times visiting the site was during rough southerly conditions and watching Gannets, Shearwaters and Albatross fly by the coast. On this occasion it was fairly mild and many visitors were enjoying the sunny winter conditions. One of the bird species often found in the area is the Singing Honeyeater known for its beautiful and melodic songs.
Singing Honeyeater, Cape Schanck, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic
Cape Schanck boardwalk and lighthouse, Mornington Peninsula National park, Vic
I drove down to the Flinders Ocean Beach today, also called Mushroom Reef due to the shape of the exposed reef at low tide. It is part of the Mornington Peninsula National Park. It was high tide and I walked along the sand looking for Hooded Plovers and other waders.
A birding minute or two at Flinders Ocean Beach
Singing Honeyeater in the strong wind, Flinders Ocean Beach, Flinders, Vic
Flinders Ocean Beach, Flinders, Vic
Second Cove, Flinders Ocean Beach
Juvenile Hooded Plover (without the signature black hood)
I have visited Greens Bush a few times recently. It is part of the Mornington Peninsula National Park. It is a good spot to visit between seasons as many bird species tend to migrate along the ridge lines heading North or South and I have a good chance of finding something interesting. On this occasion I was looking out for Owls and Nightjars. I think it would be a superb spot for Powerful Owls as the vegetation is right (deep shaded cool gullies) and there seems to be plenty of preferred prey (possums and I am sure some sugar-gliders). I saw many signs of Ring Tailed Possums including quite a few Dreys and even a tree that was packed with a colony with one hanging out…While walking along the track I flushed a Bassian Thrush. The Bassian has a similar habit as the Blackbird (but it a native and much more handsome). The Thrush skulks along paths and shoots off into the low scrub when scared. The one below kept just ahead of me and then flew to a low branch to watch me. I think it was a young bird as usually they are quite wary and fast to disappear.
Bassian Thrush, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Victoria
Bassian Thrush – very well camouflaged on a bush track, hard to see until they flush
On the way down to the Mornington Peninsula with the Port Phillip Birders (Elwood/St Kilda Branches) to look for Black Faced Cormorants at Merricks Beach, and Albatross at Cape Schank, we stopped to watch the feeding antics of a family of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos. They were working a dead wattle tree that seemed to be full of wood borer grubs.
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Finding a wood borer grub
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo
A pair of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo
Male Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo (with pink eye rings), female or juvenile behind
The hard core team from Port Phillip Birder at Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria