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
Another drive to the Mornington Peninsula to look for a few photogenic birds at my regular spots. Started off at Coolart Homestead and Wetlands. Coolart is a late Victorian mansion with formal and informal gardens built on the shores of Westernport Bay. It has a significant wetlands area with several viewing observatories and hides. A good day of exploring the wetlands, gardens and woodlands can result in a list of 50+ bird species.
Coolart Homestead, Somers
Australian White Ibis
Little Pied Cormorant
Juvenile Eastern Yellow Robin waiting for his breakfast
Eastern Yellow Robin
Lathams Snipe – a secretive wader that migrates down from Japan for the Australian summer
Black Fronted Dotteral
The Pink Eared Duck is a favourite that does not turn up all that often. I regularly find a small flock here at Coolart. They are a communal species and love to preen and bicker. The pink ear can be hard to see as they are quite flighty when in large groups on open water (like at the Weribee Pooh Farm). Due to the bird hide near one of their sand bank roosts one can be close enough to see the markings quite clearly.