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)
Last weekend I headed to the northern part of the state. I wanted to revisit the Goschen Bushland Reserve on the edge of the Mallee country. The state has been receiving a higher than average amount of rainfall and the Mallee has exploded with lush green grass and flowers. While many of the rare vagrant birds have not yet returned to this green oasis amongst the wheat and rapeseed fields surrounding it, many of the local resident species are enjoying the bounty and have started nesting.
I camped in the carpark of the reserve to ensure an early start. It was a very cold, windy, stormy night but I was up nice and early for the dawn chorus and a bit of sun to warm me up.
Goschen Bushland Reserve
The early bird gets the you know what….
I ended up seeing 3 hares on this trip including this one watching me carefully.
Brown Treecreeper – a noisy part of the dawn chorus
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike – has a very distinctive call.
Male Hooded Robin
Usually quite dry and sparsely vegetated, the bushland has exploded in grasses and flowers
Historical marker – while Goschen is a failed town, the school serviced the area for a number of decades
The Bushland is under a recently active management plan – new fences, rubbish removal and limited access points – this one is a quite tight squeeze
Late last year a sighting report came in for a Long Billed Dowitcher – a bird that usually heads down the American side of the Pacific on Summer migration from Siberia. This one seemed to have mistakenly come down the Australasian Migration Highway. It was the first time one had been seen in Australia let alone so far south and into Victoria. I got up early and with a birding mate made the 3 hour drive for my first real twitch to get a single bird onto my life list – one that may never been seen again in Australia. Within 15 mins of arriving at Lake Tutchewop we found the bird thanks to a line up of spotting scopes and photographers. It was cold and windy and after recent rains the lake’s wide sandy foreshore had turned to sticky slippery mud. I did not take any photos (other than two iPhone shots) but had some nice clear views of the red/brown shorebird via my scope.
Spotting scopes lined up, Lake Tutchewop, Vic,
Lake Tutchewop, Vic – to get close up images several keen photographers crawled forward of the main group and stayed low in the mud to make sure they did not spook the Dowitcher and the other waders in the water.
Having been very lucky and finding the bird so soon (many other twitchers making the long trip took hours or days to find it and several never saw it all due to it flying around the vast lake at different times of the day) we decided to make the most of the location and head over to Goschen Bushland Reserve, near Swan Hill. Goschen is a small grassy Mallee woodland remnant, site of a planned, partially built but abandoned town with an old hall, tennis courts and facilities – all now derelict. Several hours of exploring the area can produce a good list of mallee birds not generally found further south and some nice pictures.
Hooded Robin, Goschen
Hooded Robin II, Goschen
Singing Honeyeater II
Singing Honeyeater III
White Browed Woodswallow
White Browed Woodswallow II
White Browed Woodswallow III
On the way home we passed through Lake Boga and watched White Breasted Woodswallows feeding their chicks.
White Breasted Woodswallows, Lake Boga – parent with a nice sized dragonfly
White Breasted Woodswallows, Lake Boga
White Breasted Woodswallows: just like real estate – it is all about position – the chick in the middle kept missing out….bad position.
White Breasted Woodswallow chicks waiting patiently for their next feed.