Birds along the Merri in True Spring

31st January 2022
By Ann McGregor
Ann McGregor, Merri Birdwatch Coordinator, welcomes the return to birding in a group for the November
set of bird surveys.

Ann McGregor, Merri Birdwatch Coordinator, welcomes the return to birding in a group for the November set of bird surveys, with 48 people coming along to ten sites.

An overall total of 66 species was seen and an estimated 2,472 individual birds. Rainbow Lorikeet was the most common species, followed by White Ibis. While most of the Ibis were at Coburg Lake, they were also recorded at seven other sites.

Unusual species for our surveys included Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo at Galgi Ngarrk, a Pallid Cuckoo at Bababi Marning, and Scaly-breasted Lorikeet at Bababi Djinanang. The highlight for the KirkdaleMerri Parks survey were three Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos just south of Blyth Street/Arthurton Road.

It has been a good year for Tawny Frogmouths. Atotal of 19 was recorded, at five sites. In Hall Reserve, Clifton Hill, five chicks were seen.

The survey at Galgi Ngarrk/Craigieburn Grasslands was deferred for a week to 21 November, due to the risk of a flooded ford crossing at the start of the circuit. The seven participants were rewarded with sightings of 42 species, many more than the other survey sites. (Other site totals ranged from 19 to 30.) A male Rufous Whistler was whistling beautifully in a River Red Gum by the Merri, and a female was seen later in a protected Red Gum woodland. As one or two Rufous Whistlers have been recorded every November for the last five years in the same location, this is probably a regular breeding pair. Magpie Larks were also nesting in the same patch of woodland. Magpies dominated the open grasslands, with 31 counted. The group had an exciting view of a Brown Falcon slowly gliding and hovering just above them. There were not many water birds, but presumably they had dispersed due
to the wet spring.

The Common Bronzewing pigeon recorded in Clifton Hill is a wary, ground-feeding species that is found across much of Australia. It eats seeds, particularly wattle seeds. When breeding, it has a monotonous ‘oom’ call, repeated at about three-second intervals. The wings have an iridescent, bronzed orange-green patch, beautiful in sunlight. Common Bronzewing is rarely recorded in our surveys: only six times since surveys began in November 2008; four of these sightings were at Galgi Ngarrk. It has not been recorded in our Clifton Hill surveys before.

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