Merri BirdWatch report - February 2023
27th April 2023
By Ann McGregor
Black faced cuckoo shrike, C. Tzaros
Cuckoo-shrikes are named for their cuckoo-like undulating flight and their shrike-like bills, but they are neither cuckoos nor shrikes.
The Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike was recorded on the survey at Galada Tamboore,
Dusky Woodswallow at Bababi marning, 2021,
© M. Hamel-Green https://birdlifephotography.org.au
66 species seen
On our February round of surveys, a total of 66 species was seen, and an estimated 1,722 birds. Fifty-four observers participated.
The most common species were:
- Silver Gull, (172 at 3 sites),
- Rainbow Lorikeet (151, at 8 sites),
- Common (Indian) Myna (151, at all 9 sites) and
- White Ibis (134, present at seven sites).
At the other end of the scale, only one was recorded of Northern Mallard, Straw-necked Ibis, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, and Song Thrush. Edwardes Lake had the highest species diversity, with 35 species, followed by Coburg Lake and Bababi marning with 30 species each.
Dusky Woodswallow - a first-time record
A first-time record for our surveys was Dusky Woodswallow. Four of these dark brown small-medium birds were seen at Bababi marning. Michael Hamel-Green found and photographed Dusky Woodswallows at Bababi marning a year earlier, in September 2021 – see the photo above. A summer migrant to southeastern Australia, they catch insects on the wing in and above dry open eucalypt forests and woodlands. Their dark body contrasts with white underwings in flight. Often in flocks, woodswallows like to settle in tight rows on branches or clustered on a tree trunk to roost.
At Bababi marning, the observers also enjoyed watching an Eastern Long-necked Turtle basking on a rock before it slipped back into the Creek.
Kookaburra with a rat
During the Kirkdale - Merri Parks survey a Kookaburra was seen with a large rat in its bill and a juvenile Kookaburra was heard near Albion Street, Brunswick East – most probably bred on Northcote Golf Course.
A pair of Collared Sparrowhawks was seen at Coburg Lake. One bird afforded great views as it perched in a tree. There were a lot fewer White Ibis than other surveys, probably because many young had left and gone elsewhere since fledging. Leader Alister noted that a ‘sand bank’ is now visible in the lake near the wall, presumably due to a build-up of sediment washed down from higher in the catchment after recent rains.
For some species breeding has continued through the mild summer. There were two juvenile Black Swans at Coburg Lake and two fluffy black Dusky Moorhen chicks were walking on the creek bank downstream of Albion Street, Brunswick East. Two Noisy Miner nestlings were recorded in Hall Reserve Clifton Hill and White-plumed Honeyeaters were feeding young at Bababi marning.
Superb Fairy-wrens and Red-browed Finches
The wet summer and lush growth of grass and shrubs (and lots of woody weeds) has been good for small bush birds in Galgi ngarrk, with at least 35 Superb Fairy-wrens and 14 Red-browed Finches sighted, many of them juveniles.
Eastern Long-necked (or Snake-necked) Turtle, M. Hamel-Green
Spotted in the constructed wetland near the confluence of Merri & Edgars Creeks, Coburg North