Merri BirdWatch report - February 2024

5th May 2024
By Ann McGregor

Our bush birds were scarce, with the hot and windy weather on 11th February, but it didn’t make much difference to the waterbirds at Edwardes Lake, where 17 species of water-oriented birds were reported.  A Great Crested Grebe was a highlight there, being the first record in all our surveys. Great Crested Grebes like large, deep freshwater bodies with clear water and fish, but also congregate on large saline lakes and sheltered coastal waters. Like the other two Australian grebes, they are clumsy walkers and spend their time swimming or diving. 

It was a very quiet day on the Kirkdale-Merri Parks survey, until observers were alerted to a Collared Sparrowhawk by the angry scolding calls of two Willie Wagtails. They were dive-bombing the Sparrowhawk that was trying to keep cool in the shade. 

Despite the windy conditions that sent many birds into hiding, 38 species were counted at galgi ngarrk. This included a good number of raptors: 2 Wedge-tailed Eagles, 2 Brown Falcons, 2 Nankeen Kestrels and 1 Brown Goshawk. A pair of Australian Pipits were carrying food, so they must still be breeding. A Stubble Quail was heard; the first record since May 2017. A single Tree Martin was another unusual record, last seen in galgi ngarrk in November 2018.

In galada tamboore, a Whistling Kite was photographed by Jonathan Tickner as it circled around during the survey. An open country bird, Whistling Kites have been recorded a few times at galgi ngarrk and galada tamboore.

Whistling Kite during the galada tamboore survey.             
Photograph: Jonathan Tickner


Two Yellow-faced Honeyeaters was an unusual record. The species has only been recorded in three other surveys, all on the Kirkdale-Merri Parks survey. An adult Nankeen Night Heron flew slowly over the Creek. Leader Steve Waller was very pleased to have six people join him on the galada survey, which usually has a very small number of participants.

Across the nine sites, a total of 70 species were recorded. The most numerous species were Common Myna (128 individuals), followed by Silver Gull (97 individuals, of which 87 were at Edwardes Lake), and Rainbow Lorikeet (92).

E Rosella P Mollison.jpg

Eastern Rosella, a species recorded in Clifton Hill and East Brunswick in the February surveys.   
Photograph: Peter Mollison

Merri Birdwatch #3 for 2024 will be held on Sunday the 8th and 15th of September - see our calendar for more details.


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