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Birds of Victoria - #7(c) – East Gippsland (Mallacoota) (22 October 2017)

contributed by cougar15
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Birds of Victoria - #7(c) – East Gippsland (Mallacoota) Wonga Pigeon, Shady Gully Caravan Park, Mallacoota, VIC

We have just arrived for a 4-night cabin stay at the Shady Gully Caravan Park in the coastal township of Mallacoota. This region has a reputation for great fishing, magnificent scenery and an abundance of diverse birdlife.

Birds of Victoria - #7(c) – East Gippsland (Mallacoota) Black-faced Monarch, Shady Gully Reserve, Mallacoota, VIC

My ‘lifer first’ targets, this trip, in no particular order, are - Southern Emu-wren, Ground Parrot, Pilotbird, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Black-faced Monarch, Speckled Warbler, Eastern Bristlebird, Brown Gerygone, Double-banded Plover, Glossy Black-Cockatoo, Red-browed Treecreeper, White-throated Nightjar, Little Lorikeet and Beautiful Firetail. However, I will be happy if I photograph only a few of them.

Birds of Victoria - #3 - The Little Desert Hooded Robin, Nature Lodge Grounds, Little Desert, VIC

Having arrived late afternoon at the caravan park I was anxious to look around its grounds, and the nearby Shady Gully Reserve, before nightfall to see what was on offer within an area I suspect is subjected to extensive human traffic. I was pleasantly surprised by the different species I encountered during that process which took a little over an hour.

Birds of Victoria - #8 - The Mallee Region Australasian Grebes, Hard Hill Tourist Reserve, Wedderburn, VIC

I couldn’t believe how quickly I came across one of the ‘firsts’ on my list, a Black-faced Monarch, within the Reserve, less than 50 mtrs from our cabin.

Birds of Victoria - #8 - The Mallee Region Peaceful Dove, Australian Inland Botanic Gardens, Buronga, NSW

I also came across – Superb Fairy-wren, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Eastern Yellow Robin, Australian Magpie, Red Wattlebird, Brown Thornbill, Rainbow Lorikeet, Golden Whistler, Satin Bowerbird (Female), Bell Miner, Pied Currawong, Wonga Pigeon, White-throated Treecreeper, Grey Fantail and Australian Raven.

Birds of Victoria - #7(a) - East Gippsland (Lakes Entrance / Bairnsdale) White-browed Scrubwren, Water Treatment Plant, Lakes Entrance, VIC

By this time, I was getting pretty excited about the prospects for the next three full days encompassing several sites identified in Birdlife’s East Gippsland Birding Guide (Mallacoota) the detail of which can be obtained from –

Birds of Victoria - #8 - The Mallee Region Black Kite, Australian Inland Botanic Gardens, Buronga, NSW

http://www.birdlife.org.au/images/uploads/branches/documents/EG_Mallacoota_Birding_Guide_Brochure.pdf

Birds of Victoria - #5 - South Gippsland Varied Sittella, Wonthaggi Bushland Reserve, VIC

Sadly, in my haste to see as much birdlife before nightfall, I went into the reserve in a short-sleeved shirt and without my usual coating of insect repellent. I certainly paid a heavy price for that oversight as there is a large population of hungry mosquitoes living within that area.

We dined at the local Golf Club that evening where the menu is extensive and good value.

Addendum – 23 October 2017

Birds of Victoria - #4 - Chiltern Region Brown Treecreeper, Mt. Pilot National Park, Chiltern, VIC

I spent more time, this morning, within Shady Gully Reserve and came across another ‘first’ on my list, a Brown Gerygone.

Birds of Victoria - #3 - The Little Desert White-winged Chough, Nature Lodge Grounds, Little Desert, VIC

In addition to the sightings of yesterday afternoon, I also came across – Eastern Whipbird, Crimson Rosella, Golden Whistler, Eastern Spinebill and White-winged Chough.

We then headed off on a drive to some of the sites featured in the abovementioned Birding Guide.

Birds of Victoria - #7(c) – East Gippsland (Mallacoota) Australian Pelican, Mallacoota, VIC

Firstly, we visited Bastion Point where we saw – Pied Oystercatcher, Silver Gull, Whistling Kite, Australian Pelican, Great / Little Pied Cormorant, Superb Fairy-wren and Scarlet Honeyeater.

Birds of Victoria - #5 - South Gippsland Australian (Richard's) Pipit, Desalination Plant, Wonthaggi, VIC

We then drove to the other side of Mallacoota township where we stopped at Buckland’s Jetty. There, we saw White-faced Heron, Australian White Ibis, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Brown Thornbill and Australian Pelican.

Birds of Victoria - #1 (c) - Phillip Island (Shearwater Estate Wetlands) Black Swan, Shearwater Estate Wetlands, Phillip Island, VIC

On the way back to our caravan park we stopped at one of the many small boat jetties along the Wallagaraugh River where hundreds of Little Black Cormorant were resting on a jetty’s woodwork. It was an extraordinary sight with all of these cormorants occupying ever available resting place.

Birds of Victoria - #8 - The Mallee Region Apostlebird, Australian Inland Botanic Gardens, Buronga, NSW

Not far away, down Lakeside Road, we walked along the boardwalk which crosses a lagoon and extends further south along the shoreline of the Wallagaraugh River in the direction of Bird Island. During this walk, we saw a flock of Royal Spoonbill resting on the RHS behind the lagoon boundary, Pacific Black Duck, Australian Wood Duck, Chestnut Teal, Australian White Ibis, Great Egret, Welcome Swallow, Brown Thornbill, New Holland Honeyeater, Whistling Kite and Swamp Harrier.

Birds of Victoria - #4 - Chiltern Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Mt. Pilot National Park, Chiltern, VIC

Our next stop was near Mallacoota’s airport which is partially surrounded by heathland vegetation and thick virgin forest. My target species there were more on my ‘lifer first’ list, but primarily, Southern Emu-wren and Tawny-crowned Honeyeater. Whilst I didn’t see any evidence of the emu-wren, I was pleased with a distant sighting of another ‘first’, a Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, high in the canopy of a tall gum-tree next to the terminal building.

Addendum – 24 October 2017

Birds of Victoria - #7(a) - East Gippsland (Lakes Entrance / Bairnsdale) Australian King-Parrot, Cherry Tree Track, Toorloo Arm, Lakes Entrance, VIC

Our travels today took us, firstly, to Double Creek Nature Trail, off Genoa–Mallacoota Road where we walked through the bush along a pleasant well formed path taking around 30 mins. During this time, we saw – Bell Miner, Brown Gerygone, Pied Currawong, Red Wattlebird, Australian Magpie, Brown Thornbill and Australian Raven.

Birds of Victoria - #7(c) – East Gippsland (Mallacoota) Satin Bowerbird (Female), Gipsy Point, VIC

We continued on that road and turned off to visit the remote but extremely peaceful settlement of Gipsy Point.

Birds of Victoria - #7(b) – East Gippsland (Orbost Region) Darter, Snowy River Mouth, Marlo, VIC

Having parked near the main jetty, I followed a rough walking track on the far side of the boat-ramp which meanders through foreshore vegetation along the edge of the Wallagaraugh River.

Birds of Victoria - #7(c) – East Gippsland (Mallacoota) Brown Gerygone, Shady Gully Reserve, Mallacoota, VIC

It wasn’t long before I came across Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Red-browed Finch, Rufous Whistler, Eastern Yellow Robin, Brown Thornbill, Bell Miner, White-browed Scrubwren and Eastern Whipbird.

Birds of Victoria - #8 - The Mallee Region Mallee Ringneck, Australian Inland Botanic Gardens, Buronga, NSW

Back at the carpark, I walked around the landscaped centrepiece of the settlement where I sighted – New Holland Honeyeater, Rainbow Lorikeet, Red Wattlebird, Australian Magpie, Welcome Swallow, Australian Raven, Satin Bowerbird (Female), White-faced Heron and Crested Pigeon.

Birds of Victoria - #2 - Ballarat / Bendigo Region Little Pied Cormorant, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat, VIC

This little settlement must be one of the most peaceful settings I have ever come across.

Birds of Victoria - #1(d) – Phillip Island (Fisher's Wetland and Churchill Island) Brown Thornbill, Fisher's Wetlands, Phillip Island, VIC

We then returned to Mallacoota and made our way to Tip Beach where I had hoped to see another ‘first’, the Beautiful Firetail. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see any Firetails but I did get some close-ups of more Superb Fairy-wren, New Holland Honeyeater, Brown Thornbill and Silvereye.

Birds of Victoria - #5 - South Gippsland Dusky Moorhen, Wonthaggi Wetlands, VIC

Way out to sea there were several pods of Humpback Whales on their return journey south. Many were breaching and provided a good opportunity to test the performance of my long-range camera lens. Thumbs-up for Sigma, there !!!

Birds of Victoria - #7(c) – East Gippsland (Mallacoota) Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Shady Gully Reserve, Mallacoota, VIC

Finally, we returned to the airport to see if I could get a better photograph of the Tawny-crowned Honeyeater I spotted the previous day. Unfortunately, it wasn’t on show while we were there.

Birds of Victoria - #7(c) – East Gippsland (Mallacoota) Rufous Whistler, Gipsy Point, VIC

We then had our evening meal at the local hotel / motel in Mallacoota. Again, there was an extensive range of meals on offer and we were happy with the quantum and quality of our choices.

Addendum – 25 October 2017

Today’s persistent rainfall kept me indoors for much of the day but gave me a chance to catch up with the editing of my trip photographs thus far.

Birds of Victoria - #5 - South Gippsland White-faced Heron, Waratah Hills Vineyard, Fish Creek, VIC

However, by mid-afternoon the rainfall ceased and I headed off to visit Shipwreck Creek which is out past the airport at the end of Betka Road. Whilst I knew it was a fairly rough road to get there, I changed my mind and abandoned the idea entirely when I saw a sign indicating a further 8 Kms of semi off-road going. What I really needed was a high-clearance vehicle as my normal street sedan wouldn’t suffice.

Birds of Victoria - #9 - Heidelberg Region Eastern Rosella, Main Yarra Trail, Viewbank, VIC

On my way back, I called in to Secret Beach carpark and stopped at the top of the well formed path down to the beach. It was a high vantage point which overlooked a beautiful gully with diverse vegetation that may well host a wide range of birdlife. Unfortunately, all I saw were an Eastern Spinebill and more of the region’s dominant New Holland Honeyeaters.

I then called into the airport area I visited the past two days and took up a position amongst some vegetation that would hide my presence from any passing birdlife.

For almost an hour I waited in vain.

Then I saw some movement within a nearby row of low-growth heath. Shortly afterwards, there was a flash of blue for about 3 mtrs through that vegetation which I have no doubt was a Southern Emu-wren but it was far too quick for me to photograph and identify positively.

Birds of Victoria - #7(c) – East Gippsland (Mallacoota) Eastern Yellow Robin, Shady Gully Reserve, Mallacoota, VIC

As if this ‘flash of blue’ was the signal for other species to reveal themselves, Eastern Spinebill, Little Wattlebird, Eastern Yellow Robin, Brown Thornbill and Satin Bowerbird joined in the display. It really was a worthwhile result after my lengthy wait although I was disappointed that my primary quarries, the emu-wren and the Tawny-crowned Honeyeater failed to appear in my camera lens.

This session brought my first-time birding experiences around Mallacoota to a close.

Birds of Victoria - #4 - Chiltern Region Turquoise Parrot, Mt. Pilot National Park, Chiltern, VIC

Whilst I didn’t photograph all of the ‘lifer firsts’ on my target list, I did tick off a few and regard the overall outcome as a resounding success. Above all, I thoroughly enjoyed the chase and hope to return to this lovely region some other time and during a different season.

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