Photograph: Andi Stevenson (Pink-eared Ducks (the stripy ones) with several Pacific Black Duck & Grey Teal).
10 of our group made the trip to Euroa on a mild autumn morning. As we looked into the Euroa Water Treatment ponds, we saw good numbers of ducks, including Australasian Shoveler, a threatened species in Victoria, and Pink-eared Duck which has a lovely striped body. Also seen were several Hoary-headed Grebe, a pair of Chestnut Teal, and a few Black Duck and Grey Teal. An adjacent pond had 17 Black-fronted Plover on the mudflats. Details of birds recorded at the plant can be viewed on the eBird web site at https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S55195784
We then headed to the Euroa Arboretum just across the road, where the very dry conditions meant few birds were seen. A White-faced Heron was seen well beside the dam, and a few Red Wattlebirds, Eastern and Crimson Rosellas flew past us. A Grey Fantail was also seen well. Some of us then bought a few plants from the Arboretum nursery. The Arboretum bird list can be viewed on eBird at https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S55195449
Photographs: Margaret Walshe
Our next outing will be to Reef Hills State Park on the outskirts of Benalla, on Thursday 9th May 2019. We will meet at the Seniors Building car park at 9.30am for a morning walk. We will visit an area of the park that is closed to vehicle access from June to November.
Please wear sturdy shoes and bring your binoculars and any food or drink you require for the morning. A folding chair would also be useful as we plan to spend time watching birds visit one of the dams in the park.
Fourteen participants attended our outing on 14 March, enjoying a leisurely walk around the southern half of Lake Benalla. The lake has been a drought refuge for birds over our very hot and dry summer, and we were pleased to record 32 different species for the morning. There were a lot of small bush birds around the bridge on to Jaycee Island, including Spotted and Striated Pardalotes, Red-browed Finches, White-browed Scrubwren, White-browed Treecreeper and a good number of Superb Fairy-wrens. And there was the beautiful Azure Kingfisher which flashed past under the bridge and quickly disappeared downstream.
Thanks Margaret Walshe for the photos. For a complete list of the birds recorded, please see our eBird list at https://ebird.org/australia/view/checklist/S54160519
Next outing Thursday 11 April 2019 to Euroa.
Please note we will not be able to do the planned walk along Holland’s Creek via Willis Little Drive. Instead we make a morning visit Euroa, looking over the fence for water birds at the water treatment plant, then going to the nearby Euroa arboretum.
We will meet as usual in the car park behind the Seniors Building in Benalla at 9.30am on Thursday 11 April. Please wear comfortable footwear and bring binoculars and any food and drink you require. The arboretum will be open for native plant sales when we visit.
Our first activity for 2019 will be on Thursday 14 March. I only recently found out I had written the wrong date on the hand out on U3A enrolment day, so 7 March is wrong. Apologies for the confusion. Our walks will be on the second Thursday in March, April and May.
Please meet in the car park behind the Seniors Building at 9.30am, for a morning walk around the southern section of Lake Benalla, which includes Jaycee Island. The lake track provides an excellent introduction to the birds of our region, because it supports a good variety of water birds and bush birds. Please bring a water bottle and any food you require. You will enjoy the walk more if you have binoculars and comfortable shoes.
Please note that the walk will be automatically cancelled if it is a day of Total Fire Ban.
Mobile 0447 625755
Visit to Glenrowan West Thursday 8 November 2018
Our final activity for the year was a visit to Pauline and Brent’s property at Glenrowan West, on a cool but sunny morning. Pauline led us to the bushland area of the property on a steep hillside, then to a dam with mature eucalypts and wattles providing shelter for birds coming in to drink and bathe, before we returned to the house to admire the views and enjoy a shared outdoor lunch.
Honeyeaters were a feature of the visit, with 8 species recorded. The best of them was a male Black Honeyeater feeding near the dam. This tiny bird is a rare visitor from inland Australia, perhaps driven south by drought conditions there. Others included Fuscous, Yellow-tufted, Yellow-faced, Brown-headed and White-plumed Honeyeaters. Of interest also were White-winged Trillers and White-browed and Masked Woodswallows feeding on the ground in a paddock and perched along a fence. We had good views of a pair of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes and an Echidna. Smaller bush birds such as Weebills, Buff-rumped Thornbills and White-throated Gerygones were more difficult to observe. There were also plenty of birds around the house with bottlebrushes and grevilleas in flower.
Thanks to our hosts for a most enjoyable morning. An impressive 39 bird species were recorded. Thanks to Andrea Stevenson for providing the photos!
A small but enthusiastic group headed to Reef Hills State Park for some springtime birding on 11 October. Despite the dry conditions, there were plenty of birds to be seen. A group of White-winged Choughs was drinking at a roadside puddle, and further down the road we had good views of three Dusky Woodswallows. A pair of White-browed Woodswallows and a White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike were difficult to see as they flew ahead of us, but a Wedge-tailed Eagle and a Little Eagle were spotted soaring overhead. We found an area in the south west of the park which had lots of bird song and good numbers of small bush birds, including Red-capped Robin, Western Gerygone, Varied Sittellas, Fuscous Honeyeaters, Grey Fantails, White-throated Treecreeper, a few thornbills and best of all a Turquoise Parrot.
Photographs - Marg Walshe
Although we didn’t walk very far, from a birding point of view it was a very successful morning as we recorded 32 species. For details, please see eBird checklist:
Our final outing for 2018 will be held on Thursday 8 November, when we will visit Pauline’s property at Glenrowan West. Please meet at the Seniors building car park at 9.30 am. Following our bird walk around the property, we are invited to stay on for a picnic lunch while enjoying the superb views from the property, so please bring a plate to share. As usual, also come with a hat, water and binoculars, and wear sturdy shoes. It promises to be a most enjoyable way to finish the year.
Our group was fortunate to visit private property in the Upotipotpon district on Thursday 13 September. We had a warm sunny spring morning to enjoy a guided walk around the bushland, looking for birds as well as identifying a few waxlip and leopard orchids among the shrub cover.
Highlight was a pair of resident Tawny Frogmouths roosting close to the house. We also found a pair of Eastern Yellow Robins, and had close views of a party of White-browed Babblers feeding on the ground. A Collared Sparrowhawk landed high in a tree. There were lots of fresh scratchings of Painted Button-quail, but these shy birds remained elusive. Owner Mike said one bird walked across the driveway as soon as we left the property. We saw a number of Brown Treecreepers, White-plumed Honeyeaters and Superb Fairy-wrens. The locally rare Gilbert’s Whistler was heard calling from over the road, but did not show itself.
Thanks to owners Ann and Mike. It was a pleasure look for birds on a bush block that retains much of the original native vegetation of the area.
22 bird species recorded. eBird list https://ebird.org/australia/view/checklist/S48712603
'Private property in the Upotipotpon area, eucalyptus woodland & open grassland. Nest of white-winged Chough, made of mud & grass that had remained intact after falling from a tree.'.Photographs--Marg Walshe
Next outing Thursday 11 October to Reef Hills State Park
Please note this change to our program. We will visit private property in Glenrowan West in November, and not in October as previously announced.
For Reef Hills, we will meet in the car park behind the Seniors building at 9.30am on Thursday 11 October. As usual, please wear sturdy walking shoes, and bring water, any nibbles you want for the morning, and binoculars if you have them. Although it has been very dry, we should enjoy some good spring birding at our local Reef Hills park. We plan to finish by 12 noon.'
"U3A Birdwatching resumes next month on Thursday 13 September, when we will visit private property in the Upotipotpon district, about 35 minutes west of Benalla. The property has a mix of eucalypt woodland and open grassland.
We will meet in the car park behind the Seniors building, ready to leave by 9.30am. Please bring anything you want to eat or drink for the morning, a sun hat and binoculars if you have them, and wear sturdy footwear. We plan to head back to Benalla about midday.
For your diary, our following outing is on Thursday 11 October when we will visit private property in the Lurg district. The last outing for the year is on Thursday 8 November, destination to be advised.
Look forward to seeing you in some Spring sunshine!"
Euroa Arboretum, Seven Creeks walking track followed by a welcome hot meal by the fire at the Seven Creeks Hotel
U3A Bird watching group finally made it to Euroa on Thursday 31 May, after our planned outing earlier in May was cancelled due to bad weather.
The Euroa Arboretum is located south of the town, between the freeway and the old Hume Highway. Although we had fine weather, there was a cold southerly wind, so our group of seven headed for the Arboretum nursery to check out the plants for sale. They have an impressive range of local native plants propagated mainly from seed collected in the area. After we loaded our purchases into our vehicles, we then went looking for birds. Good numbers of Superb Fairy-wrens live in the grounds and were easy to see. Not so the other little birds. We had a fleeting glimpse of 2 Weebills, Australia’s smallest bird, and heard a Grey Shrike-thrush. Several Red Wattlebirds and White-plumed Honeyeaters were also seen, but it was a good day for bush birds to shelter from the wind.
Our next stop was at the Seven Creeks walking track. We started our walk near the Euroa caravan park, and headed south towards the freeway, enjoying the sunny, sheltered conditions. Best birds here were a male Golden Whistler, a Crimson Rosella and good views of a flock of Striated Thornbills feeding at eye level beside the track. They are usually in the tree tops. In the bird field guide, we compared Weebills and Striated Thornbills, and came away with a better knowledge of two of our smallest bush birds.
We then headed to Seven Creeks Hotel for a welcome hot meal in front of a warm fire, and so ended U3A Bird watching activities for Semester 1.
U3A Bird watching resumes on Thursday 13 September 2018.
The Birdwatching group's planned trip to Euroa on 10 May was cancelled because of a forecast for wet and windy conditions.
Several people expressed an interest in an alternative date later this month and after receiving feedback, Thursday 31st May was decided upon.
The group will meet at the Seniors’ Centre car park a 9.30am, drive to Euroa to visit the Euroa Arboretum, then walk along part of the Seven Creeks track in town, followed by a 12.15pm lunch at Seven Creeks Hotel in Euroa. Here’s hoping for a fine and sunny day
There will be a report of the Euroa trip in the next newsletter.
Thanks for the feedback re the better date for our late May trip to Euroa. It will be held on Thursday 31 May. The other option was for Thursday 24 May, but it impacts a few in our group who attend U3A Garden Appreciation on that day.
We will meet at the Seniors Centre car park at 9.30am, then drive to Euroa, to visit the Euroa Arboretum, then walk along part of the Seven Creeks track in town, followed by a 12.15pm lunch at Seven Creeks Hotel in Euroa.
Here’s hoping for a fine and sunny day.
Our planned trip to Euroa on 10 May was cancelled because of a forecast for wet and windy conditions. That morning in Benalla was actually cold but fine, so maybe Euroa would have been OK too.
Several people have expressed an interest in an alternative date later this month. Could you please advise me if you would like to attend a birding outing to Euroa on either Thursday 24 May or Thursday 31 May. We would meet at the Seniors Centre car park at 9.30am as usual, then drive to Euroa, to visit the Euroa Arboretum, then walk along part of the Seven Creeks track in town, followed by a 12.15pm lunch at Seven Creeks Hotel in Euroa.
I already have preferences from a few people, evenly split between the 2 dates, so please ignore this message if we’ve already discussed it.
Please let me know Yes/No, and what date/s suit by this Friday 18 May. It would help to know also if you’d like to attend lunch at the hotel. I’ll then let everyone know what’s been decided.
First of all, my apologies for bringing the date forward one week for our April outing to Baddaginnie, particularly as changes to the newsletter meant that it was distributed after our outing.
Our group of 14 visited Helen’s property to look for the many bush birds that visit her garden. In addition to six bird baths, Helen also has also filled two old bath tubs, which she has stocked with local native water plants, and they provide an attractive place for birds to drink and bathe. Red-browed Finches and Superb Fairy-wrens were easy to find, but some of the shyer birds could be heard calling but did not show themselves with so many people in the garden. Some of the group walked to a nearby wetland, which had dried out over summer, although we did see a Brown Thornbill there, and a group of White-winged Choughs in a nearby revegetation area on the farm. A shady pergola provided a perfect place for a late morning tea.
Many thanks Helen for hosting our visit. We saw or heard about 20 bird species, among them several Rainbow Bee-eaters, White-plumed Honeyeaters, Welcome Swallows, a Kookaburra and a group of 4 Brown-headed Honeyeaters which visited the old bath near the pergola.
A list of the species recorded can be viewed on eBird at: https://ebird.org/australia/view/checklist/S44984511
Coming up on Thursday 10 May - Bird Watching at Euroa
Please meet at the car park behind the Seniors Building at 9.30am, where we car pool for a trip to Euroa. We will go birding in the morning, followed by lunch at 12.15pm at Seven Creeks Hotel in Euroa. We will do a short walk along Seven Creeks in the town, then visit the Euroa Arboretum on the old Hume Highway south of the town centre. If time permits, we will look through the fence at the adjacent water treatment plant to look for waterbirds on the ponds. As usual, please wear sturdy shoes and bring a water bottle and binoculars if you have them.
If you are interested in coming to lunch in Euroa, please ring or email me by Tuesday 8 May, so I can confirm numbers with the hotel. Ph 5762 5755 or email@example.com
Please note that our birding program will be in recess over winter. Our first outing for semester 2 will be on Thursday 13 September 2018.
Our group of 14 birdwatchers walked around the southern part of Lake Benalla on Thursday 8 March. It was a pleasant morning that became hot by lunchtime.
The water level in the lake was very low, as water authorities work to kill off the last of the aquatic weed Cabomba. Despite this, we had a very successful session of bird watching. Yellow Spoonbills were still nesting, and a total of 8 birds seen. We were close enough to admire the beautiful plumage of male and female Wood Ducks as they walked past our group. We also had close views of Australasian Swamphen and several Darters. It was interesting to watch a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo feeding a noisy begging youngster in a nearby tree. Robyn did well to find the White-throated Gerygone calling nearby, and most people had a good view of this beautiful but tiny songster with its bright yellow breast. Another yellow breasted bird we were lucky to find is the Crested Shrike-tit, although it did not show well in the foliage. Other birds seen included Superb Fairy-wren, Grey Fantail, Striated Thornbill, White-throated Treecreeper, Sacred Kingfisher and Kookaburra.
Photographs: Margaret Walshe
A total of 42 species was recorded. The eBird list can be viewed at
Lake Benalla Thursday 8 March 2018
Our first activity for 2018 will be a gentle stroll around part of the lake, looking for water birds and bush birds. Please meet at 9.30am in the car park behind the Seniors building. We plan to finish around 12 o’clock.
Even if the water level in the lake remains very low, we will still see plenty of waterbirds and bush birds. Binoculars make bird watching much more enjoyable, so if you have a pair please bring them. Feel free to ask me if you would like help on how to adjust the focus for your eyes, so you get a clear picture. Also, you can pick my brains as we walk, and I'll do my best to find and identify as many birds as I can.
You may want to carry a water bottle, a snack and a sun hat. Comfortable walking shoes are advisable.
Mobile 0447 625755
Ten people attended our last activity for 2017 on Thursday 9 November, and what a lovely day it was. We set off along the walking track from the football oval heading east the old Hume Hwy where we crossed the creek for the return walk. We found several nesting birds. One was a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike on a very flimsy nest high in a red gum. Further on a Noisy Friarbird sat in a much more substantial hanging nest near the road bridge on High Street. Also heard near this bridge was the Scarlet Honeyeater, and after a few minutes the bird was spotted in a red gum tree across the road. We had better views of an Olive-backed Oriole, several Eastern Rosellas, Sacred Kingfisher and a tiny, but beautifully marked Spotted Pardalote. It was surprising to see a flock of White-winged Choughs near the creek and not far from houses. We recorded 32 birds during the walk. The bird list can be viewed HERE
We then drove to a private property near Violet Town to eat our lunch in a lovely shady garden. We watched Red-browed Finches and Superb Fairy-wrens hopping around our feet, and listened to a Rufous Whistler calling nearby. Other birds seen here included several Diamond Firetails, Peaceful Doves and Crimson Rosellas. Property owner Roberta showed us the old saucepan in a shed where the Grey Shrike-thrush makes its nest each year and a nest box for Striated Pardalotes. A pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles soared high overhead, and above them was a lone dark morph Little Eagle. We then enjoyed a walk around the large garden, with many plants in flower. Just before we left a male Scarlet Honeyeater showed itself briefly on a yellow flowering sage bush. Roberta was very pleased to finally see one in her garden.
Scarlet Honeyeaters in Benalla
Photo Richard Gregson, Birdlife Murray Goulburn
A lot of Scarlet Honeyeaters are currently visiting Benalla. These tiny birds are usually found down the east coast of Australia, with few coming into Victoria. This spring they arrived in large numbers, probably sent south by a severe drought further north. If you happen to see a tiny, red-headed bird in your flowering bottlebrush or grevillea, that is the male bird. The female is brown. They have been visiting many gardens in Benalla. For a tiny bird, the male has a loud tinkling call.
Just a reminder about our final activity for the year which is on the Thursday after cup day. We are going to Violet Town for a walk along the Honey Suckle Creek walking track. Then we will drive to a farm close to town, to enjoy lunch in a lovely ‘birdy’ garden. You may wish to walk further around the property after lunch.
Please meet at the seniors building car park at 9.30am, so we can car pool to VT. Bring your own morning tea, and food for your lunch. Roberta, our host, will provide tea and coffee for lunch, and should have enough chairs for us.
If you need to contact me, mobile cover willing, my mobile number is 0447 625755.
After discussion with members of the group, we have a new date for our final activity for the year. We will meet in the car park of the Seniors building at 9.30am on Thursday 9 November, for a birding walk along the Honeysuckle Creek track in Violet Town. We will then drive to a nearby property to eat our picnic lunch while enjoying the birds in a lovely garden setting. Please bring your lunch and a thermos or drink, a folding chair and binoculars.
We enjoyed a mild, sunny morning for our visit to Reef Hills on the southern outskirts of Benalla. There was a lot of bird activity near the entrance and we spent some time walking near the dam on Centre Road. The Grey Fantails were easy to see as they flew around us. We later saw 2 of them building a nest beside the road. The Rufous Whistler and White-throated Treecreeper also showed well. Then we had close views of a young Red-capped Robin as it flew to the ground catching insects, and two nearby Buff-rumped Thornbills. Other birds were harder to see, although we could hear many different calls. One was the Painted Honeyeater, an uncommon spring migrant to Reef Hills, but only a couple of people managed to spot it. Nineteen species were seen or heard.
We then drove down Reef Hills Road to the rotunda for morning tea and a chat, and enjoyed views of a male Scarlet Robin and 2 White-throated Treecreepers in the car park. Four other species were recorded. Vaughan then took us on a short walk to enjoy some of the many wildflowers on display in the park.
The bird list for our first stop can be viewed at http://ebird.org/ebird/australia/view/checklist/S39817516
The second stop bird list is http://ebird.org/ebird/australia/view/checklist/S39817682
On Tuesday 3 October, U3A Bird watching group will visit Reef Hills State Park for a morning bird walk. Please meet in the car park at the entrance to Reef Hills at 10am, bringing anything you want to eat or drink during the walk, a chair if you have one and of course binoculars.
Reef Hills is 5 km south of Benalla, and the entrance to the park is off the Midland Highway about 300 metres past the freeway overpass, on your right.
We are hoping for some warm sunny weather, as our September outing to Chiltern to look for Regent Honeyeaters was cancelled due to cold, wet weather.
There will be no outing in November because of the Melbourne Cup day holiday. I am happy instead to run an activity on Tuesday 5 December if members are interested.
In view of the cold, wet weather forecast for tomorrow (Tues 5 Sept), I have decided to cancel our trip to Chiltern.
I will provide details of our next activity on Tues 3 October in due course. I hope we have better luck with the weather then.
U3A Bird watching resumes on Tuesday 5th September after a winter break. We will visit Chiltern Mt Pilot National Park hoping to see a special bird, the endangered Regent Honeyeater. A large number of captive-bred birds were released at Chiltern in autumn, and we hope some will still be feeding in the park. Some of us attended a recent talk in the library by Andy from the Regent Honeyeater revegetation project.
Please meet at 9.30am in the car park behind the new U3A room in the Seniors building off Fawkner Drive. The drive to Chiltern is nearly an hour up the Hume Freeway, so you should bring lunch, a thermos and a folding chair if you have one. Chiltern forest is well known for its birdlife and wildflowers, so it promises to be a lovely early Spring outing.
Fourteen people attended our bird watching walk on a sunny Tuesday morning on 6 June 2017. Vaughan Cowan led us around the northern section of Benalla golf course, an area of red gum bushland with a large dam and not many golfers to interrupt our birding. Vaughan made sure we kept well away from the golfers as we carefully skirted or crossed several fairways.
The golf course is a popular spot with a variety of parrots and cockatoos. We saw a large number of Eastern Rosellas feeding on the fairways. King Parrots were flying through or perched in the trees. Several flocks of noisy Musk Lorikeets were attracted to three flowering ironbark trees beside one fairway. I was surprised to see one Rainbow Lorikeet with them. This is the first one I have seen around Benalla, and seems to be a new record for the area. Rainbow Lorikeets have long been established in Shepparton and Melbourne, and there are good numbers in Seymour, so their spread to Benalla was probably inevitable. The most numerous bird was the Noisy Miner, which thrives in the habitat provided by tree-lined fairways.
In the bushland we found some of our smaller birds; a flock of Striated Pardalotes feeding high in the red gum foliage, several Red-browed Finches in the tall grasses below, and a couple of family groups of Superb Fairy-wrens. Back at the car park, several people saw two Gang-gang Cockatoos landing in a lone tree on the driving range. We then adjourned to the golf club bistro for an enjoyable lunch.
We recorded 23 species for the day. The full bird list can be viewed at
U3A Bird watching will resume on Tuesday 5 September 2017.
Photographs: Sandie Chrimes
Our U3A Bird watching group has been invited to join the U3A Garden appreciation group for a talk at the library this Thursday 22 June at 10am.
The guest speaker is from the Regent Honeyeater team that has been working in the district for some years now, propagating and planting native shrubs and eucalypts to improve habitat for the endangered Regent Honeyeater. The session will end about 12 noon, with time for a cuppa included. There is no need to book.
I hope some of you are able to come along.
We enjoyed the birds and the wonderful scenery at John and Freida’s Chesney Vale property on Tuesday 2 May. There was a cool breeze and birds were hard to find, although we enjoyed great views of a Wedge-tailed Eagle flying overhead. Four Dusky Wood swallows were hawking insects above our heads then landing high in a large eucalypt. It was good to see two Restless Flycatchers, a bird that is becoming increasingly rare in the district. Thirteen bird species were recorded for the morning. Thanks to John and Freida for hosting our visit. We all enjoyed our picnic lunch, Frieda’s cakes and a cuppa afterwards.
Our June activity for 2017 will be on Tuesday 6 June. We will meet at 10am at the Benalla Golf Club on the Midland Hwy. Please park in front of the practice fairway, just north of the main car park. Vaughan Cowan will introduce us to some attractive, wooded areas of the golf course, and a large dam in a quiet corner of the course. The fairways and large trees attract large numbers of birds. A small section of the walk may be a little rough under foot.
We will then have lunch at the golf club. Please let me know by Thursday 1 June if you will be coming to lunch so I can reserve a table. Also let me know if you would like a lift. Ph 5762 5755.
Bring binoculars if you have them, sturdy walking shoes, a water bottle and any nibbles you need en route.
If you would like to know more about birds in the Benalla district and would appreciate help in identifying birds, this group could be for you. The program involves mainly morning walks in local habitats rich in a range of bird life such as Reef Hills, Winton Wetland and Benalla Lake. There will also be one or two all day outings to more distant areas such as the Warby Ranges. Bring along a pair of binoculars to gain more value and enjoyment from this activity.
If you are new to the birdwatching group, check out Birdwatching - Notes for Partici-pants - you will also find a video which may assist you to adjust your binoculars in Kathy's post.
2nd Thursday 9.30am to 12 noon
Semester 1 - March, April and May.
Semester 2 - September, October, November.
Meet at the car park behind the Benalla Senior Citizens Community Centre. Check newsletter for times and details.
Please note that outings are automatically cancelled on days of total fire ban.
Convenor and contact details
Kathy Costello 5762 5755 Mobile 0447625755