Bird-watching in the Broken River Reserve. There were plenty to be be heard, and a good few seen. A lovely outing, and a little more knowledge might have soaked in for some of us...
I have planned a local morning activity at the Broken River Natural Features Reserve, opposite Reef Hills, this Thursday morning. We will meet at the car park behind the Seniors building at 9.30am. Our numbers are still restricted by COVID to a maximum of 10 participants. So please email or ring me if you would like to attend.
It looks as though most of the forecast rain will fall on Wednesday, and it should be pretty clear by Thursday morning. If all else fails we can go to a café for coffee and cake instead.
I would be very interested to know if any of you have seen any Scarlet Honeyeaters in Benalla recently. I heard one calling in Grant Drive 2 days ago. It would be great to see one on Thursday morning. The male is a stunning bright red little bird, and a rare visitor from coastal NSW and Qld to our area. There was an influx of them to Benalla 3 years ago. They particularly like flowering red bottlebrushes, and flowering mistletoe.
Our final activity for 2020 will be a morning visit to the natural features reserve on the Broken River, off Farrell Road just south of Benalla. Please meet at the car park behind the Seniors’ building at 9.30am on Thursday 12 November. You will need a hat and sturdy footwear, a water bottle and binoculars if you have them.
We first visited this location in November 2019 and thoroughly enjoyed the visit and the birdlife to be found there. I hope the weather will allow us to get there this year, as our last two activities have been cancelled because of wet weather. But the countryside and our gardens have flourished with the rain.
At the moment, COVID restrictions require outdoor groups like ours to be limited to 10 people, but I am hopeful this restriction will be eased by 12 November.
I’ve planned a birdwatching activity for up to 10 people this coming Thursday, although BOM is forecasting quite a bit of rain that day. I will check the forecast on Wednesday morning 7 October and send out a group email by midday advising if the outing will go ahead.
Visit to Taminick Gap Road, southern Warbys, via Glenrowan, on Thursday 8 October.
We will visit the southern section of the Warby Ranges off Taminick Gap Road, just north of Glenrowan. Please meet in Glenrowan at 9.30am at the car park near the public toilets in the main street (Gladstone St). As usual bring any food and water you need for the morning, and binoculars if you have them.
We will visit 2 places off Taminick Gap Road. Our first stop is Nason Springs where we will look for woodland birds. The track is on the left about a kilometre past Taafe Road. We’ll then continue up the hill and turn left into the carpark for Ridge Track, which leads to a communications tower. This area has wildflowers, great views as well as birdlife.
If you want to attend, weather permitting, can you please let me know by 6pm Wednesday 7 October.
Ph 5762 5755, Mobile 0447 625755, email firstname.lastname@example.org
U3A Birdwatching outing Thursday 8 October 2020
After a 2 month COVID shut down, it will be good to meet up for another birdwatching activity on Thursday morning 8 October. It was originally planned for August and can now proceed with a limit of 10 participants. We will visit the southern section of the Warby Ranges off Taminick Gap Road, just north of Glenrowan. Please meet in Glenrowan at 9.30am at the car park near the public toilets in the main street (Gladstone St). As usual bring any food and water you need for the morning, and binoculars if you have them.
We will be walking along Ridge Track, which leads to a communication tower and has wonderful views of the surrounding area. We should see some lovely spring wildflowers, and with a bit of luck maybe a Turquoise Parrot or two.
Please book with me by 6pm on Wednesday 7 October if you would like to attend. If anyone wants to drive direct to the Ridge Track carpark on Taminick Gap Road, please advise me when you book.
Ph 5762 5755, Mobile 0447 625755, email email@example.com
Our birdwatching visit on Thursday 13 August to the southern section of the Warby Ranges off Taminick Gap Road, just north of Glenrowan, has been cancelled due to the introduction of Stage 3 Covid-19 restrictions. The walk, which was to start at the track to the communication towers known as the Ridge Track, will be rescheduled after current restrictions are lifted and it is possible again to have groups of 10 participants. Hopefully, spring wildflowers will still be in bloom and we can see Turquoise Parrots in this area.
Keep an eye on emails, the next newsletter and the website for updates. Kathy Costello 5762 5755, Mobile 0447 625755, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nine people attended our walk along the bike track to Winton Wetlands 4km out of Benalla, on Thursday 11 June 2020. The weather was mild and sunny which made for a pleasant morning stroll.
There have been extensive plantings of native shrubs along the channel, and quite a few birds are making good use of this habitat – among them Superb Fairy-wrens, Grey Shrike-thrush, Red-browed Finches and Yellow-rumped Thornbills. We saw 2 Whistling Kites fly overhead, and several Australian Ravens and Little Ravens.
Andi’s photo of an Australian Raven shows its diagnostic throat hackles
And her a photo of a Welcome Swallow allowed us to identify the Tree Martin perched near it.
Rupe explained that concrete structures along the inlet channel lower the water level as it gets closer to the Winton Wetlands. We looked at one structure which allows Kennedy Creek to flow unimpeded above the channel as it heads west towards the railway line. It was flowing strongly after good autumn rains. We walked 2.6km and recorded 25 bird species for the morning. Details on eBird list https://ebird.org/australia/checklist/S71771259
Photographs and caption comments - Andi Stevenson
After a successful outing in June, there will be another birdwatching activity on Thursday morning 9 July.
Due to the latest COVID19 restrictions, the group will be limited to 10 participants. We will walk a section of the bike track to Winton Wetlands, starting on Sydney Road where runs beside the old inlet channel about 4km out of town, and before the Yarrawonga Road turnoff.
We will meet at 10am in the car park on the left, opposite Price Road. This section of the bike track has well established native shrubs along the channel so it provides habitat for a number of native birds, and the adjacent paddocks can be a good area to see raptors.
As usual bring any food and water you need for the morning, and binoculars if you have them.
Please book with me by 6pm on Wednesday 8 July if you would like to attend.
Seven people attended our outing to Winton Wetlands on Thursday 11 June 2020. We were lucky to have a mild sunny morning for our walk along part of the dam wall, near the outlet channel.
The birding was surprisingly good, even though waterbirds were few - just some Black Swans and Black Duck on one of the ponds. We saw quite a few birds in the red gum saplings below the dam wall: Eastern Rosella, Red-rumped Parrot, Superb Fairywren, Striated Pardalote, Yellow-rumped Thornbill and White-plumed Honeyeater.
The most surprising find was a covey of nine Brown Quail sunning themselves on the rocks of the dam wall, until we disturbed them and they flew down into the long grass below. Another good sighting was a Golden-headed Cisticola, a bird that lives in long grass or reeds in wetland areas. It is a tiny bird, about the size of a fairywren. We also recorded several Zebra Finches and 3 Black Wallabies.
Altogether 21 bird species made it into our eBird list for the morning.
It was good to enjoy a morning walk with friends after weeks of COVID19 lockdown. Five of us went on to have lunch at the recently reopened Mokoan Hub café.
Photographs: Birding along the old dam wall at Winton Wetlands. Andrea Stevenson
U3A Birdwatching rescheduled to Thursday 11 June 2020. Visit to Winton Wetlands dam wall and outlet channel.
Now that the Victorian government is allowing groups of up to 20 to gather outdoors from 1 June, it is a good opportunity to reactivate our mothballed U3A Birdwatching program.
We will travel to Winton Wetlands to look for birds around the dam wall area off Lake Mokoan Road. Because of social distancing requirements, we will not be car pooling. If you know how to get there, I suggest you drive in time to meet the group there at 9.45am. It will be a morning walk, so bring binoculars if you have them, any food and water you need for the morning, and wear sturdy shoes. Some parts of the walking track could be a little muddy.
Because the group is limited to 19 (plus leader), please book in with me by 6pm on Wednesday 10 June.
How to get there - Drive north east through Benalla for a few kilometres and turn left into Yarrawonga Rd. Drive a few kilometres, passing Link Rd and Thales on your left. Take the right turn to Winton Wetlands, along Lake Mokoan Road. You can see the long low old dam wall across the paddocks on your right. Turn right at the first Winton Wetlands sign and wait for the group in the parking area near the road. We will then drive in convoy about a kilometre to the outlet channel, where there is parking for quite a few cars.
For those who would prefer to travel in convoy from Benalla, I will meet you at the carpark behind the Seniors building at 9.30am.
Looking forward to seeing you again, and here’s hoping for a mild sunny day.
Ph 0447 625755, email email@example.com
Photographs: Andrea Stevenson Naming/comments: Kathy Costello
24 people attended our birdwatching outing on Thursday 12 March 2020. The group enjoyed a morning stroll around the southern section of Lake Benalla. We set out from the library towards Jaycee Island and returned via the main bridge in town. We saw several Australasian Darters on our walk, and it was interesting to compare these waterbirds with the Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants which were also present on the lake. Andi Stevenson took a lovely photo of a darter drying its wings.
The group also had good views of the two treecreepers found in the woodland area, the White-throated and the Brown Treecreeper. A number of Grey Fantails were seen well as they flitted above our heads, catching insects among the wattles and red gums. The Western Gerygone remained hidden from view, although its beautiful song was oh so close.
Our lake continues to be a treasure for birdwatching. We recorded 32 bird species for the morning. Details can be viewed on this link to our list on the eBird website https://ebird.org/australia/checklist/S66153812
Although U3A activities have ceased until further notice, birdwatching is an enjoyable pursuit which I hope some in the group will be able to continue, without an organised outing.
Binoculars make birdwatching much more enjoyable, helping us to see the smaller birds along the track.
Here is a link to a help sheet put out by Nikon on how to adjust and focus binoculars. I hope you find it helpful.
If you have any questions about using binoculars, I’m happy to assist at our outings.
The birdwatching group will meet for 3 outings in semester 1, 2020. These will run on Thursdays March 12, April 9 and May 14.
Our first birdwatching outing will be a gentle stroll around part of Lake Benalla on Thursday 12 March 2020. The lake at Benalla provides an excellent introduction to the waterbirds and bush birds of the area.
For most of our outings we meet at the car park behind the Seniors Community Building, but for this one please meet at the edge of the lake behind the library, at 9.30am.
Locations for April and May will be advised nearer the time and advertised in the monthly U3A Newsletter. Possible places include Reef Hills State Park, Winton Wetlands or other reserves or private properties near Benalla.
What to bring? Binoculars make birdwatching much more enjoyable. If you have binoculars please bring them. You should also wear sturdy walking shoes and a hat. Bring a water bottle and any food you require for the morning.
Please note that if it is a day of Total Fire Ban, the activity will automatically be cancelled.
The birdwatching group will meet for three outings in Semester 1, 2020. These will run in March, April and May.
Our first birdwatching outing will be a morning walk at Lake Benalla on Thursday 12 March 2020. For most of our outings we meet at the car park behind the Seniors Community Building, but for this one please meet at the edge of the lake behind the library, at 9.30am.
If you have binoculars please bring them. You should also wear sturdy walking shoes and a hat. Bring a water bottle and any food you require for the morning.
Please note that if it is a day of Total Fire Ban, the activity will automatically be cancelled.
Convenor: Kathy Costello
I have obtained copies of the 2020 calendar just published by the Broken Boosey Catchment Management Network. Because the 2019 calendar was well received, I have again obtained a supply and have put them in the RedB4 bookshop for U3A Birdwatching participants. If you would like a copy, just ask at the bookshop.
Each year local people are encouraged to submit their photos of native plants, birds and other interesting animals for possible publication, and the best of them are published in this calendar.
For those who would like to see a list of the birds observed at our outings in September, October and November this year, I have attached the lists entered in the eBird database.
Mt Meg Nature Conservation Reserve, Chesneyvale Road Block
Broken River Natural Features Reserve
Our final birdwatching outing for the year was to the Broken River Natural Features Reserve on Thursday 14 November. Ten of us made the short trip from Benalla, and enjoyed visiting what was a new spot for many. There were a lot of birds in this reserve, with its mix of Grey Box and Red Gum trees. We had close views of a flock of Buff-rumped Thornbills on a large stump, and above them a group of Varied Sittellas working their way along the branches of an adjacent tree. A pair of Leaden Flycatchers were taking turns sitting on their nest in a large Grey Box, while several male White-winged Trillers were seen by most in our group. We then headed to the river bank for morning tea, while finding some different birds in this area. Someone noticed 2 Rainbow Bee-eaters on the embankment across the river. Stunning birds in the sunshine. A pair of Australian Reed-warblers perched on a dead branch in front of us, while a Sacred Kingfisher dived for fish in the river. We eventually located the Dollarbird that was calling from a tall perch.
It was a lovely morning with 30 bird species recorded. The list can be viewed on eBird at https://ebird.org/australia/checklist/S61697061
We will finish our birdwatching program for 2019 at the Broken River Natural Features Reserve on Farrell Road just south of Benalla. I have visited this reserve several times recently and have been impressed by the number of birds present. A few are currently nesting.
Please meet at the Seniors Building car park at 9.30am on Thursday 14 November and bring water and any food you need for the morning. Sturdy shoes, a hat and binoculars are recommended. I hope we have time to sit by the river for morning tea, so if you have a folding chair, bring that also.
The entrance to Farrell Road is on the Midland Highway opposite Reef Hills State Park. The turnoff is on the left about a kilometre past the freeway entrance.
Nine people attended our trip to the Mt Meg Nature Conservation Reserve on Chesney Vale Road on 9 October 2019. The reserve is located in the Chesney hills overlooking Winton Wetlands. It was a lovely spring morning, and we enjoyed watching the bird activity all around us, as well as the spring wildflowers.
Three Rufous Whistlers constantly called and chased each other. We observed 2 pairs of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes, several Grey Fantails and later a Striated Pardalote, all feeding on insects in the canopy. A colourful male Mistletoebird perched in the sun and was admired by everyone. We did well to find a pair of Western Gerygones, small grey warblers with a beautiful song. It was also good to see several spring migrants from northern Australia; 2 male White-winged Trillers and a pair of Sacred Kingfishers.
Photographs - Andrea Stevenson
The walk into the reserve led to Lawford’s Hill. We only followed the track part of the way, but a few people were interested in making another visit to explore this lovely reserve a little further. Most of the group then headed to the nearby Mokoan Hub café for lunch and a coffee.
Our full bird list can be viewed on eBird at https://ebird.org/australia/checklist/S60882378
Next outing Thursday 14 November 2019
We will make a morning visit to the natural features reserve on the Broken River, off Farrell Road just south of Benalla. Please meet at the car park behind the Seniors’ building at 9.30am. You will need a hat and sturdy footwear, a water bottle and binoculars if you have them.
We will make a morning visit to a small bushland reserve on Chesney Vale Road near Winton Wetlands, next Thursday 10 October. Please meet at the car park behind the Seniors building at 9.30am. You will need water, sunscreen, a hat, sturdy shoes and binoculars if you have them.
Would you like to go to the Winton Hub Café for a coffee afterwards, or maybe lunch?? Please let me know if you are interested.
Eight members of our bird watching group made an enjoyable visit to Killawarra Forest at the northern end of the Warby Ranges on 12 September. Instead of our usual morning outing, this time we each brought lunch to make the most of a lovely place for spring bird watching. As we approached the forest, a magnificent Wedge-tailed Eagle flew up from the roadside, carrying a small rabbit. It flew across the road in front of us, then dropped its prey as it was pursued by a magpie.
Our best sighting in the forest was a pair of Hooded Robins flying around Irishtown Track. This is a declining woodland bird that is disappearing from places it has been found in the past. We had good looks at a Pallid Cuckoo calling from high in a dead tree, and were surprised to see a pelican flying over the forest. Some of the other birds we saw included Jacky Winter, Grey Fantail, Rufous Whistler, Dusky Woodswallow and a flock of 18 White-winged Choughs. There were also good numbers of honeyeaters and thornbills which are always a challenge to observe. We also saw a few Leopard Orchids, Pink Fingers and Blue Fingers while walking at the old oval. At one point we were looking for babblers, and someone (was it Bev?) described us as a group of Grey-crowned Babblers. Much laughter.
Photo Andrea Stevenson
Next outing Thursday 10 October 2019 to Chesney Hills
This will be a morning visit to a reserve off Chesney Vale Road. Please meet in the car park behind the seniors building at 9.30am, bringing water and any food you need for the morning. As usual, sturdy shoes, a sun hat and sunscreen are advised.
"Thursday's U3A Bird Watching Group visited the lovely Killawarra section of the Warbys. Knowledgeable leader Kathy's keen eyes spotted many birds our eyes missed, and she identified those we couldn't see just by their calls. Early wildflowers underneath golden wattles in full bloom also provided pleasant viewing.
One sudden clap of thunder early in the morning was followed by a perfect day. We even fitted in lunch under the trees, before another round of bird watching at The Oval clearing. Thanks Kathy for an enjoyable day's outing."
*P.S. Thanks to Rupert for teaching us a new dance...the Ants Nest Hip Hop.
Report of visit by Goulburn Valley U3A Bird-watching group to Reef Hills State Park on Wednesday 21 August 2019.
Six members of our Benalla Bird-watching group joined the visitors from the GV U3A, on a visit to Reef Hills. We spent a mild, sunny morning in the south west corner of the park. There was a lot of bird activity here, as a number of White Box trees were flowering, attracting a number of honeyeaters and lorikeets. As we walked along the track we came across a number of smaller bush birds, such as wrens, thornbills, treecreepers and sittellas. Most people headed off about lunch time, but some of us also visited a drier part of the park in Wattle Road, finding a few more birds in that area. It was good to have a chance to chat with another group like ours. Perhaps we can arrange another joint activity sometime in the future.
Here is the link to the bird list for the day, compiled by GV group leader Don Roberts. 31 bird species were recorded. https://ebird.org/australia/view/checklist/S59168734
On Thursday 12 September 2019, we will visit Killawarra Forest, a box ironbark forest in the northern section of the Warby-Ovens National Park.
Please meet at 9.30am in the car park behind the Seniors building. Killawarra is a great place to visit in springtime, with lots of bird activity and a lovely display of wattles and other native shrubs. For this reason, we will stay and have lunch in the forest, so bring your lunch and a folding chair if you have one.
Goulburn Valley U3A Birdwatching Group, based in Shepparton, will visit Benalla on Wednesday 21 August 2019. They will spend most of the day at Reef Hills State Park on the southern edge of Benalla. Our Benalla U3A Bird-watching group has been invited to join them for the morning, and to stay on for lunch and beyond if interested. I will accompany the group for their visit, and bring my own lunch and a chair. If you would like to join our GV visitors, please meet at the Rose Gardens near Weary Dunlop at 10am.
Our own bird-watching program resumes on Thursday 12 September, with two more outings in October and November. Details will be provided in the September newsletter.
Our trip in 9th May to Reef Hills on the southern outskirts of Benalla was the final outing for our group this semester. Eight of us, rugged up on a cold, cloudy day, headed to the south west area of the park around Baines and Centre Roads. Red Wattlebirds were present in large numbers, feeding in a few flowering eucalypts and keeping smaller honeyeaters at bay. We had good views of two groups of White-browed Babblers as they crossed the road in front of us. It was much easier than craning our necks looking for small birds in the tree tops in poor light. We finally left the Wattlebirds behind, locating several Yellow-tufted and White-naped Honeyeaters in the canopy, as well as two beautiful male Golden Whistlers. Thanks to those who brought some home-made slices for an enjoyable morning tea to finish the outing.
Details of the 13 bird species recorded at Reef Hills can be viewed on the eBird web site at https://ebird.org/australia/view/checklist/S56645504
Photos Margaret Walshe
U3A Bird-watching will take a winter break, resuming on Thursday 12 September, with 2 more outings in October and November. We have also been invited to join the Goulburn Valley U3A Bird-watching group which will visit Benalla on Wednesday 21 August. More details later.
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.
Convenor and contact details
Kathy Costello 5762 5755 Mobile 0447625755
2nd Thursday 9.30am to 12 noon
Covid Hiatus - meetings are scheduled to fit into Covid regulations!
'Normal' years - Six meetings:
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.
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