November - Nason Springs, Warby Ranges
We had an excellent birdwatching outing to Nason Springs, on Taminick Gap Road in the southern Warbys, on 10 November. In the first 15 minutes we had views of four raptors: pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles, a Whistling Kite, a Little Eagle and a Brown Falcon. This is a great area to view raptors as they fly above the hills. When they had all disappeared from view, the woodland birds appeared along the track beside the gully. It was a day for black and white birds. In addition to Australian Magpies, Magpie-larks and Willie Wagtails, we had lovely views of 2 of our rarer black and white woodland birds: Restless Flycatcher and a male Hooded Robin. Then a beautiful small finch, the Diamond Firetail, landed nearby. We walked a little way up the hill for eye-level views of a tiny female Mistletoebird. Attached photo by Andie Stevenson. Other birds of note included Rainbow Bee-eater, Brown Treecreeper, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and Red-rumped Parrot. All up we recorded 26 bird species for the morning.
Photographs - Andi Stevenson
Here is the link to the bird list on the eBird website: https://ebird.org/australia/checklist/S122324294
"Listen out for the loud, cackling calls of Dollarbirds raising their young in the River Red Gums around the lake"... Kathy
Unfortunately our October outing to the northern part of the Warby Ranges was cancelled due to wet weather. It’s hard to plan outdoor activities with any confidence during our soggy spring! Let’s hope we have some fine weather for our last activity for this year.
October has brought Dollarbirds back to Lake Benalla from northern Australia. Listen for their loud cackling calls, as they fly above the tree tops catching insects on the wing. In flight they have a large white patch under each wing. They are chunky birds, dark blue-green in colour and with a bright red bill. Dollarbirds are spring breeding migrants to northern Victoria and raise their young in hollows in the River Red Gums around the lake.
Next outing to Nason Springs, Warby Ranges Thursday 10 November 2022
This outing, to Nason Springs in the Warby Ranges on Thursday 10 November, takes us to Taminick Gap Road in the southern part of the Warbys, north of Glenrowan. It is a good birding spot, where the rocky slopes of the range meet the paddocks. We’ll also be looking for some spring wildflowers.
Please meet in the car park behind the Seniors building at 9.30am. Access is from the continuation of Carrier St next to the Fire Station or via the lane past the side entrance to the Seniors building. Bring any food and drink you require for the morning, wear sturdy shoes and a hat. Insect repellent may also be useful.
Binoculars, if you have them, will add to your ability to identify birds in the field.
On Thursday 13 May 2021 eight members of the birdwatching group drove to Pine Gully in the Warby Ranges for a morning walk. We walked down the hill from the car park to the waterfall lookout. Because of the recent dry weather the only water to be found was in 2 small pools at the base of the falls. It’s a beautiful rocky area with scattered native White Cypress Pines and Blakeley’s Red Gum among large boulders, and was a first visit for some in the group. The birds were hard to find, with only 8 species recorded. We had good views of White-throated Treecreepers, Grey Fantails and Buff-rumped Thornbills. Some saw a female Scarlet Robin perched high in a tree.
After morning tea in the car park, most of the group then dropped in at The Hub Café on Lake Mokoan Road home for a coffee and a chat. There was discussion about Magpie-larks that attack windows, despite a variety of disincentives. And Sulphur-crested Cockatoos that somehow know to all arrive at a particular tree to demolish the foliage. One bright spark suggested they use Twitter.
Here is the eBird link to our bird list.
After a winter recess, our birdwatching outings will resume in September.
Photographs/Maps - Andi Stevenson
September - Killawarra Forest
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.
Nine members of Benalla U3A’s Birdwatching group travelled to the Warby Ranges on Thursday 13 October for a walk along Pangarang Track.
We stopped briefly at nearby Pine Gully picnic ground for morning tea before driving to the start of the walk to Pangarang Lookout. The Turquoise Parrot was the birding highlight of the day. We were lucky to see 10 of these birds not far from the car park, and a couple of people in our group had very close views of this stunning little parrot. It is one of the special birds of the Warby Ranges and Chesney Vale Hills.
We saw 11 other species of birds, including a pair of Red-capped Robins, a few Grey Fantails and Rufous Whistlers, 4 Varied Sittellas and a male Mistletoebird. We also saw a White-winged Chough sitting on its large mud nest. Other birds were identified by call, including wrens, weebills and pardalotes, but they were hard to find in the vegetation.
Unfortunately 4WD tracks had caused severe damage to several sections of this lovely walking track, and the damage was made worse by water erosion after recent heavy rain. But the mozzies were loving the moisture. And so were the sun orchids. Large numbers were in bud, but not quite in flower. The group then returned to Pine Gully to sit in the sun for a well-earned lunch.
Our bird list can be viewed on EBird at http://ebird.org/ebird/australia/view/checklist/S32182552
Next outing to Mollyullah district on Thursday 10th November
We will meet at the Barkly St car park at 9.45am, and car pool for our drive to O’Deas Road near Mollyullah. Bring your lunch, thermos and a water bottle. Our visit is to the northern edge of Toombellup State Forest. There is an easy walk along the road, where we can view the birdlife and wildflowers in this pretty valley.
We have been invited to visit a nearby farm where we will have our lunch and a cuppa, while enjoying the views down the valley. John the owner will then lead us on a walk to a waterfall on the property.
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 may also be an all day outing to a more distant location. Bring along a pair of binoculars to gain more value and enjoyment from this activity.
Convenor and contact details
Kathy Costello 5762 5755 Mobile 0447625755
Photographs - Andi Stevenson
Semester 1 - March, April and May.
Semester 2 - September, October, November.
2nd Thursday 9.30am to 12 noon
Meet at the car park behind the Benalla Senior Citizens Community Centre. Check newsletter for times and details.
Please note that outing arrangements may be altered if pandemic regulations change and are automatically cancelled on days of total fire ban.
If you are new to the birdwatching group, check out Birdwatching - Notes for Participants - you will also find a video link in the notes which may assist you to adjust your binoculars