Daily Summary of Birds Seen in SE Victoria
Day 1 – We Drove to Buchan from Melbourne at mid-morning on this first day observing a few Cattle Egrets and lots of Straw-necked and Australian White Ibis. We had one stop at a small park in the town of Stratford for an outdoor lunch. There was a large flock of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Little Corellas in the surrounding trees. An active group of Weebills worked through some trees around a small pond, and a Red Wattlebird watched us eat. A Varied Sitella was also observed. Crimson Rosellas watched our every move and that species would hang tight on nearly every stop we made the rest of the trip.
We arrived at our Buchan accommodations late in the afternoon. We went down to the reserve (Buchan Caves Park) just a few hundred meters away. White-winged Choughs were everywhere near the camping area and cooperative almost to the point of tame. Yellow-faced and White-naped Honeyeaters flickered around a few trees underneath some feeding Eastern Grey Kangaroos. That night a Common Brushtail Possum came down from the roof of the bed and breakfast and actually ate a banana out of our hands.
Day 2 – This morning we took the Falls trail at Buchan Caves Park. This is a very productive loop trail that required only a couple of hours. Rufous Whistler was quite common on the trail as were Brown Thornbills (a species common everywhere really). A Shining Bronze Cuckoo and a Scarlet Robin appeared early on, but the mimicking crys of the Superb Lyrebird dominated our attention for the most part. At least three were observed on the loop back around the creek. An Eastern Whipbird was finally seen as we had several mimicking lyrebirds confusing us with whipbird imitations.
We then drove up to Snowy River National Park where we stopped to eat lunch at Little River Park.
There were several Yellow-faced Honeyeaters Yellow-Tufted Honeyeaters and another Scarlet Robin. Buff-rumped Thornbill also made a late appearance.
After leaving that park, stops along the way to the campsite produced a pair of Spotted Quail-Thrush on a hillside, a Grey Currawong posing nicely so we could identify it from the more common Pied Currawong, and a family of Brown Treecreepers. A quick stop at the Snowy River headwaters also produced a Jacky Winter, a White-throated Treecreeper, three Wedge-tailed Eagles soaring, both Spotted and Striated Pardalotes, a Silvereye, and nearly a dozen Superb Fairy-wrens. That night before the sun went down, three Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos made the first of several appearances on this trip.
Day 3 – Looking over the beautiful Snowy River valley that morning, we had a collection of the usual suspects including Bell Miners, thornbills, treecreepers, and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. After breaking camp, we stopped not far from the site and found a large honeyeater feeding area. We saw lots of Yellow-tufteds, but also several White-naped Honeyeaters and Crescent Honeyeaters.
The way down from Snowy River National Park on Deddick River Road (and back up again to Errinundra National Park ) was filled with interesting sightings. An immature Pallid Cuckoo posed cooperatively on a fence. Dusky Woodswallows were seen at several locations. A picnic stop produced Golden Whistler, Satin Flycatcher, and the crys of a Grey Butcherbird in the distance.
The drive into the spectacular Errinundra National Park was rather insignificant until we finally stopped. The tree canopy is high in this temperate rainforest. Several female and immature robins were about, and we finally got a decent look at one female to make the call of Flame-colored Robin. A picnic stop produced Rufous Fantail, Black-faced Monarch, Striated Thornbill, and a great look at a Pilotbird. A short drive to the next stop provided good looks at several Satin Bowerbirds. A walk up Mt. Morris Trail produced good looks at Gang-Gang Cockatoos.
Day 4 - After camping that night, we headed out early that next morning. As we broke camp, I happened to attract a Lewin’s Honeyeater with a squeaking noise. We saw another Spotted Quail-Thrush before picking up two more passengers on the second leg of the trip.
Just across from the small airport, a wetland produced both Hardhead duck and a Purple Swamphen. After picking up two passengers at the Bairnsdale Airport, our next stop was at the Lakes Lookout car park where he observed our only Great Egret and a pair of Pied Oystercatchers. We then moved to Raymond Island (by Ferry) to see Koalas and birds. The short ferry ride produced Great Cormorants, Australian Pelican, Chestnut Teal, Dusky Moorhen, Euasian Coot, Pacific and Silver gulls, and a Crested Tern. The picnic area had a nice cooperative Koala in the tree at the picnic area. Also at the picnic area, we had a Noisy Miner, and good scope views of an Eastern Rosella feeding young. Driving around the island, we saw an Olive-backed Oriole and topped it off with a weird marsupial known as an Echidna.
Our final stop was in the town of Nowa-Nowa where we explored a private refuge for marsupials, bats, and owls. On the way in, an adult Superb Lyrebird ambled across the dirt road. In the evening, we saw several gliders (Sugar, Yellow-bellied and Greater), two species of possums, and Red-necked Wallabies (an impressive variety of marsupials in general) and the refuge manager pointed out a Powerful Owl calling in the distance.
Day 5 – This is the day we drove down to the Bemm River for a boat tour of an interesting set of lakes leading into the ocean. We stopped briefly at out boat captain’s home where he was feeding Australian King Parrots, Crimson Rosellas and a couple of little Red-browed Firetails. We happily watched a Wedge-tailed Eagle perched on a snag and catching some sun just before arriving at the boat ramp. As we got in the water, we watched a red-bellied black snake crawl into Short-tailed Shearwater nest burrow and thankfully come out with nothing. The shearwaters had fledged a month earlier. It started to rain a bit on the lake, but not before we had seen a Musk Duck and two breath-taking White-bellied Sea Eagles perched in a tree. A beach environment provided us with excellent looks of Red-capped and Hooded Plover.
We managed to laugh our way through the sudden rain storm and park the boat at a little island for lunch. Little Wattlebirds and New Holland Honeyeaters were present in numbers at the picnic site. We went back to the van and headed for one of the many parks around Cape Conran. From most vantage points, one can see Australasian Gannets from the beach. Several White-throated Needletails were observed on a beach walk that followed (as well as a spectacular rainbow).
Day 6 – Through most of the day, we visited several types of subtropical rainforests. Some intermittent rain kept us from seeing as much as we would have, but it was not enough to keep us from our itinerary. The first new bird was a Bassian Thrush walking along the road of a rainforest. Lunch stop allowed us some time to examine Pied Currawongs and Australian Magpies up close as they were very interested in what we were eating. A Darter circled overhead on our walk through an interesting stand of cabbage tree palms in another rainforest, and another Rufous Fantail made an appearance.
That evening, we went to another park on Cape Conran where we had a gourmet dinner in a secluded area near the beach. A Sooty Oystercatcher and a White-faced Heron were on the rocks near our beach.
I also found a Laughing Kookaburra on the ground that had apparently hit a tree. He (or she) was barely alive and unfortunately did not survive the hour. It was an extraordinary bird close up as I put it in a dark box hoping it would revive. Although I had seen the bird many times already on the trip, its calls had made it a personal favorite of mine. I was sorry to see it expire.
We held baby wombats that evening at dinner as a care-giver from a nearby rehab center was kind enough to bring them over for us to observe.
Day 7 – On our last day, we drove to the Snowy River estuary where it begins to run into the ocean. On a small wetland before the beach, we had several new birds including Australian Shelduck, Australasian Shoveler, Grey Teal, Pacific Black Duck, Royal Spoonbill, and two White-fronted Chats flying from one grassy paddock to another.
A walk at the beach estuary produced good views of Musk Parakeets in a banksia tree and another sighting of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos. My best view of Whistling Kite was also observed here, and I was told there was a sighting of an immature White-bellied Sea Eagle from some other members of the group..
Finally, the afternoon drive back produced three separate sightings of Emus in pastureland along the roads.
It was spectacular trip in a variety of habitats, and I can’t compliment my guide enough for accommodating me with her knowledge of the birds while on a general natural history wildlife tour. The tour’s prime focus is the spectacular scenery of SE Victoria and the interesting variety of marsupials, but I was able to squeeze an impressive 120 species into the trip with her help. Considering there is virtually no information on the status and distribution of birds in these remote locations (published or on the Internet), I was quite happy with the outcome.
Notes - I did not count Grey Butcherbird or Powerful Owl on my personal list because I did not see them, but I felt obliged to put them on the trip list since they were identified by native Australians who knew their calls. I added Little Raven rather liberally since they had been the dominant corvid in Melbourne, but I can’t say I actually nailed an identification with any call notes or other diagnostic feature.