This will be a repeat of the very successful practical nest workshops held over the past eleven years. As usual it will be a very informal outing which again has been timed to coincide with the peak of the breeding season. The morning will start with the usual short presentation including tips on the types of nests built by different species of birds, and how to find nests or nesting behaviour. This will be followed by several hours putting this into practice, with participants breaking into groups looking for breeding behaviour, signs of nesting etc. This will also allow plenty of opportunities for bird watching.
This workshop is particularly suitable for beginners or those relatively new to bird watching, though more experienced members and repeat customers are also very welcome. Though every year has been different, we often don’t walk very far as there is usually is a “hot spot” where most of the breeding activity occurs. To participate, please contact Jack Holland (6288 7840) or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org .
Meet at 8:00 am at the picnic tables at the far end of the car park. Take Northcott Drive up to the start of the Campbell Park Offices, where you take the right fork and keep to the outside of the very large car park, skirting it until you get to the end. Intending participants might also like to look at the Campbell Park map on the COG web site under the Maps, Forms and Lists button. Please remember to take morning tea to have out in the field.
With numbers boosted by some late interest 28 members and guests joined me for the 14th running of this annual and continuing popular event. Again the e-mailing of the notes beforehand allowed me to largely dispense with the short spiel at the start, and we soon headed fairly directly to beyond the horse gate where an inspection in the week before and other intelligence had revealed most of the breeding activity was taking place.
About half way there we found the cup-shaped nest of a Noisy Miner surprisingly high in a medium sized tree, with an adult sitting. This species increasingly seems to be the main factor responsible for the lack of smaller birds up to the horse gate; in fact we even saw a few miners beyond this feature. We also observed a pair of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos busy trying to make a hollow, a Pacific Black Duck in a tree, and heard a booming Common Bronzewing, before a short but sharp rain shower forced us to seek shelter for a few minutes.
This seemed to have the effect of quietening the birds and it was pretty slow going around the erosion gully until we found a Dusky Woodswallow on a nest at the bottom of a half-split vertical spout. This was followed by a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike nest; when it left some minutes later, participants could see the shallowness of the nest, typically built into a horizontal fork. Four Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos landed in a nearby tree, a first record for this workshop, and though we could hear a young bird calling it was difficult to see which one it actually was. However, by carefully watching a Grey Fantail which was flitting about, we found it was feeding 3 small dependent young huddled together on a branch of a small tree.
We also disturbed a couple of Red-browed Finches in a small dense green shrub close to a smallish pipe-like nest which they didn’t seem to approach, so we were unsure if it was being used for breeding or roosting. We then moved to where the creek crosses the track trying to follow up the calling we could hear there, with little success until we found a female Magpie-lark sitting on its mud nest, with a much larger one of the White-winged Chough in the same tree. We thought the young had fledged from the latter until half a dozen birds came to bring food to the still quite small young, while the assembled participants watched. Shortly after the former bird left the nest and soon returned to feed young, confirming the stage of both nests.
We had been frustrated by Leaden Flycatchers calling but seeming to be on the move, until a different call above us alerted us to a pair building a nest in a not quite typical spot of a thin dead branch with a live one almost perpendicular above/behind it. Both birds allowed great views while adding to the half-formed nest. Not long after we found another pair sitting (and swapping over) on a nearby nest, also not quite in the typical position. This was after we had enjoyed watching a Willie Wagtail on a nest brooding two young. However, the find of the day was a pair of White-winged Trillers nest building. Ryu had photographed the nest site earlier and once we located it, both came to the nest with the female building and the male very close by with wings held out but with his back to her, as described in HANZAB.
A Weebill busily collecting food was also seen nearby, but could not be traced to its nest. However, this was certainly the “hot spot” of the day, with 6 species observed breeding in close proximity. The only dome-shaped nest we then found was that of a Buff-rumped Thornbill, typically placed against the tree trunk behind some peeled off bark. While calling and seen a number of times, we were not able to find the dome-shaped nest of the White-throated Gerygone, except for a known one that had been predated. Towards the end of the morning we got good views of a surprisingly quiet Olive-backed Oriole. Also seen during the morning were several largely silent Noisy Friarbirds and, though Rufous Whistlers occasionally called loudly, neither of these three species showed any clear signs of breeding activity.
A total of 45 species was seen on the day, a relatively low number for this outing with some species seen/heard on the mid-week reccie such as Sacred Kingfisher, Dollarbird and Shining Bronze-Cuckoo not observed. However, 17 species were recorded breeding at some level, higher than in the past couple of years, but unfortunately again including Common Mynas seen entering or examining several nest holes. While again much breeding activity was taking place in a small space almost all of it was on the other side (N) of the creek with the two small ponds about 100 m past the horse gate, the first time it has been so far to the NE of the area.
My thanks again to Mark Clayton, Reg Johnson and Lindell Emerton for providing details of breeding species and their sites in response to my request on the COG chatline, and in particular to Con Boekel for posting detailed information there on this season’s breeding at Campbell Park, and for providing me with an annotated Google Earth map which made seeking out the best areas to search so much easier.