Campbell Park Nest Workshop

Sun 11 November 2018 08:00am

Jack Holland

This outing will be a repeat of the very popular and practical nest workshops held over the past fourteen years.  As usual it will be a very informal outing which has been timed to coincide with the peak of the breeding season.  The morning will start with the usual very 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 looking for breeding behaviour, signs of nests, etc.  This will also allow plenty of opportunities for bird watching.

The workshop is particularly suitable for beginners or those relatively new to bird watching, though more experienced members and repeat customers are also very welcome.  While every year has been different, we often don’t walk very far as there usually is a “hot spot” where most of the breeding activity occurs.  To participate, please contact Jack Holland (6288 7840) or by email on .
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 website under the Maps, Forms and Lists button.  Please remember to take morning tea which we will have out in the field.

Post event report

Thirty two members and guests joined Sue Lashko and me on a clear, warm morning for the 16th running of this annual and continuingly popular event.  Again the emailing of the notes beforehand allowed me to largely dispense with the short spiel at the start, and after splitting into two groups we soon headed fairly directly towards the horse gate, where an inspection the day before had revealed most of the (quite muted) bird activity was taking place.  Not unusually for recent workshops, I did so with low expectations given I’d only been able to find limited breeding activity beyond there over 75 minutes in my reccie the day before.  The current poor state of Campbell Park due to the very dry conditions, with many trees dead or dying, also didn’t augur well for a successful morning.


However, less than 100 m in, while watching a pair of Red-rumped Parrots examining a nest hole, we saw an adult Grey Butcherbird carrying food to where I suspected it had dependent young.  It turned out to have 3 chicks still sitting on/above the nest, which was fairly low (only about 3 m high) in a small scrappy but relatively bushy sapling, with the parents intermittently coming in to feed them.  I had been alerted to this nest by Rob Parnell, who had found it with some very small nestlings on 25 October, 17 days previously, so they were now only a few days from fledging.  While this species has been present adjacent to the car park for a number of years, this is only the second time we have found them breeding, with dependent young observed in 2013.


Shortly after we found a family of Australian Ravens calling incessantly, and then watched 3 quite large dependent young being fed, identified by their dark eyes and still discernible yellow gapes.  When we arrived at the horse gate we soon found a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike in a typically very small nest squeezed between a horizontal fork; in fact the nest could be best seen when it was vacated temporarily as the birds switched over brooding duties.  Moving along the fence to the east and then south to the dam we found some Grey Fantails busily building their very intricate nest, which appeared to be nearly complete except that the pony-tail still needed to be added.  Equally busy Weebills were just starting building with a sticky circle just visible, Noisy Friarbirds were building a typically deep cup-shaped nest in a clump of mistletoe, and Magpie-larks were feeding young in a much more plate-like mud nest than usual.


We had also seen a couple of Dusky Woodswallows where one bird appeared to be taking food to the other on the nest in a somewhat atypical tight spot in an upright fork, but further behaviour, including wing quivering, suggested pair bonding at the late stages of building. We then found a second nest at a much earlier stage in amongst some dead twigs much higher up on a branch with, at one time, 3 adult  birds actually in/on the nest.  While I had not witnessed this previously, HANZAB notes that this species usually breeds in simple pairs but sometimes co-operatively.


Moving towards the creek that goes under the track (with the small dam down slope – all currently dry) about 100 m north of the horse gate, everyone admired a pair of Varied Sittellas building their typical dainty, small nest in a more substantive vertical fork than usual.  This was while we were waiting to determine whether the adult male Flame Robin was actually feeding the nearby dependent young; being patient confirmed it was.  For me this was the highlight of the morning, as it was a first for this Workshop.  After seeing reports on eBird of Flame Robins there and putting out a call for information on the COG chatline, Geoffrey Dabb photographed the male feeding a fledgling there on 29 October.  This was very near to where the “brown” pair successfully bred in 2014, and where the male had been on my reccie the day before.  Geoffrey had not been able to find the female, and neither could we, except for Ned who had seen one earlier near to where we later observed the male.


Near the dry creek we observed Buff-rumped Thornbills building a nest in a typical spot against the tree trunk behind some peeled off bark, and also had our only confirmed sighting of a male White-winged Triller, which was clearly still moving around calling, trying to attract a female.  Earlier there had been some confusion, at least in my mind, with the call of the White-throated Treecreeper, which we observed at the same time, and which I can’t recall seeing previously at Campbell Park (except for the close together pair the day before).  Also unusual was the Speckled Warbler which was present at the same time, together with the male Rufous Whistler, also clearly not yet settled with a mate.  This also seemed to apply to the White-throated Gerygones which were heard a number of times during the morning, but only a few participants were able to find.


Other birds for which we were not able to confirm breeding were the Dollarbirds seen flying over, and the Sacred Kingfisher and Olive-backed Oriole, both of which were heard only.  The Leaden Flycatcher, which we’ve at least seen and found breeding in most years, was not observed, nor were Mistletoebirds or White-winged Choughs.  However, we did strongly confirm more hollow nesters than usual, in particular the pair of Galahs around a spout from which they managed to draw out their lovely chick, with its crest raised, as they fed it.  On the way back to the cars a pair of Eastern Rosellas seemed to have taken over the hollow where we had seen the Red-rumped Parrots early on.  Also on the way back, we diverted to allow those who had not yet seen the Grey Butcherbird nest to do so,  amd nearby Michael spied a Tawny Frogmouth’s nest, containing one largish chick plus dad, on a branch over the path, a perfect way to end the morning.


A total of 44 species was seen on the day, including  Wedge-tailed Eagles circling overhead.  This is a relatively low number for this outing, but was the same as last year, as were the 20 species recorded breeding at some level, higher than in the previous three years.  As described above, as well as several different observations from usual, a feature was the much later stage of breeding with many more nests still being built than usual, in keeping with the late breeding season we’ve been having.  My thanks again to Sue Lashko for agreeing at short notice, when numbers typically increased significantly over the last couple of days, to help lead this very popular outing, which continues to delight participants.  As for most years breeding activity was taking place in a small area, this time in about a 90o arc to the northeast and southeast of the horse gate.

Jack Holland

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