Nest Workshop Campbell Park

Sun 10 November 2019 08:00am

Jack Holland

This outing will be a repeat of the very popular and practical nest workshops held over the past sixteen 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 is usually is a “hot spot” where most of the breeding activity occurs. To participate, please contact Jack Holland (6288 7840) or by E-mail 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 web site under the Maps, Forms and Lists button. Please remember to take morning tea which we will have out in the field.

Post event report

Twenty-three members and guests joined me on a clear cool morning for the seventeenth running of this annual event.  The emailing of the notes beforehand again allowed me to largely dispense with the short spiel at the start, and 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.  As for recent workshops I did so with low expectations given I had only been able to find limited breeding activity beyond there over 1 hour in my previous day’s reccie.  The continuing 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.

On the way we looked out for signs of birds around hollows and for visible nests.  For the former we soon found a female Australian King-Parrot sitting near a hollow entrance, a rare potential breeding record for this workshop.  Shortly after, a male was flying around but did not seem to approach the female.  Among a number of large nests we saw an unusual one in a suspended, half-dead mistletoe; our suspicion that it was an Australian Magpie nest was confirmed when an adult first approached the nest, and then rather reluctantly came down to feed a visible chick which only briefly begged (we had a very similar late breeding situation later in the morning).  We then heard begging young where an adult Noisy Miner had flown to, and were able to observe feeding of at least two chicks in a typical cup-shaped nest at the top of a small sapling.


When we arrived at the horse gate we continued east towards the corner fence and soon found a pair of Buff-rumped Thornbills bringing food to a nest in a typical spot behind some peeled off bark against a dead tree trunk.  Though the parents kept feeding throughout the morning, the actual nest was difficult to see.  At the corner we first found the Willie Wagtail nest (one of only two nests found the day before) with an adult sitting on it.  This was in a somewhat unusual position on a thin dead branch and as a result was rather tapered more resembling a Grey Fantail nest.  A pair of the latter were nearby but no sign of breeding could be observed, despite some close checking.

This heralded a rather hectic period with a number of species observed but with little, if any, signs of breeding confirmed.  These included four White-throated Gerygones flying around and calling beautifully on occasion, a pair of Rufous Whistlers also moving around (a female/immature Golden Whistler had been seen slightly earlier), the same for some Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes, a couple of Brown-headed Honeyeaters, and at least two pairs of White-browed Woodswallows, often sitting on dead branches and allowing very good views.  We then moved south towards the dry big dam (completely so for the first time I can remember in these workshops) and David saw a female Leaden Flycatcher which proved rather elusive, allowing only brief views and calling only occasionally, with no signs of a male nearby.  However, I was happy with the identification, mainly due to it being very light under the tail.

With the wind picking up we then went through a rather quiet period as we looped around to the small (dry) dam 100 metres north of the horse gate.  Near here we finally had good views of a couple of Olive-backed Orioles appearing to be building a cup-shaped nest high in a gum tree.  Earlier Lindell had captured one on a photo with a beak full of nesting material (we also saw a Red Wattlebird doing the same).  We then found Noisy Friarbirds, of which there were also a number around, building their very woolly nest in a similarly high position.

We moved back to south of the horse gate and first observed a pair of Dollarbirds one of which we thought might have been approaching a hollow, but this could not be confirmed.  In this scrubby area we finally found a pair of White-winged Trillers building a nest in a rather hard to see and unusual spot on a bend of a nearly bare branch.  At least 4 males had been quite conspicuous by their calling and flying around for much of the morning, and we had seen a male leading a female to a rather unsuitable nest site a number of times.

We had also seen and heard a Sacred Kingfisher several times until it was on a nearby dead tree above a small spout from which Jeffrey first saw it leave, confirmed by several others despite my initial thinking the hole would be too small.  Finally, as we were walking back to the cars we found the Tawny Frogmouths, but there was just a pair of adults sitting close together ruffled up by the wind (Stuart Rae has clarified that they did lay in the same nest as the past two years, but it failed before the chicks hatched).

Participants continue to enjoy this very popular outing.  A total of 43 species was seen on the day, similar to the two previous dry years.  Fifteen species were recorded breeding at some level, around average for the past few years, and included some of the hollow nesters with both Eastern and Crimson Rosellas actually seen entering and staying in them.  The Dusky Woodswallow, which we’ve at least seen and found breeding in most years, was not observed, nor were Varied Sittellas, Mistletoebirds or White-winged Choughs.  As for last season, a feature was the much earlier stage of breeding with many nests still being built.  As for most years breeding activity was taking place in a small area, this time in about an 180o arc to the north and mainly east and south-east of the horse gate.

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