Campbell Park nest workshop

Sun 12 November 2023 08:00am

Jack Holland

Description:  This outing will be a repeat of the very popular and practical nest workshops held over the past twenty 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.

Walking distance:  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 around 500 m from where we park.  Maximum distance = 2.0 km of easy flat walking.

End Time:  Between 11 am and 12 pm.  Please remember to take morning tea which we will have out in the field.

Meeting time and place:  Meet at 8:00 am 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.

Name of leader and contact details:  Registration is essential no later than Friday 10 November.  To participate, please register with Jack Holland (6288 7840) or preferably by email on – please include your name and phone number, and name and number of an emergency contact.

Post event report

Twenty-two members and guests joined me for the twentieth running of this annual event, last year’s having been washed out.  Again, the emailing of the notes beforehand allowed me to largely dispense with the short spiel at the start, and we soon headed slowly off towards the horse gate, where the main activity had been noted during the reccie a couple of days before.  Sue Lashko had again kindly offered to help lead so we could split up into two groups, exchanging notes whenever we passed each other, and then again at morning tea.

It was a somewhat different morning; while there was lots of bird activity, with much calling and chasing, even up to 11 am, by which time it had become quite warm, there was much less confirmed breeding activity than in past years.  In fact, the distinct impression was that breeding for many species was only just starting, perhaps triggered by the moderate rain event 3 days before, the first for over a month.


The best confirmed breeding observation of the morning was a pair of Grey Fantails completing and shaping a lovely goblet shaped, quite cream-coloured, nest, with the ponytail clearly visible and allowing very good views by all.  A Noisy Friarbird was also seen just commencing to build in the usual spot on the outer branches of a gum.  Other confirmed breeding was a Noisy Miner (one of the many present) carrying food to a nest high in a gum near the start, with a Pied Currawong, that well-known surreptitious breeder, quietly flying past, also carrying food.  Several Varied Sittellas were seen, one of which was photographed passing food to a fledgling.

A Common Starling was carrying food to a hole in the many-hollowed big gum tree near the dam, famous for the Nankeen Kestrels nesting there a couple of years ago.  This tree also had Little Corellas, Crimson Rosellas and Red-rumped Parrots checking out nest holes.  Unfortunately, we were not able to approach more closely as the area is currently out of bounds due to unexploded ordinance being found in the area (this also restricted access to some other areas).  Galahs and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were also seen examining nest holes and a pair of Striated Pardalotes was photographed going in and out of a small one in a dead gum.

A very interesting observation seen by all was a pair of Weebills which appeared to be feeding very low down in the grass and weeds very close in front of us for a number of minutes.  Like me, other experienced birders could not recall seeing them so confiding.  Closer examination showed they seemed to be picking up small amounts of fine material, presumably for nest lining, but they did not reveal its location.  Male White-winged Trillers, at least 10 in total, were calling very noisily and chasing each other (just a single female was seen and photographed by some), as well as some displaying, in line with an ANU researcher’s advice that they had only recently arrived.  There was also a pair of White-throated Gerygones calling and seen around the horse gate, but no nest could be found, though on one occasion one bird pursued a Noisy Friarbird for around 50 m.

The best non-breeding bird of the morning was a Rufous Songlark, first seen in a dead tree near the horse gate after morning tea.  It then came to the ground on the track, allowing all participants (some of whom were not familiar with it) reasonable views.  It was then heard calling relatively quietly for at least a few minutes,;while not the full call, it may stay to breed.  Checking my notes confirms that this is a first sighting for this Workshop.  A pair of White-plumed Honeyeaters were seen near the dam; they may have been breeding which has only been recorded once before.

A number of Dusky Woodswallows were seen, but again no breeding activity was confirmed, and the same applied to the couple of Sacred Kingfishers that were seen and heard.  A Shining Bronze-cuckoo was seen only by Sue Lashko’s group, while a Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo was heard by most participants.  A Grey Shrike-thrush, again unusual for this Workshop, was also heard calling very loudly.  At least 5 Gang-gang Cockatoos, also rarely seen during this outing, were observed before and early into the walk, including feeding on the wattle pods.


Participants continue to enjoy this very popular outing.  A total of 50 species was seen on the morning, slightly up from previous years, but many of the birds often did not allow good views, though most participants were able to have them of a male Rufous Whistler, which again had often been heard calling.  Only 13 species were confirmed to be breeding at some level, well down from the past few years; hollow nesters accounted for more than half of them.  Breeding activity was relatively evenly spread around the horse gate.

My sincere thanks again to Sue Lashko for helping lead the group, and to Lia Battisson and Sandra Henderson for doing the eBird lists, always a very difficult task with so many observers.

Jack Holland

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