Sat 24 April 2021 12:00am

Martin Butterfield

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Post event report

Seventeen members of COG spent the ANZAC Day long weekend in Mallacoota.  Some members of the group started their birding on the way down on Friday, with a call in to Black Lake at Bibbenluke.  This gave (inter alia) a huge number (estimated as 800) of Grey Teal, 18 Australian Shelduck and 45 Pied Stilt.  Heading a little further south a Cattle Egret was observed in a paddock at Paddy’s Flat. That evening, the team gathered for welcome drinks and introductions, at Angophora Drive.

The next morning our first walk was the beach starting at Bastion Point.  We went along the beach to the mouth, quite wide and flowing very strongly.  We looked across the dunes at the sand flats in the inlet.  This revealed the expected species of waders, with some Bar-tailed Godwits in breeding plumage and one of the Red-necked Stints moving that way.  Double-banded Plovers were evident (albeit without much band) and Red-capped Plovers were common.

The highlight of this walk occurred when a Collared Sparrowhawk was seen flying next to the caravan park along Develings Inlet.  This is a nice record on its own, but this got bumped up by the bird being followed by 2 Grey Goshawks (one of each morph. All up, we scored 39 bird species on this walk


We then drove through the town and walked along the lakeside path, checking the birds on Seagull Island, and along to the marsh near Fisheries Jetty.  A few Royal Spoonbills were lurking in the lagoon and 5 White-fronted Chats perched on the usual branch in the marsh.  (Neither Southern Emu-wrens nor Lewin’s Rail obliged.)  We saw 31, mainly common, species in the area


After lunch we went to the Wastewater Treatment Plant.  We ended up recording 43 species on this walk .  As we arrived 2 White-bellied Sea-Eagles were seen; one was a quite dark juvenile and the other a very spiffy adult. The other raptor highlights were a group of 5 Whistling Kites towards the end of the walk and a Peregrine Falcon which scared off a small flock of Common Starlings.


As always with this site the surrounding woodland provided quite a good list of bush birds.  The number of mosquitos possibly explained the range of insectivores seen including Restless Flycatcher, Jacky Winter and Dusky Woodswallow.

I was quite surprised to see an Olive-backed Oriole (there are eBird records in all months except July but the number of observations is much lower from March to August).


Waterbirds are the main reason for visiting the site, which is the only regular location in the area for Hardhead, Australian Shelduck, Australasian Shoveler, Australasian Grebe and Musk Duck.


The next morning we went to Shipwreck Creek along about 8 kilometres of good dirt road and 7 kilometres of ungraded, potholed track.  Our first walk was to the east of the campground.  The initial walk through the regenerating woodland was very disappointing for birds.  A couple of Grey Fantails were all we logged here.  On getting in to the heathland the Grass Tree (mainly Xanthorrhoea resinosa) remnant flower spikes provided useful perches for several Jacky Winters. Looking out to sea, good numbers of Crested Terns and a few Australasian Gannets were observed.

After taking a side track to the clifftops we recorded the most unexpected bird with 3 Brown Quail flushing immediately behind us.  There are only 12 previous records of the species in the area.


A late morning tea was interrupted by some members hearing a Scarlet Robin calling.  A search did not reveal it although a member who did not come on the next walk did see the bird very close to the day use area.


We next headed off to the Western Heath.  Faint hopes of seeing Southern Emu-wren, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater and Ground Parrot in this area were not met.  We recorded 14 species  The Heath was almost devoid of birds although a female Flame Robin was seen and photographed along the way.  Back at the cars a bonus was a flock of 5 Black-faced Cuckooshrikes.


Back towards town, we parked at Davis Beach for our final walk for the day.   We recorded 24 species on this walk with Crescent Honeyeater (feeding in Banksia marginata) being the least common species seen.  Our target species was the Hooded Plover family at the mouth of the Betka River, with three seen, 2 adults and an immature.


The final morning we gathered at the caravan park for a drive to Gipsy Point.  While the group was gathering Cattle Egret was seen in a nearby paddock.

The track along the Peninsula at Gipsy Point had been cleared recently although the most recent storm had blown a couple of trees over.  We recorded 32 species on this walk . As would be expected most of these had already been seen in the trip with Rose Robin being the “best bird”.

We finally drove to Genoa to walk through the village (hamlet?) hoping – unsuccessfully – to record Emu grazing on the flats.  We recorded 23 species here adding Grey Butcherbird and House Sparrow to the trip list.


That walk finished the organised events and most people headed for home.  Overall 97 species (and 1 spuh) were recorded according to COG rules which tally taxa seen on group events.  Using another protocol to include all birds seen by members of the group in the Mallacoota area, I totalled 106 species!   I think that is a much better measure of how well the group contributed to knowledge of the birds in the area at the end of April 2021.


A full species list is in .  The species without a number are those recorded outside formal events. A second worksheet in that file lists the unrecorded species for which there are more than 10 previous records in April.  I am very surprised that we didn’t record Superb Lyrebird or Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo.


Martin Butterfield






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