Thursday, 9 March 2017

Gippsland Lakes Discovery Trail

Gippsland Lakes Discovery Trail

The Gippsland Lakes Discovery Trail runs along the path of an old tramway through Colquhoun State Forest.  The trail starts where Seaton Track and the Gippsland Rail Trail intersect. It then runs toward the old quarry, and then on to Lakes Entrance. 

The Gippsland Lakes Discovery Trail has lots of potential for birds. It runs through both wet dense gullies, and dry open forest. Birds such as Yellow-Tufted Honeyeater, Rose Robin, Spotted Quail Thrush and Brown Goshawk can all be readily seen on the Discovery Trail. 

Male Spotted Pardalote

Sign at the beginning of the trail
You can access the Discovery Trail from many points. The first one is where Seaton Track intersects the East Gippsland Rail Trail. Other spots are from Ford Track, Quarry Road, Sloan Track, Frank Track, Oil Bore Road, Uncle Road ( Log Crossing), Armstrong Track, and Scriveners Road.

The Trail
Some parts of the Discovery Trail are somewhat steep, so be cautious, especially when on a bike.

The Quarry
Rose Robin
5 KM from where the trail starts at Seaton Track, there is the Granite Quarry. This quarry was used to mine granite for projects such as the entrance of the Gippsland Lakes. 7 KM from the Granite Quarry, you come to Log Crossing Picnic area. This is a great spot for birds, and there are toilets and picnic tables. You can then either continue the 13 KM to Lakes Entrance, or 2KM to the Forestech campus.

Gang Gang Cockatoo
The Gippsland Lakes Discovery Trail is an excellent birding location, or even just for a walk or bike ride. Here is some more information on it:

 DSE ( DELWP) PDF document

Rail Trails Australia

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Birding on the Gippsland Lakes

Birding on the Gippsland Lakes

Late last month I was invited by John and Pam Hutchison to go along with them and Faye Bedford (DELWP) in a boat on a birding trip on the Gippsland Lakes. We were to check small terns and the Pelican rookery. ( See John Hutchinson's post ) 

Google Map of the area


We departed from Paynesville around 9 AM and headed towards Crescent Island. After inspecting Crescent, Waddy and Barton Island, we stopped off at Ocean Grange. 

The Pelican colony was spectacular, with approximately 300 Pelicans there. 

A number of Hooded Plovers were also seen.

There were also lots of Black-Faced Cormorants on Crescent Island

3 Bar-Tailed Godwits allowed us to come quite close, and posed very nicely for photos.

There were also a good number of Crested Terns, which are always fun to photograph. 
It was a great morning out, with lots of new birds around. 

The Gippsland Lakes are a great spot to go birding, however, please be VERY careful of where you land and walk around. A lot of the islands have breeding birds on them, and walking through their colonies would be detrimental to the well being of our birds. See my previous blog post "Ethical Birding" for more information.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Cabbage Tree Creek Flora Reserve

Cabbage Tree Flora Reserve


Cabbage Tree Flora Reserve is a 1,700 hectare reserve that protects Victoria's only population of Cabbage Palms, (Livistona australis  ). The naturalist, Baron von Muller discovered this isolated pocket of palms here in  1854. It is thought that the local Indigenous people may have planted them from seed obtained from a more northern tribe.

Cabbage Tree Palm

Cabbage Tree Flora Reserve is located approximately 25 minutes from Orbost. Take the A1 towards Cann River. After 20km, there is a track to your right called  Palm Track. Continue down this track until you come to the parking area. If you are coming from Cann River, take the Cabbage Tree Conran road before Cabbage Tree. Continue 5 .4 km and turn right onto Marlo Cabbage Tree Road. Drive for 5.7 km and turn right onto Palm Track. Palm Track takes you to the Cabbage Tree walk. There are picnic tables and an information board. 
The sign for Cabbage Tree Creek

The Reserve is one of the best spots for birding in the area. Over 120 bird species have been seen in the area. Black Faced Monarch (summer migrant), Rufous Fantail, Rose Robin, Brown Gerygone, Topknot Pigeon and Scarlet Honeyeater are usually quite common here.

Wonga Pigeon, quite a common bird at the reserve
The area around Cabbage Tree Flora Reserve is also quite well known for owls. Masked and Sooty Owl are often seen while spotlighting. 

Cape Conran Coastal Park  is very close to Cabbage Tree reserve, so it is definitely worth paying a visit while exploring Cape Conran Coastal Park. 

Monday, 6 February 2017

Ethical Birding

Ethical Birding

I haven't been to any birding locations of interest lately, though I do have a few good spots coming up in the next few weeks. Since I didn't have much to write, I have been thinking about ethical birding. After my first outing with Birdlife East Gippsland on Monday, I was impressed how everyone spoke and walked quietly. So, I have done a bit of research on "ethical birding".

Here are some points:

  • When birding, be aware of your surroundings. Don't bump into other people, or cause an accident.
  • Keep quiet, for both the birds and other birders sake.
  • Be very careful if you are going to photograph nests. Ravens and other predators could notice your scent, or disturbance, and wreck havoc on the nest.
  • Always seek permission before entering other peoples properties, even if its just a "back paddock" .
  • Keep your vehicle on established roads and tracks.
  • When walking, pay attention to the ground before you. Doing this will not only reduce the chance of getting bitten by a snake, but also avoid destroying ground and under-story bird's nests.  
  • Always respect the privacy of others. People tend to think that you are spying on them if you have a spotting scope or a big prime lens. Be discreet.
East-Gippsland is an excellent place to go birding. We can make it even more enjoyable and safe by abiding by the code of ethics above.

Be aware of nesting Hooded Plovers and tern in this sort of environment

A Golden Headed Cisticola. Think twice before charging into its habitat.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Fairy Dell

 Fairy Dell

Fairy Dell in one of the most well known birding hotspots in the Bairnsdale area.  Located approximately 30 minutes from Bairnsdale, it is easily accessible by most vehicles. There is a picnic ground with toilet facilities.

To get to Fairy Dell, drive towards Bruthen from Bairnsdale, at Wiseleigh, ( about 3 Km before Bruthen), there will be a sign that will direct you towards Fairy Dell, along the Deep Creek Rd. The route is well sign posted from here.

Rose Robin

Juvenile White-Naped Honeyeater
Spotted Pardalote

There are two walks at Fairy Dell that connect with each other half way along.  The first track takes you along the ridge, which is a much drier environment.   Birds such as White Throated Tree Creeper, Spotted Pardalote, Common Bronzewing and Wonga Pigeon are common along along this track. The second walk runs through lush wet habitat, where Rose Robin, Rufous Fantail, Black Faced Monarch, Brown Gerygone, and Lyrebird can be seen. The best tactic to use is to walk 15 or 20 metres, and then stop and listen for 5 minutes or so. Eastern Whipbirds are often quite inquisitive, and will come up close for a look.

The ebird Hotspot can be seen here.

The walking track in Fairy Dell- Google Maps
Some unusual sightings include Pink Robin, Speckled Warbler, White Bellied Cuckoo Shrike, Beautiful Firetail have been seen at Fairy Dell.  Powerful and Sooty Owl have also been seen here occasionally, so keep an eye out for roosting birds.

Fairy Dell walking track

The bridge over the creek
Fairy Dell is probably one of the best places to go birding in the western part of East Gippsland. The range of birds is very similar to Cabbage Tree Flora Reserve, but the easy access and closeness to Bairnsdale makes Fairy Dell a must visit birding stop.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Macleod Morass

Macleod Morass

Macleod Morass is a 520 hectare freshwater marsh, located just south of Bairnsdale. The morass abounds with wildlife, particularly water birds. Macleod Morass is an internationally recognized Ramsar site.

To get to Macleod Morass, drive down Forge Creek Rd, and turn left onto Bosworth Rd at the roundabout near Vegco. drive down a steep hill, and the morass is on your right. The bridge over the creek is currently closed, so there is no access from the other side. There is a large car park area, so parking is never any problem. It should be noted that Macleod Morass is a game reserve, so be aware of whats going on around you during duck season. 


Royal Spoonbill

There are two bird hides at Macleod Morass. One is on a board walk on the left of the main track that runs through the morass. The second hide is at the end of a 420 metre board walk that runs out towards the centre of the morass.
Macleod Morass

Birds that can be seen at Macleod Morass are: Spoonbills, ibis, Swamp Harrier, Australasian Swamphen, a variety of duck species, cormorants, Darter and Little Grass Bird. A complete list can be seen here.

The main track going though the morass

Black swans

The start of one of the walks

Monday, 9 January 2017

Cape Conran Coastal Park

Some birds of Cape Conran Coastal Park

Cape Conran Coastal Park is a 11,700-hectare national park situated between Marlo and Bemm River. Over 250 bird species have been sighted in the park, including species such as Eastern Ground Parrot, Topknot Pigeon, White Headed Pigeon and Southern Emu Wren.  This post will look at some of the best sites in Cape Conran Coastal Park. 

Cape Conran Boat Ramp.

Google Maps
The Cape Conran boat ramp is located on the western side of Cape Conran on the West Cape Rd. Pacific Gull, Silver Gull, Sooty Oystercatcher, Australasian Gannet and Bassian Thrush are often seen here.  Look for Bassian Thrush and Eastern Whipbird in the scrub behind the boat ramp, and keep and eye out for Sea Eagles passing overhead.

Silver Gulls at Cape Conran

Cape Conran

Yeerung River. 

Google maps
The Yeerung River Estuary View Walk is a heathland and coastal scrub walk. The walk is on the right side of the road just as you cross the bridge on the Yeerung River.  The Ground Parrot has been flushed from here, and Southern Emu Wrens are common. Other bird that can be seen here are: Beautiful Firetail, Rainbow Lorikeet, Azure Kingfisher in the Yeerung River and many types of honeyeaters.
Yeerung River looking downstream


Looking towards the ocean over the heath

Old Coast Road

The Old Coast Rd has potential for Brush Bronzewing, Southern Emu Wren, Sacred Kingfisher, (in Summer) and Turquoise Parrot. Look for Southern Emu Wren in the heathland adjacent to the road, and pay attention for their high pitched calls. Since the Old Coast Road is quite long, a good method for birding there is to drive slowly down the road, stopping at any spot that looks to have potential for birds, such as a creek or heathland. 
Old Coast Rd
Old Coast Rd
Brush Bronzewing