Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Birding around Burnt Bridge, Cherry Tree

Burnt Bridge, Cherry Tree Birding.

Burnt Bridge and Cherry Tree are located on the eastern arm of Lake Tyres, approximately 15 minutes from Nowa Nowa. Access is via Princes Hwy, between Lakes Entrance and Nowa. Take the Burnt Bridge Road, and then continue straight, or turn left on to Cherry Tree Road, depending on whether you are going to Burnt Bridge or Cherry Tree.  There is a 1.1 KM walking track between Burnt Bridge and Cherry Tree, which follows the river. The environment is quite moist in most places, with some thick tea-tree, as well as larger trees.

Map of Burnt Bridge and Cherry Tree Area.

With such a diverse environment, birds are plentiful, with herons, pelicans, Sea Eagles, Eastern Whipbirds, and Rose Robins. http://ebird.org/ebird/hotspot/L2986658

White Faced Heron


Azure Kingfisher

Rose Robin, male
Cherry Tree and Burnt Bridge and the walk between is a great location for birds, as well as fishing or a picnic. It should be noted however, that the road in can be quite rough at times, so small cars may have difficulty.

Saturday, 19 November 2016



Marlo is a small town located where the Snowy River flows into the ocean. It is a popular holiday and fishing spot, and can be quite busy in the holiday season. There is a small tidal estuary with a large area of mudflats, the ideal habitat for waders. The area is well know for birds, with the estuary being home to a number of the endangered Hooded Plovers. There is also a lone Beach Stone Curlew, and having never seen one before, a visit was necessary.

To get to the area of beach that I wanted, you have to drive down the Corringle Rd, towards "The Slips",  and then walk approximately 2 Km along the beach to reach the entrance. The walk to the Marlo Entrance was devoid of any birds, except a Pied Oystercatcher or two.  After arriving at the entrance we set up the spotting scope, using some drift wood as cover.  From there, we had a wide view of the estuary, and we could see many Pied Oystercatchers, Red Capped Plovers and the Little tern colony. The tide was just beginning to come in again, ideal conditions for waders. 

However, there was still no sign of our main target, the Beach Stone Curlew, and after half an hour or so, had given up. Then, I was scoping the Marlo side of the lake, when out of the debris, stepped the Beach Stone Curlew! I was surprised at how large he was, and also how well camouflaged. The dull brown and grey colour blended in perfectly with the surrounding habitat.  He stood perfectly still, while a person and a dog walked past, and stayed in the same spot for the entire 2 hours we were there.  
The Beach Stone Curlew is in front of the debris

We continued looking for birds, but didn't find many.  There were less waders than expected, but we didn’t check French Narrows, so there may have been more in there. The Crested Terns were abundant, as were juvenile Pacific Gulls. All up, we saw twelve species, Checklist

On the walk out, we found a dead Short Tailed Shearwater on the beach, another lifer. Other than that, and an Pied Oystercatcher, not a single bird was seen on the beach between the Marlo Entrance and The Slips.

The Marlow trip was definitely worth it, with three lifers, ( Beach Stone Curlew, Little Tern and Short Tailed Shearwater), and many other birds as well. The weather and tide was perfect, and it was a shame that there was not more waders around. Will definitely have to go back, and perhaps explore the French Narrows are.

Sunset at Marlo

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Hollands Landing

Hollands Landing

 Though technically not in East Gippsland Shire, Hollands Landing is very close, so I have decided to include this post on this blog. Hollands Landing is a small community of houses, a caravan park and a wharf. It is at the north-eastern end of Mclennan straight, a narrow channel of water that connects Lake Wellington with the rest of the Gippsland Lakes.

According to eBird, 119 bird species have been seen at the Hollands Landing hotspot, and no doubt other species have been sighted too. Victoria Lagoon, which is a large lagoon behind Hollands Landing is also abounding with birds.
Hollands Landing as seen from Google Maps

Many birds frequent Hollands Landing and the surrounding area. Black Swan, spoonbills, a variety of terns and waders are common here, particularly at Victoria Lagoon. Occasionally Banded Lapwings are reported, and this was the reason for my visit last week.

I had received a needs alert of a Banded Lapwing at Hollands Landing, from eBird a few days prior to my visit. Having never seen a Banded Lapwing, and knowing that they are uncommon in the area, plans were immediately made for a visit.

Friday 4th November was a warm windy day, not ideal for seeing birds, and I had little hope of sighting the Lapwings. However, two were seen in a paddock, just before Hollands Landing, as were 2 Black Winged Stilts, lots of Australasian Pipits and numerous Australian Shelducks.

Banded Lapwings

The two Banded Lapwings camouflaged extremely well in the brown grass, and had it not been for their white front, they would have evaded notice. They are considerably smaller than the more common Masked Lapwing, and in my opinion, much prettier. 

I then continued on to Hollands Landing, and not finding many birds about turned down a lane that led to Victoria Lagoon. The wind was very strong by this time, and I didn't hold much hope of seeing any waders. However, there were several Red Capped Plovers, a few Red Necked Stints, and four Curlew Sandpipers feeding on a small spit of land approximately 250 metres away. The long distance and shimmer made it impossible for photos, but I managed to get a few of the landscape.

Hollands Landing certainly turned out to be a worthwhile visit, though better weather would certainly make it a lot better. No doubt as the summer comes closer, more waders will congregate on the mudflats of Victoria Lagoon and Hollands Landing, making this a must visit place.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Birding on the East Gippsland Rail Trail

Birding on the East Gippsland Rail Trail

Nicholson to Colquhoun

The East Gippsland Rail Trail runs from Bairnsdale to Orbost, via Nicholson, Bruthen, and Nowa Nowa. The rail trail is where the old train line ran, which opened in 1916 and closed in 1987. The line is now the East Gippsland Rail Trail which is quite popular with cyclists, horse riders and walkers, as well as (unfortunate), the occasional motor bike rider. 

I have rode along the rail trail a number of times now, and have covered Nicholson to the Stony Creek Trestle Bridge, just before Nowa Nowa. Every time I ride on the rail trail, I am struck with the wide variety of bird life that inhabit the varies habitat along the trail. Since there is such a variety of habitats, I have decided to divide this post into a number of segments, each documenting a specific part of the rail trail.

Nicholson to Bumberrah. 

Nicholson (eBird) has quite a good population and range of birds, including comorants, honeyeaters and raptors, such as Whistling Kite and Swamp Harrier.  As you travel further towards Bumberrah, the terrain becomes quiet undulating, with small stands of trees as well as many farm dams. Common Bronzewing, Whistling Kite, White Eared Honeyeater and Grey Butcherbird are abundant, and Wood Duck, Black Duck and Australasian Swamphen frequent the farm dams. Overall, the habitat is quite dry, with lots open farmland, ideal for raptors and other open country birds. 

Bumberrah to Mossiface.

The terrain and habitat change dramatically around Bumberrah. The Flat open farmland gives way to more hilly terrain, with more trees and scrub. Smaller birds thrive in the scrub lined trail, with all of the East Gippsland thornbills being common. Eastern Yellow Robins are also quite common closer to Mossiface. There is a colony of Bell Miners in a gully about half way between Bumberrah and Mossiface, and a Scarlet Honeyeater was sighted there once as well. Golden and Rufous Whistler are common as well as most of the honeyeater species. Again, Wood and Black Duck are common in the farm dams, and occasionally an Australasian Grebe can be sighted. 
Rail Trail between Bumberrah and Mossiface

Mossiface to Bruthen.

The habitat around Bruthen is often quite lush. The Rail Trail runs along the back of Mossiface, crosses the Swan Reach-Mossiface Rd and then the Great Alpine Rd. It then continues towards Bruthen, via the old Bruthen Station. Birds that can be seen in this area are: Ibis, White Faced and White Necked herons, Shelducks, Cockatoos, Swampen, Scarlet Robin, Jacky Winter and many raptors including Nankeen Kestral, Black Shouldered Kite, Wedge Tailes Eagle and Whistling Kite. The rail trail travels behind Bruthen, crosses the Tambo River, runs behind the Bruthen football oval and crossed the Bruthen - Nowa Nowa Rd. Straw Necked Ibis are often particularly abundant in the paddocks behind the football oval. 

Rail Trail, looking towards Mossiface from the Swan Reach-Mossiface Rd

Looking towards Bruthen, Rail Trail

Wood Duck family. Quite common in the spring time.

Bruthen to Colquhoun Forest. 

After crossing the Hwy, the trail again crosses the same road, about 500 metres up. It then travels into Colquhoun forest. The bird species change, with Crested Shrike Tits, many species of cuckoos, Black Cockatoos, Spotted Quail Thrush, White Throated Treecreeper and Lyrebird becoming quite common. The habitat is generally dry open forest, with patches of thick scrub, particularly in the gullies. Most of the grade is a gentle decline towards Nowa Nowa, however, there is a very steep hill coming up out of Stony Creek Trestle Bridge. Yellow Tufted Honeyeaters are reasonably common around the bridge, and Eastern Whipbirds can usually be heard calling.

The East Gippsland Rail Trail is a great way to see lots of birds, in a wide variety of habitats. There are eBird Hotspots along the trail, which is a great way to see what birds will be there at any certain time of year.

Maybe some day I will ride from Nowa Nowa to Orbost, and if I do, I'll post what birds there is to see. In the mean time, get out, enjoy the spring, and most of all, the birds!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Waders at Jones Bay

 Waders at Jones Bay

 Since mid September this year, I have been paying regular visits to "The Cut" at Jones Bay. Jones Bay is a large bay in the Gippsland Lakes, not far from Bairnsdale. The Mitchell River flows into the Bay, via "The Silt Jetties." The Silt Jetties is a large narrow peninsula extending into the Gippsland lakes. Near the start of The Silt Jetties, the Mitchel River has broken through the peninsula creating a number of small islands. These islands are very much affected by the tide, and can triple in size when the tide is out.

Shorebirds, or waders, find this sort of habitat ideal for feeding grounds.  Since September I have recorded Red Capped Plovers, Bar Tailed Gotwits, Red Necked Stints, Pied Oystercatchers, Red Necked Avocet and Pacific Golden Plover. Considering that this is "early days" for wader migration, I would expect to see a few more species in the coming months.

Here are some of the photos I have taken of the Jones Bay waders.
Pacific Golden Plover, right of the debris.

Red Necked Stint
Two Red Capped Plovers, a residential shorebird, (non migratory).