There has been a most unusual bird sighting in Anglesea Heath. On 16 April, a Spangled Drongo was spotted by two observers.
They were able to view the bird for several minutes, as it was perched high on transmission lines at the corner of Ridge Track and Pipeline Track. They had clear views, through binoculars, of the distinctive bird, with its long, forked tail feathers, being mobbed by Dusky Woodswallows.
The Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus is a little larger than a Blackbird, with similar colouring; however, it has indistinct, blue-green, iridescent spots on its head, neck and upper breast, a greenish tinge through the wings and tail, and a red eye. It is a common resident of northern and eastern Australia, extending sometimes into eastern Victoria, but there are only three records in the Atlas of Living Australia, of the bird occurring in western Victoria. One report was from near Bacchus Marsh in 1893, and one in Werribee in 1968. Another one came from near Portland in 2011.
The May Orange-bellied Parrot count was held on Sunday, 18 May. Four ANGAIR members participated in the count. We surveyed the usual two sites – Hospital Swamps/Baenschs Lane. The day was perfect, fairly cloudy with no wind. We spent a good deal of the time scanning with binoculars, throughout the wetlands, searching for any signs of activity. Although we did not see any OBPs, we did manage to see two Blue-winged Parrots as they flew above and into a nearby eucalypt, where they remained for a short time, enabling us to identify them. The other highlight for us was the sighting of two White-bellied Sea Eagles flying back and forth over the water, before they came in to perch in a large Moonah tree by the water’s edge. During their flight, they were harassed by a solitary Caspian Tern. We had perfect views of the majestic birds, and it was quite a thrill for us.
We were also aware of duck hunters nearby throughout the morning. The reports from the shotguns may have had some affect on bird numbers in the area, which was lower than usual.
On Sunday, 27 April, a state-wide survey of the Brolga population was carried out. Several hundred of these stately birds live in western Victoria. Two people surveyed Lake Connewarre and found 4 birds, 2 pairs at two different sites.
A family of Satin Bowerbirds, two adults and two juveniles, were observed feeding together recently in a garden in Anglesea. Also in Anglesea Heath, one of our loveliest finches, the Beautiful Firetail, was spotted by a birdwatcher last month.
Anglesea Heath appears to have its own brand of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. Tom Fletcher has noticed, over the years, the peculiar dialect of the Anglesea cockatoos. The call commences as the normal raucous screeches of cockatoos from other areas, but ends with the distinct short, sharp, two-syllable call of the Long-billed Corella. It would be interesting to know if members of ANGAIR have noticed this also; perhaps, from now on, they could listen to the cockatoos, and see if they can discern the difference in their calls.
An Asian Black-spined Toad, a prohibited pest in Victoria, has recently been discovered near Sunbury. The Department of Primary Industries (DEPI) advises they are poisonous, prolific breeders that compete with native species, and have the potential to cause environmental impacts similar to those caused by the Cane toad.