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The above average rainfall received during spring has enabled the creeks to flow and wetlands to fill, creating perfect conditions for attracting birds.

In late November last year Tom Fletcher and Gordon McCarthy spent an hour or so at the Distillery Creek Picnic Ground and wetland area and during that time saw 36 bird species. A few days later they revisited the area and saw a further 7 species. Among the birds observed were the White-winged Triller, Olive-backed Oriole, Little Grassbird, Dusky Woodswallow, Crested Shrike-tit, Golden and Rufous Whistler and Satin Flycatcher (male and female). They were also fortunate enough to see a Beautiful Firetail. Although Beautiful Firetails have been recorded here in the past, they have only been seen on very rare occasions.

Also in November a Black-faced Monarch flycatcher was located by John Newman at Allen Noble Sanctuary in Aireys Inlet. It is a new record for the Angair Bird List. Black-faced Monarchs, Monarcha melanopsis, winter in New Guinea and then fly south to breeding areas in eastern Australia. On rare occasions birds have turned up in unlikely places and it’s likely that the individual found at Aireys Inlet is a vagrant. These birds are flycatchers and are usually found in forests and woodlands. They are attractive birds with grey wings, breast and upperparts and a rufous-coloured belly, a blue-grey bill and a distinctive black face.

Common Brown Butterflies are most active and plentiful in the summer months and this year is no exception. They are everywhere, and flutter about when disturbed, especially when we walk along bush tracks. They feed on flowers. Although the males die early in summer, the females live on to lay their eggs in grasses in early autumn.

Six of the Black Swan cygnets at Allen Noble Sanctuary have survived and matured. In early January we were fortunate to witness them preparing to take-off. They would ‘run’ along the water surface, gathering speed until they reached the far edge. They continued this practice session for quite a while. It will only be a short time before they finally fly away from their nursery site.

Other interesting sightings during the last two months include:

  • A resident of Aireys Inlet witnessed a White-bellied Sea Eagle swoop down and take a waterbird from the Allen Noble Sanctuary. This is quite an amazing occurrence in a built up area.
  • A Black-Eared Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx osculans, was found dead near Freshwater Creek. It is one of the smaller sized members of the cuckoo family (19-21cm). It is usually found in drier inland habitat, in vegetation along creek beds and in mulga and mallee woodlands. This find is another new record for the Angair bird list.
  • Whiskered Terns are presently nesting at Lake Modewarre, as is the Hoary-headed Grebe.
  • Two Brush Bronzewings were feeding in the gravel section at Flaxbournes Road.
  • Both Leaden and Satin Flycatchers have been seen at Ironbark Basin. The Satin Flycatchers were preoccupied with nest building.
  • The Yellow-bellied Gliders at Moggs Creek are very active at this time of the year.
  • It has been a bad time for the Hooded Plovers. At Moggs Creek, eggs were almost due to hatch when they were taken, probably by a bird. It was their second attempt at nesting for this season.
  • A very handsome Brown Snake, about one metre long, crossed in front of us on a walking track at Distillery Creek. Brown Snakes are highly variable in colour. This particular one was a very light brown colour on the back and bright yellow underneath.
  • We have two new mounted specimens for the natural history display at Angair. A Shy Albatross which was found near Point Addis sometime in 2014, and a Common Ringtail Possum.

Kaye Traynor