The COVID and weather gods combined to give us perfect conditions for our August bird walk – our first walk outside the Surf Coast for nearly two years. Our destination was the wonderful Serendip Wildlife Sanctuary at Lara, where 150 bird species have been recorded.
We were looking forward to seeing many species that are rare, or non-existent, on the Surf Coast. Firstly White-winged Choughs which are always an entertaining sight with their group dynamics, plus scores of active, but hard to see, White-plumed Honeyeaters. The most common parrots we saw, apart from Galahs, were Red-rumped Parrots, some of which obligingly posed on dead trees for our easy viewing.
Also a flock of Purple-crowned Lorikeets which were easy to hear, but hard to see as they disappeared into the high tree foliage.
We appreciated having a close sighting of a Whistling Kite, and were able to make comparisons with soaring Black Kites and distant Wedge-tailed Eagles.
Many of the rarer birds were in enclosures, but what a treat it was to be able to see them close up. These included Masked Owl, Freckled Duck, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Bush Stone-curlew, Australian Bustard, Brolga, and Tawny Frogmouth, plus many roaming Emus.
Unfortunately we were not able to include any of these on our official list of 40 wild bird species, such as the Little Pied Cormorant.
Little Pied Cormorant
We were most fortunate to run into the Animal Ranger, one of six Parks Victoria rangers who have to cover an enormous district including the Bellarine, as environmental funding is always such a low priority. He turned out to be a mine of information, including why the reptile enclosure next to us was empty. This was due to mice killing them…I will spare you the grisly details.
We had wondered whether we could include on our list the many Magpie and Cape Barren Geese. The latter were clearly breeding well, with a pair even finding their way into an almost enclosed, empty aviary. He said that the reason they love the enclosures is because of a plentiful supply of food, and safety from predators. There is currently a master plan for Serendip and the You Yangs, with feedback having closed. The infrastructure in the sanctuary is deteriorating, and some ‘show’ species, such as clipped-winged Musk and Blue-billed Duck, have died and not been replaced. A decision also needs to be made about a lone male Brolga – whether he might go to Healesville to mate with their lone female, or vice versa. Water could be an issue as the lake which is usually full this time of year was totally dry, and had large bushes growing in it. Fortunately, there has been a big response with thousands signing a petition and hundreds of submissions, so there is hope that it will be further developed for education and wild-life viewing.