Sunday, 13 March 2011

A long weekend in Northern Victoria

Managed to get out on Sunday and Monday on the long weekend to check out some forests and wetlands that have been revived in the last few months of rain.

I started at Lake Wendouree in Ballarat (view map), which this year is full for the first time in over 10 years and, with so much vegetation close to the shore, the birdlife is within easy viewing and photographic distance. Among the usual suspects: Pacific Black Duck, Mallard, Eurasian Coot, Black Swan, Hoary-headed Grebe, I found a female Musk Duck having a splash bath

Musk Duck, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat

A White-faced Heron was feeding on frogs, apparently oblivious to walkers, joggers and cyclists passing just a few metres away

White-faced Heron, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat

as was a family of Black Swan - 2 adults and 5 almost fully grown cygnets, feeding on the surface weed

Black Swan, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat

I was intending to stop at Cairn Curran Reservoir but it started to bucket down with rain just as I arrived in Newstead so I opted for a pie and drink at the Newstead General Store (always try and contribute to the local economy...) and instead headed for Muckleford State Forest as at least driving slowly through the forest is more pleasant than highway driving in the rain. As I arrived at the Muckleford Nature Conservation Reserve at the north-western end of Pullans Road (near Gower - see map), the rain stopped and sun broke through so I was out of the car and into the forest only to immediately retreat to the car for the insect repellant to at least try to reduce the mosquito feeding frenzy.

Muckleford Nature Conservation Reserve

There were lots of birds calling in the canopy including Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Crimson Rosella, Galah but the tall trees and backlight made photography difficult. However, one Eastern Yellow Robin obliged by landing on a branch nearby

Eastern Yellow Robin, Muckleford NCR

and some persistence allowed me to get close enough for an ID shot of this White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike - heavily cropped but first time I have photographed this species :-)

White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Muckleford NCR

but the highlight of this stop was not a bird - this Yellow-footed Antechinus was climbing a tree trunk about 40 metres away (photographs again heavily cropped). It's highly unusual to see dasyurids during the daytime (though this species is supposed to be more diurnal than most) and I can't believe I spotted it - I suppose it helps when your eyes are tuned to detect movement.

Yellow-footed Antechinus, Muckleford NCR be continued

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