Castlemaine Bird Walks – a recommended resource
Posted on 29 August, 2018 by Tanya Loos
In April 2018, local birder and photographer Damian Kelly published the wonderful book Castlemaine Bird Walks: A guide to walks and birds in the Castlemaine district. The book has been warmly received by the local community, selling over 500 copies, and is now in its third reprint.
As our supporters know, we’re very much into birds here at Connecting Country. Hence we thought it timely to review this useful resource for our bird survey volunteers, or anyone interested in local birds.
Castlemaine Bird Walks is a comprehensive guide to walking and birding in the Castlemaine district. There are over 200 pages covering more than 40 walking sites plus a section on ephemeral swamps. For each walk, information includes a site description, how to get there, walking guide, distance and difficulty, detailed map, likely birds, and site notes.
The Forest Creek at Golden Point site (on page 35) has been surveyed four times a year since 2010 as part of Connecting Country’s long term monitoring program, so I’m very familiar with the site and the birds there. It was great to read the history of the site, as well as accurate descriptions of the habitat of this wonderfully revegetated site. I was thrilled to see a photo of the Olive Whistler at the site, as Jane Rusden and I spotted that highly unusual sighting!
The photos are very natural and show birds as you would see them in the field, with a lot of habitat context and natural light, providing a useful identification tool. Damian has used these to great effect in a section called ‘Birds and how to identify them’. Thornbills, robins, and honeyeaters are covered comprehensively.
This is a book written by a birdwatcher for birdwatchers! The section ‘Bird watching – tricks of the trade’ provides some helpful hints about time of day, weather, and other phenomena such as flowering and thermals.
What about data?! I was glad to see the book covers data collection in two sections: ‘Contributing to our knowledge of birds’ and ‘Record keeping’. Here Damian lists eBird and Birdata as useful tools, and highlights the benefits of collecting data for conservation purposes. On the companion website to the book, the ins and outs of exploring and recording data on both these sites is described clearly.
A short and informative section on ‘Gardens and birds’ is at the end of the book, which Damian has updated and extended on the companion website.
I have not had a chance to test-run any of the walks, but they look accurate and easy to interpret. Local birder Chris Timewell played a considerable role in assisting Damian in the site selection and creation of the maps.
Castlemaine Bird Walks also has an ‘accessibility guide’, which describes in detail which walks are suitable for those with limited mobility, or who use an electric scooter.
Damian has already been a walk leader for Friends of Box Ironbark Forests on a very enjoyable outing to Gower.
In short, whether you are an experienced birdwatcher, or a total beginner this book is ideal. It is chock-full of helpful hints, beautifully illustrated and is an essential item for your bookshelf. For those electronically minded, subscribe to the blog of the Castlemaine bird walks companion website for updates and more great photos.
The book is available at Stonemans Bookroom, and the Castlemaine Visitors Centre, as well as online via this link.
Congratulations to Damian for this wonderful contribution to the birding community of Castlemaine!