Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Bird of the month: Black Swan

Posted on 25 January, 2023 by Ivan

Welcome to Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are blessed to have the brilliant Jane Rusden and Damian Kelly from BirdLife Castlemaine District writing about our next bird of the month, accompanied by Damian’s stunning photos.

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)

Driving between Newlyn and Creswick in central Victoria during spring 2022, I was excited to spot a pair of black swans who’d built a nest in one of the many ephemeral wetlands that formed this last winter. On a subsequent drive along the same route a few weeks later, there were tiny cygnets being shepherded and protected by their parents.

Before the discovery of Australia by Europeans, they knew as fact that all swans were white. Karl Popper, the Austrian philosopher, used this lack of knowledge in his famous parable of the black swan. That is, all swans are white, until you find a black one. This is important to science because it illustrates the testability and potential fallibility of scientific hypothesis. In other words, a scientific fact is so until proven otherwise, and importantly, it is testable. This is what differentiates science from pseudo-science and belief systems.

Within Australia, the black swan is nomadic, with erratic migration patterns dependent upon climatic conditions (photo by Damian Kelly)

 

Of course, Australians have always known that not all swans are white. Back to the big, black and beautiful bird – maybe more amusing than beautiful, when feeding bum up in estuaries – but you get my drift.

Although Australia has only one swan species, the Black Swan, across the world there are 24 species of swans ranging from the arctic to South America. They are a large bird, with males weighing 6 kg and females 5 kg, and a wingspan of 160-200 cm. They take flight with feet running across the surface of the water and need 40-50 m to get airborne.

The bills of swans (and the related geese) are adapted for grazing. They are largely vegetarian and feed in shallow water and on land eating grasses, aquatic and marsh plants. They can be found in fresh, brackish and saline waters. They are able to clear the salt absorbed from feeding and drinking salt water from their systems by spending a few days in freshwater, where the salt is collected in special glands above their eyes, and then shed through the nostrils or nares.

One of only three swan species that inhabit the southern hemisphere, the large Black swan is an unmistakable water bird (photo by Damian Kelly)

 

Breeding may occur at any time of the year if conditions are favourable. The nest is usually a large, buoyant heap of vegetation up to 1.5 m across and 1.2 m thick. Clutch size ranges form 4-10 young, depending on conditions. Adults are generally sedentary in suitable habitat but young will move to new areas after breeding.

They are distributed widely across Australia wherever there is suitable water. The Black Swan has been introduced into New Zealand and there are vagrants in Papua New Guinea. They can be common in parks and gardens where there is water and will readily take food offered by people.

To read more on Swans and Karl Popper – click here
To listen to the call of the Black Swan – click here

Jane Rusden
Damian Kelly

 

Bird walk for beginners – try the interactive walk now!

Posted on 12 January, 2023 by Ivan

Thank you for the positive feedback we’ve received since our recent launch of the ‘Bird walk for beginners’ along Forest Creek, Castlemaine VIC. We can report that over 100 people have accessed the new bird walk for beginners since our 2022 launch, but we want to see the numbers grow into 2023! If you haven’t tried the new interactive walk yet, now is a great time for a casual stroll along some great bird habitats. Mornings and evenings are a perfect time to see birds and avoid the heat on hotter days.

We are pleased to announce the printed birdwalk brochure is now available from Castlemaine Visitor Information Centre (44 Mostyn St, Castlemaine VIC).

You can also download a copy – click here

Our ‘Bird walk for beginners’ brochure allows the community to access an easy, self-guided bird walk. The walk starts on Forest Creek in Wesley Hill and follows a gently-graded, maintained walking path for around 1.5 km. There are eight stops along the bird walk, providing excellent opportunities to visit some great bird-watching spots, with QR codes in the brochure help you learn about the sites, identify birds and link to further information.

Here is some of the lovely comments so far:

  • Congratulations on a very successful launch of the bird walk! A wonderful project, well executed. – Jenny
  • Well done to Connecting Country for creating this great idea and delivering it. You certainly showed the value of partnerships in the Shire … I hope the brochure takes off and that Landcare work can continue to help build up areas of interest for the community to enjoy. Thanks for all the work and liaising. It melts the borders between organisations. – Christine
  • This is a wonderful project – we downloaded and printed the brochure in b&w. We used our mobile phone to read the QR code and were delighted with the information and photos we saw. We look forward to doing the walk soon. Thanks to all involved. – Judy
  • A wonderful project, professionally executed as usual and a great launch. I know what I’m doing with the grandchildren over Easter. – Chris

 

Some of the dedicated contributors and supporters who played a role in creating the ‘Bird walk for beginners’ along Forest Creek in Castlemaine (photo by Eve Lamb)

 

Creation of the bird walk was a collaboration between Castlemaine Landcare Group, BirdLife Castlemaine District, Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club and Connecting Country, with support from Parks Victoria and Mount Alexander Shire Council.

Our ‘Birding for beginners’ project was funded by the Victorian Government through Parks Victoria’s Volunteering Innovation Fund.

 

Bird of the month: Tawny Frogmouth

Posted on 6 December, 2022 by Ivan

Welcome to Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are blessed to have the brilliant Jane Rusden and Damian Kelly  from BirdLife Castlemaine District writing about our next bird of the month, accompanied by their stunning photos.

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides)

For BirdLife Castlemaine District’s November 2022 bird walk, bird of the day was a Tawny Frogmouth, who patiently let 30-odd birdwatchers have a good look at it. The bird was found by our local young gun of a birder, the extremely sharp-eyed Tavish. I gather Tavish spotted a tree that didn’t quite look right, and it turned out that that odd-looking branch was a Tawny Frogmouth.

Tawny Frogmouth at Pennyweight Flat during the BirdLife Castlemaine November 2022 bird walk. (Photo by Jane Rusden)

Personally I’ve spent hours and hours wandering through bush looking for them, but they are so brilliant at hiding in plain sight, I rarely see them. Not only are their feathers like tatty tree bark, but they strike a pose that makes them look like a dead branch that is not worth noticing. Their huge yellow eyes close to cryptic slits, as they watch potential threats and curious bird watchers wander by in oblivion.

Tawny Frogmouth at night, pretending to be a dead branch (Photo by Damian Kelly)

 

Bright lights attract insects and towns attract mice, which in turn can lure nocturnal Tawny Frogmouths into urban environments, and sometime unfortunately and fatally in front of moving cars. I have witnessed one doing their classic hunting behaviour of perching on a low support, in this case a star picket, and pouncing on moths that were drawn to the light spilling from a window. Their diet consists of insects and mice, and also spiders, frogs and even small rats. Such incredibly cryptic feathers help the stealthy wait for unsuspecting prey to wander within striking distance, either on the ground or in the air.

Despite being nocturnal and hunting by stealth on silent wings, they are not an owl. Tawny Frogmouths belong to the frogmouth family, which include a few other species close by in Papua New Guinea. David Fleay (a pioneering Australian scientist and conservationist) described Frogmouth nests as a crude and crazy fabrication of sticks – often across the fork of a horizontal bough. Both female and male birds will sit on the eggs and feed the chicks – usually two chicks, but sometimes three or four. It’s currently the middle of their breeding season, which is usually August to December.

Tavish, I haven’t forgotten I owe you and your friend a chocolate frog for spotting the bird of the day.

After dusk Tawny Frogmouths are sometimes heard calling, their repeated ‘oom, oom, oom, oom, oom’ calls carrying through the night air (Photo by Damian Kelly)

 

To listen to the call of the Tawny Frogmouth – click here

 

Landcare sticky beak tour 2022 – Sutton Grange Landcare Group

Posted on 26 October, 2022 by Hadley Cole

As part of the Landcare sticky beak tour in October 2022 we will be celebrating the work of Landcare and friends groups across the Mount Alexander / Leanganook region of central Victoria.

Today we will have a little sticky beak into the wonderful work of Sutton Grange Landcare Group.

Sutton Grange Landcare Group was formed in 1990. As well as committee meetings they hold general meetings, which often include a guest speaker. The group puts together a wonderful quarterly newsletter that covers great information on natural resource management issues in the local area.  

 

The group has a popular free tree program where anyone who is a member is entitled to 40 free trees per year. This year the group decided to hold a planting day during the winter 2022 school holidays, encouraging families to bring their kids along to take part in the plantings. To read more information on the wonderful success of their planting day – click here

Sutton Grant Landcare Group members enjoying a planting day (photo by Todd Ware)

Sutton Grange Landcare Group have worked to reintroduce native plant species to the Albert Cox Memorial Sanctuary in Sutton Grange VIC, since 1991. The memorial site was previously a school pine plantation, which was then cleared for timber harvesting. The current Landcare members have worked on pest control and replanting the former plantation and an adjacent area under the guidance of a local member and Connecting Country. During winter 2022 they planted another 300 trees in the adjacent area to revegetate a disused road. Sutton Grange Landcare Group also works in partnership with Mount Alexander Shire Council to maintain an area of threatened native grasses and herbs around the nearby Sutton Grange War Memorial.

Take yourself for a stroll out at Sutton Grange and see some of the wonderful work this group have been doing to protect and conserve local flora and wildlife habitat. To make your way to the Albert Cox Memorial Sanctuary, head to the corner of Sutton Grange Redesdale Rd and Bendigo-Sutton Grange Rd in Sutton Grange VIC. Please see the following map for further directions.

 

Map of Sutton Grange Landcare work sites (image provided by Sutton Grange Landcare)

During October 2022, get out there and explore your local neighbourhood and see what plants and animals you can find in your local Landcare group’s sites! You never know what you might discover.

The Landcare sticky beak tour was made possible through a Victorian Landcare Grant with North Central Catchment Management Authority.

 

            

 

Bird of the month: Peregrine Falcon

Posted on 10 October, 2022 by Ivan

Welcome to Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are blessed to have the brilliant Damian Kelly from BirdLife Castlemaine District writing about our next bird of the month, accompanied by his stunning photos.

Peregrine Falcon – Falco peregrinus

Peregrine Falcons can be found worldwide on every continent except Antarctica, with several subspecies identified. The species name peregrinus refers to its wandering habit in the northern hemisphere where it migrates to warmer climes in winter.

However, the Australian subspecies (Falco peregrinus macropus) does not migrate. The subspecies name macropus comes from macro = large, and pus = foot. It seems that the Australian birds have developed a large foot to facilitate the taking of Galahs, one of their preferred prey items. In addition, because they do not need to migrate, they have shorter wings and are heavier than most northern subspecies. Although this is less favourable for long flights, it aids in speed and manoeuvrability, which makes hunting medium to large parrots easier. In Australia, as in other parts of the world, Peregrines have adapted to humans and are now well-established nesting and living in large cities where they utilise tall buildings.

Peregrine Falcons are among the world’s most common birds of prey and are present in central Victoria (photo by Damian Kelly)

 

They have been used as trained hunters in the sport of falconry for at least 3,000 years. They are easily trained and adapt to humans, being easy to breed in captivity.

It is the fastest animal on earth, having been clocked at 112 km/hour in level flight and over 300 km/hour in a dive, recorded when a female Peregrine chased a skydiver. Prey consists largely of other birds, normally caught in flight, although sometimes knocked out of the sky during a fast dive. City falcons primarily take feral pigeons, along with other small birds such as honeyeaters and some water birds.

They also have a murderous reputation amongst their own kind, with female falcons killing other females to gain possession of a nest site. Occasionally a new male will drive away an existing male and take over a site with a sitting female. This is being played out with the Collins Street falcons at the moment in Melbourne. Females are larger than males.

Australian Peregrines tend to be sedentary, holding territories and nest sites throughout the year. They do not build their own nests, preferring ledges on cliffs as well as ledges on buildings in large cities, large hollows or sometimes taking over the existing nests of other species such as Whistling Kites. Research in Victoria has identified around 256 active nests – 60% on cliffs, 10% on buildings, 14% in stick nests of other species, and 16% in tree hollows. Both males and females incubate the eggs and feed the young.

Peregrine Falcons are extremely territorial and rare birds-of-prey that dive at neck-breaking speeds to hunt smaller birds (photo by Damian Kelly)

 

If you want to watch active nests in Australia, two have online webcam feeds with young that hatched around early October 2022.

To watch Peregrine Falcons nesting on a tall building in Collins Street in Melbourne VIC – click here
To watch Perigraine Falcons nesting in a nest box on a water tower in Orange NSW – click here

 

Damian Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landcare sticky beak tour – Book Now – Saturday 8 October 2022

Posted on 3 October, 2022 by Ivan

The Mount Alexander region Landcare sticky beak tour is a celebration of Landcare and friends groups across the region! Many of the natural spaces you can experience in our beautiful region have been lovingly brought back to life and cared for by the incredibly dedicated network of Landcare and friends groups of the region.

Our Landcare sticky beak tour provides an opportunity for our local Landcare and environment groups to showcase their work both online over the month of October 2022, and in person at the launch on Saturday 8 October 2022 at Honeycomb Reserve (end of Honeycomb Rd), Campbells Creek VIC from 10.00 am to 12 noon.

Connecting Country will launch the project in partnership with local Landcare and friends groups, with a walking tour in and around sites in the Campbells Creek area. This is a great opportunity to hear about the activities of local Landcare groups, meet some of the Landcarers and share their stories. Everyone is welcome and morning tea will be provided. Sturdy walking shoes and drink bottles are recommended.

Please book to assist us with planning.

To book for this free event – click here

If you have questions about the Landcare sticky beak tour please contact Connecting Country’s Landcare Facilitator, Hadley Cole – hadley@connectingcountry.org.au

This project is funded by North Central Catchment Management Authority as part of the Victorian Landcare Grants.

 

Bird of the month: Brown-headed Honeyeater

Posted on 6 September, 2022 by Ivan

Welcome to our 29th Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are blessed to have both the brilliant Damian Kelly and talented Jane Rusden from BirdLife Castlemaine District writing about our next bird of the month, accompanied by their stunning photos.

Brown-headed Honeyeater (Melithreptus brevirostris)

Walking through Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve (Sandon VIC) in late August, with my camera in hand, I observed a honeyeater intently doing something in a bunch of leaves. I couldn’t see clearly what was going on until I got to study the photos. Turns out it was a Brown-headed Honeyeater in the very early stages of constructing a nest, using spider web and fleece from a sheep to build the anchor point from which the nest will hang. Thus, this month Damian and I bring you the Brown-headed Honeyeater.

In our region there are three fairly similar honeyeaters with white napes – the White-naped, Black-chinned and Brown-headed Honeyeaters. They are often tricky to identify without close views. The eyes have it, with White-naped having an orange eye ring, the Black-chinned with a blue eye ring and the Brown-head with a pale eye ring. In many ways the Brown-headed Honeyeater is a nondescript bird with grey and brown predominating. It favours upper foliage and you are more likely to hear it than see it. And there is the added complication that it can be mistaken for the young of the related White-naped Honeyeater.

I find the Brown-headed Honeyeater to be shyer and slightly smaller than many other honeyeater species. They tend to hang back at the bird bath and patiently wait until the brasher birds have finished splashing, shouting at each other (Fuscous Honeyeaters), and generally causing mayhem. Although a honeyeater, its diet primarily consists of insects and spiders, as well as nectar when available. Some studies have shown a pattern of about 35% nectar and 65% insects.

Communal behaviour is marked in the species, with them regularly travelling and foraging in groups. In winter family groups from adjacent territories often form large wandering mobs. Birds may preen each other and family parties often roost in huddles, usually in slender foliage near the tops of trees. Similar to other species that roost together, the Brown-headed Honeyeater huddles have the mature birds take up the outer perches with the young birds sandwiched in-between. Often adjacent birds face in different directions, which probably makes it easier to pack closer together as well as providing a wider view of possible predators.

Brown-headed Honeyeater taking flight (photo Damian Kelly)

 

Nests are cup-shaped structures suspended from branches. Nesting is sometimes assisted by additional birds. The material mainly consists of spiders’ webs used to bind together such things as horse and cattle hair, and even Koala fur has been recorded. Strangely, cattle hair is usually from white animals not those with darker colours.

Two or three eggs are laid with incubation and feeding of young by both parents. One or more auxiliary birds may assist in incubation and the feeding of the young. Generally, this species moves within a large home range, with movements dependent on food availability. Bird banding studies have confirmed this, with the 99% of recoveries within 10 km of the banding site. Distribution is from southern Queensland through to Western Australia, mainly closer to coastal area and inland rivers.

Late winter and early spring are exciting times in the bush, with all sorts of breeding activities going on. Such a great time to stumble on interesting and curious animal behaviours. The following photos show a Brown-headed Honeyeater in the very early stages of nest building, high up in a Box tree. The anchor is being made, from which a cup-shaped nest will hang, hidden by leaves.

Brown-headed Honeyeater starting to build a new nest high up in a Box tree (photo by Jane Rusden)

 

Brown-headed Honeyeater in the very early stages of nest building (photo by Jane Rusden)

 

To listen to the brown-headed Honeyeater call – click here

Jane Rusden & Damian Kelly

 

Bird of the month: White-faced Heron

Posted on 23 August, 2022 by Ivan

Welcome to our 28th Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are blessed to have both the brilliant Damian Kelly and talented Jane Rusden from BirdLife Castlemaine District writing about our next bird of the month, accompanied by their stunning photos.

White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae)

While walking and discussing birds and cameras with Damian Kelly and Ash Vigus, whom regular readers will know as extremely talented and knowledgable on both those topics, we spotted a White-faced Heron with a stick in its bill. Sure enough, it was nest building with its mate, high up in a tall Pinus halepensis, in the beautiful Castlemaine Botanical Gardens.

High in a tree is a classic spot for them to build their messy pile of sticks lined with smaller twigs, that somehow works as a nest. Favoured sites are near water and therefore a food source, even when these same sites are popular with human visitors. As a large blue-grey bird with it’s distinctive white face, normally seen stealthily stalking invertebrates and frogs in shallow water or mud flats, they can look a bit incongruous in a tree.

The majestic, blue-grey White-faced Heron (photo Damian Kelly)

 

Usually they are seen as single birds, who may have become resident at a dam or other food source for a long period of time. However, during the breeding season and for a while afterwards, family groups will form feeding parties and work their way across a paddock or irrigated farmland, searching for frogs and insects. During breeding, both sexes incubate and feed young. Clutch sizes are usually 2-3 chicks, and once fledged the young will stay near the nest site while the parents feed them.

The call of the White-faced Heron is slightly scary in my opinion, and not what you’d expect from such an elegant-looking bird. It is harsh and guttural, often heard while the bird is flying overhead. Usually, they are silent, as you’d expect from a bird that stalks its food, and relies on stealth and surprise to snatch a meal.

A White-faced Heron ‘surfing’ in the shallows. Along the coast they will hunt in rock pools, artfully dodging waves as they work the shore. (photo by Damian Kelly)

 

White-faced Herons are one of a small bunch of species that may have benefitted from land clearing and deforestation. They have adapted to using man-made or altered water sources for feeding, probably because they were already adapted to using a variety of fresh and saline habitats to hunt for food. Basically, if it’s got water, they will stalk it for tasty morsels such as fish, crustaceans, worms and other smaller creatures of the animal kingdom. They do farmers a favour with their capacity to consume large numbers of crickets in pasture. Being such an adaptable bird, White-faced Herons can be found all over Australia (except in the central deserts), and in New Zealand, parts of Papua-New Guinea and various offshore islands.

To find out more about White-faced Herons, including their calls – click here

Jane Rusden and Damian Kelly

 

 

Window strike: when birds hit windows – 12 August 2022

Posted on 4 August, 2022 by Frances

Swift Parrot (photo by Michael Gooch)

Our friends at Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club and BirdLife Castlemaine District are teaming up to host a joint meeting. Local nature guru Tanya Loos will speak on an important topic that is sure to interest many of our readers.

Friday 12 August 2022 at 7.30 pm via Zoom

Speaker: Tanya Loos, Nature writer and science communicator

Topic: Window strike: when birds hit windows

Window strike is a huge problem for common birds as well as threatened species such as the Swift Parrot and Powerful Owl.  Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of a thud or even a crash as a bird in rapid flight collides with a window at home. The good news is there are easy steps you can take to prevent this happening.

The meeting will be held by Zoom.  All are welcome.

If you have not joined earlier webinars and wish to attend, please email Peter Turner at munrodsl@iinet.net.au

 

 

 

Bird of the month: Blue-billed Duck

Posted on 20 July, 2022 by Frances

Welcome to our 27th Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are blessed to have both the brilliant Damian Kelly and talented Jane Rusden from BirdLife Castlemaine District writing about our next bird of the month, accompanied by their stunning photos.

Blue-billed Duck (Oxyura australis)

Stunning image captured by Damian Kelly on one of the rarer occasions of Blue-billed Duck sightings at Lake Johanna in Castlemaine

 

July 2022’s BirdLife Castlemaine District walk took us to Bendigo Water Reclamation Plant in Epsom VIC. We were treated to a wonderful tour of Lagoon No. 6, by passionate Coliban Water staff Leon and Rebecca, who were keen to share this wonderful birding hotspot. (Incidentally we saw 58 species and huge numbers of many species sighted.) Along with Musk Ducks, Blue-billed Ducks were among the species everyone got very excited about seeing.

The handsome male is distinctive and easy to identify with its blue bill, glossy jet black head and chestnut body. The female is overall grey with pale barring, a bit like a Freckled Duck or lighter coloured Musk Dusk, and harder to identify for this reason. Blue-billed Ducks are smaller than Musk Ducks, but the two species are closely related genetically.

Due to their shyer nature, these ducks are usually seen at a distance. In the water, Blue-billed and Musk Ducks can appear similar as both swim with a low posture, although the Blue-billed Duck sits slightly lower in the water. Like the Musk Duck, Blue-bills feed mostly by diving to the bottom of the water to collect a variety of vegetation as well as insects, larvae, molluscs and crustaceans. They have been observed diving to depths up to three metres and they can remain submerged for up to 30 seconds. They also swim alongside banks where plants overhang, stripping seeds and other parts.

As they are specialised diving birds, they cannot walk very well on land, with legs set back on the body. They are rarely seen perching on logs, preferring open water and secluded bays. They are also known as stiff tails, because like the Musk Duck, they have a rigid tail to assist in diving.

Preferred habitats are inland swamps with dense vegetation and they have a preference for Cumbungi  swamps. They range across eastern and southern Australia as well as the south-west of Western Australia.  During the breeding season they tend to remain hidden in dense vegetation, so are often hard to see. Open water is a favourite habit and they can congregate in groups, especially after the breeding season. Large groups have been recorded at times, the largest being about 8,000 birds, but generally smaller groups are most common.

Nesting is in dense vegetation. A domed nest is built with Typha leaves (Bull Rushes) and a cup of roughly woven structure of dead vegetation. Clutch size is generally 5-8 eggs. Unusually, they have a propensity for dump-nesting, where they will lay in the nests of other species, particularly the related Musk Duck. Ducklings are then raised by the other species. Yes, you read that correctly: Blue-billed Ducks are a brood parasitic duck! Young birds are precocial and able to feed themselves almost immediately after hatching. They have been recorded on their second day diving for up to ten seconds in search of food.

Damian and I are always muttering to each other about how we learn surprising things about birds when researching ‘Bird of the month’, and Blue-billed Ducks were no exception. Who knew there were secretive brood parasite ducks, with stiff tails, who can dive to 3 m deep but are barely able to walk on land, resulting in them avoiding anything that’s not water?

To find out more about Blue-billed Ducks – click here

Jane Rusden and Damian Kelly

 

Bird of the month: Long-billed and Little Corella

Posted on 21 June, 2022 by Ivan

Welcome to our 26th Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are blessed to have both the brilliant Damian Kelly and talented Jane Rusden from BirdLife Castlemaine District writing about our next bird of the month, accompanied by their stunning photos.

Long-billed Corella (Cacatua tenuirostris) and Little Corella (Cacatua sanguine)

Damian Kelly on wild Corellas

The story of Corellas in Australia is one of boom, bust and boom. And along the way some hard lessons have been learnt about misguided control measures that had exactly the opposite impact to what was intended.

Back in 1878 in the Kimberley in Western Australia one estimate put a flock of Little Corellas at 50,000 birds. The noise of their calls was unbearable as anyone who has been close to a flock would appreciate. Many very large flocks have been recorded across various parts of the inland.

The Little Corella has been used as a reliable guide to the presence of water by both the local Aboriginal groups and the later European settlers. Little Corellas are seldom found far from permanent water sources as they drink each day and occupy communal roosts near water in wooded farmlands, tree-lined water courses and nearby scrublands

Unlike northern Australia, in Victoria Little Corellas were first recorded in the dry north-west of the state in 1951. Steady expansion of their range occurred so that by the early 1970s flocks were common throughout the north-west. By 1978 they were recorded near Melbourne, probably assisted by accidental or deliberate releases of captive birds.

First records in Tasmania were in 1982, most likely from releases of captive birds. They experienced a spectacular spread in South Australia from the 1950s. Little Corellas have adapted with ease to the changing environment of farms throughout inland Australia.

Right from the early days they were kept as pets partly because they they are good talkers. There are even early records of some birds speaking in local Aboriginal dialects. They will readily breed in captivity and are also known to hydridise with Galahs and Pink Cockatoos in captivity. Hybrids with Galah have also been recorded in the wild

Long-billed Corellas originally were generally confined to south-eastern Australia. However, feral populations are now established in all states. They prefer wetter habitats compared to the Little Corella.

Long-billed Corella in the wild displaying the very long bill, pink face and stripe across the base of the neck (photo by Damian Kelly)

 

As a salutary lesson in messing with nature, in the early 1970’s large numbers of Long-billed Corellas were trapped by government agencies in grain growing areas. These birds were then sold into the pet trade. However, these wild birds proved to be totally unsuited to being pets and many were subsequently released, adding to feral populations. This impact of human intervention has only served to aid the spread of the birds. Big flocks continue to cause damage to crops in many areas as well as big roosting groups denuding their roost trees.

Life expectancy for both species is around 20 years with some individuals living much longer. So once a mob is established in an area they will be around for a long time.

Jane Rusden on captive rescue Corellas

Interestingly, Damian’s research lead us to the realisation that my sweet aviary rescue bird, ‘Bird’, may well have been one of the Long-billed Corellas captured in the 1970s. His language indicates he’s about that age … I won’t enlighten you on his full phrase, but ‘grouse’ is the cleanest word, a word commonly used in the 1970s. Also, his leg band indicates he was taken from a nest during a cull.

Bird, the Long-billed Corella aviary rescue, who wanted my phone as I photographed him! (photo by Jane Rusden)

 

Both Corella species are very long lived –  70 years is expected, hence they often outlive owners. This can be a problem as they are very emotional birds who can become very attached to their humans. Their needs are much like those of a human child, but they also have distinctly bird needs as well. If these are not met by their owners, it can lead to a miserable, and sometimes aggressive bird. They are intelligent and crafty. Bird is an excellent escape artist, requiring padlocks on his aviary, which he can open if a key is left in them.

‘Chookie’ is my Little Corella aviary rescue. He is charismatic, loving, has amazing language, and is very adept at undoing quick links. He bites with pressures over 300 pounds per square inch (PSI). Despite trying, I can’t meet his needs and have the physical scars to show for it. He is about to join a large aviary flock, where we hope he will be happier with a mob of his own kind.

Little Corella, one of a small mob resident at an artificial water supply – a water tank in the South Australian desert – displaying the totally white bird, except for a blush of pink on the face, between the bill and eye (photo by Jane Rusden)

 

 

 

Intrepid Landcare take a walk at Leanganook 15 May 2022

Posted on 9 May, 2022 by Hadley Cole

Intrepid Landcare  – Mount Alexander region is a local group for 18 – 35 year olds looking to connect with Country and care for our environment here in central Victoria. Their monthly activities include working bees, educational sessions, nature walks and outdoor adventures.

Join Intrepid Landcare on Sunday 15 May 2022 for an informal walk up on Leanganook (Mount Alexander) from Leanganook Picnic Ground to Dog Rocks. We’ll meet near the toilet block at 11.00 amBYO picnic lunch and thermos if you’d like to stay for lunch afterwards. No RSVP is needed.

If you like birding, bring your binoculars!

Be sure to dress warmly and wear sturdy walking shoes, the rocks on the Mount can be very slippery. Here is a photo from our walk up there in 2019, where we scored bonus snow!

 

Intrepid Landcarers enjoying a nature walk (photo by Asha Bannon)

 

Leanganook is a beautiful and culturally important place. Here’s a great video with Uncle Trent Nelson sharing insights about its significance from Djaara perspective: click here

 

If you have any questions, text or call Asha on 0418 428 721 or email intrepidlandcaremar@gmail.com.

As with all Intrepid Landcare activities, this is a COVID-safe event. All attendees are asked to be fully vaccinated and follow any current COVID-19 restrictions. This is a child-friendly event, noting that kids must be under parent/carer supervision at all times.

 

Bird of the month: Flame Robin

Posted on 9 May, 2022 by Frances

Welcome to our 25th Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are lucky to have the talented and charismatic Jane Rusden from BirdLife Castlemaine District, and the brilliant Damian Kelly, sharing their writing and images about our next bird of the month.

Flame Robin (Petroica phoenicea)

True to the Flame Robins’ annual migration from higher and wetter altitudes in summer, to lower altitudes in winter, April saw them arriving in Central Victoria. They demonstrate classic altitudinal migration, breeding in mountain forests up to 1,800 m in elevation, utilising ridges and slopes, which is a little unusual. As a very general rule, gullies are preferred by most woodland bird species because they hold more moisture, and therefore support higher density and biodiversity of plant species. All this makes gullies more nutrient-dense and therefore good foraging for birds. So the Flame Robin is an interesting contradiction during the breeding season and summer months.

April 2022 bird surveys for BirdLifes’ Birds on Farms project in Castlemaine recorded Flame Robins in their preferred autumn and winter environment: edge habitat and dryer open woodland. They were spotted foraging from paddock fences along the vegetated Forest Creek corridor, on the edge of a disturbed but newly re-vegetated paddock.

The neon bright, deep orange breast and belly, contrasting with grey on the rest of the bird, makes the male Flame Robin distinctive and easy to identify. The female and immature birds are another matter entirely. They can easily be mistaken for Red-capped and Scarlet Robins, as they all tend to look small and brown. The bane of the birder’s bird watching life! However, in practice it’s the vivid male that will catch your eye, and take your breath away with its splendour.

For a small bird, Flame Robins can disperse over quite large distances. Banding studies show them moving up to 351 km and tending to return to the same over-wintering sites year after year. The species distribution ranges from south-east Queensland to around the edges of South Australia, as well as Tasmania, and outside the breeding season, up to the Murray River in Victoria.

Outside the breeding season, Flame Robins will form small flocks of typically 6-14 birds. However, along Forest Creek larger flocks have been recorded, which is not so unusual.

Bonds between breeding pairs of Flame Robins often persist between seasons. The breeding season is August to February, when they build cup-shaped nests of grass, bark strips, moss and spider web. They lay 2-3 eggs per clutch and it’s not uncommon for pairs to raise multiple broods.

The major disturbance of bush fires and logging can be a temporary boon to Flame Robins. Records provide evidence of them using recently burnt areas, especially outside the breeding season. As the vegetarian recovers, numbers of Flame Robins decreased in disturbed areas.

Male Flame Robin, typically perched on a fence (photo by Damian Kelly)

 

Female Flame Robin (photo by Damian Kelly)

 

Written by Jane Rusden and Damian Kelly
Photos by Damian Kelly

 

 

 

Research confirms: planting brings back woodland birds

Posted on 4 May, 2022 by Frances

Connecting Country works with landholders and community groups to restore landscapes across the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria, with a focus on restoring habitat for woodland birds on both public and private land. Our key actions include fencing to protect remnant vegetation, changing grazing regimes, controlling pest plants and animals, planting revegetation and nurturing natural regeneration.

We focus on restoring woodlands and degraded landscapes for the benefit of our woodland birds and other wildlife. Through Connecting Country’s long-term bird monitoring program, we have a solid database that allows us to assess changes in woodland bird populations over time. Analysis indicates that our landscape restoration efforts are having a positive impact on woodland birds.

We were heartened to recently discover some robust scientific research that supports our observations: revegetation with suitable indigenous plants really does bring back woodland birds! The new research was published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, and shows planting trees and shrubs brings woodland birds back to farms, from superb fairy-wrens to spotted pardalotes. The research was conducted by a team of respected academics, including Professor Andrew Bennett, who is a long-term friend of Connecting Country and helped design our bird monitoring program.

Revegetation of degraded woodlands is a key focus of Connecting Country (photo by Gen Kay)

 

The research also concluded that scattered trees are valuable habitat features for birds. These large old trees act as stepping stones that help birds move across the landscape, and provide foraging and nesting habitat for species such as Brown Treecreeper, Laughing Kookaburra and Eastern Rosella. They found individual patches of revegetation have the greatest value for birds when they include a diverse range of trees and shrubs, are close to or connected with native vegetation, and are older (meaning the plants have had more time to grow).

To read a news article about the research, courtesy of The Conversation website – click here
To read the full scientific article in the the Journal of Applied Ecology – click here

Connecting Country have been providing plants for landholder revegetation projects for over a decade (photo by Jacqui Slingo)

 

Connecting Country has established many successful restoration projects, including returning biodiversity to degraded paddocks (photo by Connecting Country)

 

Bird walk for beginners – get your brochure now

Posted on 13 April, 2022 by Frances

Thank you for the positive feedback we’ve received since our recent launch of the ‘Bird walk for beginners’ along Forest Creek, Castlemaine VIC.

We are pleased to announce the printed birdwalk brochure is now available from Castlemaine Visitor Information Centre (44 Mostyn St, Castlemaine VIC).

You can also download a copy – click here

Our new ‘Birdwalk for beginners’ brochure allows the community to access an easy, self-guided bird walk. The walk starts on Forest Creek in Wesley Hill and follows a gently-graded, maintained walking path for around 1.5 km. There are eight sites along the bird walk, providing excellent opportunities to visit some great bird-watching spots, with QR codes in the brochure help you learn about the sites, identify birds and link to further information.

Here is some of the lovely comments so far:

  • Congratulations on a very successful launch of the bird walk! A wonderful project, well executed. – Jenny
  • Well done to Connecting Country for creating this great idea and delivering it. You certainly showed the value of partnerships in the Shire … I hope the brochure takes off and that landcare work can continue to help build up areas of interest for the community to enjoy. Thanks for all the work and liaising. It melts the borders between organisations. – Christine
  • This is a wonderful project – we downloaded and printed the brochure in b&w. We used our mobile phone to read the QR code and were delighted with the information and photos we saw. We look forward to doing the walk soon. Thanks to all involved. – Judy
  • A wonderful project, professionally executed as usual and a great launch. I know what I’m doing with the grandchildren over Easter. – Chris

 

Some of the dedicated contributors and supporters who played a role in the creation of Castlemaine’s new Bird Walk for Beginners launched this week beside Forest Creek (photo by Eve Lamb)

 

Our ‘Birding for beginners’ project was supported by the Victorian Government through Parks Victoria’s Volunteering Innovation Fund.

 

Bird of the month: Crested Shrike-tit

Posted on 12 April, 2022 by Frances

Welcome to our 24th Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are lucky to have the talented and charismatic Jane Rusden from BirdLife Castlemaine District, and the brilliant Damian Kelly, sharing their writing and images about our next bird of the month.

Crested Shrike-tit (Falcunculus frontatus)

This month’s bird might be small in size, but packs a punch in character and arguably wins the prize for craziest hair do. The Crested Shrike-tit is boldly coloured, with a bright yellow chest and striking black and white head … and as it’s name suggests, a black mohawk-like crest. Often it’s heard before seen because of the ripping noise as it tears bark off trees using its powerful bill, searching for invertebrates, favouring spiders and beetles. Interestingly they will also eat fruit and other vegetable matter on occasion. They have even been recorded using a stick to procure hard-to-get-at insects, which is notable as using tools is normally associated with intelligence. For a pleasant change, it’s also a bird that’s easy enough to see as they can be bold and quite curious, and of course strikingly-coloured. Also welcome to the bird watcher is their distinctive high-pitched whistle, another solid identification indicator. However, like so many Australian birds, they are excellent mimics.

Damian observes Crested Shrike-tits love a bathe in puddles, and I often see them at the birdbath in my garden. Typical of my place, they can be found in eucalyptus forests with a preference for gullies, and in dryer forests, along water courses. Their distribution covers eastern and southern Australia, as well as south-west Western Australia, but rarely into tropical forests.

Usually Crested Shrike-tits are found either singularly or in pairs, though on occasion I’ve observed what I think is a family group in mid-summer. They build a deep cone-shaped nest, often high up in a vertical tree fork. Made of dry grass, moss, lichen and bark, the nest is held together with spiders web, and will hold 2-3 eggs. (Poor spiders get eaten by Crested-Shrike-tits, then their webs are torn down by them too!) Both parents brood and feed the chicks, but in some instances there will be a one or more helpers at the nest who feed young. The home range of the Crested Shrike-tit is quite large, but mobility is generally restricted to autumn, and otherwise they are quite sedentary.

Damian Kelly, who is a master at lurking quietly and unobtrusively in the bush, writes of his wonderful observations of this stunning bird:
‘They are an intriguing bird, as they can be quite inquisitive and will often come up close and personal. One time at Railway Dam I returned from a walk to find a bird clinging to the radio antenna of my car. It didn’t fly off but just observed me as I took some nice photos. A few days later at the same spot I was sitting in the car with the door wide open when a shrike-tit alighted on the edge of the door, again observing me closely. I cannot be sure if this was the same bird. I could hear another individual calling in the trees nearby but that one never came close.’

I have to admit to getting a thrill every time I see a Crested Shrike-tit, as they cock their head vigorously, showing off their crazy crest to full advantage.

Crested Shrike-tit with splendid mowhawk crest (photo by Damian Kelly)

 

Crested Shrike-tit with tasty snack (photo by Damian Kelly)

 

Written by Jane Rusden and Damian Kelly
Images captured by Damian Kelly

Visit YouTube to view a Crested Shrike-tit bathing and calling:

 

 

 

 

New bird walk launched at Forest Creek, Castlemaine

Posted on 7 April, 2022 by Jacqui

Forest Creek in Castlemaine was abuzz with activity this week, as 35 bird walkers came together to celebrate the official opening of ‘Bird walk for beginners’, a brochure-guided walk along a 1.5 km stretch of the Leanganook Track at Forest Creek in Castlemaine VIC. The birdwatchers ranged from absolute first-time beginners to more experienced birders from BirdLife Castlemaine and Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club. 

The group heard from local experts and volunteers: Christine Kilmartin from Castlemaine Landcare Group, Euan Moore and Jenny Rolland from Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club, and Jane Rusden and Damien Kelly from BirdLife Castlemaine. All had a hand in producing the brochure with us, ensuring their decades of experience with local birdlife and vegetation was captured in the bird walk brochure and online content for all to enjoy.

Councillor Gary McClure from Mount Alexander Shire Council and Noel Muller from Parks Victoria were among our special guests there to help launch the walk with our celebratory morning tea on 6 April 2022.

Christine highlighted the transformation of Forest Creek over the past decades, thanks to thousands of hours of volunteer work from Castlemaine Landcare Group. Their incredible work has seen the creek reappear after removal of massive infestations of gorse and other weeds, and planting out with a diversity of locally-native understorey plants.

This ongoing process has created a much more diverse habitat that supports a range of native birds and other wildlife. We know this because dedicated and experienced volunteers have been doing bird surveys along the creek during the transformation, to monitor the changes and return of bird species over time. These bird surveys complement Connecting Country’s network of 50 long-term bird survey sites across our region, which are monitored each year by Connecting Country volunteers, with the aim of monitoring change as land is restored through weed control and strategic revegetation.

Our new ‘Birdwalk for beginners’ brochure allows the community to access an easy, guided bird walk, with QR Codes along the way to learn about the sites, and links to further bird information and bird calls. This project aims to attract new birdwatchers, as well as celebrate the excellent restoration work that volunteers have achieved over the past few decades along Forest Creek. Bird walks are an ideal way to get people out enjoying and exploring the many natural assets we are blessed with here in central Victoria.

The printed birdwalk brochure will be available from Connecting Country and Castlemaine Visitor Information Centre (44 Mostyn St, Castlemaine VIC), or you can download a copy – click here

The walk is approximately 1.5 km long (one-way) and is located along a gently graded, well-maintained walking path suited to a range of abilities. There are eight sites along the bird walk, providing excellent opportunities to visit some great bird-watching spots, with a species list for each site on tap via the QR Codes in the brochure.

Bird watching is a great activity that almost everyone can enjoy, and this walk aims to increase the accessibility of bird walking in our region. The COVID-19 lockdown period has seen a ten-fold increase in the number of new birdwatchers around the country. People are craving nature and the outdoors, prompting them to start their bird watching journey and enjoy the challenges of how to differentiate some of the trickier species.

Central Victoria is considered a birding hotspot and we find birds often prompt you to explore wonderful places that you never knew existed!

The group was ready to test out the bird walk (photo by Frances Howe)

 

Christine Kilmartin from Castlemaine Landcare Group shares the story of the transformation of Forest Creek in recent decades (photo by Ivan Carter)

 

We extend a big thank you to Castlemaine Landcare Group, BirdLife Castlemaine, Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club, Parks Victoria and Mount Alexander Shire Council for supporting this project.

This event was part of Connecting Country’s ‘Birding for beginners’ project supported by the Victorian Government through Parks Victoria’s Volunteering Innovation Fund.

 

Bird of the month: Common Bronzewing

Posted on 29 March, 2022 by Ivan

Welcome to our 23rd Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are lucky to have the talented and charismatic Jane Rusden from BirdLife Castlemaine District, and the brilliant Damian Kelly, sharing their writing and images about our next bird of the month.

Common Bronzewing (Phaps chalcoptera)

This month we are looking at the Common Bronzewing, simply because they are resident at my place and are really quite odd! Regularly seen foraging and using the bird baths, for such a flighty shy bird, they have become quite used to us. It was a female having a prolonged bathe, for about 20 minutes, that drew my attention. She sat low in the water and rolled on her side, wing in the air (see photo), having a good soak, as if having a luxury spa. Pedicure next? I’ve seen Emus do similar, but they are enormous with such crazy long legs, so what else are they going to do? Common Bronzewings also clap, not so much in applause, but when flushed. They will usually fly from the ground up into a tree. As they take off, they clap their wings a few times, and once landed, will bob their heads as they look at you from a safe perch.

The Common Bronzewing is exactly as its name suggests, having bronze colours under the wing and being common throughout most of Australia from coasts to the Mallee. However, they were not always common as they were once illegally shot for food and sport. Thankfully, now they are easily found in Central Victoria, favouring wooded areas. They can also be found in suburban gardens, which is an indication of their adaptability. Their diet consists mainly of seeds, with occasional leaves and invertebrates. I see the resident ‘Bronzies’ foraging on the ground or in low bushes, singularly or in groups of two or three, mostly in the morning or at dusk. They visit my bird baths for a drink, most often at dawn or early morning and dusk. This is typical behaviour for the species.

Although not the only bird to compete in the scrappiest nest award, they are up there with the best. There’s a considerable pile of fine Casuarina twigs on the ground that I need to sweep up, which is the remains of a nest building attempt on top of the fire shutter housing above our windows. There’s far more twigs on the ground than ever makes it into their questionable nest building. In fact eggs roll out on a regular basis. I often carry on about how intelligent birds are, but I’m not so convinced when it comes to Bronzies. Don’t tell anyone I said that about a bird!

However, when the iridescent patch on their wings lights up, throwing flashes of golden yellow through teal green, magenta and purple colours, they are quite stunning and majestic. Their soft pinky brown chests, grey upper body and creamy white forehead on the males set off their bright pink feet beautifully. They can be easily confused with the darker and less iridescent Brush Bronzewing, which can be see along Forest Creek on occasion. Also confusing is their deep booming call, with repeated long notes that can easily be confused with the Painted Button-quail, who favours the same habitat. Damian and I have nearly confused them when heard in Kalimna Park, for example.

There’s a lot to say about this beautiful species. They fly quite fast, with speed measured from vehicles at 58-60 km/hour, and a maximum of 67 km/hour. Movement in response to food and water availability is a regular occurrence for at least part of the population, with distances up to 360 km being recorded.

Another fun fact about the Common Bronzewing is they can safely feed on Gastrolobium bilobum, commonly known as heart-leaved poison, which is a highly toxic plant common in western and northern Australia. This may explain why, in at least some areas, they are not particularly hunted by cats and dogs, who would normally find a largely ground dwelling bird easy prey.

Common Bronzewing on its scrappy nest, high up on a roller shutter housing (photo by Damian Kelly)

Female Common Bronzewing lying on its side and having a good soak in a bird bath (photo by Jane Rusden)

A stunning image showing the bronze wings of the Common Bronzewing (photo by Damian Kelly)

Jane Rusden
BirdLife Castlemaine District

 

Join us ‘Bird walk for beginners’ launch – 6 April 2022

Posted on 16 March, 2022 by Ivan

Come and help us celebrate the launch of our new brochure and bird walk, ‘Bird walk for beginners’, an easy walk along Leanganook Track and Forest Creek in Castlemaine VIC. The event and bird walk brochure aim to attract new birdwatchers, as well as celebrate the excellent restoration work that volunteers have achieved over the past few decades along Forest Creek. Bird walks are an ideal way to get people out enjoying and exploring the many natural assets we are blessed with here in central Victoria.

Bird watching is a great activity that almost everyone can enjoy, and this walk aims to increase the accessibility of bird walking in our region. We also feature a video of the walk presented by some engaging local bird enthusiasts, providing an in-depth view of the walk features for those less-abled or unable to visit the walk in-person. The COVID-19 lockdown period has seen a ten-fold increase in the number of new birdwatchers around the country, with a similar trend here in central Victoria. People are craving nature and the outdoors, prompting them to start their bird watching journey and enjoy the challenges of how to differentiate some of the trickier species.

Join us for a short, guided bird walk for all ages and abilities, and explore our new ‘Bird walk for beginners’ brochure, featuring QR codes to access bird and habitat information. The brochure launch event will feature a walk with local experts from BirdLife Castlemaine, Castlemaine Landcare Group and Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club, and will highlight the excellent volunteer work along this section of Forest Creek and Leanganook Track.

The walk is approximately 1.5 km long and is located along a gently graded, well-maintained walking path.

We will stop at eight sites along the bird walk, providing excellent opportunities to visit some great bird watching spots, with experienced mentors to guide you through the morning. Participants will have a chance to ask questions and learn directly from mentors, and scan the QR codes in the brochure to learn more about the birds at each site.

When: Wednesday 6 April 2022 at 11.00 am

Where: Leanganook Track, corner of Colles Rd and Murphy St, Castlemaine VIC. To view a google map link – click here

Bookings: Bookings are essential and tickets are limited. To book please – click here

Bird watching is a great way to connect with nature and the community (photo by Frances Howe)

 

This event is part of our ‘Birding for beginners’ project supported by the Victorian Government through Parks Victoria’s Volunteering Innovation Fund.

Please bring water and clothes for all weather to the walk, as you never know what autumn conditions may bring. All participants must adhere to health and safety requirements, including any current COVID-19 restrictions Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear and bring water and snacks, as well as binoculars if you have some. Connecting Country will provide some extra binoculars to share if needed.

Bird watching is one of the most enjoyable and satisfying ways to enjoy our natural heritage. Recording your bird observations also contributes valuable data for scientific research and informed conservation decisions. Birds are often our key connection to the landscape. They are prevalent in most environments and tell us much about our surroundings and environmental health. Central Victoria is considered a birding hotspot and they often prompt you to explore wonderful places that you never knew existed!

 

Healthy Landscapes guide – purchase a copy now

Posted on 10 March, 2022 by Ivan

We are excited to announce that we have now sold over 120 copies of our Healthy Landscapes guide. If you don’t have one yet, be sure to get your copy before the first print run sells out! They are a bargain at just $15 and perfect for people new to the region, or anyone who wants to learn more about how to protect and restore habitat for our local wildlife. Proceeds allow us to cover printing and administration costs, and support our work. 

Here’s just some of the feedback:

  • I was in Castlemaine today and suddenly remembered this item about the book being available at Stonemans. They had it at the front desk and we are reading it now back at home. It is really outstanding and very relevant. Thanks to Connecting Country for their dedication. (Welshmans Reef landholder)
  • Sensational! A must-read for anyone with a property from 1 to 1,000 acres. (Yapeen landholder/farmer)
  • I wish we’d had this guide when I first moved here 25 years ago. (Golden Point landholder)
  • Wow, what a fabulous publication. It covers all bases and is an essential read for all landowners. It has particular relevance for anyone doing due diligence before purchasing rural acreage, however big or small.  (Walmer landholder)

For more information about the Healthy Landscapes guide – click here

Copies are now on sale – when COVID-19 related restrictions allow.

To get your copy ($15) head to:

Mount Alexander Animal Welfare (MAAW) Op Shop
12 Johnstone St, Castlemaine VIC
For shop information and opening hours – click here

Castlemaine Visitor Information Centre
44 Mostyn St, Castlemaine VIC
For centre information – click here

Stoneman’s Bookroom
101 Mostyn St, Castlemaine VIC
For shop information – click here

The Book Wolf
1/26 High St, Maldon VIC
For shop information – click here

Castlemaine Vintage Bazaar
The Mill, 1-9 Walker St Castlemaine, VIC
For shop information and hours – click here

A copy of the guide has been made available free of charge to each local Landcare and environmental volunteering group in the Mount Alexander region. This project is made possible through support from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, through funding from Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.