This year I was lucky enough to find myself with 6 days off over the Easter weekend! To me this obviously means ROADTRIP!
So, packing the essentials eg cameras, bino's, thermos, hiking gear, Icehouse & Midnight Oil CD's, coffee, camp chairs and laptop I was ready to hit the road.
After sleeping in the mallee near the SA Vic border I found myself at Hattah Kulkyne National Park by 7.45am.
A few hours of birding had resulted in no luck for my quest to get a photo of the elusive and endangered Mallee Emu-wren. I had seen these birds in 2010 at Billiatt Conservation Park. Sadly a fire has since gone through there and I don’t believe anyone has seen them there since.
I was keen to try and get a photo of them on this trip, but having searched for a few hours I'd almost given up. I was driving back towards the exit when I saw one last spot with habitat that looked pretty good so climbed back out of the car. I'd only walked for a few minutes when suddenly I heard a tiny peep, one of their contact calls coming out of the Triodia. I listened and looked more intensely and sure enough another answered. I was surrounded by these invisible featherballs!
Time and patience is everything in the mallee so I waited, trying to remind myself to breath. Finally I was rewarded when they started moving from clump to clump of their favourite home, Triodia irritans. Perfectly named if you ever get the grass seed stuck under your skin!!
Seeing these little bundles is a real privilege but trying to get a photo is some thing else all together! Talk about an extreme sport! I am relieved to have something to show for the effort.
The usual view - Rear End of Mallee Emu-wren
The male Mallee Emu-wren has blue on his face and white throat
I continued on my journey feeling very happy and slept near Lake Tutchewop before continuing the next morning to Warby-Ovens National Park.
Birding near Wenhams Camp was great, with the highlight being a lovely Turquoise Parrot who remarkably perched near me long enough for a photo. These little Neophema are notoriously difficult to find perched and flush very easily so I was happy with this little bird!
Other birds seen here included Speckled Warbler, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Australian Hobby, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Weebill, Noisy Friarbirds were in huge numbers, Eastern Rosella, Crimson Rosella, Leaden Flycatcher, Grey Fantail, Rufous Whistler, Scarlet and Red-capped Robin and White-throated Treecreeper. Painted Button-quail were active near the campground.
Crested Shrike-tit with lunch - a Stick Insect
Speckled Warbler are beautiful
I was sitting at a waterhole near here in the evening when a flock of 20 Gang-gang Cockatoo landed in front of me! One of the males got curious and climbed down to eye level to take a closer look as I sat there. He chatted away quite happily to me, making all sorts of little chatty noises posing as I snapped a few photos. Finally the group decided to move further into the trees to roost. A magic experience.
Male Gang-gang Cockatoo
I spent some time birding around Chiltern - Mt Pilot National Park. Especially at Bartley's Block, Klotz Track & Green Hill Dam which as usual was very enjoyable. With similar species seen as at the Warby's but with more Honeyeater species. Plenty of Yellow-tufted & Fuscous Honeyeaters, Black-chinned Honeyeaters, White-winged Chough and a pair of energetic Brown Falcon.
Six days actually was not long enough, I think 2 weeks would have been better to be able to spend more time at each location. Chiltern is a beautiful little historic town and the buildings are gorgeous. It is worth getting up early to look at the town before it gets busy with tourists during the day! It looks like a movie set!!
The things you notice while birding! Looks like flights are travelling further these days!
Rufous Whistler - female
I definitely think the Warby's and Chiltern are 2 of my most favourite birding areas in Victoria and would highly recommend a trip here!