BirdLife Castlemaine BirdLife Branch eNews April 2024

Tuesday, 2 April 2024

  • Estimated reading time 10 minutes

Welcome to Castlemaine District eNews!

Dear Supporter,

Welcome to our April 2024 eNews!

This month’s issue includes details of our upcoming April walk and Nature Journaling. There’s a wrap up of the March walk at Muckleford, a Save the Date for our General Meeting in May, and advance notice of our annual walk in partnership with Dhelkaya Health. We’ve also got Bird of the Month, and as always, don’t forget to test your bird knowledge with the Quiz!


April Bird Walk – Bendigo Water Reclamation Plant, Epsom

We are delighted to announce that our next BirdLife Castlemaine District Branch bird walk will be held on Saturday 6 April at the Bendigo Water Reclamation Plant, Epsom. Due to how good a venue this is, it is becoming a regular event.

Water treatment plants are always good for water birds but also many bush birds. We saw 60 species on our last visit. Highlights include Blue-billed Duck, Australian Shoveler, all three Grebes, Black-tailed Native Hen, Sacred Kingfisher, Black-faced and White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Golden-headed Cisticola and many more. We will be guided by the Coliban Water staff along with our walk leaders, Damian Kelly and Jane Rusden.

Note, as usual there are some restrictions to this outing as the Plant is a work site. We are limited to 40 attendees. Please email your desire to attend to janerusden@me.com or if unable to email, text to 0448 900 896. Please advise full names of all wishing to attend and a contact number. (Note: if you have previously contacted Bob Dawson regarding your attendance, there is no need to re-apply.)

The terms of access are below. Coliban Water staff and your walk leaders will be there to greet you and will have parking areas set up. Please follow their instructions at all times. Your safety is our priority. Therefore, please read the conditions below and contact us immediately if you have any concerns about your ability to participate.

NOTE: Please remember you are visiting a work site so make sure there are no open-toed shoes and you are carrying water.

– Meet 15 minutes before the tour starts at Wallenjoe Rd carparking space, ready for your site induction.
– There will be a roll call, and participants are asked to confirm names and phone numbers.
– All participants will stay in the meeting area until the tour starts.
– All participants must comply with instructions provided by the tour guide. These instructions are for your safety and enjoyment.
– A maximum of 40 people can take part in the tour.
– Minors must be supervised by an adult. The adult is responsible for adherence to these conditions.
– All sites are to be regarded as industrial sites.
– The tour may include stairs, open grates, and elevated walkways. Participants are required to wear sturdy shoes (no high heels or open sandals) at plants, and any loose items such as mobile phones and wallets must be secured.
– Please wear clothing that is suitable for the conditions. This includes sun protection, closed-toe shoes, a jacket if it is cold and wet.
– The tour will be modified or cancelled if the tour leader considers that circumstances in any way compromise the safety of the group.
– Every effort will be made to facilitate tours. However, operational demands may, in some circumstances, result in the cancellation of tours at short notice.

Please note there are no toilets at the site.

Where: The walk will begin at the entrance gate to Lagoon 6, accessible from Wallenjoe Road, Epsom. From Castlemaine travel to and through Bendigo on the Calder (M79) then Midland (A79) Highways. Around 7KM past the centre of Bendigo, (just past Bunnings, Epsom) you will come to Howard Street. Turn left, drive around 500mtrs along Howard Street then turn right onto Wallenjoe Rd. The gate is approx. 1.3KM down Wallenjoe Road.

GPS: -36.69360, 144.30807

When: Meet at Wallenjoe Road at 8.45am.

Bring: Water, snacks, binoculars, sunscreen, hat, sturdy closed-in shoes. We also recommend that you wear long trousers as there may be snakes about.

More info: Jane Rusden 0448 900 896, or Bob Dawson 0419 621 691.

Acknowledgment of Country

BirdLife Castlemaine acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land we will walk, the Dja Dja Wurrung people, and we pay our respects to their Elders past and present. We recognise and are grateful for the immense contribution of Indigenous people to the knowledge and conservation of Australia’s birds.

Information Regarding Weather

Please note that walks will be cancelled if severe weather warnings are in place, persistent rain is forecast, the temperature is forecast to be 35C or above during the walk period, and / or a Total Fire Ban is declared. Please check our Facebook page or email castlemaine@birdlife.org.au the day before the event in case there is a cancellation.

Nature Journaling with BirdLife Castlemaine District

April nature journaling takes place at Fryers-Taradale Road, Fryerstown, in a grassy glade deep in a meandering valley, by a picturesque dry creek bed.

GPS: -37.1294189, 144.2869138

What to bring / wear:

– Wear long sleeve shirt and long trousers, sunhat, sturdy shoes and snake protection.

– A small selection of art materials such as paints, pencils, pens, coloured pencils, pastels, paper, water container if applicable, camera or phone and binoculars if you have them. A bag to put it all in.

– Something to sit on, such as a camp chair or rug.

– Your sense of curiosity.

When and where: Sunday 7 April from 9:30am – 11:30am. 700m east from the junction of Fryers-Taradale Rd and Fryers Tower Hill Rd.

GPS: -37.1294189, 144.2869138

Watercolour work in progress, of a Rainbow Bee-eater photographed by Jane at Newstead Cemetery. Because birds generally don’t sit still long enough to draw from life! By Jane Rusden.

March Walk Wrap-up – Maldon Rail Trail, Muckleford

On a beautiful autumn morning 28 birders walked along part of the Maldon Rail Trail on our March bird walk. Twenty-one species of birds were seen or heard – click here for the list.

Many thanks to Bob Dawson for organising the walk and to Damian Kelly for leading.

Save the Date – BirdLife Castlemaine District General Meeting

Following the May bird walk on Saturday 4 May, the BirdLife Castlemaine District committee invites you to a general meeting where our Convenor, Jane Rusden, will provide a summary of our activities over the past twelve months and outline our plans for the months ahead. The meeting will also provide an opportunity for you to meet committee members, have your say and perhaps consider joining those of us putting together our program. Morning tea will be provided. Details will be confirmed in the next eNews.

Callout for Bird Habitat Garden Photos – due 7 April 2024

BirdLife Australia is developing an online training course – Habitat Gardening for Birds – which will be publicly launched later this year (and free).

The team needs more photos of habitat gardens for use in the course, with a range of styles from different climate zones. And it doesn’t matter how small the garden is.

Habitat gardens that support birds have:

– Mostly indigenous plants or Australian natives.

– A range of different sized plants.

– Water for birds, like a pond or bird bath.

– Rocks and woody debris on the ground instead of grass.

– A range of vegetation types, particularly spiky or dense shrubs for small birds to hide in.

– A range of different food sources for birds, such as native plants producing seeds, fruit and flowers, or that attract insects.

Image specifications

– Images must be a minimum of 1920 pixels wide.

– Images must be a landscape orientation, not portrait.

– Add climate zone information. Please rename your images so they include the climate zone the garden is in: Arid, Tropical, Subtropical, Temperate, or Cool temperate.

– If you would like your images to be credited, rename your images so they include the photographer’s name, e.g,: ‘photo by John Smith’. Unnamed images will be left uncredited.

Note the photos do not need to include birds.

Copyright and intended use

By providing BirdLife Australia with your photos you agree for the photos to be used in the Habitat Gardening Course, including the associated YouTube video series and any advertising for the course. Copyright on the images remains that of the photographer.

Where to send your photos, or ask questions

Isis St Pierre, Digital Learning Coordinator, BirdLife Australia at isis.stpierre@birdlife.org.au. Deadline for photos is Sunday 7 April.

Bird of the Month – Varied Sitella

Varied Sitella are a species that are not so commonly found in our region, but can be seen on occasion in any of our forested areas, often climbing down the trunks of trees in search of insects.

Read more here.

Photo by Damian Kelly.

Know Your Birds Quiz

Test your bird knowledge in this month’s quiz with the questions below, then check the answers at the end of this eNews. Big thanks as always to quizmaster Ash Vigus.

Question 1: Multiple Choice

What is Australia’s only species of Roller? Choose from the list of six below.

1. Rainbow Bee-eater
2. Mistletoebird
3. Australasian Figbird
4. Dollarbird
5. Australian Logrunner
6. Olive-backed Sunbird

Question 2: Spot the Feathers

All four bird species pictured below are found in the Castlemaine district; what do you think these four birds are?

Question 3: Who Am I?

• I’m a medium-sized bird, approximately 30 to 40 centimetres in  length. There is a distinct size difference between genders, with females being larger than males.
• I’m found across a variety of habitats, including forests, woodlands, and farmland, as well as suburban parks and gardens.
• My preferred diet is small birds which I catch in flight.
• Easily overlooked, I can be found finding cover in trees and shrubs, where I wait in ambush for passing smaller birds.
• My nest is a platform of twigs and sticks, lined with fresh leaves, usually in a tree fork high in the foliage.
• I have a powerful dashing flight, with shorter broad rounded wings.
• My upperparts and the side of my head are slate-grey, with a complete chestnut half-collar. My underparts are finely barred pale rufous on white.
• I have wide staring yellow eyes, a long middle toe which I use for clutching my prey and a distinctive long squared-off tail.

Follow us on Facebook

We have a BirdLife Castlemaine District Facebook page. Follow us for all the latest bird news and events.

Become a Member

Membership of BirdLife Australia is a great way to support a bright future for Australia’s birds – and it would also make a perfect gift for a bird-lover! Learn more about membership or other ways to get involved here.

Kind regards,

The BirdLife Castlemaine Committee

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Walks Calendar 2024 (please note this now includes some additional Wednesday walks)

Saturday 3 February
: Tavish and Joel Bloom
Location: Post Office Hill Reserve, Chewton (and Breakfast with the Birds)Saturday 2 March
Damian Kelly
Location: Castlemaine – Maldon Rail Trail and Muckleford 136 Bushland ReserveWednesday 20 March
Bob Dawson
Location: Castlemaine Botanical GardensSaturday 6 April
Coliban Water staff and Bob Dawson
Location: Bendigo Water Reclamation Plant, EpsomSaturday 4 May
Jane Rusden
Location: Private properties, Campbells Creek
Wednesday 15 May
Location: Campbells Creek Track, CastlemaineSaturday 1 June
Jenny Rolland and Euan Moore
Location: Kamarooka

Quiz Answers

Question 1: The Dollarbird is the only species of the Roller family found in Australia.

Question 2: Clockwise from top left – Long-billed Corella, Rufous Whistler, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Varied Sitella.

Question 3: Collared Sparrowhawk.