BirdLife Castlemaine BirdLife Branch eNews February 2024

Thursday, 1 February 2024

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Welcome to Castlemaine District eNews!

Dear Supporter,

Happy New Year and a very warm welcome to our first eNews for 2024!

This month’s issue includes details of our upcoming February walk and Breakfast with the Birds in Chewton, Nature Journaling, and a wrap up of December’s walk at Crusoe No.7 Reserve at Big Hill. We’ve also got Bird of the Month, and the walks calendar for the first half of 2024 (which now includes some midweek walks in addition to our monthly first Saturdays). And as always, don’t forget to test your bird knowledge with the Quiz!

February Bird Walk – Post Office Hill Reserve, Chewton

We are delighted to announce that our first BirdLife Castlemaine District Branch bird walk for 2024 will be held on Saturday 3 February at the Post Office Hill Reserve, Chewton. The walk will be preceded by “Breakfast with the Birds”. Please bring your own food, drinks, cutlery, table, chairs, etc. Breakfast can begin from 8:00am with the walk following from around 9:00am.

Birds that have been seen in the last few months include Varied Sitella, Southern Boobook, Painted Buttonquail, Gang-gang Cockatoo and Black-shouldered Kite. Other possible birds are Common Bronzewing, Brown and White-throated Treecreepers, Rufous and Golden Whistlers, Dusky Woodswallow, Eastern Spinebill, Scarlet and Eastern Yellow Robin, Speckled Warbler, Silvereye, various Thornbills and Honeyeaters.

Please note there are no toilets at the site.

Where: The Post Office Hill Reserve, Chewton. We will meet at the old council tip site on Railway Street, Chewton. From the Castlemaine centre, travel 4.5KM east along the Pyrenees Highway (B180) toward Melbourne. At Chewton, turn right into Railway Street, drive 650 meters and you will see the entrance on the right. If coming from the Calder Freeway, Railway Street is about 8KM from when you exit along the Pyrenees Highway.

GPS: -37.08589, 144.26289.

When: Meet at the old council tip site from 8:00am.

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, Judy Hopley 0425 768 559 or Bob Dawson 0419 621 691.

To discover more about Post Office Hill Reserve, click here or here.

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.

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 web page the day before the event in case there is a cancellation.

Nature Journaling with BirdLife Castlemaine District

February’s nature journaling takes place at Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, Downes Road, Castlemaine. Often our hottest month, so we are headed for a cool spot in the deep shade of magnificent trees, looking over water. Great spot to sketch ducks and other water birds.

What to bring / wear:

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

– 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 4 February from 9:30am – 11:30am. Meet at the car park nearest to Lake Johanna and the Tea Rooms.

GPS: -37.0530892, 144.2164055

Lake Johanna, Castlemaine Botanical Gardens. Watercolour and ink by Jane Rusden.

December Walk Wrap-up – Crusoe No.7 Reserve, Big Hill (near Bendigo)

Our final outing of 2023 saw around 30 bird watchers enjoying a lovely walk followed by morning tea. Here is the link to the list of birds recorded. Many thanks to David Hewett for leading the walk.


Photo of Spotted Pardalote by Damian Kelly

Birds of King Island – Autumn Surveys

Birds of King Island are again coordinating Autumn Bird surveys on King Island in 2024, and are seeking volunteers to assist. The survey program runs from 25 – 28 April.

For more details, visit the Birds of King Island website here.

Bird of the Month – Brown Goshawk

Introducing a small but fearsome predator with lethal talons and piercing eyes – meet the Brown Goshawk.

Read more here.


Photo by Jane Rusden.

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 (Easy): Multiple Choice

What is Australia’s largest species of Honeyeater? Choose from the list of six below.

1. Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater
2. Blue-faced Honeyeater
3. Noisy Miner
4. Red Wattlebird
5. Noisy Friarbird
6. White-eared Honeyeater

Question 2 (Intermediate): 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 (Advanced): Who Am I?

• I’m a small bird approximately 11 to 14 centimetres in length.
• I’m found mostly in Eucalypt forests and open woodlands, but sometimes in parks and gardens.
• I feed mainly on insects and spiders, but I will also eat nectar.
• I can be seen foraging in small flocks of approximately six to eight birds, gleaning food from bark, branches, leaves and flowers.
• My nest is a small deep cup made from fine bark, grass, and hair, bound with spiderwebs, and slung by the rim in thick foliage.
• I will sometimes gather hair for nesting from live animals such as horses, cattle, kangaroos, and koalas.
• I have plain olive green upperparts, with a brown head marked by a pale line across the back, and pale grey to buff coloured breast and rump.
• I have a creamy yellow / orange coloured eye ring, and a short slender black bill.

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 Reserve

Wednesday 20 March
Bob Dawson
Location: Castlemaine Botanical Gardens

Saturday 6 April
Coliban Water staff and Bob Dawson
Location: Bendigo Water Reclamation Plant, Epsom

Saturday 4 May
Jane Rusden
Location: Private properties, Campbells Creek

Wednesday 15 May
Location: Campbells Creek Track, Castlemaine

Saturday 1 June
Jenny Rolland and Euan Moore
Location: Kamarooka

Quiz Answers

Question 1: The Red Wattlebird is mainland Australia’s largest species of Honeyeater.

Question 2: Clockwise from top left – Superb Fairy-wren (male), Little Pied Cormorant, Jacky Winter, Black Swan.

Question 3: Brown-headed Honeyeater.

BirdLife Australia, BirdLife Victoria Group, 60 Leicester Street, Carlton, VIC 3053  | castlemaine@birdlife.org.au