BirdLife Castlemaine BirdLife Branch eNews March 2024

Monday, 26 February 2024

  • Estimated reading time 10 minutes

Welcome to Castlemaine District eNews!

Dear Supporter,

Welcome to our March 2024 eNews!

This month’s issue includes details of our upcoming March walk and our very first midweek walk! There’s details of Nature Journaling, advance notice of our inaugural Nature Journaling weekend camp, and a wrap up of February’s walk at Post Office Hill, Chewton. We’ve also got Bird of the Month, and as always, don’t forget to test your bird knowledge with the Quiz!

March Bird Walk – Maldon Rail Trail and I136 Bushland Reserve, Muckleford

We are delighted to announce that our next BirdLife Castlemaine District Branch bird walk will be held on Saturday 2 March on part of the Maldon Rail Trail and the Muckleford I136 Bushland Reserve.

Birds that have been seen in area include Peaceful Dove, Crested Bellbird, Painted Buttonquail, Little and Wedge-tailed Eagle, Eastern Shrike-tit, Olive-backed Oriole, Dusky Woodswallow, several species of Honeyeater including Yellow-tufted, Brown-headed, Fuscous and White-plumed as well as all the other usual suspects. There is also an outside chance of a Square-tailed Kite. Our walk leader will be Damian Kelly. ALL WELCOME!

Please note there are no toilets at the site.

Where: We meet at Prison Farm Road, Muckleford. From Castlemaine (cnr Hargreaves and Forest Sts) travel west along Forest Street for 230mtrs and turn right into Barker Street. Drive about 1.2KM then turn left into Parker Street, after about 650mtrs, Parker Street bends right and becomes Richards Road. Drive another 1KM and turn left onto Daws Road (Muckleford-Castlemaine Road), drive 2KM and turn left onto Sawmill Road, drive 350mtrs and turn right onto Prison Farm Road. Note, there is no road sign for Prison Farm Road but there is a “No Through Road” sign and a “Castlemaine Maldon Trail” sign. The BirdLife Castlemaine sign will also be on display. About 500mtrs along Prison Farm Road there is car parking on the right.

GPS: -37.04520, 144.17992

When: Meet at Prison Farm Road at 9:00am.

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, or Bob Dawson 0419 621 691.

To discover more about the Castlemaine-Maldon Trail, click here.

New Midweek Bird Walk – Wednesday 20 March – Castlemaine Botanical Gardens

We are very pleased to announce our first midweek bird walk. The midweek walks will tend to be close to Castlemaine and on very easy terrain. We hope this will give people who may find our Saturday walks a little too taxing an opportunity to join us. Some of these venues such as the Botanical Gardens will also be suitable for wheelchairs. We will also look at the possibility of doing some special outings to places such as the Western Treatment Plant.

The Castlemaine Botanical Gardens is typical of its type and age. Gazetted in 1860, it was created along Barkers Creek which was straightened to remove a bend that cut across the park and to facilitate the addition of Lake Joanna. Recent sights at the Gardens include Common Bronzewing, Musk Lorikeet, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Nankeen Night Heron, Sacred Kingfisher, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, various Honeyeaters, Pardalotes and Thornbills, and there is a possibility that the resident Powerful Owls will be roosting. Our walk leader will be Bob Dawson.

There are toilets at the site.

Where: We meet at the most northerly carpark on Downes Road. From Castlemaine (cnr Hargreaves and Forest Sts) travel west along Forest Street for 230mtrs and turn right into Barker Street. Drive about 1.2KM then turn left into Parker Street, after about 270mtrs turn right into Downes Road (just after the railway crossing), drive around 500mtrs until you get to the second carpark on the left.

GPS: -37.05148, 144.20755.

When: Botanical Gardens northerly carpark, Downes Road at 9:00am.

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, or Bob Dawson 0419 621 691.

To discover more about the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, click here.

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

March nature journaling takes place at the Dam off Porcupine Ridge Rd, Glenluce. A very pretty spot overlooking a dam, in some very healthy bush and accompanied by flocks of woodland birds. Helge Track to the north and Wewak Track to the south.

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 3 March from 9:30am – 11:30am. Sign posted “Dam”; drive slowly down the track on the east side of Porcupine Ridge Rd. The ford at Vaughan Springs might be too deep and rocky; best access is via Guildford and Tarilta to get to the northern end of Porcupine Ridge Rd. Please drive slowly through the farm near Tarilta due to animals on road.

GPS: -37.1949361, 144.2101281

Hearing and finding an Owlet Nightjar while painting with watercolours at Railway Dam, by Jane Rusden. Photo by Jane Rusden.

February Walk Wrap-up – Post Office Hill, Chewton

On our first outing of 2024, 39 bird enthusiasts, including some very keen young birders, were led by Tavish and Joel through an area they know very well – Post Office Hill Reserve, Chewton, on a beautiful summer morning. The walk was preceded by Breakfast With the Birds. Twenty-six species of birds were seen or heard – click here for the list.

Many thanks to Bob Dawson for organising the walk and to Tavish and Joel for leading.

Save the Date – Inaugural Nature Journaling Campout

Here’s a new event for our branch, the inaugural Nature Journaling campout arriving Friday night on the weekend of 18-19 May. Natural bush location to be confirmed, but it will be within about 3 hours drive from Castlemaine, and have accommodation nearby. Camp will have a long drop toilet, but probably no other facilities. BYO camping equipment, binoculars, camera and art materials and immerse yourself in nature.

Jane’s art materials and camp at beautiful Idalia National Park last winter. Photo by Jane Rusden.

Bird of the Month – Great Cormorant

Castlemaine Botanical Gardens is home to an impressive variety of birds, including the Great Cormorant. Have you ever noticed their incredible teal coloured eyes?

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 smallest species of Cormorant? Choose from the list of six below.

1. Great Cormorant
2. Black-faced Cormorant
3. Little Cormorant
4. Pied Cormorant
5. Little Pied Cormorant
6. Heard Island Shag

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 large bird bird approx. 55 to 66 centimetres in length.
• I’m found in Eucalypt forests and open woodlands, as well as pine plantations.
• My favoured food is the seeds of native trees especially Casuarinas and Banksias. I have also developed a fondness for seeds from exotic Pine trees.
• The male of my species has a distinctive pale red eye ring while the female has a charcoal-coloured eye-ring.
• My nest is a large tree hollow, lined with woodchips.
• I have a very distinctive, buoyant flight display, and a unique far crying “wee-lar” like call.
• I have mostly black plumage, with distinctive yellow cheek patches and yellow panelled feathers on my tail.
• I have a strong rounded bill, which differs in colour between genders. Males have a charcoal-coloured upper mandible, while females have a paler grey upper mandible.

Follow us on Facebook

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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, CastlemaineSaturday 1 June
Jenny Rolland and Euan Moore
Location: Kamarooka

Quiz Answers

Question 1: The Little Pied Cormorant is Australia’s smallest species of Cormorant.

Question 2: Clockwise from top left – Striated Pardalote, Black-shouldered Kite, Crimson Rosella, Grey Teal.

Question 3: Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo.