Got back late last night from a quick jaunt to north central Victoria.
First stop was the Warby Ranges. I camped at Wenhams, which has had a bit of a face lift since I was last there, new toilets and some level camp sites. Some space has been lost in the process but level is good … I can only imagine the thought processes of the person who laid out the prior version.
The weather was kind and the birding magnificent. The Warby Range is a granite outcrop on the inland side of the divide, which gives it a lot in common with the inland slopes of New South Wales. Spurwing Wattle and some orchids are found in NSW and Warby but nowhere else in Victoria. Some of the birds too, are hard to find elsewhere in Victoria, Warby is a reliable place for Speckled Warbler. It is also the Victorian stronghold of the Turquoise Parrot. This is an absolutely gorgeous parrot, bright yellow breast, bright blue in the wings. It seemed destined for extinction between 1880 and 1920, perhaps due to competition with introduced stock in times of drought. It may have been introduced weeds that enabled it to recover.
The next day I headed about 30 km north to have lunch in the Lower Ovens Regional Park. This adds a few water birds to the list and it’s a spot that I particularly associate with Dollarbird. No Dollarbirds this trip, they are summer migrants, the adults leave as soon as the young are fledged, the youngsters follow when they can. It’s too late in the year this far south. The Ovens river floods here, the banks are forested with River Red Gums on black soil, best avoided in wet weather.
After lunch another 40 km and you’re in the Chiltern forest. Ironbark country with lots of Red Box and Red Stringybark thrown in. In spring this is the place to find the endangered Regent Honeyeater, not this week though. But plenty of Noisy Frairbirds, Little Lorikeets, White-throated Treecreepers and half a dozen honeyeaters.
Not only the common ones, at Cyanide dam I came across a flock of Black Honeyeaters. This is a bird that seems to be sparsely distributed throughout the arid region and irruptive into adjacent areas at the fringes. Your chances of finding it where it’s supposed to be are never high but if you’re in the right place at the right time you can’t avoid it in places where it may not be seen again for years. Cute bird.
And it’s not all about the rare ones, nice as it was to add Black Honeyeater to my Vic list (now 381) it’s always a pleasure to see old friends …