Monday, September 30th
We arrived at Melbourne at the end of morning. As we were tired, we decided to pass 3 nights in a bungalow to Badger Creek Caravan and Holiday Park near Healesville. This town is situated at approximately 70 kilometers in the northeast of Melbourne, in the border of the Yarra Ranges N.P. We also decided to change our common: the Australian meals were not very varied and we wanted vegetables! Futunatly, the bungalow was well equipped...
Between the campsite and the town center, the owner of a small house fed birds. A dead tree was use as a perch to a multitude of Little Cockatoo and few Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. On the ground we also found Galah and Crimson Rosella. A Common Bronzewing played hide-and-seak with me. She won because I did not succed to photograph her! A took a pictures of this species more later...
The campsite was also interesting. Near the reception, we found permanently several Australian King-Parrot. A lot of passerines gave life to the bushes: Common Blackbird (a well known for us!), Brown Thornbill, New Holland Honeyeater, Eastern Spinebill... I found that the conditions of observation are much easier than in Europe, birds let approach them unless 10 meters rather easily. It was very pleasant for the observation and for the photography even if some do not take in place...
Tuesday, October 1st
During the preparation of our trip, I have contacted Glen Crothers by means of Birding-Australia Group. He had suggested to guide us few hours around Melbourne. Yesterday, at the end of evening I called him to confirm the meeting fixed one month previously.
At the beginning of the morning, our guide accompanied by his wife arrived and brought us directly to Badger Weir Picnic Area few kilometers from the campsite. The Superb Lyrebird was normally very easy to see there. it gladly came into clearings lining the parking. It was not the case this morning! However, after a small tour on a path, we found rather fast a beautiful male feeding quietly about fifteen meters from us. On the way back to the parking, a Gang-gang Cockatoo flew over without stopping: what a pity! Before leaving, we saw two White-naped Honeyeater, a new birds for us...
We took the direction of Maroondah Reservoir Park. Just behind some bushes, our guide showed us the bower of the Satin Bowerbird. The bower was only a part of this construction. The bird decorated it with all blue things he found around. He made all this work only to attract female... We walked again on a small path where we learnt which bird made a song we often heard without seeing it : the Eastern Whipbird . A small meals waited for us before our return to the campsite at the end of morning. Before left us, our guides invited us to pass at home before leaving Australia. We did it with pleasure the last day.
After the lunch, we investigated the campsite profoundly: in a dense woody zone we heard again the Eastern Whipbird. After several minutes we localized the individual and we were able to observe it correctly. During this walk, we also saw our first male of Australian King-Parrot, two Australian Shelduck and two Lewin's Honeyeater. At the end of afternoon, we made a small walk into the forest hills above the Maroondah Reservoir. Besides beautiful lookout, we were rewarded by our first Grey Currawong.
After dinning, we got acquainted of a rather common night-guest: the Common Brushtail Possum. Rather close to the Racoon in size and in shape, this animal essentially lived in trees. A female with a young were our first sight. We tried to find other animals with success in the campsite. In fact, they were not very wild. They came to take food in hand if necessary !
Wednesday, October 2nd
For our last day in the eucalyptus forests around Healesville, we choosed to visit the Kinglake N.P. We tried to find the Visitor Center and finally we fell on it accidentally. We did not learn anything very interesting but we obtained a small map to go to Masons Falls. After this site, we went to another waterfall: Wombelano Falls. During our two walks we only saw one new species : the Red-browed Treecreeper. Among the most interesting observations we saw one Wedge-tailed Eagle, two Crested Shrike-tit and a small bird which could be a Pilotbird.
In the afternoon, we returned to Yarra Ranges N.P. to travel through a track renowned for these points of view: The Acheron Way. At first, we tried to reach Mount Donna Buang by road which regrettably was closed few kilometers away. We were obliged to a long way round before reaching our objective at the end of day. At the top, we discovered with pleasure four couple of Flame Robin. A pylon of observation allowed to discover the forest which extends from hills to hills as far as the eyes can see. Then, we took the Acheron Way but the night was falling and we did not see a lot of thing again, except at least a dozen of Superb Lyrebird which seemed very active at nightfall.
Thursday, October 3rd
Yesterday evening I called John Gamblin who lives near Hasting and who had looked to us full informations before our departure. Regrettably, we had no time to see him but he still helped us by giving two sites to visit on the road to Philip Island: Cardinia Reservoir and the Reserve of Koo-Wee-Rup
The first was one of the numerous water supply of Melbourne. there was a big park accessible to the public with dozens Kangarooes which lived quite here. It was not a very wild site but we had some very interesting new observations. At our arrival to the parking, we heard a very strong and very crystal song and we were not sure if it was a bird or anything alse.... We needed several minutes before seeing a green bird which confused perfectly with the vegetation: the Bell Miner. We also saw for the first time two Hoary-headed Grebe and one Musk Duck may be at 2 or 3 kilometres! Because of a splendid weather, it was easy to identify this duck so particular. We also observed a european species, the European Goldfinch and within the next hours we added European Greenfinch and Sky Lark.
The second site was a swamp which had to be situated more or less on our road but we did not find it. Nobody in the village could tell us where is it. Anyway, we really have no more the time... In fact, the next day, when we went to Melbourne, we saw the reserve along the highway !
Arrived at Philip Island we lunched in front of a small beach east of the island. We always kept an eye on our lunch because Silver Gull were very enterprising! Nevertheless, We were able to admire a couple of Chestnut Teal and two Pacific Gull. After the meal, we settle down in a campsite in the northeast of the island and we visited the centre of study and protection of Koalas. A first enclosure allowed to see the animals very closly. A second one was much closer of the natural conditions. It was interesting but the next day, we had more pleasure to discover a Koala in the middle of nowhere.
Then, we went to the West point of the island to observe the colony of Fur-Seals and Little Penguins. There also had a big colony of Silver Gull and some Great Crested-Tern here. The Fur-Seals were situated on open sea rocks. We observed few Penguins and five Sooty Oystercatcher. We were the last ones on the site. The Gulls made us understand that the hour was exceeded by there cry!
We finished the day at the "Penguin Parade"... It was a big and deplorable tourist attraction: incompetent guards who did not able to recognize a telescop or a camera. It was forbidden to take pictures but there was powerful spotlights which light the beach. For me, it was not protection of nature but only a business ! The most interesting in all this, it was the colony of Short-tailed Shearwater. Thousands birds return to their nest just before Penguins: but they did not speak about that !
It was difficult to find a restaurant at nine o'clock in Australia. We found it a Cowe. Finally, it was the best meals we ate in this country! The cooker came to see us at the end. He was German and made its learning with French Chef. He just opened his own restaurant for less than 48 hours: BISTRO 115, 115 Thompson Avenue (Tél. : 03 5952 62 26).
Friday, October 4th
We began in the North of the island to make some observations in a small bay. there was about fifty Black Swans, some Terns and waders and 2 Pied Oystercatchers. Then, we made a small walk on the paths along a reserve. A lookout allowed us to see a beautiful colony of Ibis and a couple of Wedge-tailed Eagle in the nest. We also gazed at two photogenic Cuckoos in the same tree (Pallid Cuckoo and Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo).
We left the island with the feeling that there were still a lot of things to discover but we had a meeting at 1:30 pm in Melbourne with Mr. and Mrs. Nowotny. We met us on Internet. They often accommodate ornithologists who come to Melbourne. This week-end, we were not alone, there was an American couple too. For Saturday, it was planned to visit two high spots around Melbourne: You Yangs Regional Park and Western Treatment Plant.
We settled and then we left to have lunch. After that, we began the visit of the town centre of Melbourne. However, for the first time since the beginning of the trip, it was raining and we were obliged to take temporarily refuge in an ice rink. Slightly later we continued our visit with a passage in the Rialto Towers, the highest building of the city, and the Saint Michael Church. A Choral had a rehearsal that allowed us to make an unexpected visit of this building in a rather nice atmosphere.
Saturday, October 5th
It formed a small convoy this morning. We were a dozen of ornithologists. We began with a small park in the city where a Baillon's Crake had beenn seen yesterday: The West Gate Park. For us, this site was rich in newness: Little Grassbird, five Black-tailed Native-hen, three Red-capped Plover and one Song thrush.
We continued with the You Yangs Regional Park. At the entrance, there was a nest of Tawny Frogmouth. We also heard a group of Purple-crowned Lorikeet in the trees. Once again, it was not easy to see well these birds when they were at the top of trees but they stayed where one is enough time. We left the park to make a little walk in a nearer afforested area cut of by wide paths. We saw number of new passerines: Brown-headed Honeyeater, Olive-backed Oriole, Striated Pardalote. We also observed a Little Eagle and a very probable black Falcon: one of the rarest birds of the country! Nevertheless the sight of the bird did not allow to be sure of its identification....
We took the direction of the Western Treatment Plant. It was one of the most famous sites of Melbourne for birds. It was a great group of swamps and ponds along the coast. A licence was necessary to circulate there. The drive reserved us some good surprises: five Long-billed Corella (we were at the bound of their distribution), four Banded Lapwing with four youngs, about twenty Fairy Martin near their nest under the road in a big pipe. It was not so easy to differentiate this species with the Tree Martin! We also saw two Cape Barren Goose. They should have been in Tasmania now but few birds did not migrate.
The number of birds in the Western Treatment Plant was really impressive: almost all the ducks were present. In this familly, we missed three species which we indicated to our hosts. Three stops later we had seen every australian ducks including Freckled Duck: a rather rare and secretive birds! Among our most beatifull observations, there was the Yellow-billed Spoonbill, two Banded Stilt, one Australian Spotted Crake observed unless 10 meters several minutes and the White-fronted Chat. At the end of the day, the group had seen more than 120 species and we had 24 novelties!
Sunday, October 6th
We had to be at the airport in the afternoon. We left our hosts at the beginning of the morning to return to the West Gate Park. It allowed me to make my last pictures of birds and to Valérie to finish her postcards! We did not see novelty for this last day. All the same, we saw 36 species in this small park. The Spotted Crake were always here.
Before leaving, we made a small visit in the suburb of Melbourne to say good bye to Glen Crothers and his wife. He showed us a another nest of Tawny Frogmouth and a nest of White-faced Heron near his home. Finally we definitively took the direction of the airport. 24 hours later we were in France near Paris region....