Nature, but without cyclones

Male golden whistler at Anakie Gorge. 166960

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the glorious warm, still, sunny autumn weather, while thinking of all of the people and animals and birds that would have been affected by the cyclone and floods in Queensland.
I spent a wonderful weekend camping at Gellibrand in the Otways. I saw many eastern spinebills, grey fantails and white-eared honeyeaters. I took the teenagers to Colac because they had no internet connection in Gellibrand, and I could hear the gunshots ringing out from the wetlands around Colac, which sent me scurrying back up the hills quick smart.
I also went to the Leigh Valley Hawk and Owl Sanctuary near Ballarat. My Christmas present from the family was an owl experience with Martin Scuffins, who is a falconer but also rehabilitates birds that have been injured. Martin showed me his aviaries and he flew his boobook owl, barn owl and nankeen kestrel around the paddock. I took lots of photos and had the best time.
I had an afternoon at Anakie Gorge which was just beautiful. I was going to walk through the gorge but spent three hours in the car park chasing golden whistlers, scarlet robins, grey shrike-thrush, yellow-faced honeyeaters and white-throated treecreepers around. The golden whistler was particularly hard to photograph, as it hopped around high branches in dark areas. I think it would be very handy to be a bit taller or maybe I should take a cherry picker with me to Anakie Gorge (which, incidentally, is a beautiful place to visit).
I also spent a wonderful morning at the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve, where I saw four female flame robins, willy wagtails, red-browed finches, yellow-faced honeyeaters, grey fantails plus many other species. I sat in the birdhide on the West Track for ages and did not see one bird, and should have known that a predator was around. As I exited the birdhide I saw a collared sparrowhawk in a tree, and it didn’t hang around for a photo (I did see the long round tail on the bird as it flew off). As I walked through the Banksia Trail I came across a lovely pair of eastern yellow robins, and as I was photographing them a rufous fantail landed on a branch above my head. I couldn’t believe my luck. I saw two other rufous fantails along the track, so they are certainly hanging around this year.
Speaking of the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve, John Sharp saw, and photographed, a female satin flycatcher there (a bird that I have not spotted there). Male satin flycatchers are glossy blue-black above, with a blue-black chest and white below. Females are blue-black above, with an orange-red chin, throat and breast. The satin flycatcher is found along the east coast of Australia from Far North Queensland to Tasmania. This bird is a migratory species, which moves northwards in winter to Queensland and Papua New Guinea, and flies south to breed in spring. Thanks John for the photo of the satin flycatcher. You can check out John’s excellent bird photography on the Friends of the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve Facebook page.
Susanne from Wallington emailed to tell me about a young white-necked heron that was hanging around the dam on her beautiful property. By the time I got time to visit Susanne the white-necked heron was nowhere to be found, but it was nice to wander in the lovely garden.
The hooded plover breeding season is over. Between Ocean Grove and point Lonsdale there were 22 nests over the summer season, with zero survival of chicks. How sad is that? I walked along the beach the other day and there is a sign that clearly says that all dogs need to be on a lead past 6W, and so many people were letting their dogs run free. Most frustrating.
If you are interested in any organised birdwatching activities you can check out the activities organised by the Bellarine Birdlife Group at
Jen Carr,