Scarlet robin makes an appearance

Joan’s migratory waders at Hospital Swamp.

I was lucky enough to conduct a birdlife ‘birds on farms’ survey, at a farm in Wallington, during the week.

The first habitat that I surveyed on the farm is an area where there is a patch of yellow gums and this habitat was so quiet that I was thinking I should go home and return in about a week.

However, I walked to the next patch of habitat, which is a vineyard, and on a farm fence was a scarlet robin, which was the first time I’d ever seen this species on the Bellarine Peninsula. I was hoping to see a few flame robins and they usually love hanging around the vineyard in autumn and winter.

I saw one female flame robin from a distance. I also had a very close encounter with two wedge-tailed eagles, plus a few brown falcons, and in the wetland there were hundreds of ducks, a few white-faced herons and pied stilts.

I received an email from Alan, who saw a female flame robin at Lake Victoria and managed a great photo of this bird.

The horrible duck shooting season has commenced in Victoria, so I must remember not to go birdwatching in case I witness a beautiful bird being blasted to oblivion in its habitat.

It’s crazy and disappointing that the current state government commissioned an investigation into duck shooting that concluded that the practice of duck shooting should be stopped in Victoria, but they decided to allow it anyway.

I must spare a thought for stubble quail, as it’s also the quail shooting season.

Quail numbers in Victoria are largely unknown as they are such cryptic birds, and hunters are allowed to shoot 20 a day. It’s a cruel world.

On this subject I received an email from Joan, who went to Hospital Swamp at Connewarre to see if the rain had had an effect on it, as the swamp was dry the day before. Joan pulled up beside a heavy looking 4WD and spoke to two men, one of whom was in camouflage gear.

They did not show their guns but were busy in the back of the car. Innocently Joan chatted to them, and they asked Joan if she was a farmer as they were looking for quail. Feeling an icy chill, Joan could not help informing them she was a bird lover, and disagreed with what they were doing but that she could do nothing because they were protected by the law.

Joan reported that Geelong Duck Rescue were watching from a prescribed distance and they were standing by and noting the killing about to begin, as the men with guns disappeared behind the reeds in the semi-dry swamp. Joan remarked that there will be no more visits to her much loved swamps till June.

Joan sent a few photos of a spotted crake and a small flock of migratory waders which she took last November in the exact spot where she encountered the shooters.

On a happier note I received an email from Alison, who informed me that she had seen an eastern spinebill in her daughter’s garden in Ocean Grove. The bird was too quick for Alison to secure a photo.

Like the flame robin, this species of honeyeater moves to lower altitudes from mountainous areas when the weather becomes cooler, so they can be seen around the Bellarine Peninsula at this time of year.

I received a message from Phil, who has spotted pardalotes nests in his garage in the past. He hasn’t seen any around his garden since 2022, but he did see one recently in his garden, so they might return to the garage nest soon.

On another positive note, there have been five hooded plover fledglings for the surf coast this nesting season. Last week a hoodie chick fledged at Point Impossible. Credit must go to the Friends of the Hooded Plover volunteers who help to educate the public regarding the importance of helping these beach nesting birds to survive.

There were no successful fledglings in Ocean Grove this year, but there was one chick that fledged at Point Lonsdale.