Annual Bird Report

2017 Annual Bird Report

These reports have been published in various online databases or forums and may be subject to further review. This is not intended as an appraisal as such, just a recap at the big stories in 2017.

JANUARY

[Jan 19thBuff-breasted Sandpiper discovered at Lake Murdeduke by Danny Rogers was an impressive start to year. Bird initially seen in poor, wet and windy conditions some days earlier but eventually relocated and confirmed by Maarten Hulzebosch. A genuine mega that caught attention of many local and interstate birders and put the largely overlooked Lake Murdeduke back on the birding map. Have been at least 5 previous reports of Buff-breasted Sandpiper in Victoria [according to Atlas of Victorian birds], last being 30 years ago at the same location.

This bird was reported almost daily [contender for most twitched bird of the year] until Duck opening w-end [18th March] with the wetland closed to general public, there were no further reports –hopefully had sense to migrate at this point.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Photo Scott Baker [24th Jan 2017]

FEBRUARY

[Feb 9thLittle Curlew [VORAC case no. #1: accepted] at Lake Murdeduke found by Tanya Hattingh, Alison Nisbett, Dez Hughes, Adam Fry and Mark Buckby. Intense scrutiny of site due to BBSP in part responsible number of nice finds including RuffPectoral Sandpiper and Long-toed Stint. Unfortunately did not stick around and were no further reports. A rarity in Vic, last state record being a single bird at Bulban rd, Werribee, March 2010.

Little Curlew. Photo Alison Nisbett [Feb 9th 2017] 

Red-necked Phalarope at the Western Treatment Plant. Initially found by Dez Hughes in Oct 2016 was a regular at the Beach rd rocks and reported throughout Feb-March 2017. That’s 3 RN Phalaropes in Vic in last 3 years, not a bad result –prior to that a substantial period without any reports.

Red-necked Phalarope. Photo Scott Baker [5th Nov 2016]

[26th Feb] Tawny Grassbird – Liverpool Retarding Basin found by Matthew Crawford and Colin Clark., same site bird was recorded in 2015. Given is likely same individual would be either 2nd or 3rd Vic record –all within last few years. Have we overlooked in past or are they becoming more regular?

MARCH

[March 7thRed-tailed Tropicbird [possible] found beachcast on Station Beach, Great Ocean walk by Merel Dalebout. The images provided do look convincing but perhaps inconclusive. It could be 4th state record. 2 of previous 3 reports also in March

Red-tailed Tropicbird [?] photo Merel Dalebout

APRIL

[April 2ndBlack-bellied Storm-petrel recorded on monthly Port Fairy pelagic. Found and photographed by Kevin Bartram, is likely 3rd Vic record of BBSP.

Black-bellied Storm-petrel. Photo Kevin Bartram [2nd April 2017]

[7th April] Beach Stone-curlew at Marlo, reported from Mots Beach by Peter Lansley. Long-staying bird, were many reports from same general location throughout year. [First reported back in Jan 2014]

[16th April] Australian Bustard first reported by Simon Starr at the Nardoo Flower Farm [Pyramid Hill] provided good opportunity for many Melbourne based birders to get this species in Victoria. A small population does reside in the Big Desert area [western Vic] but rarely recorded elsewhere in state. Many sightings in same area up until late July 2017.

Australian Bustard. Photo Simon Starr [16th April 2017]

[April 25thLetter-winged Kite [VORAC case no. #2: acceptedon roadside near ‘The Meadows’ [Terrick Terrick NP] found by Owen Lishmund and Dan Ashdown. Rare inland species and infrequent visitor to the state. Aside from well documented irruption in 1977 there are very few records, most recent previous being a single bird in the Echuca district 2005. Definitely a highlight of my year to finally connect with this species in Vic. Bird seen well and photographed by many on the day and again observed on the 27th.

Letter-winged Kite. Photo Scott Baker [25th April 2017]

MAY

[May 3rd ] Tasmanian Morepork found sitting on ground in Middle Park was taken into care. Still much unknown regarding movement and status of this species in Vic but considering theory of winter dispersal/migration from Tasmania this bird could be a recent arrival and perhaps suffering exhaustion.

Tasmanian Morepork. Photo Nalina Scarfe [3rd May 2017]

[May 14thWestland Petrel [BARC case no. 968: accepted]. Monthly Port Fairy pelagic pulled a mega, first live record of Westland Petrel for Victoria. Seen well by those on board is presently subject of BARC review [report #968 prepared by Scott Baker, Kevin Bartram and Neil Macumber]. There have been 2 previous beachcast birds collected in Victoria.

Westland Petrel. Photo Scott Baker [14th May 2017]

JUNE

[June 6th ] Salvin’s/MacGillivray’s Prion [?] beachcast prion collected by George Appleby at Barwon Heads has bill proportions that appear consistent for either Salvin’s Prion or MacGillivray’s Prion . Even in hand these things a challenge. Worth following up –as yet no confirmed record of MacGillivray’s Prion in Aus.

Prion sp. Photo George Appleby

[June 11]Tasmanian Morepork [VORAC case no #3 :not accepted]. Bird photographed at a water point on the Marlo-Cape Conran rd by Scott Baker and Morgana Christina. Follows report of bird recovered from Middle Park month previous along with regular congregation at Cape Liptrap in October [well documented and excluded from state review list].

Tasmanian Morepork. Photo Scott Baker [June 11th 2017]

[June 18thSalvin’s Prion. Bird photographed on the monthly Port Fairy pelagic looks good candidate for Salvin’s Prion. Whether or not is enough to call either way still up for debate but most agreed was at least in the ‘possible’ or ‘probable’ category.

Salvin’s Prion [?] Photo Kevin Bartram June 18th 2017

[June 18thSouth Island Pied Oystercatcher found at Stockyard Point [Westernport Bay]. 1 of the big stories of 2017 but in fact bird had been banded at same site in previous year [6th Aug 2016] by the Australian Wader Study Group and misidentified at time as regular Aus Pied Oystercatcher. It was 1st Jan, 2017 when Steve McBride recognized a SIPO on a remote beach near Ballina [northern NSW] with red leg flag 1N that the connection was actually made. A new bird effectively added to the Victorian list, via NSW.6 months later Simon Starr has good sense to carefully check Oystercatchers at Stockyard Point and had a win -1N had returned!

A big find that fired up the twitching hordes. The small coastal village of Jam Jerrup experiencing minor traffic chaos for a time, bird reported throughout July to mid August

South Island Pied Oystercatcher. Photo Scott Baker June 19th 2017

[June 25thLittle Stint [VORAC case no.#4 : accepted]. As is often the case, 1 good bird begets another. Week following discovery of SIPO at Stockyard Point an adult breeding plumage Little Stint was observed amongst substantial congregation of overwintering migratory shorebirds at same location. Picked up initially by Scott Baker, identity confirmed by Paul Peake and Kevin Bartram. This bird continued to be reported throughout July-mid August.

Have been 3 previous BARC accepted records in Vic and number not submitted [is no longer on BARC review list] including adult bird found by George Appleby at Blue Rocks [Geelong] 6th Dec 2016.

Little Stint. Photo Scott Baker 25th June 2017

AUGUST

[August 18thGrey-headed Albatross 1-2 birds observed by Rob Farnes from Cape Nelson [Portland district] followed another report of this species by Brett Jarret in same area month previous.

OCTOBER

 [Oct 23rdBrown Cuckoo-Dove on private property near Gypsy Point [East Gippsland]. Apparently had been observed visiting bird feeder for 2 weeks prior and not seen since. Very rare in Vic but at least 3 reports from Gypsy Point area over the years.

[Oct 28thRed-chested Buttonquail found and photographed by David Eades at coastal reserve, Point Ormond. Seen again same day by Gio Fitzpatrick. Many observers [including myself] on deck following day but without success. This species is irruptive and can turn up in strange places [in 2016 a live RCBQ was recovered from swimming pool of house in East Doncaster]

Red-chested Buttonquail. Photo David Eades [28th Oct 2017]

NOVEMBER

[Nov 5thGull-billed Tern ssp affinis [VORAC case no. #5: pending] photographed by Jordan Ayton on the 4th and 5th Nov in vicinity of Barwon Heads represents a new site record for this Asian migrant. Apparently a 1st year bird. May be only 3rd Vic record. Another individual regularly reported from Stockyard Point over number of years [and continuing –Nov/Dec 2017, Derek and Sally Whitehead] Interestingly bird recorded from Shoalhaven Heads [NSW] on same day would be first for NSW [pending ORAC review]

Gull-billed Tern ssp affinis. Photo Jordan Ayton [5th Nov 2017]

[Nov 6thEmerald Dove reported by Adam Blyth from Mallacoota township. Only 2 previous records from Vic [Mallacoota 2016 and Lakes Entrance 1983] Unfortunately no photographs and despite efforts bird could not be relocated following day. From description difficult to rule out Fruit-Dove sp.

[Nov 7thBrown Cuckoo-Dove [VORAC case no.#6: accepted] 2 birds observed and photographed by Josephine Hope in large fig trees on Mairburn rd. Metung. This also a regular site for other east coast specialties such as Topknot PigeonAus FigbirdPacific Koel and Channel-billed Cuckoo

Brown Cuckoo-Dove. Photo Josephine Hope [7th Nov 2017]

[Nov 10thStriated Heron photographed by James Cornelious on the Gypsy Point boat cruise is first report of this species in Vic for number of years. In 2011-12 were several birds occupying Genoa river between Mallacoota and Gypsy point but have been scarce since.

Striated Heron. Photo James Cornelious [10th Nov 2017]

[Nov 16thHudsonian Godwit first yr bird found by Keith Caldecott and Jeff Maltman at the Reef Island Conservation Reserve is likely 3rd state record and a BARC review species. Yet another mega for Westernport Bay, has been well documented and regularly reported throughout Nov-Dec period.

Hudsonian Godwit. Photo Scott Baker [22nd Nov 2016]

[Nov 24thBlack Noddy [VORAC case no. #7 : accepted]seen by Paul Hackett and Cameron Tescher from Kirk Point [Western Treatment Plant] Only 1 previous state record [Airey’s Inlet Dec 1991] Efforts by several others to relocate bird were unsuccessful.

Black Noddy. Photo

Cameron Tescher [24th Nov 2017]

[Nov 25thSpangled Drongo seen perched on powerlines in the Port Albert area by Stephan Granger is possibly same bird reported from Port Albert Seabank Caravan Park last year. Have been no further sightings.

[Nov 26] Greater Sand Plover [10], Lesser Sand Plover [1] observed by Dan Ashdown, Owen Lishmund, Tim Nickholds and Oakley Germech at Clomnel Island [Corner Inlet]. Both species increasingly scarce in Vic although this a known regular site.

Greater Sand Plover

DECEMBER

[Dec 6THBrown Booby [VORAC case no. #8: accepted] juvenile bird photographed at Pope’s Eye [Port Phillip Bay] by John Arnould. Only 4 previous Vic records including adult bird photographed by Maarten Hulzebosch at Point Wilson Jan 2013.

Brown Booby. Photo John Arnould [6th Dec 2017]

[Dec 19thEastern Yellow Wagtail [VORAC case no. #9: pending] found and by Adam Fry and Ian Davies on edge of Lake Colac. Major rarity in Vic there have been several previous reports including Seaspray Nov 2012 and more recently 2 birds at Cape Bridgewater Feb 2015[unconfirmed].

Eastern Yellow Wagtail. Photo Adam Fry [19th Dec 2017]

SCOTT BAKER

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