The March birdwalk was held in perfect weather at the wonderful bird sanctuary at Clarkesdale, managed by the delightful and dedicated Emily Noble.
Gordon Clarke donated much of the land, which is now a real oasis for our flora and fauna in a heavily farmed region. It is near Linton, west of Ballarat, so a couple of us chose to camp in this beautiful location the night before.
Our walk was a circuit of the Bird Paddock which has Gordon’s Dam, Sringdallah Creek, and a short border with the Ballarat Linton Rail Trail. We were initially welcomed by the melodious call of a Rufous Whistler, and then spied a few water birds on the dam. The non-breeding plumage of the two Grebes made us deliberate on species, but their fluffy bums were the clincher - they were Australasian Grebes. We enjoyed seeing a group of White-naped and Brown-headed Honeyeaters diving in a pool in the creek. Our most common sighting was the ever attractive Eastern Spinebill; however, we rarely heard them calling. Emily led the way, describing how much of the areas had been revegetated after removal of enormous amounts of invasive weeds, particularly gorse. Emily was a mine of information on a range of environmental topics, and an inspiration to the two small children with us. Thank you, Emily.
The highlight was at the end of the walk when we were having lunch sitting along the edge of the environmental centre overlooking the delightful Cottage Dam. A pair of unmistakable Crested Shrike-tits entertained us in a nearby tree, especially with their distinctive behaviour of tearing away the bark with their strong hooked bills while looking for insects.
We did not see a big number of birds, but it was indeed a very pleasant way to spend a day.
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