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Z̶o̶o̶b̶o̶y̶2̶8̶ Chlidonias in Australia

Discussion in 'Australia' started by Chlidonias, 23 May 2014.

  1. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    With http://www.zoochat.com/19/chlidonias-goes-asia-part-3-2013-a-328982/ now finished, or perhaps just on hiatus, I thought I may as well start a new thread for Australia. It probably won't be very long. But I'll be seeing some birds and some zoos.

    I thought the new KLIA2 airport outside Kuala Lumpur was confusing when I arrived there from Borneo but it was even more confusing when I returned there two days later for my flight out to Melbourne. There are various teething troubles with it being new as well, but they are really issues which shouldn't have been there at all, like having enormously long queues at immigration but only half the desks manned. At the McDonalds counter (because everywhere else was either still closed or too expensive to eat at) there was a never-diminishing queue about thirty people long, and only one person serving!

    I arrived in Melbourne at 11pm and discovered they have a new “smart card” system where Australians and New Zealanders (as “honourary Australian citizens”) scan their passport and get an electronic card which they use to go through a special gate bypassing the immigration desks completely, then you collect your bag from the luggage carousel and walk straight out of the airport with no x-raying of bags or even a passport stamp (the guy at the exit just takes the card, says “smart card, just go straight through mate” and you're out) – it did not feel right somehow! I had not eaten anything since late morning, so it was back to McDonalds. They had bbq beef burgers for $2 each so I got three of those. They were literally the worst burgers I have ever eaten, and that includes the one I found lying on a toilet floor in China which I got half-way through eating before realising that it wasn't a burger at all. And that it wasn't dead yet.

    The bus to the city costs $18 and terminates at the Southern Cross bus-train station, which is just near most of the cheap backpacker hostels. I had looked for a cheap place on the internet when in Melaka and found the Melbourne Connection which was only $15 for a dorm bed if staying for a week or more. However they required full payment in advance and had a no-refund policy. That wasn't suspicious at all. I had a look on Tripadvisor and found pages of one-star reviews with titles like “worst hostel ever!” – well worth checking them out for a laugh, or a scare! The Melbourne Connection: See 51 Reviews and 12 Photos - TripAdvisor Funnily enough, there was also the occasional four or five star review from someone with only one review saying something like “best hostel ever, never stayed somewhere so clean”. Very believable. The place I settled on was the King St Backpackers, directly opposite the Melbourne Connection as it happens, which is $26 for a dorm. I was very impressed with it and will make it my regular Melbourne backpackers from now on. It has free internet, free unlimited breakfast (toast, cereals, etc), free pancakes on Sunday (from 11am), free unlimited Big Breakfast (baked beans, sausages, bacon) on Tuesday morning, free pasta night on Wednesday. I saved a lot of money on food while staying there!! I didn't even have to pay for lunches because I just made sandwiches from the breakfast bread and took them away with me. Then there's the free food shelf which meant I got dinner for free most nights as well. (For people not familiar with hostels, there is always a free food shelf in the kitchen area, and when people check out they leave any unwanted food-stuffs there for others to use; often they are packaged goods like pasta or rice and canned goods). On the first night I had a look and found some rice, a couple of potatoes, an apple, a lemon, and some tomato sauce: I can make something out of that no sweat. It was just like Top Chef and the result was the best dinner since …. well, the last dinner was the sewer burgers from the airport McDonalds so not much competition! I was at the backpackers for eight nights and spent a grand total of AU$15.60 on food (including the McDonalds burgers).

    There are the usual backpacker types here, including the ones who sit on the computers watching movies or playing games while other people want to use them for more important things, the ones who cannot speak at a volume lower than “too loud” (those are mainly the English girls), and of course the lone guy who homes in on every single girl there with the same line (“hey, how are you – oh, you know what, I thought you were someone else. I know someone who looks just like you and I thought you were her, that's why I came over to talk to you. So... where are you from?”). Now, I know what you're thinking: how do I find time to do any outside birding when I'm so busy with indoor birding, but in fact it isn't me. It's somebody else. Honest. If it was me the line would be “you must be a parking ticket, because you've got “fine” written all over you” :p

    The next morning I walked to Botanic Gardens (not far away) where I stayed for most of the day and saw various common birds, adding 22 species to my year list. Oddly the only ducks I could find there were Pacific black ducks (grey ducks to NZers) – no wood ducks or white-eyed ducks or anything else. I didn't have an Australian field guide with me of course, so it was good I could still remember all the birds – although rainbow lorikeets and coots aren't exactly challenging to ID! There are unfortunately no longer grey-headed fruit bats in the gardens because they were “encouraged to move elsewhere” due to damage to the roosting trees. Zooboy28 was leaving for America the next day so in the afternoon I took the train over to his place and borrowed one of his field guides.
     
  2. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Sherbrooke Forest, 17 May

    There are a wide range of birdy places around Melbourne. I decided my first one (after the Botanic Gardens the previous day) was to be the Dandenong Ranges, partly because it is easy to get to on the local trains, partly because there are superb lyrebirds there, and partly because it has a funny name. For my purposes the best train stop is at Belgrave, the last stop on the line. This is closest to the Sherbrooke Forest which is a reliable spot for the lyrebirds. I went out there on a Saturday and unfortunately discovered that this weekend was the one the city had decided to use to do repair work on that particular train line! I rode the train for only three stops, then had to transfer to a bus for the next ten stops – which, being on the road in the traffic, took a long time!-- and then back on the train for the remaining distance. It took two and a half hours to get to Belgrave! Not exactly the early start I had imagined.

    Grant's Picnic Ground is a well-known recreation spot near Belgrave. People come here to feed the birds and hence it is a good place to see a lot of parrots in one spot. If arriving by train there are two ways to get there. The first is just by taking the road, either by bus or by walking along the track which runs alongside. Back in 2007 which was the last time I was at the Dandenongs, I took the bus there and walked back (it's only about a forty minute walk). This time I took the other option, which is to walk the Cole's Ridge Track and after reaching the picnic ground to return via the Lyrebird Walk and Neumann's Track. The whole circle is called the Sherbrooke Loop and it is through forest the whole way, and all of that forest is lyrebird territory. I think the sign said it would take 2.5 hours or something like that (of course it took me all day because I was looking for birds along the way). There are more specific directions available on the internet, but basically after you get off the train you head onto the Old Monbulk Road (leave the train station by the left exit, following the sign for Puffing Billy), go downhill past the Puffing Billy station then uphill, across the Puffing Billy tracks, keep going uphill (getting quite steep), the paved road turns to dirt, and keep going until you find a big green water-tank and a gate with a sign on it which reads “maintenance vehicles and walkers only” – this is the start of the Cole's Ridge Track (just on your right will be another gate: that is where you come out after completing the loop).

    There weren't a lot of birds to be seen along the way to be honest. Kookaburras were common and I got a bird-wave with brown thornbills and grey fantails, but that was about it. At Grant's Picnic Ground there were a lot of birds! Swarms of greater sulphur-crested cockatoos were mobbing the people while the smaller and more colourful crimson rosellas nipped in and out, their tuneful whistles contrasting with the cockatoos' fingernails-on-blackboard screeching. In amongst the cockatoos were several long-billed corellas. I concentrated on trying to get good photos of these but it wasn't until later that I realised they were a wild lifer! I have seen so many in captivity that I didn't realise I hadn't seen them in the wild before! It took a while to find some galahs but eventually I spotted some hanging out in the very top of a tree, minding their own business. Unusually there were no king parrots to be seen, so they remained un-ticked for now.

    The return to Belgrave via the Lyrebird Walk and Neumann's Track was more productive than the walk from Belgrave. Near the start of the Lyrebird Walk, not far from the picnic ground, I came across a bird-wave which included an eastern spinebill, several eastern yellow robins, white-browed scrubwrens, brown thornbills, grey fantails, and a white-throated treecreeper. There was another bird in there as well which I'm sure was a pilotbird but I never got a proper look at it. That would have been a lifer so kind of frustrating. They are called pilotbirds because they follow around lyrebirds, feeding on the insects the larger bird disturbs (likened to a pilotfish and a shark). Further along I saw a grey shrike-thrush which is much nicer than the field guide would lead one to believe.

    I had seen lots of signs of lyrebirds along the Lyrebird Walk (they scratch up the ground like chickens) and heard males displaying twice but not where I could find them. Male lyrebirds imitate other birds when they are displaying. If you've seen David Attenborough's clips you'll know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, go find a clip on youtube now! The way you know it is a lyrebird calling in the forest and not just some other random bird is because lyrebirds don't imitate just one bird – they imitate all of them, all at the same time! If you hear what sounds like ten kookaburras and half a dozen cockatoos and a flock of whipbirds all calling from one thicket – that's a lyrebird! If there's a chainsaw in there as well, well that's definitely a lyrebird! Albert's lyrebirds, found further north in Queensland, are even cooler because one of the birds they imitate is the satin bowerbird which sounds like R2-D2 – a displaying Albert's lyrebird sounds like every clip from every Star Wars movie playing simultaneously. I had seen quite a few Albert's lyrebirds at Lamington National Park in 2008 (including a displaying male) but the only superb lyrebird I had yet seen was in 2007 when I snuck up on a displaying male in the Blue Mountains near Sydney.

    Lyrebirds are big birds, the size of pheasants even though they are passerines. They look so much like pheasants that the early settlers called them “native pheasants”. They are mostly dark brown in colour, but the male superb lyrebird has a long filmy white tail framed on either side by a pair of thick colourful feathers (called “lyres” from the name lyrebird). When the male is displaying he stands on top of a mound he has made by scratching all the surrounding earth into a low pile, and spreads all his tail feathers out, up and forwards so they cover him like an umbrella and fall forwards over his head with the two “lyres” framing the white filmy feathers (that is, he doesn't fan the tail vertically like a peacock's train). It is like watching him through a lace curtain.

    Halfway along the Neumann's Track I heard a lyrebird calling from just inside the forest. I tried to work out where the best direction was, then headed in after him. I didn't think I would get much of a view – the view I had of the one in the Blue Mountains had been mostly blocked by a tree and when he realised I was there he had left rather quickly – but this time I was pleasantly surprised. I found the lyrebird without much trouble, but he was displaying on his mound deep inside a thicket. No good for photos but at least I could see him well enough through the binoculars. After a while I crept round the thicket to see if I could find a better position. He obviously knew I was there – it was difficult to walk quietly on the dry leaves! – but he kept on displaying. Around the other side I found a relatively clear view and even managed some photos! And I kept on watching him! It was just brilliant. I felt like David Attenborough! Then the reason for his insistence on the continuous display became obvious when a female lyrebird came stalking out of the undergrowth. She paused to examine my bag which I had left on the ground nearby, then circled around behind me and went into the thicket. The male got super excited and started literally jumping up and down on the spot. The female made a loop around his arena, examining his dance moves …. and then walked away! Not good enough! Immediately the male stopped what he was doing, and just walked off as well. Talk about a quick defeat. I followed him up the slope as he scratched around and looked for food, then watched (and took some photos) as he trotted across the road and departed stage left.

    Best lyrebird sighting ever!
     
  3. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Banyule Flats Reserve, 18 May

    Next on the birdy agenda was the Banyule Flats Reserve. The choice was actually between Banyule Flats and the Lillydale Lake Park but the train line to Lilydale is the same as the one to Belgrave and it was still being worked on on Sunday so it made more sense to do Banyule Flats first. Like Sherbrooke Forest I had been to Banyule Flats in 2007 so I knew it was good for birds, and supposedly there were platypus living in the Yarra River there (and I saw them just as much as I did in 2007, which is not at all). Banyule Flats isn't difficult to reach by public transport. You just take the train to Rosanna station, and then there's a choice of either taking the bus which passes the entrance on Banyule Road (but only about once an hour on a Sunday) or walking. It's only about thirty minutes walk. You just cross to the other side of the tracks and head down Douglas Street until you reach Rosanna Road, turn left and walk along there until you find Banyule Road on your right, and then just follow that along its twisty path until you reach the reserve. Easy-peasy. Last time I visited was also a Sunday as it happens, and just as I did then I found the whole place filled with maniac cyclists. It is also a popular dog-walking spot. The Banyule Golf Course is next to the reserve and the same sign I saw in 2007 was still on the fence: “Lady Memberships Now Available”. I'm all for equal opportunities but it does beg the question of if the ladies are now allowed to play golf, who is at home doing the cooking and the cleaning?!

    I spotted my first Australian mammal of the trip soon after entering the reserve, with a small group of eastern grey kangaroos. A bit later I spooked what must have been a swamp wallaby but didn't get a clear enough look to be definite. On a different trail I found another one and that one stayed put long enough to tell for sure. I had been a bit surprised at the Botanic Gardens on day one that the only ducks to be found were Pacific black ducks, but Banyule Flats was obviously where all the others were hiding out, with chestnut teal, grey teal, white-eyed duck and Australian wood duck all being sighted. A small flock of red-rumped parakeets perched on one of the power lines and I saw a few others elsewhere. There were a few good bird-waves as well, which included such species as superb fairy wrens, spotted pardalotes, golden whistlers, eastern spinebills, waxeyes, brown thornbills, yellow-faced honeyeaters, grey shrike-thrushes, and best of all (because it was a lifer) a crested shrike-tit with its bold black and yellow head stripes. On the way out later in the afternoon I saw a banded rail loitering near an overgrown ditch.

    After getting back to the city I took a tram out to St. Kilda Beach. I took a quick wander through the very nice little Botanic Gardens there (seeing a red wattlebird) and then made my way to the St. Kilda Pier. At the end of the pier is a breakwater made of boulders and amongst those boulders nest little blue penguins. The main part of the colony is behind a protective fence but there is also a little boardwalk from which during the day it is quite easy to see a few penguins tucked away between the rocks. In the evening is when the penguins come out though. I got there just on dusk and penguins were emerging and sitting about on the boulders in pairs, while the ones still inside their burrows were braying away like donkeys. After dark more penguins came swimming in and hopped up the rocks to meet their friends. It's a nice experience, and best of all it's free! The other animal I was hoping to see here was the Australian water rat, a large shovel-headed rodent which also lives amongst the boulders and comes out in the evening. The rats here seem to feed largely on starfish – you can see the remains of their meals on their favoured boulders. Last time I was at the pier (in 2011) I watched one of the rats hunting along the waterline, diving to the bottom to find food and then bringing it up onto the rocks to eat. This time I saw no rats at all.
     
  4. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Whatever would your fictional girlfriend think? :p
     
  5. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    whatever I say she thinks! :p
     
  6. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

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    Is there water in the main billabong now at Banyule Flats? I was there a couple weeks ago and it was bone dry, complete with some dead eels clustered around what must have been the last puddle of water.

    PS* We call waxeyes "silvereyes" here. ;)

    Good spot with the lyrebird. It sounds like you saw them in the middle of the day. I left home at 6am and got a 10s fleeting glimpse of female.
     

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  7. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Well-Known Member

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    How many penguin species have you seen in the wild now, Chlidonias?
     
  8. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

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    Any chance of linking up with a local birder to visit the Western Treatment Plant? Which suburb are you based in at the moment?
     
  9. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    if it was the main billabong I was at then yes, if not then I don't know. I didn't have a map or anything, I just turn up and start wandering. Looking at a map now, I think it was the main billabong I saw the ducks at but it was obviously not properly full because it wasn't very large.

    I know :p In my notebook I write the NZ name (e.g. waxeye, pukeko, white heron, etc) but I usually put the local name on the list here (e.g. I dislike calling grey ducks "Pacific black ducks" but that's what they are in Australia, so when in Rome). For waxeye I forgot.

    morning is best for the lyrebirds, but I didn't get there until late because of the hold-ups with the train. So it would have been around 1 or 2pm when I saw the male. At this time of year they are all displaying though, so at any time of day you could expect to find them. You just need to listen out for them and follow the noise into the forest. Along the Neumann's Track is where most of the "close" display arenas are.

    are you offering? I'm in the very south part of Melbourne I think, basically as far from Werribee as is possible.
     
  10. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    just four: little blue, yellow-eyed, Fiordland crested, and emperor. There are a few species which turn up every now and again in NZ as vagrants (like the emperor did) but obviously you need to be in the right place at the right time to see them. I'm still kicking myself for not going after a king penguin on the West Coast back in 2007 I think it was.

    Apart for random vagrants, to see any more wild penguin species I would need to go to South America, South Africa, or the subantarctic.
     
  11. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Melbourne Museum, 19 May

    In a break from birding, I visited the Melbourne Museum. I had never been here before and it is fantastic! My only real criticism is that there is too much unused space. I mean, I don't like stuffed-to-the-gills museums like Te Papa in Wellington (NZ) where everything is just a jumble, but at the same time I don't like volumes of empty space because you feel like they should put something in there! The reason for this at Melbourne is simply the way the museum building is designed with all the display halls along one side and the front being all fancy architectural stuff. Also I did not like their gift shop – because I had trouble keeping my money in my pocket! An excellent selection of really good stuff. Amongst the museum's displays which really took my fancy were a gorilla family originally collected by Paul du Chaillu (!!!), the original (?) Colossochelys [Geochelone] atlas shell (from India, the largest tortoise ever), a glyptodon skeleton, and a nice Darwin/Wallace display which included a cabinet of birds of paradise. The evolution hall had a couple of hundred stuffed animals spread about and I had fun taking photos of specimens with amusing expressions. There was a baby Javan rhino in there as well, at the museum since 1884.

    The museum isn't all ex-animals though. There is a well-designed forest hall, basically a walk-through aviary which includes satin bowerbirds, whipbirds, red-browed finches and tawny frogmouths, as well as pools for fish and tanks for herptiles and invertebrates. Some of the displays in here are pretty neat, including a log with viewing holes to house spiders and ants. In a hall of prehistoric animals, as well as all the skeletons and fossils and models, there was a nice display showing the progress of aquatic lobe-finned fish through to four-legged terrestrial amphibians where the first stage was represented by a tank of live Australian lungfish connected to a tank with the models of “later stages of evolution”. The most interesting displays of live animals are in the invertebrate part of the museum (Bugs Alive!) where there are all sorts of neat ideas: huntsman spiders inside window frames, house spider in a web built around a faucet, an ant colony with a pop-up dome inside (to put your head up into), etc etc.

    All up I spent about four hours at the museum, which is more than I spend at most zoos. Well worth the $10 entry fee.
     
  12. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Lillydale Lake Park, 20 May

    The next day was back to birding again, at Lillydale Lake Park in Lilydale (the older spelling with two Ls is retained in the lake's name but not in the suburb's). Zooboy28 had seen water rats here but he must have been lucky, or I was unlucky. Either way, I didn't see any. Keeping with my “instructions on how to get places”, for the Lillydale Lake Park you just take the train to Lilydale station, walk through the next-door bus terminal to the pedestrian crossing, go round behind the IGA supermarket on the other side of the road, and head left along John Street for a couple of minutes until you see the park on your right. Even easier-peasier than the other places. Unfortunately my visit coincided with what appeared to be the entire Lilydale School on running heats around the lake. I guess the birds are used to people though because it isn't a wild sort of lake, but more a lake surrounded by lawns and some stretches of rushes. Not much of note was seen, although white ibis, Australian raven and grey butcherbird were added to the year list.
     
  13. Astrobird

    Astrobird Well-Known Member

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    Ha! that's my local park, by I rarely go there!
     
  14. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Well-Known Member

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    Have you encountered the scariest creature in all of Australia, the wild nanoboy, yet?
     
  15. PAT

    PAT Well-Known Member

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    Definitely the best value you'll get in Australia. It's free for anyone at school or university so I've never had to pay.

    Also, thanks for sharing your thoughts. It's always weird to hear a foreign point of view of something that you're so familiar with. I actually live on the Belgrave and Lilydale train lines.
     
  16. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Melbourne Zoo, 21 May

    Time for an actual zoo visit, so I met up with CGSwans on a Wednesday morning and we hit Melbourne Zoo. It was an easy walk from King Street where my backpackers is, so more money saved – public transport in Melbourne is not exactly cheap!! I really like Melbourne Zoo but (as I discussed with CGSwans) I think Melbourne Zoo to local Zoochatters is the way Wellington Zoo is to me. By which I mean I really like Wellington Zoo but I am constantly being disappointed by it simply because I have known it for so long that I see all the changes it is making which amount to a terrible downsizing and degeneration of the collection – but to a first time or casual visitor it would be a great zoo. I have only been to Melbourne Zoo a few times (three or four) so to me it seems overall excellent but to local Zoochatters probably not as much. We did a circuit of the zoo up until midday then CGSwans had to leave, but I stayed on for another two hours to re-visit the reptile house, frog house and some aviaries. I prefer the older parts of the zoo from the 80s and early 90s – the rainforest and the Treetops Monkeys in particular, although the latter seems much balder with a lot more “caginess” than I remembered. The Great Flight Aviary seems much smaller as well. It's funny how memory works. I am really fond of the Reptile House, with its well-executed internal furnishings, and of course there are a lot of very nice species inside, while the Frog House is not quite as good as it was (I mean, it's basically the same but the tanks don't look as nice as they used to – and there were no poison arrow frogs on display any more).

    The new walk-through lemur enclosure was much better than expected. It is often the case that zoos design enclosures which no doubt look great in the plan but fail in the execution (cough... Taronga ...cough). The lemur walk-through at Melbourne comes together really well however, and is much more “Madagascary” than the usual rainforest theme for ring-tailed lemurs! The whole thing is netted over – a walk-through aviary in effect – so I thought a flock of lovebirds would look good in there with the lemurs (I don't think there are any Madagascar lovebirds in Australia but we decided one of the African species would be an acceptable substitute). Madagascar fodies would be even more appropriate. Singapore Zoo's Fragile Forest combines lemurs with all sorts of animals including birds and butterflies, so there shouldn't be any problems. The ruffed lemur island is next to the netted-over walk-through and is not as pleasing. It is basically one big tree with a gravel substrate around the base. We weren't sure why they wouldn't just put the two species together in the walk-through; perhaps that is a future option.

    Some other random observations. The platypus was extremely active and as always with this species, fascinating to watch. Whenever I have been in the Melbourne Zoo's platypus house the platypus has been as active as possible, every time. The Butterfly House was closed, but the next-door invertebrate house was open and I was surprised at the number of mygalomorphs on display (also Lord Howe stick insects and rhinoceros cockroaches). The coatis were awesome. I remember when coatis were common in NZ and Australian zoos, then they all just died out. They are large, diurnal, active, social – they should be in every zoo the way meerkats are. And speaking of meerkats, the zoo has too many. No wonder they off-loaded some into the Childrens' Hospital! Unlike the gift shop at the Museum the gift shop at the zoo is rubbish, catering almost solely to children and dominated by stuffed toys and cheap crap. Pretty disappointing as an end to the visit.

    I'm pretty critical of zoos I visit (as you may notice from my Asian zoo reviews...) but Melbourne gets a solid pass with a gold star from me. Come to think of it, so far every Melbourne collection visited over the last several days has got a gold star from me (the museum, the zoo and the aquarium).

    After five days I was still only on two Australian mammals (grey kangaroo and swamp wallaby). That was not entirely surprisingly given that most Australian mammals are nocturnal and I haven't been anywhere particularly wild. I knew brush-tailed possums were common in the city and CGSwans said Flagstaff Gardens was a sure bet at night, plus it was only a few minutes walk from the hostel. And a sure bet it was. Within about twenty seconds of getting there I saw the dark shapes of several possums crossing the path ahead. When I got closer I saw six or seven just sitting about on the grass under the trees. I don't think you could possibly go through Flagstaff Gardens at night and not see a possum – they are everywhere, just wandering aimlessly about like slackers in a mall. I'm not one of those New Zealanders who hates brush-tailed possums. I don't think they belong in New Zealand of course, but in Australia they are great little creatures.

    The next day I visited the aquarium. It gets a bad rap on Zoochat but I liked it, so I thought instead of just doing a little blurb on here I would write a proper review: http://www.zoochat.com/24/visit-melbourne-aquarium-22-may-2014-a-365964/
     
  17. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

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    I think that I'll have to check out this Neumanns Track. I find it difficult to pinpoint bird calls in wet temperate forest like the Dandenongs bit I will give it a shot.

    Man you are very far away indeed! Having said that, there must be some good birding spots down your side that are accessible with public transport. Philip Island? Karkarook Park? Devilbend Reserve? Mornington Peninsula Park? Seaford Wetlands? I have to go to the mall today to buy a vacuum cleaner - want to come? :D (PAT, hopefully it will be the Dyson stick vac.)
     
  18. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    not travelling
    I always find it hard to pinpoint bird calls!! But with lyrebirds they are very loud and obvious, so if I can do it anybody can! Also they call from their display mound so they are going to stay in that one spot, rather than flying away when you are trying to find them. If you are going there by car, then find the start of the Lyrebird Walk at the edge of the parking area at Grant's Picnic Ground (just past the fenced bird feeding area) and follow that along until you find Neumann's Track which branches off to the right (but it's not the first right-hand path you come to -- that's just the looped nature trail). I heard lyrebirds along that nature trail and there was lots of scratched-up ground along the track, but the undergrowth there is really thick and I think the slope is pretty steep beyond, so you can't get into the forest very easily to follow the calls. Better along the Neumann's Track where it is more open and the slope is gentle.

    Look out for pilotbirds too!!


    I was looking at that photo you posted above from Banyule Flats, and it was taken from where the two benches are by the billabong, yes? If that's the case then that's where I was too, and the billabong has water in it again.
     
  19. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Feb 2009
    Posts:
    2,779
    Location:
    Melbourne
    You're right that I should appreciate Melbourne more and that I probably rank it down due to familiarity, though I was surprised to discover that a year's absence didn't change that feeling!

    As discussed with Chlidonias on Wednesday the new lemur exhibit marks a well overdue return to form for a zoo whose last 15 years or so of developments have ranged from decent (Orangutan Sanctuary) to ok (Trail of the Elephants, Australian Bush, Baboons) to woeful (Wild Sea, Growing Wild). Can only hope, without much hope, that the new Predator-Prey-but-there-isn't-really-any-prey is also good, as honestly I fear Melbourne is at risk of falling not only behind Taronga but also Adelaide.
     
  20. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    1 Mar 2011
    Posts:
    4,710
    Location:
    Melbourne, VIC, Australia
    Cheers for that. That's the kind of step by step directions that I find useful.

    The pic was taken from where the benches are, just after you walk past the sign with a bittern. You didn't pick up any Lathams Snipes or crakes?