Quarterly Bird Survey 17th February 2020

On Sunday 16th February PLEG hosted a quarterly bird survey in Pinkerton Forest and Mulla Mulla Woodland.

Birdlife Australia formerly Bird Observers Club of Australia (BOCA) have been conducting quarterly Bird Surveys by for about fifteen years. Previously these walks were hosted by Birdlife Australia’s Werribee Wagtails, but since the demise of the Werribee Wagtails they will now be hosted by PLEG. About 127 bird species have been recorded at Pinkerton & about 150 at Eynesbury to date. These quarterly surveys provide valuable data as to both bird diversity & numbers in these woodlands. Without the expertise and keen eyes of these bird observers our knowledge of the birdlife of Pinkerton Forest would be much the poorer. Citizen science in action!
Despite the 15mm rainfall over the previous two days Pinkerton Lane was easily passable. Several years of drought have resulted in a considerable moisture deficit in the soil, so any rain that falls quickly soaks into the dry soil beneath. Similarly the track through Pinkerton Link was a bit slippery in places but passable.

Hundreds of Tree Martins were milling about. Summer rain had no doubt promoted large flying insect numbers.  Unfortunately the White-browed Woodswallows that were present through summer had gone. These arrived in a large noisy flock the previous October. They usually arrive in Melton in November so their arrival last year was earlier. Similarly, Sacred Kingfishers also arrived in the region a month or so early.  Earlier in February the White-browed Woodswallows were seen massing in Pinkerton Forest in a large noisy flock so perhaps they were preparing for their departure northward again. However we saw several Dusky Woodswallows. Three Wedge-tailed Eagles were flying low over Mulla Mulla, probably a pair with their young. They nested a year ago in Mulla Mulla Woodland so perhaps they had nested here again. Two Crested Shriketits were heard in Pinkerton. These birds are quite spectacular in appearance being boldly marked with black, yellow and white. Unfortunately they remained out of sight, being identified by the calls only.

After about 15mm rainfall over a couple of day’s water was running down the drainage line through Mulla Mulla Grassland into the dam at the lower end of the Reserve. This dam was loud with the clicking calls of numerous Spotted Marsh Frogs and the more melodious banjo-like calls of several Pobblebonks. As several years drought the frogs have obviously survived underground, waiting for the return of rain to fill their dam once more. Hopefully the dam will hold water long enough for their eggs to hatch and for the tadpoles to mature into adult frogs. The Spotted Marsh Frogs may not need much time to mature but the larger Pobblebonks may need somewhat longer.

After lunch at Pinkerton the group then proceeded to Eynesbury Forest.

Bird records for Pinkerton Forest, Pinkerton Link, Mulla MUlla (Bush’s Paddock) and Eynesbury can be found on eBird.