One of Victoria’s prime birding locations is a tiny woodland reserve in the Mallee, called Goschen Roadside Reserve.
Situated just outside of Lake Boga, it is a remnant piece of scrub between the vast wheat lands of the Mallee and the irrigation farming near the Murray River. It started out as the site for a small country township, but for reasons, it never was completely established. A school, and a community hall a playing field and a tennis court marked most of the human activity in the area.
But due to its location it does indeed seem to be home to an outstanding number of species. There is a huge telecommunications tower in the same stretch of scrub, and as little tackers we’d ride our bikes out to gaze at the amazing structure. (Well when you were a little bloke growing up in a country town, there wasn’t all that much else to do!)
We, EE and I had by family business, the necessity to travel up that way recently, and after some pondering, we decided to stay over in Swan Hill, and well, Goschen is really on the way if you take the back roads to Swan Hill. Problem solved.
We stopped of in Bendigo at the Eaglehawk Bakery for a pie. The Eaglehawk bakery folk have taken the “Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk” story, (thanks Banjo), and made it part of their marketing strategy and a Pennyfathing bike is located in the store. (for those unfamiliar with Bill’s attempt to ride this new fangled thing, look it up.).
They also have added a Mulga Bill pie to the pie routine, lots of big lamb pieces with a rosemary sauce. And you thought pies were fast food take-away tucker. So with a pie, a cup of Mint chocolate and a few minutes rest from the travel, things were looking good.
An hour or so later we were entering the heart of Goschen. The old hall is starting to look a bit the worse for wear, and someone had helped themselves with the help of their angle grinder to the posts that held up the tennis court fence, but the birds were active. Lots of very noisy Rufous Songlarks, each proclaiming its share of the paddock. We quickly found a Hooded Robin, and it was obvious he was working hard to feed a female, but we didn’t locate her. In the middle of all this two blokes in a ute arrived and wanted to know what we thought we were doing? Some local community watch! They were worried that the hall might have been under threat from vandals, and had come by to check it out. After a bit of discussion and realising we were pretty harmless, if some what weird to be looking for birds out there, satisfied they went back to more useful endeavours. Turned out they’d been students at the local Goschen school, all those years ago.
We went on to Swan Hill, stayed overnight at the Riverside Caravan park and had a stroll in the late afternoon light along the river and watched the thousands of Little Corellas make their noisy journey in to roost in the river bank trees for the night. On the way back we saw hidden in the willows on Goat Island a Nankeen Night Heron, so that was a bonus
Next day had us on the way to Balranald, and the family acres. We stopped in town for a coffee, and a bun, and yep, picked up a couple of pies for later on. Can never be to careful about that. The trip was worth it to the pie shop alone. The secret of a great pie is in the pastry, and Balranald Bakery hasn’t lost that art. Yum.
While the coffee was draining I looked out the window to spy a Black Kite sweeping down the main street, under powerline height. To the Camera. And chased it round the corner, as it was making its run up the next street. Nothing like a Black Kite in a country town to bring you down to size.
On the return in the morning we again popped in to Goschen, and this time a huge flock of both Dusky and White-browed Woodswallows had arrived. Maybe 50-60 birds.
Mr Hooded was still on the go, and some Singing and Spiny-cheeked but no Black Honeyeaters. Another flyover by a bunch (hard to call them a flock) of Black Kites and it was time to make the road sing as we dashed to Glenrowan, but, that’s another story.