Diary Day #5 Goschen to home

Like all things, the time was up.  All that was left to do was load the car with 2 clothes bags, 6 camera bags as well as a load of ‘take home’ presents.
After days of hot weather, it was a bit of a surprise to wake to find the ground wet.  A steady rain had changed the place overnight.

With hugs, kisses, goodbye’s seeyanextimes and the like we waved and drove off into the rain.   “Care to go to Goschen?” I asked EE.  Ok, but not through the back roads in this wet.

Down the highway, and out along the Lalbert Road we set.   (used to be called the Lalbert Road as it went, well, to Lalbert) But now it has a different name. Same Road. Same Direction. Still goes to Lalbert.

But when we arrived at Goschen Roadside Reserve, it was obvious that the rain had set in.  And we’d left rain jackets for camera and person at home. (Its going to be 38 C, why do we need to load up the car with Driazabones?)

So in-between incessant showers we ventured out for a look see.  Think I mentioned the Brown Treecreeper on her nest, and so we both went very very quietly, and peeked into the opening on the broken old tree. There she was. As Dry as my Drizabone; the one hanging up in the wardrobe at home.  Only a quick peek, and then we left her alone.  Didn’t need to get her out in the rain.

Mr Hooded Robin was out in the rain. Think he was enjoying the change.  And the White-browed Babblers seemed to have a dislike for every Singing Honeyater they came across.   Speaking of Singing Honeyeaters, one was sizing up a small pool of water on the former tennis court, now ‘Burn-out’ spot for the local(?) petrol heads.   They are probably also responsible for slowing wrecking the Goschen Hall.  It  has stood for nigh on 100years and served the community faithfully and now its being torn apart one small bit at a time. Pity on the mentality of those responsible.

So in the end, the rain won, and we drove back toward the highway with thoughts of Eaglehawk pies on our mind. And.  EE pointed. Look, its a Rainbow Bee-eater.  And it was. Enjoying the rain.  But the weather was so dark, it looked like a London fog out there. Would have been great with a bit of sunshine about then.

Stopped at the Rail Crossing outside Kerang.  In the first tree nearest to the rail line is the nest of a Wedgetailed Eagle.  No one home today, but the tree was providing shelter for a Whistling Kite.

So to home, loads of emails, much work to sort images and the like, clean gear and ponder the next journey.

Mr Elegance in the rain.
Mr Elegance in the rain.
Brown Treecreeper nest site. She is bout 1/2 metre down the hollow.
Brown Treecreeper nest site. She is about 1/2 metre down the hollow.
SInging Honeyeater enjoying the cool.
SInging Honeyeater enjoying the cool.
Tennis anyone?  Testing its bath water. Perhaps I should wait a few more minutes.
Tennis anyone? Testing its bath water. Perhaps I should wait a few more minutes.
Part of a clan of White-browed Babblers hunting for elusive honeyeaters
Part of a clan of White-browed Babblers hunting for elusive honeyeaters
DSC_9739
White-browed Babbler, waiting in the rain for a honeyeater to be chased out in the open.
EE's find of the day.  My shot from inside the car.
EE’s find of the day. My shot from inside the car. If it looks dark and gloomy out there. It is!
Wedgetailed Eagle nest at Kerang rail crossing
Wedgetailed Eagle nest at Kerang rail crossing
Double duty tree, now a rest spot from the rain for a Whistling Kite
Double duty tree, now a rest spot from the rain for a Whistling Kite
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Goschen Diary Day #1

Last week with family events and holidays on mind, we travelled north toward Swan Hill.  One of the highlight ‘honeypot’ birding sites on any birders list of must do’s is The Goschen Bushland Reserve only a few minutes drive from said Hill.

Tim Dolby in “Where to See Birds in Victoria” devotes 2 pages to the little bushland area with an excellent overview by Greg Oakley.

When I was a little tacker, the concept of Goschen being a “birding highlight” never occurred to me.  It was a place where the PMG, (Telstra) had planted a very tall communications  tower.  As little blokes, we’d ride our bikes out there to gaze heavenward at the stark red and white tower against the blue sky.   Perhaps we dreamed of climbing to the top, but were stopped by a huge (when we were little), razor-topped security fence. Probably just as well.

Tis only a short drive down the road from Swan Hill, and with a bit of careful planning, one can stay off sealed roads and enjoy the backcountry sandy roads and the chance of seeing birds along the roadside trees.

So we motored north.  Of course a bonus is that the road to Goschen travels through Eaglehawk in Bendigo, and of course a stop off at the Eaglehawk Bakery, for a famed “Mulga Bill” pie is not to be missed.  This time as it turned out others of the travelling family had the same idea and we met up in the bakery.  I’m not the only one on WordPress with a penchant for the Mulga Bill pie as “Almost Always Ravenous” has  a page here.

Then a slowish trip along the highway out of Bendigo, particularly between the 18 and 19 kilometre posts.  There is almost always a speed camera car buried in the shade among the trees here,  5 times out of our past 6 passings.  First time was a$180.00 view.  I’d failed to notice the 100km roadsigns as was tooling along like a freeway.  Duh.  Mind, this time I went by at a sedate 75km.

I like the roads from Bendigo to Swan Hill.  Flat, long straight runs, and on good days, plenty of raptors at work.  So it’s easy to see where they are and their action.  Slowed down again just at the Kerang Rail Crossing.  A pair of Wedgetails have a nest in the closest tree to the road.  The young are now fledged, but off in the field we saw one of them hard at work.

Turning from the highway at Lake Boga, we followed the backroads to Goschen Bushland Reserve.  It was just early in the afternoon, and quite hot. Any respectable birds were resting out of the heat.

But in a short time there, as it was only a recce for the days to come, we found Hooded Robins, Brown Treecreepers, White-browed Babblers, a number of different honeyeaters and some beaut looking Blue-bonnet Parrots.

So on to the domicile for the week. We stayed at the Murray Downs Resort, which is part of the Murray Down Golf Club.  Great little rooms in the shade of the lovely trees in the landscape.
And while I was  unloading the car: 2 clothes bags, 6 photo kits, I spied a Blue-faced Honeyeater in the agapanthus garden. Quick as, out came the 300mm and a nice shot against the light.  Good way to start I thought.

Brown Treecreeper
Brown Treecreeper
Trying to find a cool spot, Hooded Robin contemplates his next move
Trying to find a cool spot, Hooded Robin contemplates his next move
Blue-faced Honeyeater, welcoming committee
Blue-faced Honeyeater, welcoming committee

A morning at Goschen Bushland Reserve.

We had to take a trip back up to the family acres during the week. (Astute readers will see the euphemism in there).

On the way back we left early in the morning from Swan Hill, and after some family duties (again an euphemism), we headed on down to the Goschen Bushland Reserve. This little clump of trees and shrubs is a truly outstanding area for birds and no matter what time of year, there will always be something to find.   We took the back way down which gets us onto the Woorinen Road and is a very pleasant drive among the trees and wheat lands, if somewhat dusty.

After about three hours, (no euphemism in there), we had seen an array of birds and EE had nailed some new species.  Including the Rainbow Bee Eater.

Top of the day however was a pair of Hooded Robins. (those who’ve followed here before will know there is pair we’ve photographed there previously), and they had only in the past day or so fledged at least two young. We got a good look at one of the young, but in the end Mum was getting quite distressed and doing a ‘broken wing’ display on the ground so we moved out of the area.

Next turned up the Rainbow Bee Eaters.  These are the most stunningly coloured birds and the metallic colours simply sparkle in the light.  I’d not noticed before how hard that is to record with the camera.  Plenty of White-browed Wood-swallows were nesting, and I managed to locate a female on a nest. Well to be truthful, I was stalking a Hooded Robin, and walked right past her nest.  She quickly regained composure, I took a shot and moved away.   I really dislike disturbing them.  There were also plenty of Masked Wood-swallows as circulating as well, and no doubt nests to looked after.  A few Brown Treecreepers and some Singing Honeyeaters, lots of White-plumed, and EE remarked its funny to drive all this way to photograph whats in our backyard.
And of course as is the case, the Black Honeyeater was no where to be seen.  Another chance another time.

As we drove out we spotted some young new fledged Willie Wagtails, and by the road way several White-browed Babblers, but it was time to go and so we moved on.

Just as we crossed the railway line at Kerang, on a most conspicuous tree, we noted a Wedge-tailed Eagle and a nest. Too much traffic behind to stop and go back, so we had to be content with what we had, and journey on to Eaglehawk, and the Eaglehawk Bakery for a “Mulga Bill Pie”.  Worth the drive. (No euphemism in there)

Most elegant and distinctive Hooded Robin, male.
Most elegant and distinctive Hooded Robin, male.
"Leave me alone".  Caught in the act on her nest
“Leave me alone”. Caught in the act on her nest
Hooded Robin, family group. Junior thinks its feeding time.
Hooded Robin, family group. Junior thinks its feeding time.
Very annoyed female Hooded Robin, she was most protective of her recently flown young.
Very annoyed female Hooded Robin, she was most protective of her recently flown young.
I often try but hardly succeed, to get a sharp shot of the White-browed Woodswallow.
I often try but hardly succeed, to get a sharp shot of the White-browed Woodswallow.
Rainbow Bee Eater. The streamers in the tail suggest a male
Rainbow Bee Eater. The streamers in the tail suggest a male
New fledged Willie Wagtail
New fledged Willie Wagtail

Goschen. A little bird oasis in a very dry part of the country.

The little map dot name “Goschen” has quite a reputation among birdos who are in the know.

This little area of scrub only a couple of football grounds around has at various times of the year an opportunity to spot a large number of species without much trouble.  See some of the many blogs that tell tales. See Ian Smissen’s recent post.

It is not far from Lake Boga, and only 15 minutes drive from Swan Hill. We were bound there for a family weekend event. (Some would use the term Holiday, but I cannot understand why!)

Mr An Onymous and his lens were there as well, so we plotted a day at Goschen. Only trouble was the weather. The day we travelled up it was 40C.  About 120 in the water bag as my old Dad used to say. So we went to Goschen early early in the morning.

And inspite of the heat, and the overcast sky the birds did play a bit of a treat for us.  A Hooded Robin pair were probably the single highlight. But that is not forgetting the Honeyeaters, and Treecreepers and an Australian Hobby. A small flock of Budgerigars were a nice addition to the day. We also did a bit of a diversion down to the Tresco Nature Reserve (Its about 10 mins from Goschen) and scored some Blue-faced Honeyeater as Blueb-bonnet Parrots for our efforts.
Being an ex local lad, I figured we’d follow some back roads to Kerang, pick up a pie at Gray’s Bakery and have lunch there. One of the back roads is called just that. Back Quarry Road. Its really only a link for the farm machinery between paddocks, but has a good stand of mallee on one side.
The new lens played a great note and he got a super series of a Pied Butcher Bird being fee.  Also a few Mallee Ringnecks and Blue Bonnets.

We made a futile attempt at Lookout Lake, and ended up at the pie shop. Sure enough still great pies after all those year.  Sign said 200metres to Bakery. It took us about 3 goes round the block to figure it out. Sort of missed the big building labelled “Bakery”. No wonder we can’t find birds.

A stop at the Kerang Ibis rookery seemed sensible, and as soon as we got of out the car the call of a Whistling Kite pair echoed across the carpark. We located them well down the ‘nature’ track by the lake.  Too many trees for great shots, but lovely to hear them exchanging calls.

Last stop for the day was the Little Murray Wier, and again the big lens was working hard. And a Nankeen Night Heron and then a patient Sacred Kingfisher rounded out a nice day.

Ont the way back past the Swan Hill Aerodrome (I was thinking Kestrels) we came across Steve (who drives harvesters at Quambatook-, but that’s another story) and his front yard. In the air above said driveway was a couple of Whistling Kites. Nice. We went back out in the late evening sunshine on spec. and.  There were Ten  Kites up over the recently cut wheat/hay/lucern.  Spect– tack-ular.

Goschen even in the middle of a heat wave still had enough to keep us busy.

Hooded Robin
Hooded Robin
White-browed Babbler showing off its very long beak
White-browed Babbler showing off its very long beak
Brown Treecreepers in deep discussion about people with long lenses interrupting a perfectly good days outing.
Brown Treecreepers in deep discussion about people with long lenses interrupting a perfectly good days outing.
A very patient Sacred Kingfisher, as we manoeuvred into the best spot for a shot.
A very patient Sacred Kingfisher, as we manoeuvred into the best spot for a shot.
Whistling Kite in the evening sunshine near Swan Hill.
Whistling Kite in the evening sunshine near Swan Hill.