Birding trip ( October 2022 ) to Warrnambool, Australia

on 18th February 2023

During this trip I was fortunate to meet about 27 interesting bird species, some commonly seen, some rarely seen. The birds were seen in the vicinity of Warrnambool, Port Fairy which I visited on a very wet day and around Melbourne while preparing for the flight home to Singapore.

  ( 1 ) Australian Grebe ( Lake Pertobe, 6th November 2022 )
Image 1: Tachybaptus novaehollandiae. Breeding plumage: striking yellow eye with central black pupil, a pale yellow teardrop patch sloping diagonally from lower front corner of eye towards base of lower beak, a mostly black head, a bright reddish brown, broad stripe of color extends posteriorly from each eye towards the nape and downwards along each sides of the neck. The beak is black with a white tip.


( 2 ) Australian Blue-billed Duck

Image 2a : Australian Blue-billed duck ( Oxyura australis ). (Warrnambool Botanical Garden, 30th October 2022). Body is deep reddish brown color, head is black, bill is powder-blue. Black eyes are well camouflaged by the black head. It is a diving duck. It usually sits low in the water with its short spiky tail submerged. They are rather shy. When they notice an observer nearby, they will frequently dive or sneak into the reeds, making it difficult to obtain a good picture.
Image 2b : Blue-billed duck seen at Lake Pertobe. (2nd November 2022)


( 3 ) Australian Raven ( Lake Pertobe, 2nd November 2022 )
Image 3a : Australian Raven ( Corvus coronoides ). It is the largest of the crow family. Its entire plumage is black with a greenish sheen under certain lighting condition. Beak and legs are also black. Only the eyes are white, capable of giving an evil-eye look.
Image 3b : Glossy black feathers on its back too.
Image 3c : Beak is big. Long throat feathers are raised when agitated, hence called hackles.


( 4 ) Australian wood duck a.k.a. Maned duck ( Warrnambool Botanical Garden 30th October 2022)
Image 4a : Australian wood duck ( Chenonetta jubata ). A grazing duck. The male has a dark brown head with black eyes and small black beak. There is a blackish brown mane, stretching from the nape down the posterior neck. This gives the impression of a big head compared to that of the female/immature male ducks. The lower neck and breast has a mottled brown on white pattern. The flank is covered with fine filly grey down-like feathers, extending posteriorly towards the tail and downwards towards the under belly. If you look closely, grey down feathers produce a fine black wavy pattern. You get giddy looking at them long enough. The tail, rump, vent and under belly is black. There is a bold black line down each side of the duck’s back. Legs are greyish.
Image 4b : This image of a wood duck family was  taken in Melbourne, Fitzroy Gardens, 12th November 2022. It shows an adult male, one female and four almost adult babies. The female has a light brown head with a blackish brown horizontal eye-band, bordered by a cream band on the top and bottom side. The mottled pattern of browns on white stretches from lower neck, to breast, to flank towards the black tail and downwards towards the white under belly.


( 5 ) Black Swan ( Lake Pertobe 2nd November 2022 )
Image 5a : Black Swan couple with baby in tow. Black Swan ( Cygnus atratus ) is a massive black water bird measuring up to 1.4 m in length and wingspan of up to 2 m. It has a long graceful neck and a bright red bill with a preterminal white band. Towards the rear end, the feather tips are curled, giving rise to the ruffles appearance. There is also a patch of white near the rear flank due to the white flight feathers peeking out. Of the remaining eight swan species, all are completely white or nearly so. Baby swans are called cygnets. They are whitish with black bills and eyes.
Image 5b : The eyes are red with black pupils. The red bill continues up the forehead and loral region towards the front of the eyes.
( 6 ) Chestnut Teal ( Lake Pertobe 2nd November 2022 )
Image 6a : Chestnut Teal ( Anas castanea ) is a distinctively dimorphic, dabbling duck. The male has a dark green head, chestnut brown breast/flank and a noticeable white patch on the flank towards the tail end. The female has a nondescript creamy brown coloration.
Image 6b : The male duck has a dark, almost black iridescent green head. The lower neck, breast, flank, down to underbelly and caudally towards the tail is chestnut brown. On closer look, you would notice a sparsely mottled, scaly pattern on the chestnut brown coloration. This is due to the dark brown feathers having a thick edge of chestnut color. It has an iridescent green speculum, bordered cranially by white feathers. The vent and rump has black feathers.
Image 6c : The female duck has either a uniformly light brown head or a lighter brown on the lower face. This is in contrast to the Grey Teal which has whitish color on it’s lower face extending downwards into it’s neck. There is again a scaly mottled pattern on the creamy brown coloration of the lower neck, breast, flank and belly. This is due to the dark brown feathers having a thin edge of pale cream color. It has red eyes, steel grey bill and pinkish grey legs.
Image 6d : The male has a dark green iridescent head. In the middle of the neck, there is a sharp and abrupt change in the dark green color of the head to the chestnut color of the body. The eyes are strikingly red.


( 7 ) Common Blackbird ( Port Fairy 31st October 2022 )
Image 7 : A male Blackbird. Common Blackbird ( Turdus merula ) is an introduced thrush species from Europe. It has a beautiful melodic song. The male has a completely black glossy plumage, prominent yellow beak and black eyes highlighted by yellow eye-rings. Legs are dirty yellow. The female is a brownish bird with paler yellow beak, eye-rings and legs.


( 8 ) Eurasian Coots ( Lake Pertobe 2nd November 2022 )
Image 8 : Eurasian Coots ( Fulica atra ) is a small  waterfowl. Its plump, rounded body is covered uniformly with fine salty-grey feathers, ending in a wispy tail. Its neck and head is darker, almost black. This monotony is broken by the conspicuous red eyes, snow white beak and forehead shield. It has clumsy-looking but strong, grey colored legs. The individual toes are specially equipped with flattened lobes to give strong propulsion in water (it is a dabbling and diving duck) and on land (helps with balance while walking on uneven ground).


( 9 ) European Goldfinch ( Lake Pertobe 6th November 2022 )
Image 9a : The Goldfinch was first noticed sitting solitarily on a bare branch of a dead tree.
Image 9b : European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis ), an introduced bird from Europe, has a striking, vertically arranged tricolor head. The fore part of the face is scarlet, stretching from the forehead, forecrown, down through the black eye, to the chin. The hind crown is black, continuing down to the nape and sides of the neck. Separating the red and black is a snow white crescent band, starting from the edge of the crown, down the hind part of the face, covering the ear, and meeting the opposite crescent in front of the throat. The back is olive brown. The wings and tail has black feathers with white tips. A broad golden-yellow band is seen on the wing during flight.


( 10 ) European Starling ( Cannon Hill, overlooking Lake Pertobe 7th November 2022 )
Image 10a : European Starling ( Sturnus vulgaris ). This handsome bird was introduced from Europe in the 1800s. It is a glossy black bird with sharp yellow beak, black eyes and yellow legs. There are golden edges to the flight feathers and golden spots on the body, especially the back and tail region. In good lighting, the bird is actually beautifully iridescent with purple and blue-green.
Image 10b : Bringing earthworms back for the babies. Note the yellow legs.


( 11 ) Great Cormorant ( Lake Pertobe 6th November 2022 )
Image 11a : Great Cormorant ( Phalacrocorax carbo ) The largest of the world’s cormorant species, length of up to 1m and wingspan of up to 1.6 m. It is generally all black with light brown scaly pattern or spots on it’s wing. In breeding plumage, there is prominent yellow pigmentations around the eyes, continuing downwards to include the bases of both beaks and the gular pouch. Posterior to this yellow color is a band of whitish bare skin, stretching downwards to meet at the chin/throat.
Image 11b : Prominent yellow pigmentations seen around the eyes, continuing downwards to include the bases of both beaks and the gular pouch. Posterior to this yellow color is a band of whitish bare skin, stretching downwards to meet at the chin/throat.
Image 11c : Note the strongly hooked terminal end of the upper beak. This helps it to hold onto the slippery fishes it hunts.


( 12 ) Magpie crow ( Cannon Hill, overlooking Lake Pertobe 7th November )
Image 12a : Australian Magpie ( Gymnorrhina tibicen ), also known as the Magpie crow. However, it is neither a Magpie nor a Crow. It actually belongs to the Butcher bird family. This large pied bird has a solid black underside and a white nape. It has a large whitish beak with black hooked tip and reddish eyes. Young birds are brownish in color.
Image 12b: A juvenile begging its father for food.
Image 12c : Juvenile bird. Yellow mouth flange is still present. ( Lake Pertobe  2nd November 2022 )


( 13 ) Magpie Lark ( Warrnambool Botanical Garden  30th October 2022 )
Image 13a : Magpie-Lark ( Grallina cyanoleuca ), also known as ‘Pee-wee’ bird due to its loud call, of the same sound. Others have called it the ‘Mudlark’ because it builds a large bowl-like nest out of mud. It likes to build its nest close to the Willie Wagtail’s. They both help to defend each other’s nest aggressively, even against larger birds like the Magpie Crow.
Image 13b : A Magpie lark foraging amongst the lily pads.
Image 13c : Male Magpie-Lark. There is a horizontal black eye-band through the pale yellow eye. The black forehead continues downwards into the black lores, chin, throat and black breast. The black eye band separates the white supercilium from the white lower face and white side of neck. The crown, nape and rest of upper side are mostly black, except for an uneven white bar from shoulder back across the folded wing. Most of the under side is white, including the rump. The tail is white with a subterminal black band, much wider on central feathers.
Image 13d : Female Magpie-Lark. ( Melbourne, Alexandra Garden 15th November 2022). There is a broad, black band from the black crown, down through the pale eye, face, side of the neck and into the black breast. When the bird is looking directly at you, an image of an ivory colored beak pointing at you in a circle of white presents itself.


( 14 ) Mallard ( Warrnambool Botanical Garden 30th October 2022 )
Image 14a : Male Mallard ( Anas platyrhynchos ) has a prominent dark green head, with a metallic sheen. It has a bright yellow bill.
Image 14b : It has orange webbed feet, black tail feathers and bluish speculum.
Image 14c : Black curly tail feather of a male duck, also known as a drake. Brown breast separated from the long green neck by a whitish collar.
( 15 ) Dusky Moorhen ( Lake Pertobe 6th November 2022 )
Image 15a : Dusky Moorhen ( Gallinula tenebrosa ) is a mostly dark slaty-grey bird, with a little brown color on it’s upper back and wings. It has a bright red forehead shield, that continues downwards into the slender red beaks which ends with a yellow tip.
Image 15b : Two tufts of snow white feathers are seen on either sides of the black tail.
Image 15c : The legs are orangey-red, with steel grey coloring over the joint regions.
( 16 ) Musk duck ( Lake Pertobe  2nd, 6th November 2022 )
Image 16a : Three musk ducks (probably a mother with two juveniles) swimming together in the lake. There were a few groups of them and their calls attracted my attention. They are energetic and swim fast without much disturbance to the water surface. They are generally described as sooty black ducks sitting low in the water with its spiky tail submerged. From the side-view the bill looks like a stumpy short wedge.
Image 16b : Mother feeding aquatic worm to a very small duckling. Musk duck is a diving duck. The baby is still too young to dive.
Image 16c : Mother and child. These ducks breed between July and January. Only the female is involved in nest building and raising the young.


( 17 ) New Holland Honeyeater ( Warrnambool Botanical Garden, Lake Pertobe 30th October, 7th November 2022 )
Image 17a : Phylidonyris novaehollandiae is often confused with the White-cheeked honeyeater. Nectivorous and supplement diet with honeydew (sugary exudates of insects from Family Psyllidae) and insects. Feed solitarily or in groups.
Image 17b : Very swift in take off and dive into bushes, chittering away while doing so.
Image 17c : Breed in spring and autumn.


( 18 ) Pacific Black duck ( Warrnambool Botanical Garden 30th October 2022 )
Image 18a : Pacific Black Duck ( Anas superciliosa ) is one of the commonest and most widespread of water fowls seen in Australia. It has a dark brown crown and two horizontal lines across each side of it’s buff-coloured face. The top line is a black eye band and the bottom line is a thin moustachial stripe. The rest of its body is covered with brown feathers that have buff edges. This brown scallop pattern is sometimes broken by the appearance of a striking iridescent violet-green speculum panel in the wing. It has steel-grey colored bill and dirty-yellow legs. Presence of yellowish bills and orangey legs could indicate hybridization with Mallards. These hybrid progeny are fertile, leading to genetic pollution. In certain areas, up to 25% of the population are hybrids.
Image 18b : Violet colored speculum.
Image 18c : The speculum appears green with light from a different angle.
( 19 ) Purple Swamphen ( Lake Pertobe  2nd, 6th November 2022 )
Image 19a : Purple Swamphen ( Porphyrio porphyio ) has a characteristic dark purple-blue coloration down the throat, neck, breast, flank and lower belly. The rest of the body is covered with blackish feathers.
Image 19b: The bright red forehead shield appears to extend upwards beyond the mid-crown. The huge shield continues downwards into the broad red beaks. The eyes are also bright red. Legs are orange colored.
Image 19c : Mother with chick. Snow white central tail coverts of the mother is not obvious from this side view.


( 20 ) Rainbow Lorikeet ( Warrnambool Botanical Garden  30th October 2022 )
Image 20a : Rainbow Lorikeet ( Trichoglossus moluccanus ). This is a southern population with a yellow-green nape collar ( Northern population of Trichoglossus rubritorquis has a red collar). It has a blue-violet head with bright red eyes and beaks. The orange colored breast flows into a dark blue belly with yellow flank and vent. The upper parts are mostly green including the long tail. It has a specially adapted tongue ( brush-tipped ) to help it feed on nectar and pollens.


( 21 ) Red Wattlebird ( Lake Pertobe 2nd, 7th November 2022 )


Image 21a : Red Wattlebird ( Anthochaera carunculata ) is a brownish, heavily streaked honeyeater. At 33-37cm, they are the 2nd largest in the family ( the yellow wattlebird of eastern Tasmania, 43-50cm is larger). There is a white facial cheek patch, behind which is the dark brown ear coverts. Below the ears, wattles of fleshy, bare red skin protrudes, giving rise to its name. The white underside is heavily streaked with brown. The belly has a yellow coloration. Its legs are pinkish.
Image 21b : The upper parts are generally brown, with white edges to feathers. Tail feathers have white tips except for the two central ones. The forehead is dark brown, almost black with no streaking. Eye is reddish, beak is black and leg is pinkish. The brown feathers of the upper back have a prominent white central vane, giving rise to a spiky appearance.
Image 21c : The wattlebird is usually seen foraging for nectar in trees. They may also feed on insects. However, contacts with urban man has caused adaptation to being a scavenger. When a man threw food scraps from his BBQ tray onto the grass, a number of birds appeared: Black Swan, Raven, Purple Swamphen, and our friend the Red Wattlebird.


 ( 22 ) Red-browed Finch ( Lake Pertobe 1st November 2022 )
Image 22a : Red-browed Finch ( Neochmia temporalis ) is highly sociable and usually forages for grass seeds on the ground in close-knit flocks.
Image 22b : Thick bright red eye brow, stretching backwards from the base of beaks to the nape. Bright red rump, black eye, head and nape grey. Undersides greyish white. The upper sides are mostly olive green with a tint of yellow.
Image 22c : Tails are greyish black. They are found mostly in Eastern and south-eastern Australia.


( 23 ) Silver Gull ( Lake Pertobe 6th November 2022 )

Image 23a : Silver Gull ( Lanus novaehollandiae ) is a mostly white bird with pale grey upper back and wings. Wing tips are black with white windows on outer three primaries. The tail is white. The eye is white with a thin red eye ring. Beaks and legs are red.
Image 23b : The tip of the beaks and eye ring are black. Possible signs of immaturity?


( 24 ) Singing Honeyeater ( Lake Pertobe 2nd November 2022 )

Image 24a : Singing Honeyeater ( Gavicalis virescens ) is a mostly brown bird with a black eye band that runs posteriorly then turns downwards on the side of neck for a short length. The white undersides are heavily streaked with brown. There is a yellowish tint to the wings and tail.
Image 24b : Under the black eye band is a thin yellow stripe.


( 25 ) Superb Fairywren ( Warrnambool Botanical Gardens, Lake Pertobe 30th October, 6th November 2022 )

Image 25a : Superb Fairywren ( Malurus cyaneus ) is a tiny bird with a long cocked tail, commonly seen in the east and southern Australia, including Tasmania. Its head has two areas of striking powder-blue colour. The upper area, crown and upper face, is separated from the lower area, that is the lower face, by a horizontal, broad, black eye-band, stretching from the base of the short, spike-like black beak to the black nape.
Image 25b : Black ( dorsally ) long tail with thin white tips.
Image 25c : This is a male superb fairy wren in breeding plumage. Females, non-breeding male and juveniles are grey-brown in colour.
Image 25d : Note the flying insect caught in its beak. From the lower region of the nape, a, thin black band curves forward, on each side of the neck, to join with a frontal mass of black feathers, covering the breast, neck and chin. Below this thin black band is another powder-blue area covering the upper back ( mantle region ) and upper shoulder region, forming an incomplete crescent over the back and sides. Thin long legs are yellowish.
Image 25e : Ventral surface of long tail has a blue tint.
Image 25f : The blue color made it conspicuous against the dull background.
Image 25g : Four areas of powder-blue: crown, left face, right face and mantle crescent. Black feathers seen over lower shoulder and back. Wing brown and belly white. Wings of flying insect in beak can be faintly seen.
Image 25h : Gorgeous and majestic pose.
Image 25i : Cocked long tail, almost 90 degree to horizontal back.
Image 25j : Seen searching for seeds and insects on grass patch.  Very quick foot and wing works.


( 26 ) Welcome Swallow ( Warrnambool city 2nd November 2022 )

Image 26a : Welcome Swallow ( Hirundo neoxena ). This is a juvenile. The lower face, throat and upper breast is of a light rufous color, instead of the deep chestnut color of adults. There is a black eye patch. It has a tiny, slender beak.
Image 26b : The juvenile tried to balance itself on some metal railing bars.
Image 26c: It managed to perch comfortably on a railing bar.


( 27 ) Willie Wagtail ( Warrnambool Botanical Gardens, Quest Warrnambool  30th October, 7th November 2022 )

Image 27a: Willie Wagtail ( Rhipidura leucophrys ) is not a true Wagtail (Motacilla) but belongs to the Fantail Family. Willie Wagtail moves its body together with its tail incessantly from side to side. This is in contrast to the true Wagtail which moves its tail up and down. Willie Wagtail is a resident while true Wagtails are mostly migrant visitors.
Image 27b : Willie Wagtail attacks Raven.
Image 27c: Up swing
Image 27d : Willie Wagtails are fearless little birds that will aggressively defend their nests or territories even against birds very much larger than themselves.
Image 27e : Willie Wagtail dive bombs the raven on a roof.


All photographs © Wong Kais

Captions by Wong Kais


References :-

( 1 ) Birds of Australia – A photographic guide by Iain Campbell, Sam Woods and Nick Leseberg

( 2 ) Australian Wildlife by Leonard Cronin

( 3 ) Fleurieu Birds by Peter Gower

( 4 ) Field Guide to Australian Birds by Micheal Morcombe

( 5 ) Wildlife of Australia by Iain Campbell and Sam Woods

( 6 ) Handbook of the Birds of the World vol. 1 & 3 edited by Josep del Hoyo, Andrew Elliott and Jordi Sargatal

( 8 ) Wikipedia


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If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

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